Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pairs of Opposites

There are two underlying reasons for story:

1.  to report events

2.  to discover the meaning of events, their causes, and their consequences.

When we report events,our focus is on the accuracy and detail, the remembered nuance or spoken words that simultaneously ratify and justify the reporting of events in the first place.

When we write to discover meanings, we engage in the act of replaying imagined scenes and confrontations that take place between arguing aspects of our writing self, setting forth emotional evidence and potsherds from which we seek, much in the manner of archaeologists, to recreate some basic meanings and intents that will be useful to us in our goal of survival and evolution.

As a boy,I was much given to the daily radio serials.  These were adventures of those envied persons of nearly my age or, even better, the purpose and wandering of adults who, although they had no clue of my own existence, seemed to me to radiate concern for my being.  From them I learned that story was always a door to adventure and discovery, sometimes not very pleasant discovery but nevertheless understanding.  From them I extracted reference points, ways of interpreting risk and consequence.  The sponsors of these stories would from time to time make some seemingly remarkable prize available.  For mere box tops and a dime or quarter, I was able to purchase decoders, badges, rings, booklets, templates by which I could render secrets of my own into code and discern the coded messages they from time to time would issue forth.  Never mind that as a boy I was hard pressed to come forth with anything significant and consequential enough to render into code.  Much less did I have anyone with whom I could exchange coded messages.  There were secrets which I could use as tickets of admission to the worlds of secrets of my own.

Some times as I sat, eagerly at the end of a Lone Ranger or Green Hornet episode, taking down the numbers my decoders would translate, I was at a state I would only come to identify years later, perhaps just after the implications and goals of hormonal change had registered within me.  Although certainly charged with the subtext of sexual awareness and dynamic, the eagerness and anticipation I was experiencing then was the awareness of a story about to be born. 

The messages from Captain Midnight and Little Orphan Annie and The Lone Ranger were all of a type:  Remember to clean your room.  Hang your clothes up after you have finished wearing them.  Be polite to your parents and teachers.  Share things with your friends.  There were no clues about how to attract girls or where to go for adventures of your own or even who to believe.  I was left with the sense of betrayal that invariably morphs into the realization that I would have to discover these things on my own.  Not only that, I would have to be wary of individuals who continued to offer me information every bit as earthshaking as Captain Midnight and The Lone Ranger as guidelines for success in any area I wished to be successful in.

We write to record and to investigate.  As it stands now, I do remember to clean my room, although this does not always motivate me to do the actual cleaning.  I sometimes hang up clothing after the occasion for wearing has passed.  I am sometimes polite to parent and teacher figures, and although I am more likely to share political views and opinions of particular books and authors, I am not at all adverse to picking up a tab, extending an invitation, calling to check in to see how things are going.  With some regularity, I even eat from all the basic food groups.  I'm not sure if any of this has contributed to my writing-reporting-investigating skills, and in many ways, I'm still looking for coded messages from the Cosmos or, if you will, the Universe, hopeful I will have adequate means at hand to unlock their meaning.


Anonymous said...

Remember the disappointing fine-printed message at the bottom: "not available west of the Rockies"?

Anonymous said...

Taking a break from the story on which I'm working, I just read the following words Arthur Miller said about actors who had trained with Sanford Meisner: "...every time I am reading actors I can pretty well tell which ones have studied with Meisner. It is because they are honest and simple and don't lay on complications that aren't necessary."

Sounds like a pretty good definition of what makes for good writing, too.

Best to you, Shelly.