Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Craig's List of the Cosmos

Because bad news of any sort, be it the determination by a publisher that a particular work is not quite--note the equivocation-suitable for it, some misfortune appearing in the life of a loved one or even one's self, the sudden anemic behavior of an auto or a pet, or some truly disastrous event with broad down-stream consequences, is in most ways a cosmic crosswalk guard holding forth a HALT sign, it appears to travel faster than good news.

By definition, good news is a reshuffling of the cosmic furniture to effect a more comfortable universe, with happy consequences.  Things appear to go our way.  We are grateful.  We even stop to congratulate ourselves for all the hard work we put in, thinking surely that the hard work effected the good news.

Not so fast, Buster.  Hard work, considerable planning, taking risks, perhaps even a touch of teamwork thrown in are all important adjuncts to the human condition and there are times when they may be seen as having influence on good news.  By and large, the universe is so engaged in its unfolding that it does not have time to take sides; it has shown no favoritism to good news or to bad tidings.  The Universe simply unfolds as it believes it ought, not as we think.  Our attempts at influence more or less cancel themselves out.

Even though it may be argued that there is racial and social class exploitation and that there has always been such exploitation, even though injustices are frequently called out in some tribunal or publication or work of art, the news, which is to say the ongoing succession of events unfolds with equal speed.  There are those who always appear to get their good news first and some of those persons are seen as magnets of good fortune on the basis of their world and personal outlook.  Their getting any kind of news, good or bad, is simply a matter of point of view and since fiction writers presumably know the ins and outs of point of view, they are expected to know that there is an element of propaganda involved in attaching judgments to the news.

Similarly, a spate of bad news after sessions of good news may lead to the suspicion that the Universe doesn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about it being a perpetual fete champetre.

You may not get yours (read good news or bad news, depending on your present mood) today or even tomorrow, because, after all, it is not about you; it is about itself.  You have invented fictions, fantasies, and mystical connections to support your beliefs about the way the universe works, concoctions starring you.

But it is not about you; it is about itself.

You, on the other hand, are not so selfish.  You are surely about yourself, but you do not always cast yourself in a starring role, and even when you cast yourself in a starring role and the universe appears to deliver, you have also cast yourself in a role of sharing with close ones or perhaps feeling the triumph of having scored a decent review or two for your performance.

You are not likely to cast yourself in flops and so when the role you have cast yourself in does fail, you get up, dust yourself off, then start looking for the Cosmic Craig's List for some call to audition, whereupon you step out once again on the Universal platform, trying, desperately trying to remember your lines, which you knew so well and with such expressive grace only moments before.

Old Man River just keeps rolling along and the Universe keeps happening; it doesn't particularly care if you're with it or against it.  Your best defense is always to have a plan but it does no harm if in addition you realize that the mere act of being here is a tremendous cosmic accident and you are incredibly lucky to have reached this point.

1 comment:

Lee Pound said...

Hi Shelly,

Seems like an awfully long time since we connected at Jack Charron's in Irvine and at the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference with Sol Stein. It's good to see you are writing up a storm on this blog. I'm still doing a lot of writing, editing and book publishing as well as three blogs, one listed below. Would love to hear from you and catch up.