An interview with Barry Hannah.
Interviewer: Perhaps not only a better memory, but a clearer vision as well? Robert Olen Butler said recently that what an artist is supposed to do is not avert his eyes.
Hannah: That’s true. Those that don’t avert their eyes are the real artists. It is concentration, that’s what Dostoevsky said. Concentration is what the artist is about: he can look, and look, and look, and look. He carries no brief. He will tell you everything he sees. This sensibility will overcome every tendency to capsulize or moralize or philosophize; it is why, despite the themes and philosophy announced in behalf of an author by others, the actual art experience is much more whole. Flannery O’Connor can never be accounted for by her Catholicism. There is something rich and deep and strange in her that just doesn’t get on a theorist’s page—that just does not explain itself by outlines. It’s a special feeling.
I know some writers who really are just above making change, but they can tell a story. It has nothing to do with what will show up on an IQ test. They are just gifted in a certain way—even sometimes as an idiot savant. Writers maybe just stare, like a cow—just staring. Most people don’t stare. A writer is unembarrassed to just keep looking.