Sunday, March 31, 2013

Part Two, Are MESSAGE and STORY enemies or friends?

Gillian writing poetry... with a message
"We writers use words, each one of which, like it or not, conveys a message in a microcosm. If what you mean is, write with honesty and authenticity, without slavish subordinating of story to message, then I'm with you all the way. But let's not switch that around and create a servile subordinating of message to story either. David didn't; Paul didn't; Jesus didn't either."
(JEFFERY'S last words from previous post "...As Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant — / Success in Circuit lies..."

Jeffery, you should be a painter rather than a writer (IMHO ;0). Unlike what postmoderns persist in dictating to us, words do convey objective meaning (brush strokes may be beyond explanation, though not meaningless, but words aren't equal to a painter's brush strokes). By their very nature, words have a message; that's what words are. So I smell false dichotomy when I hear you pit story against message. 

Again, I return to the greatest story, the Bible. It is story of the most stupendous quality AND it contains a clear intentional message (Paul even says that specific things about God are "clearly seen" in natural revelation, let alone in special revelation, special because it is a message of grace and love, one that uses words). 

I could maybe agree with you if I only read the Bible's poetry and parables (though David and the rest did intend to deliver a message, nothing could be more clear when reading the poetry of the psalter and elsewhere in the Bible; and Jesus often explained the message of his parables, whatever else they are, they clearly are stories with an intentional message). There's a great deal of intentional message throughout the pages of Scripture, and a good deal of that is intentionally explaining with clarity the preceptual indicatives of gospel truth--the message, though finally it's all placarding a PERSON not mere precepts. 

Is there still mystery? Of course, but that does not reduce the unequivocal message of the Bible to pure mystery. "what ever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." That does not mean that everything I write must be evangelism, but nor does it diminish evangelism or apologetics or other ways of communicating messages in writing to second-class status because it is not intentionally not including messages. 

I find it somewhat ironic that you are intentionally communicating a message to me (us) about not intentionally communicating messages in literature, which seems a bit odd. When Oscar Wilde tells us that there is not a moral or immoral book, he has just communicated a moral understanding to us, a message, or is it an un-message? Either way it is no less an objective message he wanted to get across.

Should fiction spring organically from the authentic mystery of real life in a broken and bewildering world? YES, of course it will. But we all have some interpretation about what it all means, presuppositions that shape our story telling, including the author who wants to avoid admitting it. Compare it to historians who insist they are being purely objective in their research. They are

Every historian has a historiography, studied or knee-jerk, but each historian selects sources, has predispositions, has projected outcomes in mind, and the ones who deny it the most may be the ones most under the influence of their predispositions. So do story tellers, and film makers, and poets. Painters and musicians do too, but those of us who daily use words are not in precisely the same artistic category as the others. 

We writers use words, each one of which, like it or not, conveys a message in a microcosm. If what you mean is, write with honesty and authenticity, without slavish subordinating of story to message, then I'm with you all the way. But let's not switch that around and create a servile subordinating of message to story either. David didn't; Paul didn't; Jesus didn't either. 

The Bible's message is not second-rate to its story. They are one. I'm teaching Merchant of Venice right now; does anyone read that play and think that Shakespeare is not telling an amazing story and that he has a purposeful message in it (among other things) about the nature of love? Antonio: "my purse, my person, my extremest means lay all unlocked before you." And Portia's father: "He who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath." I would argue that the greatest literature is always purposeful and skillful on both fronts: story and intentional meaning, and that when we try to separate the two it's just as deadly as taking a pound of flesh from Antonio nearest his heart.  

 Douglas, what is the message of a tree?

What is "the message" of The Good Samaritan or The Prodigal Son? (Good luck summing that up in one post, or one essay, or one book. People have been discovering new depths of those stories since they were first

Similarly, what is the message of this poem?

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

It is a very, very meaningful poem. I use it in writing workshops, and we circle it and circle it, finding new levels of meaning almost every time. I would never reduce the "meaning" within it to a "message." Might we discern "messages" from it? Perhaps, but I'd find that word to be too trite. But it is meaningful, in ways that move me, in everything from its shape to its line breaks to its rhythms to its sounds to its rhymes.

