Monday, November 17, 2008

The alienation effect

On Auster — the games and connections, the intertextuality:

Why does Auster do these things? In some ways, one might liken his narrative games to Bertholt Brecht's "alienation effect." Brecht held that an actor should play his role from a distance, almost tongue-in-cheek, as though commenting on the part rather than losing himself in it. He felt that even the backstage activity should be made obvious to the audience. The point of theater, to Brecht, wasn't for the spectators to lose themselves in the play, but to consider the issues it raised, reflect on the interactions of the characters, think about different possibilities and outcomes. Auster himself has emphasized that he is fascinated by "certain philosophical questions about the world," in particular aspects of identity and human psychology. His art, in its serious playfulness, aims to heighten our awareness of life's overall unreality, to recreate on the page some of its wondrous serendipity and strangeness.
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