Zhang Dinghao’s office was dimly lit and full of books, and we talked for four hours.
He talked about poetry and personal identity. he also sharply pointed out the problems of some writers.
At the same time, he showed sharpness and softness, and he tried to gradually change his indecision for fear of hurting others, as he said, only as an ordinary reader’s dissatisfaction with the field of literary criticism. an author should be pitied rather than criticized for writing a bad work; the only thing to criticize is the false praise it evokes again and again.
In the second floor, turn two bends, pass several open doors, and then go ahead. at the end of the corridor, you will see the door with the couplet, push open the door, inside is the editorial office of “Shanghai Culture”.
Shanghai Writers Association, 675 Julu Road. Zhang Dinghao’s office is here. His station is on the innermost right side, the light is not bright, books are piled on the table and on the sofa, the ivy and vines climb up the windowsill, the balcony opposite the door looks like a plant bathtub, and the romantic newlyweds come to the balcony to take wedding photos, and some of the fallen leaves on the balcony jump into the room and are scattered among the piles of books on the floor.
There is an old-fashioned bicycle near his chair, which was put here by Wu Liang, editor of Shanghai Culture.
“it’s probably been here for at least five or six years, before we shared bikes. He used to ride his bike to work occasionally, but then he was afraid of wrestling, so he didn’t ride it. “
On one occasion, Zhang Dinghao talked about his working status here: “I am now working in Shanghai, in an old house.There are a lot of Parthenocissus and Fujimoto roses outside my office. the leaves have fallen in winter and the balcony is covered with dead leaves, leaving only the gray roots climbing on the walls, windowsills and balcony railings that you think are dead.
But I have been in that office for nine years, and I know that every spring, people think that bright red buds and fresh flower-like leaves will appear on the dead roots. It is something that comes and goes year after year, and the old roots connect with the older earth, and as long as it is alive, it will blossom with new flowers year after year. “
” tree returns to spring.” The conspicuous couplet posted on the door, Zhang Dinghao told me, was written by Cui Xin, editor of Shanghai Literature.
“she is practicing calligraphy. about January, when I went to their office to play, I saw her write a couplet with the names of their colleagues on the door. Then, at noon one day, she teamed up with another editor to put a self-made couplet embedded with the names of everyone in our editorial department on our door. “
He has worked here for 11 years since 2008. His professional identity is not only an editor but also a literary critic, and on some occasions, his identity tag is a “writer”.
He believes that “poet” and “writer” are both titles that are spoken by others. “I don’t call myself a poet on my resume. I think of myself as a ‘poet’ at best. But sometimes people have to say that, and there’s nothing I can do about it. First of all, I am a writer. poets and critics are called by others. I can’t call myself a poet, otherwise it’s strange. “
He is better known as a literary critic. The word criticism, in the contemporary Chinese context, is always associated with complex interpersonal relationships.
People like to use “circle” to refer to different types of fields, cultural circles, entertainment circles and poetry circles.
Literary critics are always regarded as the kind of people who stir up trouble in the literary circle.
On several occasions, Zhang Dinghao was asked the same question: “does criticism make you offend people?”
He talked about his motivation for writing literary criticism. “just as some kind of ordinary reader’s dissatisfaction with the field of literary criticism, an author should be pitied rather than criticized for writing a bad work,” he said. it’s just the false praise it evokes again and again. “
Nietzsche’s words were quoted by him in an attempt to demonstrate the injustice of false criticism.
“it is an act close to madness to assume that a person has a virtue that he does not actually have.
Such an assumption is obviously more dangerous than the opposite obsession with an absolute evil.
Because there is a cure for the crazy obsession with absolute evil, and the former will make a person or an era worse day by day, and it will be unjust day by day. “
“for me, the area in which I feel I can speak and play an appropriate role is literature,” Zhang Dinghao wrote in his book Professional and Amateur novelists. “
One weekend afternoon, the poet Hu Sang invited him and Fang Yan, deputy editor of Sinan selected Literature, to give a lecture at Tongji University, which was named after Zhang Ding hao’s book Professional and Amateur novelists.
Fang Yan’s voice is loud and powerful, wearing a black trench coat and Zhang Ding hao wearing a white suit,keeping quiet.
Listen to a large number of students from the creative writing class of Tongji University. in the face of these novel beginners, they do not show off from experienced people.
When he expresses his literary views, what he feels is not a kind of emotional boiling, but the recognition of calmness and sincerity.
Apart from calmness, there was no more expression on his face.
It seems that some kind of balance must be maintained in order to really enter literature.
The road to literature was full of pitfalls, and he talked to the young students about “the enemies of literature”-literary youth and slippery occupational diseases.
“Literary youth have all kinds of self-righteous prejudices. they always feel that the world is against them. they are looking for a sense of self-existence in an inexplicable resistance.”
