• Charles Bukowski's views on writing
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Charles Bukowski's views on writing
on: February 20, 2020, 09:53:47


Charles Bukowski's views on writing are simple. And apart from all the crap about welcoming death and drinking, I underwrite his ideas about writing.
What I personally miss though, is the idea that it must provoke a reaction. If my writing goes by unnoticed, I think I have done something wrong. I don't really care if you are happy (yes, secretly I hope you are, right?) or if you are irritated..., as long as you feel something.

In that sense, my music - my lyrics are never suitable for work. You will never be able to yell at me when you are there.

I am very careful with alcohol and don't use any other things. I am an a-typical artist. Not one song or no lyrics were written while drinking my two glasses. Not for as long as I can remember.

So:
Yes to his ideas about the pacing and the idea that your words have something to say
No to his ideas about alcohol
I am curious what you think.
Kind regards, Gus


Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #1 on: February 20, 2020, 14:45:23
« Last Edit: February 20, 2020, 15:08:15 by Pleudoniem »
What I uderstand from Bukowski's writings is that he had the idea that showing was also a way of evoking a reaction. I think what he is showing us in the video is the principle of 'show, don't tell'. Although he wasn't quite averse to introspective quarrels and wonderings, Bukowski was a master in it, and there is a lot to say for it. So, there IS a reaction. He implicitly says this in the video, as each line must have 'juice'.

His reference to death and drinking is not surprising, I think, as he was nicknamed the court poet of the gutter. They are popular topics for gutter stories. He must have seen a lot of misery in his life.

I understand how you can take an approach to writing the way he does it, but I can also see the sense in many other ways of writing, including the ones that Bukoski does not like. Each should be viewed for their own special ways of telling a tale. The reason is simple: readers are as different as writers. This is not to say that some stories may not be more better or interesting than others :)

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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #2 on: February 20, 2020, 23:31:19
@LePlongeur  and @Pleudoniem  - interesting thread. I don't know too much about Bukowski - I place him in the generation of Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.
I can understand the 'juice in each line' - and agree also with @LePlongeur 's statement of no to his ideas about alcohol.


I found this Bukowski quote

      “Somebody once asked me what my theory of life was,
      and I said, ‘Don’t try.’ That fits the writing, too. I don’t try; I just type.”


May ve that is a short summary of his views?
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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #3 on: February 21, 2020, 01:36:54
A bit. Bukowski was very interested in the downside of life in the city he lived in, LA. He depicted the lives of those who could not speak for themselves, the poor and the helpless, the people from the gutter. LA has a great number of them. That is why drinking and death also played a great role in what he wrote. Drinking is often (but naturally not always) a poor man's problem. Thing is, he'd seen many people destroyed by it, so he had his thoughts about it.

So, he may have been a contemporary of Kerouac and Burroughs, but his topics and his way of writing was quite different. In a way, I think some of his work may be more comparable to some of Alan Ginsberg's social and political writing, although Ginsberg also used a lot of impulse writing. Ginsberg and Bob Dylan were friends, if that means anything here. 


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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #4 on: February 21, 2020, 09:12:17
It's very seldom, that 1:1 translations work.
Here, the bullshit translator overlooked the opportunity to do a very apt 1:1 translation. And with a century old description too.

In Dutch 'sappige verhalen' is exactly what he meant with juice.
Sappige verhalen go very near (but not quite across the line of) exaggeration.

