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Maybe not, but it amuses the hell out of me:

“– Indeed, Harcourt smiled, — meat, I hear, which has been marinated internally with the juices of the finest English aristocrat.”

I’m not going to give you any context for that other than it’s from Ecstasy, a 1996 book from Irvine Welsh.  Irvine Welsh wrote Trainspotting, which was the basis for the film of the same name starring Ewan MacGregor. His writing  is bizarre in a dark way, and I mean bizarre not in a fantastic sort of “genetically engineered monkeys with enormous genitalia and jetpacks” way but rather  bizarre in a “this could and probably does happen but people don’t usually talk or write about such things” sort of way.

It seems that a lot of the time when you’re reading, or watching a movie, or otherwise consuming storytelling materials that it is pretty much the same as just sitting back and watching the public persona of a person. You don’t get the meat and the details of being a human being. Which leads me to a thing that will pop into my head from time to time when I’m feeling vaguely reflective: “people fuck.” Now, I don’t mean this in a “people make love” sort of way, with candles and silk sheets and Barry White. Nor do I mean “people fuck” in the sense of a porn film with the posing and the obnoxious groaning and weird situations. I mean it in the sense that most people you have met have been sweaty and naked, groping at another individual, thrusting and groaning and clawing in the dark. Also, “people shit.” Not in the “everybody poops” sense, but rather in the “sitting on the toilet grunting, their face contorted, cursing the Gods and swearing they will eat more fiber while attempting force a large foul-smelling turd through their rectum.” You forget about these things sometimes. I mean, sure you are aware that people you know have sex and people you know produce waste products. You know this, you understand the concept, but has it ever occurred to you while driving down the road that particular individuals you know have actively engaged in these acts? It happens to me every once in awhile, I don’t really dwell on it, but it’s one of those thoughts that pops into the ol’ noggin’ from time to time.

Anyway, what I’m saying is in a lot of storytelling materials you don’t get that view of people. You get something more akin to your day to day experience of other human beings, a removal from the dirtier bits of being human. Writers like Welsh seem to go past what average storytelling material does and goes into the details of being human. That people fuck and people do drugs and people drink and people have desires and motivations that are less than admirable, and that these are  “normal” people. “Normal” people are fucked up, “normal” people are messy and think and do things they wouldn’t want to admit. I find that kind of fun. Being able to get that window into that aspect of someone, even a fictional someone. Maybe I’m just a filthy voyeur.

This post didn’t start off being rambling ponderings on writing … it just kind of happened.

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2 Comments

  1. Intersting things to ponder…I think, however, there can be fine line between what you describe (and what is seems writers like Welsh are doing) and being exploitative and crass. It makes for fine character development and good storytelling to give use these brief and gritty glimpses into being “human,” but it’s a whole different monster to exploit or wallow in it.

  2. I know what you’re saying, but I have to say that I think it is far too often that people jump to calling something exploitative. I think people assume if it makes them uncomfortable that it is being exploitative. I’m not so sure it’s that fine a line though. Trainspotting (the novel) is filled with rather graphic sex and is brimming with situations that are more than a little unsettling (Renton having sex with his pregnant sister-in-law at his brother/her husband’s funeral comes to mind). I think a lot of people may just dismiss it as exploitative or crass and just ignore it. I think for that same reason many writers may avoid going to those less than comfortable places. I think perhaps that the division between the crassness and the art of making people uncomfortable is what the point of the writing is. If you are actively attempting to make people uncomfortable, just for the sake of it, that is crass. That is exploitative. However, if you are making a point about the desperation of those who are addicted to drugs or who find themselves caught up in a life of crime or meaningless sex, or just a meaningless, shallow life, and you go to those places that make people squirm and show that nasty little underbelly of being a human being. Those bits and pieces that are part of us all, then that’s very different, and I would argue with a person calling that exploitative or crass (regardless of how far it goes).

    Anyhow, thanks for the comment … there was a typo in your website, I fixed that so folks can follow your name back to you, should they be so inclined.


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