And once again, I have never said, nor implied, that storytelling shouldn't be "purposeful" about "meaning." Personally, I prefer to discover the meaning as I write, and then edit it by trimming away all of those excursions that don't contribute to that meaning, as I quoted O'Connor saying earlier.

So please stop implying that I am saying writers shouldn't care about meaning, or that they shouldn't be purposeful about it. I have said the opposite of that several times. Every day I hear more great artists talking about how they set out to "say" one thing and the work revealed something different, or greater. I also hear artists talking about the work of "discovery" during "play."

If you persist in suggesting that I don't think artists care about meaning, or that the work is not meaningful, then we're not having a conversation; you're talking to some imagined version of me. I have been using the word "message" to mean "something we can reduce to a paraphrase, some kind of solution to a riddle."

To me, the best stories are poetic... they suggest something more than a lesson that I can distill into a paraphrase.

I feel like you're evading my point. You don't write trees. You write words, each of which has a meaning, including tree. You write about trees, and you do so because they collect meaning in the experiences of real life. William Carlos Williams doesn't sound much like Lewis's favorite poet, does he? The Imagists had a clear agenda (they even had a 6-part credo in which they laid out the rules of poetry for conveying their meaning, their message). An intentional un-message is no less a message, is it.

"The heavens declare..." "Day by day pours forth speech." I want to strive to make art that speaks the way God's work speaks... through suggestion, through invitation, through possibility. Because that is how the great works of art speak to me. Even if the artists themselves don't understand what they've done. I've grown closer to Christ because of the questions about faith that Woody Allen includes in his stories. He will outright deny that there is such a thing as right and wrong, or God; his stories suggest otherwise consistently.  You are drawing stark lines between story and poetry and visual art and music that I do not believe exist so starkly.
I happen to believe that a tree *is* a story. It is also a poem. It is also a picture, both particular and abstract. And its relationship with music is profound. Again, George Macdonald:

"When we
understand the outside of things, we think we have them. Yet the Lord puts his things in subdefined, suggestive shapes, yielding no satisfactory meaning to the mere intellect, but unfolding themselves to the conscience and heart." - George Macdonald

I will continue seeking out, and striving to craft, artwork that reflects that.

And for what it's worth, C.S. Lewis is wonderful, but I don't agree with him on everything. Neither did Tolkien. I didn't even like his stories much when I was a child because they felt too much like "lessons."

Whatever agenda the imagists did or didn't have, this poem by Williams is as precious to me as many of the psalms because of how its sounds, shapes, line-breaks, and word pictures contribute to a central meaning that classroom after classroom full of students discover as they work on it.

I look forward to beginning my next workshop with this poem, and with the assertion that it's "shallow." Because then we're going to spend an hour discovering its depths. But they take time to discover... much longer than the span between my earlier comment and Rebecca's announcement that it is "shallow."

 From the beginning here, I've been passing along what I've learned from Macdonald, O'Connor, Dickinson, Lewis, Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton, and more artists and teachers than are worth counting here. I didn't invent these ideas; I found them, and they captured much of what it is about art - narrative or otherwise - that I love. As their work reflects and demonstrate these ideas, there is an integrity to them that keeps bringing me back to them.

Anybody who says that I deny there is *meaning* in great art has misunderstood me from the start. I only meant to affirm what is a constant testimony among the artists that I've studied: That art is the work of incarnation, of making words flesh, of giving shape to things unseen... an activity built into us because we are made in the image of God. And when we engage in art, we can learn all kinds of things from that art, but if it is good art then what it reveals is ongoing. We may catch glimpses of it and share it in words. But it is bigger than any one person's version of its "message."

Grace and peace to you. Have a joyous Easter. I'm going back to the work I love... the pursuit of God's glory through the endless pleasure and remedial discoveries involved in exploring and making art.


I think I see our problem. We're using words to mean different things. (BTW, I'm a big fan of Woody Allen and discuss and explore his films in my conference speaking; though I grow closer in love with Christ from reading his love letter to me in his Word, filled with poetry and clear indicatives that have a message for me; I love you with an everlasting love, is both poetry and a message, not one or the other; that's not to say I don't often find many things unbelievers write or paint that deepen my longing to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus). 