And I agree with that. To want that to happen with each line you write is a bit much I guess.
The sappigste I wrote and am very proud of are the first lines of Liberation day:

Ik was nog maar een halve fles hier
toen jij ook binnenkwam
fuck me boots, designer linnen
rechtsreeks uit Amsterdam

or, in English:
I was only here half a bottle
when you made your entrance dear
fuck me boots, designer linen
checking out the atmosphere

For I am a bit Bukowski at heart; not at liver.
And yes, the beat poets (the Dutch people I have met) have been a great influence on my writing.
But all in all i really liked this interview. Many more parts of this are scattered along YouTube.
Kind regards, @oorlab, @Pleudoniem, Gus



Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #5 on: February 21, 2020, 13:44:22
« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 14:11:31 by Pleudoniem »
@LePlongeur  Juice also means 'smaak', in Dutch. In my experience, the element does not necessarily entail exaggeration, but you're absolutely right that this is quite possible, and I can understand why you'd read the word that way. Your adding 'juice' to words in the way you feel the word, makes sense. Ironically, the word 'juice' also means 'drink' in the US. I wonder if Bukowski may have used ('juiced') the word intentionally :)

The thing is that poems (that is, many streams of them) tend to reshape language in a way that would be unusual to spoken language, and that normally helps to identify them as such, or to reach an impact. To illustrate: the stuttering patterning in Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth makes it sound like a machine gun, but if someone spoke to me in sonnets, it would leave an odd impression  ;D I think that what Bukowski wanted to say in the interview was that it is alright to shape language in such a way that it has an impact.

Both the Beat Poets as well as Bukowski frequently used an approach that is reminiscent of what the imagists did. They took little pictures of situations, and captured them in little fragments in words. Slides in a slideshow that make a life. The difference may just be that the imagists still liked to polish and shave the language to make it look like poetry none the less, whereas Bukowski's work looked (note, I am not saying that it WAS) much more unpolished and life-like. The little fragment you posted is much more like that. Ze kwam binnen zonder kloppen.

I don't 'agree' or 'disagree' with any style of writing, but I am interested in any approach, I just do what I think works best for the situation. I shamelessly apply whatever poetic tools I can think of, if that works. But tools are only tools. Sometimes, kneading the words by hand just works better.


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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #6 on: February 21, 2020, 19:15:08
Thank you @Pleudoniem and @oorlab , as I am very pleased with the extra insights.
Sometimes I think I am a pur sang songwriter and sometimes I feel more like a writer who puts music behind the words. But in that case the words come first.

I'll check out the (I hope) extra posts that this will provoke from native speakers.
I have pledged my love for automatic writing more than once, so.....

Thanks!
Kind regards, Gus


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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #7 on: February 21, 2020, 20:45:02
@LePlongeur  - you're welcome Gus, - do you think Bukowski practised automatic writing?


Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #8 on: February 21, 2020, 20:51:34
@oorlab How do you define automatic writing? Is that like stream of consciousness?


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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #9 on: February 21, 2020, 22:03:34
@Pleudoniem - I don't have a definition at hand, but there is another thread about it on the Forum. @LePlongeur  mentions his love for automatic writing... I gather it to be writing without specific plan, indeed stream of conscious.


Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #10 on: February 21, 2020, 22:18:17
@oorlab Ah yes. I've found it already. Close to Stream of Consciousness indeed.


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Re: Charles Bukowski's views on writing
Reply #11 on: February 25, 2020, 22:08:00
I think that writing is all about reference points. These points can change with age and your experiences. You are trying to open a window on a situation that will strike a chord (no pun interned) with the listener and weave that story into a song by using music to pull at the listener's emotions.

You can try and put yourself in another's shoes but can you really connect to the reader ?  Perhaps you can if you are skilled enough and maybe with songwriting this is much easier than writing a novel.  Specifically in song writing we are constrained by song-length to be focussed or the story is lost. Every word must count.

I'm always intrigued how very clever songs lyrically are often ignored and simple, repetitive, banal lyrics somehow connect to make a song a hit. Do we crave simplicity in songs, does it depend on the a target audience, does the music matter more to most people ?

Perhaps originality is the key, perhaps a new way of engaging with the audience is worth more than all the clever words you might write. But music is consumed at different levels, maybe extroverts and introverts consume music differently, maybe social status and age plays a part, there are so many answers but also so many questions ... LOL




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