“Great Literature” is a generally agreed-upon concept–but according to *whom*, really? By its very nature, it is also a subjective concept. A great deal of literature most commonly defined as shining touchstones, to me are little more that dull or even irritating.
Take the notorious opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
While a fine example of the literary device known as anaphora (the deliberate repetition of the first part of a sentence) I find this passage extremely irritating. Repetition in writing, to me at least, is something that should be used sparingly, and with great skill. The example i gave above is more like verbal Chinese Water Torture.
I can say this also applies to some other things like visual repetition. For instance, I don’t care for Andy Warhol’s famous painting of the soup cans.
I even spoofed this in one of my own paintings, which I titled, “Andy Warhol’s Brain”
I can say that, while still realizing that I also paint things like this:
It is perhaps what I mean by the subtle difference between simple repetition and the variety that makes patterns more interesting.
I like variety in most things, as I detest being bored. But I also require certain routines and rituals, as they comfort me and offer a sense of stability. It’s a delicate balance.
I use this same concept in my writing. While adhering to certain rules of good writing, and particular elements of formula for the sake of meeting expectations of a reader, I also love to flip a formula or archetype in its head and take it in a new direction. I often write down what those expectations are, or what first occurs to me about a plot of a character, and then I flip it and do the opposite, or do something completely unexpected. I feel this keeps the story and the characters fresh and interesting.
So. As I said many times before, I hate to repeat myself.