“We will see a lot of so-called writers and poets who have published some books, may have written one or two good works when they were young, and have been engaged in writing for many years, but the professionalism of this writing has gradually turned into slickness, speculation and self-repetition.”
Hu Sang joked that no matter where he held a lecture, someone would ask Zhang Dinghao to sign his name. Fang Yan said, “I handed an autograph pen to Zhang.”
He does not reject fame. he borrows the title of a book by Huang De hai as an example. he believes that the best state of “fame” is in the moment of “if you will fly but do not fly”.
“if a bird is about to fly and has not yet flown, it is best to maintain the situation in which it is going to be famous but not really famous. If a writer is not known for a long time, he will be very uncomfortable and lose his self-confidence.
So you need a little bit of fame, but a big fame can destroy a person, because you are surrounded by fans, and then a lot of people come to flatter, slowly get hot, and you don’t know who you are. “
After gaining some fame, can a critic really express his opinion?
Clever camouflage or silence would be an easier choice, but Zhang Dinghao did not choose this path.
After the announcement of the Baoper Republic Literature Award in 2019, the candidate Ban Yu was defeated.
His book “Winter Swimming” received more attention and applause after it was recommended by Yi Qianxi and Li Jian.
But Zhang Dinghao did not choose silence or more tactful words. he expressed his views bluntly and sharply, saying that the author was too arrogant.
Northeast narrative, bottom and marginal experience, Zhang Dinghao’s writing of this type does not hold an elitist critical posture, but is judged by the novelist’s basic writing ability.
“many northeast narratives, such as Ban Yu’s books, are popular because many readers live in first-and second level cities, and they prefer to see an experience of strangeness, but this experience does not mean’ good ‘. In the face of writing that we are not familiar with, we tend to lower the requirements on the text. “
It is not because the writer is famous that he “turns a blind eye” to the poorly written parts.
Yu Hua’s narration of “the Seventh Day” is, in his view, a kind of “mediocrity that belongs to the living”.
In the face of writers who are “politically correct” praised by many critics, Zhang Dinghao will also raise objections directly. “
Yan Lianke is very kind to young people, and he is also good at pulling young people, but that’s what he does. he knows exactly what he wants to do. when he was young, he wrote to change his destiny. Now writing is an attempt to gain international fame. But it has nothing to do with good literature. It is estimated that he can do well in business, which is why many people who write poems can do business well later, because they are also very smart people. “
Before the announcement of the Nobel Prize in 2019, Can Xue was on the list of odds of the Nobel Prize for Literature published by Nicerodds.
Once higher than Haruki Murakami, “a person who does not mix with the literary world” and “surpass Kafka”, many articles praising Can Xue appeared in the moments.
Zhang Dinghao said bluntly, “Can Xue read too few books, of course, she also saw that some people wrote worse than her, so she was very conceited.”
He believes that Canxue’s writing is a kind of “imitation of narrative rhetoric in the most superficial sense.”
In the article “where to find the Vanguard Today”, he commented that the rebellious spirit in Can Xue’s novels is a kind of rebellion against the model writings of middle school students. “
In the past two years, he has won some awards one after another.
At the award ceremony of “Southern people Weekly”2019 Youth Power,” the award message given by the judges to Zhang Dinghao was: “for more than a decade, this new-born critic, with the ignorance, sharpness, and bluntness of a newborn calf, pointed the blade at the successful leaders in the contemporary literary world– Yu Hua, Su Tong, Ge Fei, Yan Lianke, Ma Yuan and others, and hit directly at the weakness and” life gate “in their new works in recent years. And the laziness, pandering and speculation behind these rough, contrary to real life and poor-quality typing. “
When I asked him how he felt after he became famous, Zhang Dinghao sat on the edge of the front half of the chair and smiled evasively, “I haven’t changed anything. besides, I haven’t won any prize.”
In 1992, at the age of 16, Zhang Dinghao began to go to college.
Compared with the literary picture of talking about all kinds of westernism and discussing values and the role of the state in the 1980s, the literary outlook of the 1990s was vague. people began to do business and intellectuals turned to the market in the face of suspicion and loss. people gradually show identity and compromise to the new world.
Zhang Dinghao lived an idle life at North China Electric Power University in Baoding, free from the temptation of commerce and the market, and did not come into contact with a public space for literary discussion. he stayed in the library and began to read some books on serious literature. try to write poetry, join a literary club, “write very badly.”
Zhang Dinghao grew up in Maanshan, Anhui Province, a small county on the edge of the Yangtze River. his father did tests in a cement factory and his mother was an educated youth from Shanghai.
In primary school, Zhang Dinghao lived a dull and boring life in the primary school of the children of the cement factory.
A total of five years of primary school, three years in the factory primary school, two years in the county school.
