Monday, May 30, 2011

Caught between a Rocky Editor and a Hard Therapist

The editor's position in the literary dialogue is to nudge the writing away from the almost-word, that more general, less articulate trope, into what Flaubert termed le mot juste, the vibrant identity badge of truer exactitude of meaning and appropriateness.

The psychotherapist position to the patient, in similar fashion as editor to writer, is the same herd dog guidance toward understanding behavior, the motives and/or reflexes that may trigger the behavior, and, of course, the potential consequences of the behavior.

Although there are some possible exceptions to this comparison of similarities in which editors and therapists become too aggressive in proposing their notes, the likelihood for supportive suggestions is high; writers and patients who listen, then reconsider their options, then perform as themselves are positioning themselves to grow by understanding their own intentions, then acting on them in what you consider "prudent sincerity."

Writers may err in their communications and inventions; non-writing individuals may propound faulty agendas.  Both these assertions are integral aspects of literary and human behavior.  There is no moral imperative to write with clarity and grace nor is there any imperative for an individual to approach The Social Contract with absolute openness and grace, although some cultures appear to award Brownie points for scrupulous adherence to The Ten Commandments or some similar codification of ethics.

As an aggregate, humanity tends to award points for good behavior, however inelegant and inarticulate the performance may be.  The trouble begins in writing and human behavior when style is seen to trump story and/or behavior.  "But I was only trying--", "It may have been crude and exclusivist, but it was intended as humor," each trope being the equivalent of the famed, recent Twinkies Defence, where the standard rules were overwritten by the ingestion of some complex carbohydrates and some hydrogenated compounds.

Writing and human behavior bear comparison because each involves the interpretation of mammalian behavior; the clearer the presentation of the action or inaction involved, the greater the number of hits on the theoretical audience comprehension chart.

You have grown more impatient over the years with the written behavior of students and clients, this in direct proportion to your impatience with your own written behavior and your awareness that the process whose steady company you have sought for half a century remains in relative aloofness to your interests, meaning something other than familiarity breeding contempt, rather that it is and always has been up to you to make all the moves and gestures.  Do not expect it to get easier in some metaphorical sympathy fuck; expect it to take as long as it does and require the work it does because of one thing and one thing only:  you care.  It owes you nothing, just as neither the universe nor reality owe you.  The universe and reality are.  You are.  There is no equation, no equal sign connecting the parallel lines of you and them, no implied result much less any sense of cosmic justice.

You have happened along in a remarkable era in which your birth language has won significant stature over its many rivals, many of the contemporary writers exhibiting gifted ability to portray convincing presences with which to investigate moral issues and conundrums of the time.  Editorial and psychological insights are helpful and you are well served by considering them in the dialogues held among the facets of you within the crucible of your writing process.

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