Monday, November 16, 2009

The messy desk as metaphor

If you start with the metaphor of your desk and work area as an analog for the universe, you begin to get an understanding of the process by which material is created, possibly edited, possibly even made to fit other such materials, then sent forth for yet another process, the one called publication.

One of your guilty pleasures is cyber eavesdropping on brother and sister users of Internet and blog platforms, noting how, to a person, they complain of the chaos about their own work area, then present a picture of it for all the cyber world to see, a kind of confession of vulnerability, something a scant step or two away from the confession of owning collections of erotica.  Your own version of this First Law of Cyber Truth:  No matter who they are or what they say, your work area is not only less neat, it is sloppier.

True enough, you awaken from time to time with the distinct plan for neatening and cleaning your work area, a plan that includes shelving books nearby, using the spray cleaner and special cloth sold to you at a Mac Store to remove traces of liquids and other ephemera from your screens (How they got there in the first place is akin to the mysteries of quantum physicists trying to formulate the Big Bang), replacing pens to their proper containers, tidying up written notes.

The goal is order.  This being a Monday, it is an appropriate time to consider such strategies, and you are heartened at the focus.
It is a metaphoric Monday when you sit before your computer, address your note pad at a coffee shop, or start playing with your index cards at some indeterminate venue, thinking to engage the delightful process of playing at writing.  

You are in a sense coping with the chaotic universe of your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, trying to neaten and arrange some form of order.  A non-writer would be daunted at such an undertaking, but you, the quintessential slob, see the humor and ultimate fun in trying to create some small patch of order in this daunting universe of reality in which particles of idea, event, and sudden emotions fly about in dizzying orbit, sometimes colliding to form the glorious surprise of The Other, the thing about which you strive to writer, neaten, understand, get some sort of momentary control over.

The best you or anyone can do in this calculus is prepare a manuscript for submission somewhere.  If properly executed, the manuscript will be the final step in neatening, removing clutter, leaving little or no doubt about the intentions of the words.  

True enough, this is essentially saying that the condition of the manuscript may be of equal importance to the text.  Words are, after all, things that want to break free, possibly collide with other words; words are particles that affect different persons in differing ways, and thus a neat desk and a tidy manuscript have some say in the arguments that wage within the very thin skin of the writer.

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