Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Tapistry of Story

The Bayeux Tapestry is a visual rendition of the Norman conquest of England, the defeat of the English King Harold at Hastings in 1066 by William the Conqueror, who succeeded Harold. Indeed, Harold died in the battle, a fact confirmed by contemporary records as well as The Tapestry.

There were not many readers or writers at the time, and although heraldry--the use of family coats of arms on shields and other armament--the forerunner of the Old School tie, was in limited use, crests and insignia did not appear to any great extent on The Tapestry.

With the exception of some brief annotations in Latin, The Tapestry did its work in pictures.

To some extent, story is formed as a tapestry, the occasional annotation added here or there, the detail of a character's heraldry or habits or background added there, a dot of color to be filled in or connected to another dot, an entire texture emerging in rows of stitches.

One of the major issues in the Bayeux Tapestry appears to be which of two figures represents King Harold, the one with the arrow in his eye or the one adjacent to it, with a spear in his torso. A closer examination of this tapestry reveals some holes where needlework may have been edited out or redone in another color.

In my earlier musings about how the writer sees story, the historian sees history, the human witness to life sees life, by putting myself into all these situations as me, I recognize a pattern of color and light sensitivity, detail sensitivity, and relevant blindness to facts, to ability t discern, to poor memory, to ego, to agenda.

I do not believe any character sees a complete picture and indeed, when it comes time to create a character, I don't want the complexity of the full person, only the necessary details that will allow first me as writer and then the reader to see relevant things.

What, you may ask, is relevant? Is there some standard for relevancy, some equivalent of the eye chart at the DMV or the oculist's office, you know the one E FP TOZ LPED EDFCZP.

No, of course not, because we are not to be so easily defined, nor do we so easily define others or their events.

There were feelings before there was language to describe them it is not an easy exploration we undertake when we set forth to explore new terrain with new people or, for that matter, familiar terrain with familiar people. We must keep alert for the potsherds and artifacts that will help us identify the individuals who made, used, and possibly even broke them.

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