Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Power Play

You are so accustomed to living in a world of flux that the ebb and flow of the tides, the wane and wax of the moon, the rise and set of the sun are no longer phenomena to you—unless, of course, you take the effort to observe them as such and to remind yourself of their individual wonders.

Were you to give these items, tides, and orbits awareness of their progressions, you’d be anthropomorphizing them, a flaw in logic, to be sure, but at least a recognition of their power in your life as you embarked on the cyclic process of your days.

But you don’t stop with that process.  For reasons known and unknown to you, you have planted both feet into the world of story, where they have taken root.

Now, you are subjected to the universe about you, the splendid mockery of the mocking bird, the lush tonality of Ravel, the muezzin’s sound of a Coltrane solo, the clamor of voices in your head of Mark Twain and Louise Erdrich, and your own mentor, Rachel, urging you to go out on the heroic journey search for your own voice, a stray that from time to time seems to have wandered from the corral.

Within the worlds of story, you are subject to the laws and behavior of power.  Things and phenomena and persons, actual or your own creations, have power—over you, over each other, over themselves, extending upward and downward in a dizzy riot of anarchy.

As love is, as passion and interests are, power is anarchy.  You have no control over it within story.  You often have scarce control over it in real life.  If you are in love with someone, that individual has power to distract, confuse, confound you.  It is a tidal pulsing of emotion and mystery, reminding you of your love beyond the particular individual, all the way into the mysticism of being alive, arguing at the same time with the vision of what life is and where it ought not be anthropomorphism.

In story, scenes are often stunning visions of power at work with one person having the power and another either wanting to neutralize it or usurp it.  In real life, power exists as a cultural force as well as one of transaction between two or more apparent peers.  Power taken by force, with no regard, often produces fear, which leads to resentment or some breakdown of the psyche.  Power that is held onto jealously is likely to produce suspicion, perhaps even paranoia.  Power given freely is often a gesture of respect or love.

Many stories use power as a fulcrum, turning the point of power on end, allowing one character to escape from a force that has become tyrannical, affording freedom.  Many relationships, particularly partnerships, turn on the same fulcrum, wherein one partner has progressed in some way, negative or positive, while the other has remained steady.

In some cases, stability is seen as power, in yet others, it is a cause of concern that it has become too conservative.

Power is reputed to corrupt, with the added burden of absolute power bearing the weight of absolute corruption.

What is the power to tell a story or the power to love?  Each is an ability to see the real universe and imaginary ones in different perspectives.  For you, it is not much of a choice between story or love; you have to love story in order to tell it, thus you chose love, already loving story.

A student approached you recently to thank you for recommending to him Aristotle’s Poetics, which is arguably one of the first books to discuss story.  Written about three hundred fifty years before the Common Era, much of it now obsolete, it still gives you a core sampling of a distant time, where we are connected by a love for the details and effects of the story, however different we are as individual participants in the ongoing story of life about us.  The power of story and the power of life have evolved. You rush to meet it.


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