Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pigeons, Pigeons, in Holding Patterns

You think the air traffic at O'Hare is scary, at LAX is beyond belief, at JFK is an impossible jumble.

You think that and you're undoubtedly correct. It is, after all, waning months of 2007, crowding in on, gulp, 2008. More things up in the air, more persons in flight. More purpose. This is not to gloss over the agendas of Neanderthals and Cro-magnons, bursting out of the Ice Age. They had just as severe a case for survival as we. We, at least, have MacBooks and North Face jackets, and sensible shoes. But as you trudge forth each day to where your car is parked, you cannot help but notice the warning signs.

Pigeon poop.

There are multifarious reasons, not the least of which is that our survival causes more pigeons to be up in the air, in holding patterns, waiting, oh waiting for clearance to come home and roost.

I have it on good if not impeccable authority that a professional juggler can only keep eleven objects in the air at one time. Try to get a twelfth dish or ball or whatever else the juggler fancies and you are doomed to be up to your rear end in broken pottery. I believe there is no limit to the number of pigeons you can have circling above you, waiting to come home to roost, their poop on the bonnet of your auto being one evidence of their holding pattern.

One such pigeon wanting to land is a November 9-11 pigeon, a weekend intensive workshop on point-of-view for writers. This will require a syllabus, if I am to go forth prepared, showing examples of the various points of view; the vision is not unlike Talmud in which voices of authority argue, sometimes across generations, their interpretations of the thing we see before us and which we agree to call The Human Condition. It is a syllabus I will prepare because I can't not do so; it is a way I have of setting things forth in much the same way it is Ishmael's way of signing on a ship when he is overcome with melancholia. I sometimes wish I had melancholia rather than the need to set things forth because melancholia is a tidal thing that can ebb and flow under the influences of love or enthusiasm or change of scenery, while the need to set things forth is merely a need to set things forth. Ishmael has his oceanic, tidal flow; I have the constant sound of fluttering wings circling above.

We will see Nick Caraway arguing on behalf of Jay Gatz, aka Gatsby. We will know about Huck Finn in the unlikely event that we have not read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and we will certainly agree to call Ishmael whatever he asks us to call him.
We should also consider the Talmudic litany in Madam Bovary, a veritable tsunami of points of view.

We must consider also our own work, the raucous multitudes of clangorous harmony, circling within our imagination, waiting to be noticed, named, set forth on note paper, transferred to screen, processed, and printed. Points of view, all of them, wanting to be heard, wanting to be believed, genies in a bottle, wanting to be freed from their confinement and let loose in the early November air, where they will do their best to convince us of the absolute correctness of their position, of the Platonic ideal of their vision, of the Socratic force of their logic.


John Eaton said...

Pristine, Shelly, and the triad at the end--poetry past the prose.

John :)

Smiler said...

That's another wonderful post. But with all those characters screaming to be let out of the confinement of our heads (if that is indeed where they reside) does that mean that all writers have a mild form of schizophrenia?

R.L. Bourges said...

my characters are screaming to be let out of the confinement of a closet in a small, economically depressed town in Northwestern France! soon, maybe...