Defamiliarization as a stylistic device: as if seeing for the first time.

As erotica writers, it is important to understand how effective it is to communicate through our writing in such a way that even everyday things seem as if we are seeing them for the first time. That’s why Viktor Shklovsky’s concept of defamiliarizing objects and experiences plays an important role in literature and art, because it helps breathe new life into everyday things. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the concept of defamiliarization and explore what lessons we can learn from him to make our writing more compelling for modern audiences.

Viktor Shklovsky was a literary scholar and writer who was a leading exponent of formalism in Russian literary criticism. He believed that literature had the task of breaking through habit and routine to show the everyday in a new light. This could be achieved, he said, by disrupting readers’ perceptions, by changing the habitual way things are described.

Shklovsky called this process “ostranenie” or “alienation.” The idea was that presenting things or events in unusual and novel ways would catch readers’ attention and make them perceive the world more consciously and intensely. This, in turn, would lead them to engage more intensely with the text and make a deeper connection to its meaning.

Shklovsky and other formalists argued that the conventional, everyday way of describing things causes them to fade into the background as they are overlooked out of habit. By describing things as if they were being seen for the first time, readers can be encouraged to see the world in a new light and notice the details and nuances that previously escaped them.

Describing things as if you were seeing them for the first time is an almost romantic challenge in the context of erotic literature. It’s about rediscovering the wonder of the other person’s body, celebrating the excitement of its uniqueness. Some techniques can help you make your writing more interesting, exciting, and creative. They can help break through conventional representations of eroticism and make your readers experience sensuality and sexuality in a new and unexpected way. Here are some approaches you can take to use this idea in erotic writing:

Emphasize the senses: Shklovsky’s concept of defamiliarization encourages readers to be more and intensely aware of their senses. Authors of erotic texts can implement this by emphasizing sensory perceptions, such as touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight, in their descriptions. The use of metaphorical language and poetic imagery can help stimulate readers’ senses and revitalize sensation.

Use of metaphors and symbols: As Shklovsky pointed out, unusual metaphors and symbols can change how people perceive things. Authors of erotic texts can use metaphorical language to represent eroticism originally and creatively. This can help describe erotic experiences in new and exciting ways.

Defamiliarizing Conventions: Conventions in erotic literature tend to use stereotypical descriptions and clichés. Writers can break through these conventions by describing things as if they were seeing them for the first time. This can mean challenging the conventions of erotic literature and finding new ways to express sensuality and sexuality.

Experiment with narrative voices and perspectives: As Shklovsky suggested, authors can bring a sense of defamiliarization to their erotic texts by experimenting with different narrative voices and perspectives. This can help lead readers to view erotica from unexpected angles.

Intellectual reflection: Shklovsky also emphasized the role of intellectual reflection in defamiliarization. Authors of erotic texts can help revitalize readers’ sensibilities by integrating profound thoughts and philosophical aspects of erotica into their works.

The principles of defamiliarization and revitalization of sensation can help make erotic texts more vivid, creative, and conscious. They allow authors to explore the sensual and emotional aspects of eroticism more deeply and engagingly.

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