Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sascha, Mischa, Gus: The Yiddish Aurora Borealis

You have heard of but never seen the aurora borealis, and know vaguely that it is visible at night in extreme northern and southern latitudes, is caused by among other things, colliding particles.  Thus you have given away the fact that you have not in your lifetime been farther north than Friday Harbor on San Juan Island up north in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or possibly north of that in northern England,nor much farther south than Mexico City.

But you have seen your own version of the aurora borealis, a splendid flashing aura that comes when drifting story particles collide.  You were awakened by a collision of story connections and Sally wanting to use the back yard for some purpose or other at about three this morning, thinking as you stumbled back to bet that you might not have remembered the collision of story particles had Sally not socked your arm to get you to open the back door.

The collision this morning was no big story point, no sudden revelation that character A is really related somehow to the protagonist or principal antagonist, nor even that the principal antagonist is becoming more likable than the protagonist (always a good thing dramatically speaking), it was merely that Arabella, the somewhat ditsy, grandmotherly type who lives in a deluxe one bedroom plus den townhouse in your fictional upscale gated community retirement villa, is connected with the protagonist's last case in which he discovered that Arabella, Helene, and Brooke had smuggled their lifelong friend, Kate, from the RestSecure Senior's Haven, where her kids had had her committed so that they could, you know, rifle her bank account.  Said Arabella sees a glow every weeknight at eleven o'clock, seeming to float up like an aura over the ninth hole of the golf course.  She likes the convenience of attributing such things to mystical forces and, bless her, that's perfectly fine for the purposes of the story under way.  

All right, call her foolish, she remarks early on in her appearance, but those lights are not, not you understand, random.  They have a purpose.  What Arabella is not likely to find out is that the source of the lights are the result of some squatters, living rent free at your upmarket gated community while they pursue their engineering degrees at UCSB.  The source of the lights is their one luxury use of bootlegged electricity, they are stopping their studies to watch Charlie Rose.

You, being you, do not set forth to include or depict such things.  Perhaps another person might, but they come to you, often at night, but sometimes in the shower or at Peet's where you have gone to trade distractions; they shimmer with the spectacular energy of their collisions, causing you to behave as though you'd grabbed hold of an electric eel or slid too precipitously across the nylon seat cover of your car.  The price you believe you need to pay for such aurora borealis-like event is putting some measure of time on the project every day, even if it is as brief as a paragraph before moving to confront the pile of student work or clients that loom before you.

Thanks to MRI and other imaging technology, it is possible to see aspects of the brain at work, routing traffic,issuing sig-alerts, cleaning up road spills, allowing you the conceit of knowing the brain is a control freak, wanting to connect as many things as possible in the perceptions of its host.  The brain wants the writer who has taken the risk of putting the words down on paper to see the orderly side of Being, of helping the host translate order out of the Chaos.  You were raised in a culture where the colloquial mantra is "Tsouris beliden," which more or less translates as trouble aboundeth.  The brain wants you to see that a large measure of this tsouris is connected, not in any formal sense of, say, The Periodic Table of the Elements, but as a result of on site collisions which, unlike freeway counterparts, produce the delicious pulse of energy, and what are writers for except to grow disc antennae from which they receive signals of that energy.

Carrying the metaphor to the extreme, how lovely it would be to have a narrative in which the protagonists are grown-up versions of Power Rangers, perhaps even contemporary samurai, named Sascha, Mischa, and Gus.  Their three names, repeated quickly, would send an instant message of cosmic recognition to anyone with basic understanding of Yiddis, for it is cosmic :  Such a mishugas; What craziness, what absolute freaking madness!

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