He was very nearsighted when he was very young. he wore glasses and looked different from his classmates around him.
His childhood was relatively peaceful, which he jokingly thought was one of the reasons why he could not write a novel, because there was no childhood trauma and no suffering.
He studied too early, went to primary school before the age of five, and went to college at the age of 16. during this period, he has always been the youngest person in the class, and his classmates are generally two or three years older than him.
The difference in age brings about the dislocation of experience. people around him begin to fall in love when they enter adolescence, and he can only digest that difference and insecurity by entering books and studies.
He considers himself a dull man. There has been no drastic change in the external environment, from a small county to a small city of Baoding, a relatively stable public space and collective life, let him in a constant “quiet”.
After graduation, he was assigned to a power plant in Anhui Province. at first, he worked as a boiler operator on the front line. there were five shifts and three shifts, with the day shift, the small night shift and the big night shift. when he went to work, he sat in the monitoring room facing rows of instruments. every other hour, he took a duty book, took the elevator outside, walked around the big boiler along all the equipment meters, recorded data, and checked for anomalies.
A year later, he went to the thermal control sub-field according to his major, worked as an inspector and resumed the day shift.
After working in the factory for five years, he read books when he was free. he liked Haruki Murakami and wrote his first novel.
To be an amateur literary youth, he thinks it’s a bit boring, wants to be a real writer and wants to have a systematic literary training.
What are we going to do?
He decided to take the postgraduate entrance examination.
Zhang Dinghao chose to take Fudan’s major in modern and contemporary literature. his mother never returned to Shanghai. he kind of wanted to return to that city for his mother.
After failing to pass the exam for the first time, he was transferred to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. he came to the address of the school on Huaihai Road. when he saw that the whole school was almost a building, and a table tennis table was still placed at the entrance of the corridor, he thought, how can he play ball here?
Went straight back to the factory and decided to take the exam again.
After that, he was very depressed for a period of time. he felt that his grades had been very good in high school, and any exam was not a problem for him.
But the postgraduate entrance examination brought him a great sense of frustration.
But he had no choice.
If he wants to leave here and go to a bigger city, he can’t find a better way except to insist on taking the postgraduate entrance examination. Do you resign and venture to Shanghai like others?
He thinks he can’t do it. “I don’t have any talents and skills. what can I do when I go to Shanghai?”
One evening after taking the postgraduate entrance examination again, he received a phone call from the first test and immediately got a sense of relief.
This time, he went to Shanghai for an interview, dressed in a grand suit. in the corridor waiting for the interview, he met his future classmate Huang Dehai. they interviewed together and later lived in the same dormitory in the same class.
When he returned to campus, he began to become a large number of readers again. his tutor, Mr. Xu Daoming, worked in the history of modern literary criticism and attached great importance to historical materials and theory. from then on, he gradually had his own reading genealogy. focus on western modern and contemporary literary theory and classical literary works.
At that time, Zhang Dinghao began to write some poems or essays on some online forums such as BBS in Fudan, which would be quickly responded to, and everyone’s discussion was very heated. From there, he gained some confidence in his writing.
However, he has always lacked self-confidence in writing novels, such as “bad memory”, “only remembering some vague scenes” and “lack of the ability to restore scenes”.
After graduation, he went to two publishing companies and then to a fashion magazine, both as editors with low salaries.
Confusion has always been with him, the identity of the editor is a professional identity, but from the career of writing, he does not know what kind of person he will become.
In 2008, Zhang Dinghao entered the work of “Shanghai Culture”, which is preparing to revamp and return to the field of literary criticism.
The magazine is a bimonthly magazine with relatively free working hours and no need to clock in. for three days a week, there were three people in the editorial department. the editor was Wu Liang, and the editor was Zhang Dinghao and another girl. two years later, this girl resigned to write a screenplay. Huang Dehai also happened to want to change units at that time, so he came here.
A few years ago, when the selected Journal of Sinan Literature was prepared, Huang Dehai was transferred to be deputy editor, and the editorial position became vacant again, and Muye, an old friend he had known since Fudan, arrived as promised.
At one or two o’clock in the afternoon, the sun will slip into the office through the creeps crawling all over the windows.
Zhang Dinghao said he likes reviewing manuscripts, reading and chatting with friends in the office.
“the whole environment is very quiet, there is no disturbance, and the environment of the Shanghai Writers’ Association is also very relaxed, without any bureaucratic atmosphere.
The outside world will generally criticize some of the practices of the Writers’ Association and feel that it is a very bad group, but in fact, the situation is different from place to place. anyway, there is no such situation in Shanghai. “
The most popular part of Zhang Dinghao’s poems is “I love all things that are not complete”, which was composed by musician Cheng Bi.
Cheng Bi told me that by chance, she read the poem and a sense of delicacy hit her.
