Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Destinations

Not all destinations are geographical; some are imaginary and striving to define themselves; other destinations are emotional landscapes, shrouded in awe or perhaps misanthropy or, better, the blaze of enthusiasm.  Yet other destinations are rhetorical, forcing expectation to share accommodations with outcomes, provoking surprise perspectives and responses.

Each time you approach a novel or short story, whether written by an author unknown to you, an old literary chum or, indeed, your own work, you enjoin it:  Take me somewhere I have not been before.

Your subsequent reaction to any work at hand is measured in proportion to the quality of the journey on which you were taken by the reading of it.

If your inertia of skepticism and studied disinterest was at all penetrated, you melted into the characters and their goals, assumed the landscape was now yours as well, proceeded against their challenges, gloried in their victories over circumstance, learned as they learned and realized how in fact you had not learned so well in reality when you had the opportunity but saw the light, the discovery through the immense journey of reading.

The commonality you share with those readers and writers you care about is the legacy of loneliness.  You join your role model readers and writers with the recognition that although you are in this alone, you have at least these two things to share, the idiosyncrasy of the aloneness in forging a tangible voice and the wish to achieve the goal of forging a language that will help you describe not only how you feel but how the entire universe appears to you in those moments you are fortunate enough to get close to it to the point where you can see one anomaly of structure that is in actuality beauty and truth revealed to you because of your effort of looking for it.  This anomaly may be something as quotidian as the awareness of toyon berries appearing at a greater height than they ought or of the sudden appearance of a mocking bird in a territory overrun with ghastly, squawking crows.  Nor is it all about nature; it may be the surprise appearance of a word you had not dared to use, appearing in a paragraph you had written without regard for the propriety of using words that might send some scurrying toward a dictionary, or the expression of recognition when you find yourself locking eyes with a person who appears suddenly beautiful to you beyond all reasons of standard, outward beauty.

To have any hope at all for a life in the arts is to be fucked in the conventional sense of having rendered yourself second best at anything else you undertake.  Perhaps there are some grace notes; perhaps you can have a moment of connection with teaching or editing or merely being able to call to some one's attention some small wonder of extraordinary worth and beauty.

So there you are, cheerful about the price extracted from your day-to-day existence, the price of being the landing site on which ideas and impressions may or may not chose to land upon when you are in their vicinity.

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