Ars Amatoria

by Israel Centeno    /  July 30, 2013  / No comments

Words for authors and the objects of their affection.

Doctor Who

Photo: Thomas Leuthard via Flickr.

Practicing an artistic discipline is one of many ways to exercise power. However, power that seeks legitimacy in another must be managed wisely.

  1. Night Watch, a column by Israel Centeno
  2. From his lonely watch post Albert Camus asked who among us has not experienced exile yet still managed to preserve a spark of fire in their soul. “We’re all alone,” Natalia Sedova cried in exile on hearing of her husband Leon Trotsky’s affair with Frida Kahlo. In his novel Night Watch, Stephen Koch follows the incestuous love affair of David and Harriet, wealthy siblings watching the world from their solitary exile. Koch’s writing, Camus’s theories, and Trotsky’s affair all come back to exile and lead me to reflect on the human condition. From my own vantage point, my Night Watch, I will reflect on my questions of exile, writing, and the human condition.
  3. Israel Centeno
  4. Israel Centeno was born in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Pittsburgh as a Writer-in-Residence with City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He writes both novels and short stories, and also works as an editor and professor of literature. He has published nine books in Venezuela and three in Spain.

Narration anoints the author with the power of the tale they are telling. To narrate is to control the power of language for the sake of the story being told.

The author thinks up a story and then explores the varying ways in which it could be told. He or she chooses to be unmistakable and unequivocal.

The author is a private voice relating an action.

Inaction cannot be expressed.

The author can be compared to the lover who seduces or captivates their beloved and yet oppresses and deceives them.

The object of affection (the reader) is never aware of this deception: The indisputable truth of the deception yields to the lover (the author). If the beloved were made aware of the deception, they would deplore the lover.

The beloved is blissfully unaware; they simply accept. The lover captivates. The beloved is enraptured. Realistic stories subjugate, no matter how over-the-top they may be.

One should not keep a story hidden without manipulating the art of suggestion, partly revealing its intimate and coveted parts. If the author does not manage to awaken that fatal desire for the obscure object, they will remain alone in an exercise of complacency.

An author must not explain the narration. The narration must explain itself. The narration must develop the character of a self-governing, differential universe; sometimes the narration is a contrary or distorted vision of a reality or fictional possibility, stubbornly supported by an inherent consistency.

The author need only be honest with themselves, with the language they employ and with the story they tell. For this reason, they must learn to listen to themselves.

Note: The above are considerations surrounding the art of writing fiction. They are private notes shared with students and readers.

About the Author

Israel Centeno was born in 1958 in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Pittsburgh as a Writer-in-Residence with City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. He writes both novels and short stories, and also works as an editor and professor of literature. He has published nine books in Venezuela and three in Spain.

View all articles by Israel Centeno

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