Choosing a poem to be a tune should relatively have its own sense of rhythm and a certain sentence can be sung over and over again, Cheng said.
This poem is not the one that Zhang Dinghao is most satisfied with, but he doesn’t seem to be able to find the one he is most satisfied with.
He thinks that writing poetry is a very empty thing. “you may not be able to write a word all day, even if you do, you don’t know what to write.”
Writing poetry requires a lot of free time to bear this nothingness, otherwise you will feel very anxious. “
He has published a collection of poems and more than 50 poems, and now the publishing house has asked him for a second one, but he has only 20 or 30 poems on hand, which is not enough to publish.
A young man，It is a happy thing for him to become a middle-aged man. the acquisition of external fame gradually dispels a young man’s lack of self-confidence and lets him know what he really wants to pursue.
“there are always a lot of things you want to do when you are young. slowly, it is something to keep doing subtraction.”
I will think of the winter of 2016, close to 12:00, when I was called to have a drink, and it was also at Julu Road that I first met Zhang Dinghao at that wine table. he was wearing a beige coat, and Yan GE was also present here. this was a group meeting to welcome her back to China. there were a total of six people, and people talked about topics such as the identity of Chinese people and foreigners.
He drank quietly, occasionally smoked a cigarette, sat on the edge, almost without saying a word.
The following is the interview.
Literary criticism is also to understand other people’s things.
Huang: literary criticism should be in the category of aesthetics and ability, but now many people will regard it as an ethical category. What do you think of this phenomenon?
Zhang Dinghao: when I write literary criticism, I comment on a person’s works, not to make friends with this person.
You have to keep enough distance from him so that you can face his work fairly.
As for offending people, if I think a person is so easy to offend, it’s not worth dating.
However, when I criticize young authors, I will be a little more euphemistic and harsher on well-known authors because the latter bear greater public responsibility.
Huang: What does think of academic criticism and empirical criticism?
Zhang Dinghao: I think many foreign theories are good, but as soon as we use them, they become very bad, and those theories are used in China like a fashion.
This is problematic. Qian Zhongshu is a man who knows a lot of theories. he thinks that these theories can coexist, such as the theories of Aristotle and the New critics, as well as the post-colonial theory, the queer theory. they can all co-exist.
Jonathan Cutler speaks very well in “introduction to Literary Theory”, that is, those foreign theorists are creators themselves, and their idea is to solve puzzles one by one.
This is a living thing, rather than directly turning theories such as what Deleuze said and how Agamben sees things, this is completely an academic exercise.
Of course, you can practice like this, you can try to use a theory to interpret a Chinese text, but this can not be a real literary criticism.
Huang: essentially lacks its own insight.
Zhang Dinghao: yes, you don’t understand what is behind this theory. you just use his theory. you just use it as a weapon. there is no understanding in it. it’s like a country just importing batches of new weapons. but you don’t have the strength to introduce a batch of scientists, you don’t have the ability to develop it, you don’t understand its principle, you just use each other’s words and use a few names to bluff people.
Huang: on the internal hierarchy of writers, some people think that in this sequence, the poet is the highest, then the novelist, and finally the literary critic. What do you think?
Zhang Dinghao: this is also a question that people who write literary criticism are often questioned.
Sometimes they feel ashamed of themselves, so many critics start to write novels later, just feel that they have to write a novel to prove that they are a writer. George Steiner said: “when the critic looked back, he saw the eunuch.” If you can be a writer, who will be a critic? ” He is a kind of self-mockery, of course, but such words are often borrowed as a fact.
In fact, I think this is not the case. literary criticism is also to understand other people’s things. the premise of literary writing is also to understand others, not just how good the writing is.
Literary ability, to a large extent, is a matter of comprehension and perception.
All good novelists are also based on their predecessors, their writing has a premise, is to read their own works, and then slowly write their own works, it is not something out of nothing.
Therefore, whether it is literary writing or literary criticism writing, it is the continuation of the so-called civilization. you have to have a thorough understanding of the past civilization before something new can come out.
If you only rely on your own personal experience and talent to write when you are young, this kind of writing will be a parabolic writing. for example, if you write a famous work in your thirties, but a famous work is a masterpiece, and then the writing is getting worse and worse. there is not a continuous upward process.
And we see many Western writers and even Chinese classical writers are constantly learning, the older they are, the better they are, and the more mature they are.
In the past, we talked about “talent” and “learning” at the same time, but now we only pay attention to talent, as if people engaged in literature as long as they have talent.
Novels are not the mouthpiece of history textbooks.
Huang:, do you agree that the works of many Shanghai writers are a kind of small literature? For example, texts that focus on personal feelings.
Zhang Dinghao: I don’t agree. Behind the concepts of small literature and small literati, there is actually a prejudice that emotion is small and social history is big. I don’t agree with this view.
