Rudy Rucker’s Tranrealist Manifesto

Image from BoingBoing when Rudy Rucker was guest blogger. Rucker says, "My jeweler daughter, Isabel, made me a great “Swiss Writing Knife” with symbols of seven of the things I’m interested in: A Zhabotinsky scroll (for cellular automata), the Mandelbrot set (for fractals), a robot, A Square (for the fourth dimension), Infinity, a UFO, a Cone Shell (for diving, cellular automata, universal automatism, and SF). It’s gold-colored metal and the little “blades” swing in and out, with the icons in silver-colored metal riveted on."

Image from Boing Boing when Rudy Rucker was guest blogger. Rucker says, “My jeweler daughter, Isabel, made me a great “Swiss Writing Knife” with symbols of seven of the things I’m interested in: A Zhabotinsky scroll (for cellular automata), the Mandelbrot set (for fractals), a robot, A Square (for the fourth dimension), Infinity, a UFO, a Cone Shell (for diving, cellular automata, universal automatism, and SF). It’s gold-colored metal and the little “blades” swing in and out, with the icons in silver-colored metal riveted on.”

I first saw a link to this on John Shirley’s Facebook pageRudy Rucker’s “Transrealist Manifesto” struck a harmonious chord in my perception of the writing craft. I especially like his statement, “Although reading is linear, writing is not.”

Rucker goes on to explain why you don’t necessarily needs an outline:

A book with no readers is not a fully effective work of art. A successful novel of any sort should drag the reader through it. How is it possible to write such a book without an outline? The analogy is to the drawing of a maze. In drawing a maze, one has a start (characters and setting) and certain goals (key scenes). A good maze forces the tracer past all the goals in a coherent way. When you draw a maze, you start out with a certain path, but leave a lot a gaps where other paths can hook back in. In writing a coherent Transrealist novel, you include a number of unexplained happenings throughout the text. Things that you don’t know the reason for. Later you bend strands of the ramifying narrative back to hook into these nodes. If no node is available for a given strand-loop, you go back and write a node in (cf. erasing a piece of wall in the maze).

Not only is this a good writing tip, it also reminds me of William S. Burroughs notion that “cause and effect” is an illusion. In an article at 3 Quarks Daily, Burroughs says, “I must give up the attempt to explain, to seek any answer in terms of cause and effect and prediction, leave behind the entire structure of pragmatic, result seeking, use seeking, question asking Western thought.” Writers can create events for our fictional characters. Some would say that God, or some force, guides and maybe even predestines our experiences on Earth. This is either reality reflecting fiction or fiction reflecting reality. In The Mosaic of Juxtaposition , Micheal Sean Bolton quotes Burroughs as saying, “When I got interested in cats, I started seeing cats in Brion’s paintings. The notion that what goes on inside somebody can effect something outside goes against the dogma of scientific materialism . . . but that’s obviously not true. I’m thinking about New Mexico, and I come around the corner and there’s a New Mexico license plate. The land of enchantment. I didn’t put it there by thinking about it. But I was there at the same time.”

Read Rudy Rucker’s entire Transrealist Manifesto here

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