Art about Art
One reason I'm skeptical about literature that focuses on how writers write, or movies about directing, or any of that, is I wonder how much we should get out of it. Certainly it can be done well. Certainly it can give us insights. But am I mixing my gin with Barthes' "Death of the Author" kool-aid? Does it really matter to us WHERE or HOW or WHY an author gets his/her ideas then creates a work of art? Isn't the more important thing the work itself?
That's one reason I appreciate John Fowles' metafiction, particularly The French Lieutenant's Woman. Yes, it's about how writers write--but more importantly, it's about how readers read. In the lengthy essay I've written on Fowles below I argue that there are three levels of freedom/responsibility in The French Lietenant's Woman (and The Magus), one being the freedom/responsibility of the reader.
More "Low-brow Aesthetic, High-brow Ideas" posts coming
I'm still working on this theory and looking for good examples. Essentially, it is an argument for ideas over form, for content over style. But moreso, it is an argument that intelligence and ideas do not necessarily come from high-brow literature and film (that what makes something "high-brow" is usually the form, not the ideas). Further, playing with ideas is just as possible in works of art or entertainment that are definitely not high-brow in form (though, admittedly, most low-brow entertainment does not play with these ideas).
Hopefully soon I will write my thoughts on HBO's Deadwood. I say this because hopefully I will soon have coherent thoughts on this show. In a few key ways, it is unlike any television show I've seen. Through seven episodes it is becoming clear who the good guys and bad guys are, but...so far it is a show without a protagonist. There's character development, but it's a plot driven show...and the clearest protagonist has most often been shown as a side character in the plot(s). There's something about it that is different than anything I've seen, and I hope to become more articulate about what, and soon.