'Writing as Self-analysis', by Ultan Banan. Ruminations on the written word.

Writing as Self-analysis, an Introduction

Scrabbling through the wastes of my own texts, I often see broken pieces of myself lying here and there, discarded fragments scattered through the unholy jungles of darkly psychological narratives. But how much of it is me? The ‘I’ in my texts — for I write predominantly in first person — is it truly an ‘I’? The answer I believe — disappointingly, perhaps — is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Both are true, and both are not true. What I propose is a little exploratory ramble to see if I can’t formulate the reasons why.

I started writing as a way of navigating and processing a long period of atrocious mental health, which stemmed from, I believe, a personality disorder, which in turn grew out of some trauma further back. The process of unravelling all of this came about when I started writing, first in nonfiction shorts, then in long-form works of fiction. The first of these was Meat. Meat can be viewed through one particular lens as a deep dive into a troubled and suppressed psychology, which culminated in a story about a seemingly oblivious guy who sets out to destroy the world in order to avoid looking at himself. This is only one perspective, and there are, naturally, many others.

But how much of an author finds its way into a text, and how much is something other? It should go without saying, I believe, that much that is circumstantial in a book is often drawn from a writer’s direct experience, such as geography, and social constructs and institutions, and, to go deeper, ways of interacting with the outside world: how people engage with each other through dialogue and empathy, through physical and emotional love, through anger and forgiveness and shame… all of these things come together to form the writer’s constructed world, his engagement with the readership, or let’s employ a little German here, his weltanschauung. This much seems evident, but all of this is surface. What about what lies deeper? What about the subconscious elements of a narrative, the symbolism, the sub-currents? If we get psychoanalytical on a novel, do we still find the writer? Is he still there, the ‘I’?

To delve into this, we’re gonna need to break out some big guns.

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 ‘Writing as Self-analysis’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: all content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.

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