Thanks, Edward, for inviting me to (re)post this here. I've been thinking a lot these past several months about my next full-length project, which is a novel without characters.
I'm in a brainstorming space right now, so the can'ts and impossibles are (while welcome) maybe unintentionally discouraging/damaging.
Anyway, this all comes from wanting to do with written text what John Register (the painter) did on canvas: he removed any trace of human beings in order to convey human isolation and loneliness. I want to write a book in which no people, not even a narrator, exists. But how?
He painted chairs, empty. Rooms, empty. Windows that looked out onto empty landscapes. These things were created to have a partnership with human beings. But without the humans, there is a yearning instilled in the viewer. Yearning for there to be some connection, especially, when windows are present, between the interior and the exterior worlds. I want to do that with words, and most interesting to me is the idea that perhaps this could be done--without a narrator. The narrator, in fiction, would likely function as the viewer of Register's paintings. I reject that the depiction of a world without humans must be narrated by a human (or anything with a voice, thusly, no personification of anything with humanlike thoughts). I feel like this is where narration, narrative, as it's always been done, could be revised, rethought, reattempted, anyway.
Without characters, there will be no dialogue, of course.
Without a narrator, there will be no stream of conscious. Likewise, no self-consciousness.
Absolutely no personification of inanimate objects. Ugh.
There will be no chronology, as there is no one to experience and therefore narrate time.
Neither knowledge nor being.
And, of course, a rejection of the oral tradition ("Once . . ." "There was . . . " "And so . . . ").
Any suggestions? Ideas? Responses? Would love to hear them. A few appear already over at my blog, in the comments section for this post: http://greencitynews.blogspot.com/2009/09/just-thinking.html.
Thanks in advance . . .
Beyond interesting idea. i like the idea of capturing nature and animals in complete isolation. it just seems so pure and right. like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the beginning of the film where the apes are surrounding a rectangular object with the monumental music in the background. that was just celestial. and, of course, outer space itself deserves a whole book written. but yeah, with humans the options are limitless, but without them they're still limitless. You could write about Mother Earth and her feelings, her majesty, her life and death cycle. or even the ancient sea, like the epic lyrics of Pink Floyd's Echoes. I think if you work real hard at it, and use rich, luscious language to describe even the most trivial things about the Universe, you can make a masterpiece.