The Human Heart Revealed in the Art of Writing

Translations of Jeremiah 17:9

King James Bible
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Bible in Basic English
The heart is a twisted thing, not to be searched out by man: who is able to have knowledge of it?

Douay-Rheims Bible
The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it?

Translations of Matthew 15:19

King James Bible
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Bible in Basic English
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, the taking of life, broken faith between the married, unclean desires of the flesh, taking of property, false witness, bitter words.

Translations of Matthew 7:11

American King James Version
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Darby Bible Translation
If therefore ye, being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much rather shall your Father who is in the heavens give good things to them that ask of him?

Translations of Hebrews 3:12

King James Bible
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Be careful, brothers and sisters, that none of you ever develop a wicked, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Weymouth New Testament
See to it, brethren, that there is never in any one of you–as perhaps there may be–a sinful and unbelieving heart, manifesting itself in revolt from the ever-living God.

Today I was reading portions of “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy L. Sayers.  One of the passages titled, “The energy revealed in creation” led me to the above verses.  Ms. Sayers stated concerning “creating” a character in a book:

BEGIN QUOTE “. . . a writer cannot create a character or express a thought or emotion which is not within his own mind.  Shakespeare is Iago as well as Othello; he can create the one as well as the other, because each is to some extent an expression of himself.

Actually what happens in the writer’s mind is something like this.  When making the character he in a manner separates and incarnates a part of his own living mind.  He recognizes in himself a powerful emotion – let us say, jealousy.  His activity then takes this form:  Supposing this emotion were to become so strong as to dominate my whole personality, how should I feel and how should I behave?  In imagination he becomes the jealous person and things and feels within that frame of experience, so that the jealousy of Othello is the true creative expression of Shakespeare.  He follows out, in fact, the detective system employed by [G.K.] Chesterton’s “Father Brown”: 

“I mean that I really did see myself, and my real self, committing the murders. . .  I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that, until I realized that I really was like that, in everything except actual final consent to the action.”

In this sense, therefore, Shakespeare “is” Othello; but we must allow that he “is”, in the same sense, Coriolanus and Iago, Lear and Cordelia and every other charachter in his plays, from Hamlet down to Caliban.  Or perhaps it would be more in accordance with reality to say that all these characters “are” Shakespeare – externalizations of some part of the writer’s self and self-experience.”  END QUOTE

I’m not much of a creative writer, and so I found it interesting that in order to create a quality character, the gifted author taps into the “dark side” of himself in order to come up with a believable character.

Interestingly, C.S. Lewis found “The Screwtape Letters” unpleasant to write because he felt that placing himself in the mind of a demon had been dangerous for his own character.

 The Chesterton quote above shows that Mr. Chesterton was creating in his mind a set of circumstances under the influence of which he would commit a murder.  In his honest efforts to do so, he was quite capable of coming up with a set of circumstances in which he would commit murder – at the point when he stated, “I realized that I really was like that. . .” he received a revelation that he, personally, was capable of such a crime – and he undoubtedly received a greater understanding of the scriptures above.

It appears as though the art of excellent creative writing reveals the potential wickedness of the heart of that specific writer – and of men’s hearts in general – as referred to in the scriptures above.  I find that to be fascinating.

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Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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