Saturday, September 20, 2008


Sometimes they are elaborate wooden fences or textured walls, topped with spirals or razor wire. Other times they are lines drawn in the dirt, etched on some rock or porcelain. Still other times they are lines on maps, represented with a broken pattern. In yet other situations, they are verbal, spun out in a hiss of a whisper or a shrill, raised voice. They may on occasion appear in athletic competitions, designating the acceptable from the unacceptable. They represent a demarcation between where you may and may not go.

You are no stranger to them, having blundered past some of them without noticing their presence or deliberately ignoring them in search for something or, in a more positive sense, having reached for something that would expand you and your vision. No telling how long you've been aware of them nor how long their very presence has been a challenge to you. Somewhere, somehow you heard a voice explaining the nature of individuals engaging in the martial art of akido, being referred to not as combatants but rather as partners. Since you are not one for martial arts, you quickly began to make the association with boundaries instead of combat as such. You and boundaries are partners, engaging in a complex dance of morality and art and choice and of self, real self, Self self.

Sometimes in dreams an fantasies you overstep boundaries, the selfish Self of you wanting beyond consequence. Back in your more observant self, you experience the complex cocktail of nervous apprehension and pleasure, apprehensive at the consequences of this particular trespass, pleased in some cases for having the audacity to consider it. These boundaries, you are pleased to note, go beyond material possession and sexual fantasy to enlightened understanding of how more things in the Universe work and how this knowledge contributes to your day-to-day activities. This is not to say you don't have fantasies involving material possessions nor your casting yourself in the role of an intimate, a confidante with another individual, rather it is to say that your dreams allow you to present yourself with the exuberance of a youngster, of a puppy with a long tail constantly a-wag, sending things skittering from table tops as you encounter in the jungles of story your version of how individuals of your choosing make their way clear of the snags and travails.

It has become a constant for some time that your vision of story includes the lunar pull of the hunt on one or more of your characters, driving him or her to the edge of a boundary they think themselves certain of not violating, to a close look but not over the boundary. Then you push them over, observing all the while what they do and what they will not do.

What do you think of yourself after you've crossed a boundary? If it was a boundary of limitation, you have license to feel good, but do you? If it was a boundary of morality, you would do well to ask yourself if you enjoy feeling this way, or perhaps you already know you do not enjoy feeling this way and thus resolve instead to keep stepping over the boundary but at the same time avoid considering how you feel having done so.

In your workshop, boundary and sin do not conflate, simply because you are not a big fan of sin. You are a willing forgiver provided there is not a toxic habit of forgiveness extended in a particular direction.

You are, on the other hand, a careful observer of the Social Contract, with its boundaries that speak not only to the integrity of an individual but the obligations of that individual within a society.

With all that in mind, you salute your state as a writer, a commentator, a critic, treating your inventions, your characters, your selves with due respect as you discover from them their boundaries, then force them to the point of combustion, wherein they either do or do not step over the boundaries. Then you ask the how they feel about what they have done in order to understand where the story goes next...and which boundaries you have overstepped in its pursuit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boundaries--such a huge issue for me I can't even begin to comment.