I use meaning and message much nearer to synonymous, which I think helps keep me from disparaging the message. I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful to keep story and message as closer verbiage kin so that we don't find ourselves elevating the story and denigrating the message (that is, the meaning of the story). 

I hear you emphatically agreeing (no horns or teeth intended here, my friend) that there is an intentional meaning to the Bible's poetry. I just don't think that means that it doesn't equally have an intentional message, or that to say it does have a message is a reduction of the either the story or the meaning. 

In fact, I find that dichotomy unhelpful. For several reasons, but take Ecclesiastes (great poetry), for instance. The poet concludes with nothing short of a summary wrap up of the message of the entire book: "The end of the matter; all has been heard," and then he gives a tight message summation of the whole (I'm more drawn to the poetry than to the wrap up, but the wrap up is also an important part of the divinely inspired poetry... and the message of that poetry, and so I don't think I'm at liberty to rate it below the poetry). 

Or take God's words to Job when he meets him face to face; there's intentionality, meaning, purposefulness (all words that I think lead us to another related word: message). I wonder if you've not turned "message" into a four-letter word and by doing so your message is less than clear.

ROBERT TRESKILLARD (the writer who started this dialogue)
For me, I like the natural revelation / revealed word concept ... truth and beauty can be communicated both ways, and both are needed and help each other. Part of what we need to do is to step back and speak not of individual stories that *we* are telling (as if there was only one way), but to see the much greater story that *God* is telling through us to a lost and hurting and beauty-blind world. He is speaking through Jeffrey's novels in a way similar to natural revelation, and through Douglas's (and my) novels in a way closer to a revealed word ... but all of these are God's stories, and both are needed and support each other, and truth and beauty can be seen in both. Both can glorify God. (And may our craft be up to that challenge.) 


All that said, I think we are more likely closer, much closer, than it may sound from this exchange on a very flat medium to work with. I totally agree with the way well-intentioned Christian writers and other artists so often artificially tack on the message and the expense of the poetry of the story. 

We are kindred spirits on that, for sure. And I applaud you for writing books that are not "preaching to the choir" and that celebrate beauty and truth and love but without an explicit gospel message (the story of Esther never includes the word "God" after all, though the other 65 books do and do and do). We're neighbors, you know, geographically so as well as warmly otherwise, in my book.

A tree is a "story" just the way a life can be a sacrifice. We're speaking poetically because practical language isn't sufficient.

"The Good Samaritan " is about a series of events that somebody observed and prioritized and shared. Somebody else obser
ving that story might have told it differently, finding a different story. They both might tell true stories about the event. When I look at a tree, I see a story of a seed, a planting, growth, receiving, giving, beauty, fruit, serving, etc. I see poetic implications everywhere. But my version of that story isn't the Everything. Others will see other aspects of a story, other poetic implications. Any of them that are well-observed can give us more of the truth about that tree. But there's more to it than any of us are likely to sum up. In the same way, a great play, a great story, a great poem, and a great picture go on suggesting things that are beyond even what the artist anticipated sharing. I suspect that Shakespeare, were he to read all of the wonderful things that have been gleaned from his plays, would be surprised and delighted beyond words.

 My favorite email I've received: Somebody objected to me paying attention to the truth that can be found in pagan fairy tales. She said, "If you think anything of value can be found in pagan fairy tales, then you've just opened Pandora's box." I love that. Because, in order to make a point about the meaninglessness of fairy tales, she used a fairy tale. The meaningfulness of that story became clear.

Jeffery, I read and teach pagan writers every day and love their work and gift and story and poetry (I love vintners, and chefs too, they're also artists), regardless of their declared world view. That's not where we disagree, trust me. 

But by biblical definitions, message is a good word, and so is story. Jesus told the parable of the GS to clarify the message he was conveying to his disciples; the story served to help him help them understand his message; this order is throughout the Word. Everywhere throughout the Bible, the story of Jesus, as J I Packer likes to call it, we are hearing Jesus message, the message of reconciliation (2Cor 5:19, and so many more places). 

