One of my students e-mailed this web comic strip to the class a few weeks back. I was happy to see that someone was sort of paying attention in class (we were reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse) and that this e-mail confirmed my suspicions of this student’s geekiness, in a good way of course. It’s unfortunate that the comic strip’s understanding of stream of consciousness is a bit off, in my mind. It seems to equate stream of consciousness as a narrative technique to automatic writing or free writing. They’re all to some extent related, but while automatic writing and free writing are techniques of writing that are meant to access the writer’s thoughts in a less inhibited or scripted way, I think stream of consciousness is on the contrary a highly contrived narrative technique that requires much revision and much thinking about the direction of the “stream” and how it proceeds. So, while stream of consciousness as readers perceive it might be like automatic writing or free writing, the process through which writers go to construct stories through stream of consciousness narratives is very painstakingly thought out.

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