Friday, July 25, 2008

It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing

We have taken into committee the various ways ideas may present themselves, then allow themselves to be invited in out of the rain of indecision for some shelter while the ideas begin to feel at home.

By the "committee," I refer to that riotous and unruly group of personae, the individual aspects of the self wanting some voice in the matter. As is the case with any faculty whether it is the faculty of a department wherein one teaches, or perhaps faculty in the sense of a once-a-year construct such as a writers' conference, politics enter the landscape, manifesting political responses in proportion to the degree to which other members of the faculty are regarded by the you, the pilot, the guiding light. Wired into the constituents of most faculties, whether they are actual faculty members in a school, institution, or committee, or aspects of a single self, expressed through the synecdoche of the various parts making up a whole, there are frequent cases of interior discord.

Truth to tell, there are parts of the committee you may not be in sync with much less agreement or accord. You in fact greet traces of their presence with a kind of austere fatalism. After all, you've known of oe another for soe while.

All of this prologue to the ecosystem in which ideas, which is to say challenges, what-ifs, calls from one of the muses, are set forth. You have not yet dealt with the contingencies of a) having written a thing with a very clear agenda in mind, only to be persuaded by the burden or logic or indeed by the awareness of the lack of compelling logic that the idea at hand needs to be reversed, changed, shifted; or b) you have stumbled upon a surprise of such a dynamic nature that it causes a change of chemistry in the neural pathways or in some other manner causes you to change course.

a) and b) supra are consequential, little doubt about that. They become more of consequence in direct proportion to the degree by which you can be rendered idle by an argument or conflict between the two poles.

All the more reason for having in command one of the more committed, vocal members of the conflation of selves. The most efficient way of causing this cohesion of selves is with a shrewd chemistry of determination and blackmail I'm eager to get this material worked over to my satisfaction, eager to get at the intangible pleasures of working out the task. Democracy works well much of the time; it may evn work well much of the time within ourself, but it takes a radiant pole star--enthusiasm, anger, desire for revenge, desire for change, desire to define with some emphasis--to serve as guide. Curiosity works, too. What would it be like if..? This last aspect seems to me the basis of speculative fiction and the engine of the investigative essay, the one where you set forth with an hypothesis, establish that it is indeed an hypothesis rather than a straw man to be merely knocked down, then look for an answer you either did not know you had or an answer that satisfies you.

Emotions are the ballast to hold the hot air balloon on course without them the story or the essay is what it is, a big bag of hot air.

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