I'm very uncomfortable with false dichotomies, especially ones that will inevitably appear to rank story over the message of reconciliation, steadfast love, a breathlessly wonderful message that unfolded as a story, that led the Lion of Judah to lay down his life for my sins. That story continues (without paring the claws of the Lion) as his redeemed messengers use each of our unique gifts to glorify and enjoy him now and ultimately forever. Blessings on your use of yours, my friend!

What is the role of the message in fiction and poetry? Part One

Paul in Prison, Rembrandt
Is literature less than art if it has an intentional Christian message in it? This was a stimulating discussion that developed over a couple of days (ones I should have been spending doing more actual fiction writing). Another author Jeffery Overstreet, several others, and I discussed (debated at times; argued a bit at others) the role of message in poetry and fiction. "I still have this nagging worry that we as Christians who write might decide that vagueness is to be preferred to clarity, that the implicit is superior to the explicit, that Christ and his grace is so beyond words in splendor (and it is) that we decide not to communicate with the actual words God has revealed to us, entrusted to us, to grow in our grasp of it and to better understand the world and be agents of Christ's rescue of it." Read on and feel free to comment.

"Art as exploration" is about exploring truth and beauty and reflecting them in ways that are so full of meaning that they cannot be reduced to a practical paraphrase. Jesus didn't say "give them poetry"? Then whey did he give us so much poetry, and quote the Psalms, which are full of poetry, relentlessly? Why were his statements about himself full of poetry? Why did he turn his Last Supper into the most intimate and mysterious and extravagant kind of culinary poem? I love God's glory too much to reduce it to clumsy, shallow terminology. As the psalmists and the prophets demonstrated, God speaks in poetry, acts in poetry, and inspires poetry in response. To explore truth and beauty is an act of listening and discovering, not merely deciding we have it all figured out and offering formulas and platitudes. I never, ever said that readers won't sense "messages " in my story. I just said that I didn't write them to deliver messages, but invite readers into experiences, hoping that they would experience beauty and truth in more encompassing ways than a mere allegory or lesson can provide.

"You do not write the best you can for the sake of art, but for the sake of returning your talent increased to the invisible God to use or not use as He sees fit." Flannery O'Connor  

”…the meaning of life is centered in our Redemption by Christ and what I see in the world I see it its relation to that. I don’t think this is a position that can be taken halfway or one that is particularly easy in these times to make transparent in fiction.”  

and more, “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience…”

if I may, another Flannery, “The Christian writer particularly will feel that whatever his initial gift is, it comes from God; and no matter how minor a gift it is, he will not be willing to destroy it by trying to use it outside its proper limits...The sharper the eye of faith, the more glaring are apt to be the distortions the writer sees in the life around him.”

“It is the artist who realizes that there is a supreme force above him and works gladly away as a small apprentice under God's heaven.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Great stuff, Douglas! And here's one of my favorites:
"The Christian writer does not decide what would be good for the world and proceed to deliver it. Like a very doubtful Jacob, he confronts what stands in his path and wonders if he will come out of the struggle at all." - Flannery O'Connor

T.S. Eliot: "[T]he last thing I would wish for would be the existence of two literatures, one for Christian consumption and the other for the pagan world. What I believe to be incumbent upon all Christians is the duty of maintaining consciously certain standards and criteria of criticism over and above those applied by the rest of the world; and that by these criteria and standards everything that we read must be tested."

She rarely misses. I find what Lewis says about my mindset when writing most helpful in being honest and authentic (and avoiding the lame and cheesy)--don't write what you think they want, or what you think they need; write what you need. This keeps me from either preaching or from aping what I think will be seen as artsy.  More Flannery, “All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it...I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.”

O'Connor was intentional about her work having a distinctly Christian purpose, a grace and redemption in Christ purpose, and she acknowledges that this will be a problem for us, but that the Christian novelist wants to get a message across to an audience, a hostile one: “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience…”

Absolutely. But can the "point" of any O'Connor story be succinctly paraphrased? I don't think so. She knew that what she wanted to reflect to readers was too large to boil down to a "moral to the story." She invited us into transformative experiences. And I'll bet readers found much more insight within them than even she intended. She was wrestling and struggling, as she testifies in her own words in my earlier quotation. 

