Friday, September 17, 2010

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four

This is in its way an Odyssey of a French fried potato unit, that fabled shaving of potato plunged into a hot bath of cooking oil until it is transformed from fleshy white to a crisp, tantalizing finger of golden brown, going on a journey from plate to mouth, defining in its journey character, degree of intimacy between or lacking between characters, and that most defining character trait, intent.

An object, any object, whether some useful noun or worn-out appliance, may alternatively litter the landscape where you live or haunt your awareness as a consequence of you having discarded it.  You are, as indeed your characters are, a reflection of the items in a desk drawer, broken parts of reading glasses, USB cords from long departed computers, the collars and medallions of pets no longer alive, business cards handed you by persons of intent themselves, proffered in paroxysms of enthusiasm.

Some objects convey the sweet reminiscence of a former lover while others still may hark back to an era in your life, such as smoking, where lighters and pipe cleaners and tamping tools became the frequent fliers in your tool kit.  You and your characters are given to regarding them in a state of having been yanked into the shadowy atmosphere of reminiscence by their mere presence.

Thus objects go beyond Chekhov's gun, mounted on the wall in Act One, a mute reminder of its forthcoming role at the fall of the curtain following act three; they become objective correlatives or emotional land mines or flashing arrows which point the reader toward subliminal connection.

A single French-fried potato unit is an object in its own right, one you would immediately baptize in ketchup, sending forth relevant information about you.  That same shred of potato, resting on your plate, becomes immediately transformed as a character spots it, hovers over it, then pounces, lifting it to her mouth with a triumphant chomp.  French-fry and character have just assumed a significant definition, establishing at least a relationship of pre-existing intimacy with you or an intent to form one.

French-fried potatoes in real life are objects of interest on a one-dimensional level; in fiction they become defining moments from which story emerges, awaiting the decision to douse in ketchup or play out the scene in full-frontal nudity.

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