Tuesday, April 5, 2011


  A favored word of yours is small in length and enormous in its implications.  It is by all accounts a writer's word; it implies a condition or situation that has not taken place or that may not yet be so.  By these hints, the word will have given itself away.  If.

In the event.  In that case.  Ah, precious speculation.  Conditions assumed to be real, predicated, linked to some future conclusion.

If is a world of wish and whether and suppose.  Link it to another brief word, only, and the literary equivalent of a big bang is created; the universe of a particular character's psyche is on the chopping block, neck--or at least passions--bared to the potential of disappointment or, worse, some emphatic no from the cosmos.

Without if, story would be set out on the dole, without expectations of employment for some time to come.  Without if, there would be certainty or such abject conservatism rampant that we would be visited by the growing sense of minus inertia.  Things would not stand a chance of evolution, might even be seen as suicidal or at least static.

If is also on the other hand, the obverse of a speculation or plan or system, a reason to doubt or trust, a reason to take sides, take risks, take chances.

If you want to take it that way is a lovely trope meaning you have chosen to interpret someone or something in an unanticipated way, perhaps even a contentious way, which is, after all, one of the essentials of a story.  But look at if in connection with that's the way you feel about it; a clear invitation to a rift or large-scale falling out.

If things keep up the way they're headed.  If that's all that matters to you.  If worse comes to worst.  If I can count on you.  If you can keep your cool.  And what about, if you weren't so stubborn?  Or If you would only listen.  If you only knew.  If you had any idea.

If is like being in the desert or mountains, away from a large metropolitan area in the dark of night, where the myriad stars are exquisite in their visibility, their distance from earth so apparent because of the magnitude of the light they emit.  Each of these stars is an if.  If you measure the distance from it to us, you get a sense of the light as it travels, wanting to demonstrate among other things, the fact of its distance and the visual measure of its intense, colorful light.

How remarkable to have a word in our language with so many meanings inherent within its two letters.

If you had your way.  Ah, if you were able to control the universe, well, perhaps only the stories it is capable of producing, you would find ways yet unrealized to put this fine two-letter word to work in stories such as had yet to be seen, all because they were not yet written because of the things you thought it prudent to do if you intended to keep your family in some relative happiness, your employers in an equal state of relative happiness with your production, forgetting how, if you had more time, you alone of all persons who thought to tell stories, would not be so abusive of the power, if you had the power and if you had the necessary understanding to use the power, and if you had the wit to bring it all off.

If you had such things, would you be able to sleep?

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