Because there is no so-called social history, this is an abstract and empty concept. In fact, the core of literature is the emotion of personal life. only when you have a clear understanding of your life emotion can you correctly understand what is outside, whether it is called history, society or the world. otherwise, what you understand is very vague. in the end, you will become a person led by social politics and historical events.
What is interesting about literature itself, but also its most attractive place, is to constantly fight against collectivized and stubborn prejudices and habits with concrete, thin, fragile and personal vitality.
Huang: but many Chinese writers still like grand narration very much, such as Yan Lianke, it seems that any text must show a specific historical background.
Zhang Dinghao: this kind of history is not their own history, but the history of parrot textbooks.
If a novelist wants to create his own view of history, he must have the ability to re-narrate history.
All history is narrated after the fact, a good historian has the ability to reinterpret history, not to follow the textbook, the same is true of a literary writer.
You see, the same is true of Yan Lianke, including some contemporary young writers who write long novels. in their writings, people are passive, such as during the Cultural Revolution, during liberation, and during the Anti-Japanese War.
Is that really true?
There is a crisscross between a specific person’s life and history, sometimes catch up, sometimes not catch up, sometimes even ahead, always in the process of change and uncertainty.
Novels are not the mouthpiece of history textbooks.
To be fair, some writers do not have the ability to deal with and face history.
Therefore, he can only accept the knowledge of some second-and third-rate history textbooks, and he is even more incapable of facing the contemporary cutting-edge philosophy of history.
As a novelist, you should have an eye to see what the new philosophy is in a popular historical narrative, but many novelists do not have the ability to distinguish.
As for the Western readers’ view of contemporary Chinese novels, it is basically similar to the western scenery seen by the people of the Qing Dynasty. they do not want to see art, but the foreign women inside, and Western readers do not look at the artistic quality of contemporary Chinese novels. but look at the dark and institutionalized life that conforms to their imagination.
Compared with the omni-directional translation, introduction, study and enthusiastic understanding of western literature in contemporary China, the understanding of contemporary Chinese literature in western society has always been superficial and ridiculous. contemporary Chinese writers are just a window to the West. it represents some reactions under this system and is a symbolic thing.
But sadly, some of our writers and some of our readers seemed to live at the end of the Qing Dynasty. they wanted to jump three feet when they saw that some foreign man liked him or saw that some of his works had been translated into a foreign language that no one read at all.
Huang:, what do you think of can Xue?
Zhang Dinghao: can Xue is a living fossil from the 1980s. her ideas are very ridiculous.
I think I read too few books, of course, she also saw that some people were worse than her, so she was conceited.
The philosophical accomplishment in her mind is still stuck in the materialism and Marxism of the nature of history textbooks in the 1950s and 1960s, and then she feels that she has gone beyond this kind of thing.
But the problem is that she wants to know how far European philosophy is now, and if she doesn’t know it, then she talks arrogantly about Kafka and Divine Comedy in that place, and she’s just talking about herself over and over again.
Huang: just talked about writers like Yan Lianke and can Xue. Is there a background of the times or historical reasons behind the motif they express, or is there a historical reason behind their writing attitude?
Zhang Dinghao: they are all made by people fighting against others. in the end, the people who can come out are shrewd and cunning, can bear hardships and stand hard work, and know very clearly what they are going to do.
Is the kind of people who pursue the maximization of interests.
You see, Yan Lianke is also very kind to young people, and he is also very good at pulling young people. he knows exactly what he is going to do. when he was young, he wrote to change his destiny. now writing is to show international friends.
It is that he knows what he wants to do every step of the way, but it has nothing to do with good literature.
No matter how painful the person at the bottom is, you must also have the ability to see his joy, so that you can write about his suffering.
Huang:, do you think that today’s younger generation of novelists are faced with a very harsh fact, such as lack of external experience?
Zhang Dinghao: I think it’s a matter of ability, not experience. lack of experience is actually an excuse, because every place in your life is experience.
There is a saying that experience before the age of 18 is enough to write for a lifetime, that is, there is an extraordinarily rich world in everything you encounter, similar to the list that Leibniz said. it doesn’t mean that you have to encounter any war or disaster is experience.
I think it is very strange now. in these decades, the so-called life experience has appeared a particularly obvious discrimination chain in novel writing.
At the bottom of the discrimination chain is the experience of love and marriage between men and women in big cities. the older the young and the poor, the higher the level of the novel seems to be. therefore, it is now popular to write about life in a small town, and literary young people who can write about factory life like this on the road feel that wow is very amazing. he has also lived in a factory, so he has a lot of life experience, such as A Yi writes about police life, the same is true, writing about the northeast or the frontier looks even more powerful. This is ridiculous.
