Monday, 13 October 2008

In the Radical First Person

“In times such as these, healthy citizenship requires the insertion of a human proxy into the stream of historical happenstance. What we need is an experimental subject, an “I” sufficiently armed with narrative powers both literary and historical, gifts of irony and indirection, and the soothing balms of description and implication, to go forth and find stories that might counteract the unhappy effects of our disorder … [Where] the individual consciousness of the writer is paramount. The reader thereby becomes privy to the writer’s experience and receives direct confirmation of its truth value.”

I aborted the above from the introduction to a nice collection of Harper’s stories by the magazine’s editor Roger D. Hodge. The book, “Submersion Journalism”, gives name to a genre of writing “from the inside”; where unsanctioned reporting seeks to provide an antidote to spin, and where a premium is paid for tales told “from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity.”

And there, in a nutshell, is the Amateurs' perspective - and point.