Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No Future in the Past

 Anticipation is a nagging twitch of a presence in story, not content to be patient, not for long.  Through use of a number of stratagems, anticipation manages to shift the conversation from its current vector of conviviality into some unavoidable awareness that it is with us in the room.  As though it were an eager student, anticipation wants to be called on for the answer.  The information it brings forth is never diplomatic nor respectful of any one's wish for privacy.

One of the stratagems anticipation uses to call attention to itself is to call attention to the hope of some momentous arrival, some evoked promise of news, waiting to be broken.  Another device is resident in the way it appears to minimize the importance of now, suggesting now is not sufficient; more could be done.  Anticipation is the actor in a stage play, having no lines to deliver at the moment, yet gazing fixedly at some unseen object, calling the attention of the audience away from the main action.  Yes; anticipation is a scene stealer.

In the same way you look forward to a meeting with a special, close friend, or to a meeting in which the only participants are you, a frothy cafe latte, a note pad and a fountain pen, you look forward in a more polar manner to a necessary task that holds no promise except negative outcome, say boredom or the more undifferentiated anticipation of unpleasant news, which equates to dread.

A character anticipates some progress toward an agenda as she awaits her cue to enter the scene, but, duplicitous sort that you are, you do nothing to prepare her for the surprise you have planned for her, telling yourself as though in defense of your perfidy that she needs this experience in order to one way or another prepare her for the future, but also to justify her continued, justifiable appearance in the story.  In fact, you quite like her, wish to keep her as a companion; something about her has reached you to the point where she has begun to represent substantial presence to you.

At such moments, the reality check alerts you, snaps you back from your own fantasy life with this character as it reminds you of the need for things to go awry in story.  When things gone awry have been ironed out, the story is over, which means she will leave you with a broken heart over the awareness that you should have seen it coming, all along, should have known she was there on the contingency basis of settling whatever it was that had gone awry, then, in that brief moment between scenes, effected some close bonding with her.

Students and clients, many of whom have charmed you with themselves and their stories, have left you in this particular way.  Friends and family members move away, die off, lose touch.  Such losses have had impact on you, prepared you for the future, which has, anticipated or not, arrived now.

This could cause you to adopt some cynical vision, some noir outlook in which anticipation can only bring forth loss, disappointment, and change against a backdrop of momentary pleasure.  Such a philosophy would wrench you back into the past, of effectively taking now from you or any sense of adventure of discovery in the present moment.  But you have a card up your sleeve.  You have her.  Remember the character you left in the wings, waiting to go on?  Since she is so interesting and since there is some sort of chemistry between the two of you, there is the potential for a new story; all you need do is construct a plausible way to bring her into it.

In real life, losses, changes, discoveries, and broken chemistry to the contrary notwithstanding, you nevertheless have the viable anticipation of entry into the now and the future.  All you need is a plausible way to keep yourself in it.

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