Been thinking more about the need to shock in fiction. Watched Sydney Pollack’s doc “Sketches of Frank Gehry” last night. Pollack said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he thought of talent as “liquid trouble.” The trick was to let it seep out in productive and creative ways, to use the talent. Also made the point that liquid trouble was largely frustration with things as they are and the desire to change them. If you strive for excellence, then you’re definitionally competitive and ambitious. Reminded me of something I read when Ricardo Montalban died. He was a famous perfectionist and it grew directly out of his faith. He maintained that we create in imitation of God and have an obligation to get it right.
Taking all of this together, trying to shock the audience/reader makes sense – it’s the obvious way to jolt someone out of complacency. The problem is that it loses its effectiveness if done too often and the ante continues to go up. It seems that we need more creativity to express that frustration with the way things are without going solely for shock value. Right now I’m thinking it’s about leading the audience on a journey so that by the end they see things as if for the first time. Yeah, easier said than done. Believe me, I know.