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An update from our forty-seventh Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, October 29th

Excess: more than necessary—exaggeration, extravagance, exuberance, abundance, unnecessary, overload, overkill, surplus, luxuriance, improvisation, unrestraint, ridiculous

To kick off this week’s workshop, we began with four artworks—Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Dulle Griet, Peter Paul Rubens’ The Garden of Love, Jackson Pollock’s Convergence, and the Sistene Chapel—all of which illustrated, in one way or another, the theme of excess. While we technically defined “excess” as “more than necessary,” the purpose of this workshop was to show how sometimes excess is necessary in order to create the feeling of being overwhelmed or overpowered or repulsed, an idea perhaps best encapsulated in the work of Peter Paul Rubens: he emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. We explored two more of Rubens's paintings: Daniel in the Lion's Den and The Tiger Hunt. Once we finished looking at these paintings, we looked at the art of contemporary Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. We looked at a few of his hyperrealistic, larger than life works in order to demonstrate how something almost “too real” becomes grotesque. Following our discussion of Mueck, we looked at examples of Baroque architecture, a style associated with ornamental excess as is the case with St Peter’s Basilica and La Sagrada Familia. We also discussed a piece of Postmodern architecture, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, a “non-functional” building more characteristic of a dream or a work of science fiction than reality. The last section of the Writing Workshop was devoted to examples of excess in writing as we looked at an excerpt from Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (exaggeration, hyperbole), Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky (pleasure in its own silly sound making), and, finally, an excerpt from Cormac McCarthy (functional resistance to grammar, repetition of the word “and”).

The Challenge: Write as much as you can, as fast you can, without worrying about making sense; write excessively.

The Participants: Benedetta, Savi, Anushka, Ella, Tate, Robert, Samantha, Alice, Russell, Josh

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