Experience itself does not have such a level, simply because most of the audience is in first-and second-tier cities, they want to see a strange experience, but the experience of strangeness is not good. we tend to lower our requirements for things we are not familiar with.
For example, in a love novel, when everyone has been in love, the reader will criticize the author for writing about the abduction and trafficking of women in remote mountainous areas. readers will lower their requirements on the author in the face of unfamiliar things.
Huang: doesn’t have the ability to deal with the kind of experience that happens to each and every one of us at the moment.
Zhang Dinghao: yes, I don’t have the ability.
If you look at things like “chat Records” and “Naples Quadrilogy”, they all deal with the daily experiences and emotions of big cities.
To write a novel, first of all, you have to be honest and brave enough to face the things that upset you, so that you can impress others, rather than writing what others want to see.
A writer must write about your honesty and what you really face.
This is something that everyone is facing.
It’s just that most people don’t have the courage or the ability to express it.
Huang: so it is not a matter of subject matter, it is a question of understanding.
You have quoted a writer before, that is, writing is to please people in the past. how do you understand this sentence?
Zhang Dinghao: that remark comes from Kierkegaard.
Because you won’t see people in the past, you will be stricter with yourself when you write, instead of expecting a response as soon as we finish it now, and the higher the approval rate, the better you feel. You will be constantly kidnapped by audiences and fans.
But people in the past can not see you, you only have yourself, your own requirements of their own is the highest.
Just because someone likes it doesn’t mean you write it well.
Huang: now seems to have some novelists constantly deconstructing in structure or style, indulging in form, some people think that this is a kind of “curiosity”, do you agree?
Zhang Dinghao: this is not a very good phenomenon.
The root cause is that these authors do not have the ability to deal with day-to-day dialogue.
I think a person’s basic ability to write a novel is whether he can deal with daily conversation, for example, whether he can restore a conversation at the dinner table.
You see, in most novels written by young people today, there are only two people talking, a hero and a heroine.
Or a person keeps babbling, but this is what everyone can write, it is not a unique talent of a novelist.
The novelist is able to restore a scene, a fresh breath.
Writers such as Joyce, Borges and Polanio already have the ability to deal with fragments of daily life, on which they will carry out experiments of one kind or another.
Joyce first wrote a very solid realistic short story such as the Dubliners before he could carry out all kinds of text experiments.
Most of us now do the experiment directly, which is a kind of opportunism, or a way to take shortcuts because we are unwilling to face the difficulties in writing.
Because that set of structure and style is easy to learn, but it is useless. In the end, it was just like a novel.
Huang: some authors may despise seemingly everyday scenes such as conversations.
Zhang Dinghao: why are many online novels so poorly written that people are still willing to read them? because readers actually have very low requirements for novels.
However, we are becoming more and more tolerant of the so-called young generation of writers. in fact, many people are not good enough to write, so they are called young novelists, but very often they do not have the ability to please an ordinary reader. I think this is a big problem.
Many novels in some literary journals are impossible to read at all, and they don’t want to read them at first glance.
I call these novels boring realistic novels, and these writers have learned a skill, that is, to describe in great detail something very boring, which seems to be real, but it is boring, and literature should not only write truth. but also to extract the most valuable thing from a group of real chaos.
Is Huang: because the self-esteem of contemporary writers in writing is too big?
Zhang Dinghao: it’s also possible.
Many literary theories are talking about the same problem, that is, novelists should learn to look at themselves from the point of view of others. everyone is similar. even if a person we don’t know, a stranger, a person from afar who is doing a different job, he is still a human being like us. if we can understand ourselves deeply, we can also understand others.
Second, how do you understand yourself? you have to understand yourself through others. you have to see me in other people’s eyes. after such a return, you will have a new feeling, like what Kundera called “slight irony.”
Huang: what you just talked about is a literary perspective, so when you write, will you learn from the sociological perspective to understand people and look at problems?
Zhang Dinghao: I understand what you mean, but this is only an assistant, but in the end, you can’t go back to an identity and a symbol. you still have to understand it from the details and sensibility.
Just like Chekhov’s notes and essays often talk about how to write a novel, he says to let others take the initiative to feel something, to make others aware of their own feelings, rather than you directly tell him that feeling.
Huang: I know some novelists who have a strong sense of morality. Does a writer’s text have to be consistent with personal morality?
If there is inconsistency, is there a moral crisis in the text itself?
Zhang Dinghao: I think the consideration faced by the writer is not the confrontation between the real and the false, nor the confrontation that is good at evil. these two confrontations are simple.
The real consideration is the confrontation between this kind of good and another kind of good, this kind of truth and another kind of truth.
At this time, there are all kinds of paradoxes, contradictions and uneasiness.
If it is the confrontation between good and evil, then there is nothing uneasy in the heart, just the good guys and the bad guys.
