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Moodscapes. Dreamscapes. Writing.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘moodscape’ as a depiction or evocation in words, music, etc., of complex moods or feelings.

I’d say it has something to do with ‘dreamscapes’. I’m definitely left with strong feelings after my dreams but they are hard to ‘make sense of’. They defy ‘off the shelf’ lexicons of feeling and emotion because they combine so many elements. My own dreams are always very vivid and usually have a narrative, something like a bizarre film.

Like engaging with music, a film, a poem, a novel or a landscape, it is not straightforward to describe the feeling even to myself. I think an artist of whatever sort has to ‘translate’ into a medium, a translation which can never be complete.

There are films and novels, long poems and dreams, places and climates whose details I can barely remember if at all. I can’t remember plots, characters or narratives. Yet I remember deeply the feeling-scape. It’s years since I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner or W.G.Sebald’s Rings of Saturn yet the atmosphere, the desolation and melancholy of each are not simple: they are their own unique evocations of desolation and melancholy, produced by the writers’ art, their craft.

To think of Jane Austen or George Eliot is, more than anything, to make me smile – a different smile for each, for each of their conveying of writerly mood. Now plot, character, story increase the pleasure of reading them of course. But their siingular voices are the consequence of their deepest complexes of feeling that can’t be expressed literally. It all needs a slanting, a refraction,

There are writers, the large majority, who give me great pleasure. I like a villain and a frantic car chase as the next pulp fiction reader. I appreciate the artistry and skill of many writers as I read. But then I forget them. The pulse at the heart of a feeling complex wasn’t there.

Several artists have pointed out that their work is never completed but merely abandoned. They cannot portray more than hints, shadows, textures, whispers of the mysterious complex of feelings. Many writers spend their lives not telling the same story but trying to find another slant on the core complex that urges them to essay the attempt.

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