Further, note that the *way* she went about her writing resulted in work that is usually shelved in "Literature," studied and cherished in literature courses far and wide, and it is the source of inspiration for readers and artists both secular and Christian. While Flannery was a Christian, she wrote fiction about the world, for the world, with higher standards of excellence and artistry than almost anybody. And the beauty and terror of those stories fulfills the rigorous demands of poetry.

Agreed on Flannery; I'm a big fan, but especially of her boiling down of what she's intending to do in her great work Mystery and Manners (from which most of the above quotes come). I wonder about creating a dichotomy between writing about the world for the world, as you say. "Get his vision across to this hostile audience," as she says her goal is, sounds very much like she has an intentional message she wants to get across to the world, which starts sounding less and less like what your describing. Here's her words again: “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience…”

Lewis considered Psalm 19 to be the greatest lyric ever penned. Whether we agree or disagree with him on the particular example, help me understand what you are wanting Christian writers to accomplish in light of the objective, explicit glory-of-God-centered message of that stupendous poem. Obvious its creator didn't think he was merely giving readers an experience without objective, explicit content glorifying God. When I have heard or read you (this is meant kindly but honestly) I come away feeling like many writers might be now think that they will be a real author, writing real literature, if they suppress the kind of objective purpose so obvious in biblical poetry and story. All this said, I could not agree more that vast material that masquerades as "Christian" literature is neither.

 Douglas, you ask a big question... you get a big answer. In my opinion (which is not static, by the way, it's always changing based on experience and encounters with other artists), Christians can write all kinds of different things for all kinds of different reasons. More power to them. If they look at the scenery and are moved to write a poem of praise to God or a hymn or a sermon, fantastic. Psalm 19 is a beautiful poem, and it rivals Psalm 23 as my own personal favorite. They both stand out as poems about God because of how beautifully and poetically they express the psalmist's awe and love and passion for God. The poetry of them enables them to offer new nuances of thought every time I read them. What I've been talking about from the beginning of the post that prompted all of this fuss is how labels can do damage...

...As fiction writer, I want to glorify God by writing to the best of my ability, by showing love to creation through the particulars of my work, and by loving my characters by writing about them so passionately that they will "take on lives of their own" and surprise me with what they reveal. I started writing "Auralia's Colors" not because I had a point to make, but because I had a picture in my head of a colorless city in the middle of a colorful kingdom, and I saw an artist standing on a high place and looking out over that city and weeping. I felt compelled to write about her. I was curious. I sensed that there was something big and beautiful there, and it was my job to "serve the story," to give it a shape and find the beauty in it. I could list all kinds of ways that I encountered truth along the way.

My original point -- the whole purpose of the post -- was to say that if it is branded as a "Christian story," then most of those who I would invite to enjoy the story will avoid it, and most who read it will go in thinking the story is about something much narrower in scope that it is. Further, I have read stories and poems by "unbelievers" that have revealed the truths of Christ as powerfully to me as stories and poems by Christians. This should come as no surprise, since all of us are made in the image of God, we all have "eternity in our hearts," and when we reflect what is beautiful and true, we reflect God's glory whether we like it or not. So, are those "Christian stories"?

I am purposeful: I want to write stories that reflect that truth and the beauty and the glory of God. But I want to do so in a way that recognizes that *God* is the one who owns the truth and the beauty, and while I may capture some of it in my work, it is not *mine* to explain or deliver. It is God's. And if I do a good job, that truth and beauty will speak in ways beyond my expectations or guesses. Rather than talking about "Christian stories," I would prefer to talk about stories that are true and beautiful. If they are those things, they are reflecting Christ, no matter who wrote them, no matter where you find them in the bookstore.

These observations are based on my experience, and I offer them in hopes that they'll be helpful to somebody. Humility demands that I attach an implied "I could be wrong" to everything. This journey of artmaking is a journey of faith, not certainty. I leave the certainties to God.