In fact, there is no uneasiness between the true and the false.
But what if both are true and both are good?
What can we do?
Huang: is like the edge and bottom of writing, which means “goodness”. It seems that it has acquired a kind of moral strength.
Zhang Dinghao: yes.
I think this is very bad, so I praised Shen Shengqi very much. she wrote about people who were more outstanding than herself. she wrote about the elite.
But he is always scolded in Douban.
It is also a non-fictional subject matter. I think there is no distinction between writing elites and writing insulted and damaged classes, but we are now writing the latter as if it is politically correct.
In fact, there is a desire to cater to most ordinary people.
It’s a sense of satisfaction, a sense of compassion to see people who are worse than you are.
But at the bottom of this, it is directly associated with politics, that is, “I” ‘s sympathy for the bottom represents “me” ‘s resistance to the social system, and the two are one, representing that “I” is a just person.
But even at the bottom, I think no one lives on suffering. no matter how painful a person is at the bottom, you have to be able to see his joy, and your writing about his suffering is true.
When you write a good poem, you are a poet.
Huang: has multiple identities in you, such as poet, editor and literary critic. I have seen you say you are a poet on many occasions. I would like to know what is this standard?
Zhang: if I were to write my resume by myself, I wouldn’t even write a poet. the best I can do is “write poems and articles”.
Sometimes that’s what other people call it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I think I am first of all a writer. as for poets and critics are the names given to you by others, it is strange that you cannot call yourself a poet.
I can say that I am a person who is writing poetry. I should not be able to say that I am a poet. I think this is also a kind of consensus among poetry writers to some extent.
For example, the American poet Frost, who never calls himself a poet on his resume, says that a poet is an honor, an honor given to you by others, not a self-proclaimed one.
The writer is an act, which is a self-identification.
Then there is a professional identity as an editor.
All these years, when I came out from Fudan, I always worked as an editor because I couldn’t do anything else.
I worked as an editor in a publishing house, and then in magazines and private book companies. I came to “Shanghai Culture” in 2008, and I have been here for more than ten years.
Editor, only this one professional identity, so I am the confirmation of two kinds of identity, editor and writer.
Huang:why don’t you call yourself a writer but a writer?
Is there any difference between the two?
Zhang Dinghao: a writer, having the word “home” is also an honorary identity.
I always think it’s a little strange for a person to call himself a writer.
This is also an identity given to you by others, but sometimes you can’t object to it when others call you that, and it seems hypocritical to oppose it.
Huang: because of the name poet itself, which is mixed with derogatory meaning today?
Zhang Dinghao: yes.
I think many people don’t call themselves poets for this reason, because they think it’s a derogatory term, and they need to find a new word, such as a poetry writer or something like that.
But I don’t think poet is a derogatory term.
Now I do not use it, precisely because it is a noble word, this noble word can not be granted at will.
Like running, you can’t call yourself a champion, can you?
You can only call yourself a runner or a runner.
Relatively speaking, the term “poet” refers to a group of people who write poems better. It does not mean that you call yourself a poet when you write a branch. A poet is the moment you write a good poem, and you are a poet.
I quite like a passage from Oden, which I may have quoted, that is, in the hands of the Dyer, he mentioned that even others asked him about the definition of his identity. he said that he would think of himself as a poet only when he revised his poems.
Before he wrote a poem, he was a possible poet. he had the possibility of becoming a poet, but he was not a poet yet.
When he finished writing the poem, he became an ordinary man again, a poet only when revising the poem.
Because when you are faced with a first draft of a poem, you need to use all your skills and experience to revise it, and you may be a poet at that moment.
Huang: so it is a momentary identity, not an eternal identity.
Zhang Dinghao: it can be said that when you write a good poem, you are a poet. just because you write a good poem doesn’t mean you can write a second good poem. every time it is a new beginning.
This is not to say that you are always a poet after you have written a good poem. it is a thing that changes all the time.
But a lot of people who write poems are ridiculous.
Many poets think that no matter what they write, they think they are poems after they become famous.
His identity began to be greater than the poem itself.
It can’t be so upside down.
Some things must grow silently, just like the soil, in the dark, growing silently, just like potatoes and peanuts.
Huang: you have worked as a fashion magazine editor, a state-run publishing house editor, and today’s literary periodical editor. Will these working experiences be any different?
Zhang Dinghao: in the past, my work was all related to the market. the market is a very ridiculous thing. you don’t even know where the readers are.
The first few jobs are faced with the market.
It does not exist in “Shanghai Culture”.
We only print 3000 copies of this magazine.
I know who the 3000 books will be shown to.
What we ask for is word-of-mouth, which is a little easier to perceive than the market.
What is the content source of Huang: ‘s “Shanghai Culture” now?
