Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Story, not the Devil, Is in the Details

You were taking your first sips of coffee at the Cafe Luna in downtown Summerland when another Cafe Luna customer entered, drew abreast of your table, then stopped to tell you what you'd had for breakfast across town at the East Beach Grill.  "You had,"  she said, "the two-three-two combo.  Two eggs, three hot cakes, two sausages.  You were with that guy who used to be sales manager at Bantam Books.  Fred."

"Fred,"  you said.  "I wish I'd seen you.  I'd have said 'hi.'"

"I wasn't there.  Can't stand the place.  Someone I know saw you."

The small town connecting link at work.  There are enough people in the area that extends from Carpinteria in the south all the way to Goleta and the University, northbound, that you sometimes forget you live in a small town.  Until it behaves the way you think a small town behaves.  You go about the vectors of  your day filled with the purpose of the moment,the near future, and of course the past, being yanked back to that quintessential small town where every memory and impression carries with it the tingle of gossip.  The small town inside your head is populated with gossips.

When you are in the present moment, filled with purpose or adrift on mild currents of drowsy input, you are as close to being in control of your intentions as such things are possible.  The moment future probability or past action are available for consideration, your own point of view is hostage to interpretation.

So far as ideas rather than tangible things or actions are concerned, it is still a jungle out there; even your own interpretations could be influenced by the gossip you hear from your own internal parts.  It may sound simplistic for you to suggest the solution to yourself of just get on with it, the it being the story at hand.  When you return to a particular book for yet another read, you may well see a different story, an "other" story than the one you carried about with you.

It is rather a mountain goat leap of logic at this point to say that the specific details in a story are important for reasons other than you think; they are there to provoke and provide the sense of reality rather than the argued and logical facts of reality.  It is entirely possible that the friend who told your friend what you had for breakfast got it right on the button, in particular if you like the notion of her observation reflecting gossip.  But it would have made an entire new vector of story had you been convinced you did not have the two-three-two breakfast combo that morning, settling instead on oatmeal.  Hearing the recitation of your activity, you could well have thought, That's the trouble with small town gossip, the gossips can;t even get the details right.

Two important constants in these vagrant lines:  the small town flavor, and the importance of details.  How many times have you overheard, even participated in arguments over the accuracy of the details.  None of the participants were arguing about the presence of the details, rather the accuracy of them.

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