Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reader's Diary #810- Derek Hayes: The Maladjusted

While reading Derek Hayes' The Maladjusted I found myself grasping at a memory that would never surface; something I once heard in an art class about art being some sort of mirror or glass. I've gone searching for art theory and philosophy and still haven't hit upon whatever that was all about. Though I think this quote (which in itself references a quotes by Shakespeare and Novalis) by Joseph Campbell comes close:
Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image.

The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, 'The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet.


The characters of Hayes' collection-- the maladjusted folk-- made me reconsider that glass. As if it's not art that interprets or reinterprets society it is us; our eyes are the glass. Here's another quote by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht:
If art reflects life, it does so with special mirrors.
What makes Hayes' stories so clever is that he gives the illusion that these mirrors are special. Because they are maladjusted, the glass is cloudy, or at least "special." But after a while, I started to trust the mistrusted voices... actually, that's not entirely accurate. I didn't so much trust them, I simply started to mistrust myself. While these people may not have an accurate view, who does? The lenses, the eyes, the art cannot help but skew the truth somewhat, but it's our human limitation.

That Hayes could make me open to such existential pondering with seemingly straightforward stories (there's not a lot in the way of obvious experimentation or surface level philosophy) is another testament to the strength of his writing.

4 comments:

Teddy Rose said...

Fasntastic review! I am about half way through the book and am really liking it. The glass is definatly foggy.

John Mutford said...

Also reviewed at Giraffe Days.

John Mutford said...

Also reviewed at Giraffe Days.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

Love the glass analogy, John! So apt. Yes there's something special here, with the seemingly mundane - or straightforward, as you say - suddenly becoming something more. I also loved how unpretentious the stories are, how stripped bare and daggy, even. Makes them much more accessible.