Thanks for such a thoughtful, honest reply. I too feel like a work in progress (because I am!). There's little I disagree with in your post, however, I still have this nagging worry that we as Christians who write might decide that vagueness is to be preferred to clarity, that the implicit is superior to the explicit, that Christ and his grace is so beyond words in splendor (and it is) that we decide not to communicate with the actual words God has revealed to us, entrusted to us, to grow in our grasp of it and to better understand the world and be agents of Christ's rescue of it. 

I want to recognize that God calls and gifts authors very differently (believers or unbelievers, remember what Augustine wrote about Cicero; in this I totally agree with you and often make the same point with passion). Bunyan was not first and foremost thinking about creating art (Milton was, I think), but using his God-given gift of imagination, he wanted to awaken readers to see their lives as a story, a journey with terrifyingly real outcomes, and thereby communicate the good news of God's rescue operation in the gospel to them. 

I don't by that mean that every author is called to write Christian allegory, far from it. Yet, according to the light I've been given, I want to create the deepest longings for beauty and for truth, the Truth, with every stroke, the God of beauty and imagination aiding me. If secular critics don't think it measures up to their ever-changing criteria for being ranked as literature, that is of no concern to me; I am measured by a far less fickle and more ultimate judicatory.

I don't think we're far apart on this, Douglas. I don't want "vagueness." But I do want the kind of ambiguity that is present wherever I encounter truth and beauty. It's not an ambiguity that says "You cannot know the truth." It's an ambiguity that says, "Close, but not quite" and "Yes, but there's more." Remember George Macdonald, who always wanted us to travel ""further up and further in."

When I read Jesus' stories, or Emily Dickinson's poems, or The Lord of the Rings, or Marilynne Robinson, I glean all kinds of wisdom that the story *shows*. In the same way, when I look at the Grand Canyon, or the night sky, or my cat, or my wife, or my nephews and nieces, I can find wisdom in paying attention, along with constant hints that there is more to be discovered! Oh, Lord my God... when I ... When I what? When I ... IN AWESOME WONDER... consider all the worlds thy hands have made... I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed... then, what? Do I turn around and merely try to *explain* it to people? No. THEN SINGS MY SOUL.

This from Carl Trueman in Ref21 this morning seemed apropos to our discussion: "The evangelical world loves psychological struggle but typically of a predictable, conventional, coffee house and navel-gazing type. The Rob Bells and the Donald Millers write the bestsellers, after all, laying out their latte-fuelled musings for all to see. Yet, for all of the flaunting of their "authenticity", to me they simply look like poseurs, products of the comparative comfort and prosperity of the West. My guess is that poor workers in dead end jobs know more about struggle and worry than the self-styled arrivistes and artists of post-evangelical angst. But such people are too busy trying to put bread in their children's mouths to have the spare time to write bestsellers about how modishly authentic they are compared to everyone else.

Augustine was cut from different cloth...."

I ran into two statements this week that reminded me of our discussion here. First: Pope Francis, breaking with church tradition, kissed and washed the feet of women. Speaking about the startling, inspiring gesture, he said, "The gesture ... [came] from my heart. Things from the heart don't have an explanation." So, Pope Francis... what is "the message" of what you've done? Pope Francis seems to believe that the meaning of his gesture is something beyond a mere explanation. Does that mean it's "meaningless"? Of course not.

In the same way, I never claimed that my stories were meaningless, or that good storytelling is merely arbitrary. I said that the the meaning cannot be reduced down to a mere "message."

Second, I came across an interview with Pixar's Pete Docter, director and writer of "Monster's Inc." Docter is a Christian and a wonderful storyteller. Discussing his faith and his writing, he said: "Even if you have a moral to a story, if you actually come out and say it, it loses its power. Not that we’re trying to be sneaky or anything, but you have more ability to affect people if you’re not quite so blatant about it. Does that make sense? ... To me art is about expressing something that can’t be said in literal terms. You can say it in words, but it’s always just beyond the reach of actual words, and you’re doing whatever you can to communicate a sense of something that is beyond you."

So... is Pete Docter denying that there are any "messages" in his stories? Of course not. But he *is* saying that did not intend to "deliver messages." He was doing something larger than that... seeking to convey something "beyond" the reach of explanation, something that "can't be said in literal terms."  

Continued on next post, my reply...