Zhang Dinghao: at present, most of them are mainly invited manuscripts, or recommended manuscripts, and there are few free manuscripts. The quality of freelance contributions is not ideal.
As far as a writer is concerned, if you write well, you certainly won’t throw it indiscriminately. in addition, I don’t think there will be that kind of buried author in this era, especially in the Internet era, when you post it, you will be seen, and if you see it, it will be spread.
Huang: have an external excuse?
Nowadays, some people don’t write very well and will blame it on survival and so on.
Zhang Dinghao: literature is used to change pressure. the greater the pressure, the better it should be.
I think one of the greatest advantages of doing literature is that it can turn all the disadvantages into your wealth.
This can’t be done by any other job.
When you are a worker or a businessman, the bad disadvantage is bad, but all the bad things in the field of literature can become your experience, and even some writers have a good life, but they feel that they are not good at writing. he must abuse himself.
But what’s more important is the passion for writing. don’t always make excuses and feel like you don’t have time to write.
Alice Monroe, who raised two children when she was young, said she wrote every day during the two hours of their siesta.
You can write for two hours a day, which is enough if you concentrate.
Huang: your state still seems to be relatively healthy, are you a person who is good at self-management?
Zhang Dinghao: I am still good at self-management, but it may also show that I am not a very good poet.
But I don’t like to turn myself into a poet like some people do.
The identity of a writer or a poet seems to be an excuse to be out of tune with social life, and this problem has only existed since modern times.
In the past, most classical poets were officials, and Li Bai and du Fu were all officials, first of all, a person who had the ability to deal with daily affairs.
Eliot had always worked in a bank at first, and later in a publishing house. he was first able to deal with daily life normally, and then he felt something new in the immutable circumstances of daily life.
But now we have to turn ourselves into people who don’t fit in with social life.
On the one hand, I feel miserable, and on the other hand, I absorb the energy of writing poetry from this misery, because there is energy in misery and self-pity.
Isn’t this a constant deal with the devil?
Many young people like to write about death. as a judge of the New concept composition contest, I found that many teenagers are writing funerals because it seems to be the most impressive.
Huang: how does feel about her external reputation gains over the past few years? have you changed anything?
Zhang dinghao:I don’t feel any different about myself. I haven’t won any awards (laughter). Try to keep a low profile.
You may have liked to complain in the past, but now try to complain less.
Because someone is paying attention to you, they are supposed to make a casual complaint, or just post it on moments, but if they are paid more attention, your words will be distorted.
In fact, it is not a question of whether you are afraid of offense or not, but that your words will be constantly distorted.
I think fame is something I need to control.
Some people are chasing fame, and I think the best state is to maintain the state of being famous and not becoming famous.
My friend Huang Dehai, he has a book called “if you will fly but not fly”, that is, if a bird will fly but has not yet flown, this is the state of ideal fame.
Because if a writer does not know you for a long time, you will also feel very uncomfortable, and you will also lose your self-confidence, so you need to have a little reputation, but this reputation will destroy you later and will hurt you. because of the fans around you or the admiration of a lot of people, you will slowly get hot-headed and don’t know who you are. So you need a little fame, but not a lot of fame. But a lot of people are tarnished by their reputations. After the damage, it can only disappear in this era. Only those who are famous and have not been damaged by their reputation can slowly enter the eyes of the new generation, or his works will be handed down.
Fame is a double-edged sword and a elimination mechanism.
There are two ways to eliminate people, one is through silence and refusal, and the other is to support and kill.
Huang;has the state of your writing changed now?
There is still a little change, the writing in recent years has changed a little compared with before.
I don’t know whether it is good or not, I don’t know, sometimes you are afraid to enter a usual tone, you know it’s good to write, but if you write it just like that, I will reflect on myself. Some people can write a lot at once. I may be a little awkward. I think every sentence should be well written, but it’s impossible.
One or two words are the product of inspiration, and then the rest is slowly formed.
But for me, sometimes I just can’t start the first sentence, it feels bad, and you can’t be casual.
If the first sentence is bad, you can’t go on. But it’s my own problem. So I sometimes paste some newly written poems to Douban. If the response is very good, you will know that there may be a problem.
If the response is very bad, there may also be problems, the response is very good, just like pandering to something, the response is very poor, it may indeed be not very good.
However, I am not very good at posting poems in moments. I think poems still need to be revised constantly.
What is finished should be put in the drawer, which is full of possibilities when no one sees it.
But once you put them in the air, such as exposing them in WeChat moments and posting them on the Internet, it is impossible to change them, not who won’t let you change them, but because you can’t change the text yourself.
In fact, the same is true for writing novels. in my last interview with the Paris Review, a writer said a similar thing.
Some things must grow silently, in the soil and in the dark, just like potatoes and peanuts.