Saturday, October 8, 2011

Story, Once Again

Once again your attention is drawn toward story, in particular the thematic aspect of why it is so attractive a medium for transmitting information.  No question in your mind about the “information” being emotional, the target the viscera or the heart, those two loci being the metaphor for emotional border checkpoints.  Thus the emotions become a crude political metaphor for Arizona and Texas, landscapes where there is fanatical response to the mere mention of the words “undocumented entrants,” and where, further, the metaphor between fanatical and religious obtains.
Story and its real-time analogs are the only places where those who are obsessive, compulsives, and/or control freaks have an opportunity to modify Reality. It is no metaphor to link obsessive, compulsive, or control freak behavior to writers; those are the things we do even better than narrative or dialogue.

By the act of doing something or not doing something, the character pries loose the clod of consequence from the soil of stability, nudges it into a rolling motion, whereupon it gathers more mass and velocity.  You cannot have much consequence in motion for long without a result of some sort.  Important to make clear that the prying loose of the material of consequence should be physical, demonstrable as opposed to being thought-based or in any way, interior monologue.  This needs the sensible shoes of straightforward declarative sentences, the tools of dramatic action.

Depending on the personality of the reader, a particular genre with its particular preprogrammed DNA will satisfy the reader’s inner cravings.  There is no right or wrong answer for the choice of genre.  To the vanilla fancier, vanilla ice cream is real ice cream; chocolate becomes a substitute, a poor second choice.

Your favorite genre is the mystery because you have been for so long a fan of the crossword puzzle, but also because it seems to you that things get done in mysteries; crises are endured, puzzled over, pursued.  A mystery tells you on some level that what you do has so many downhill consequences set in motion.  Some of these consequences will cause unintended damage or other unintended results that are nonetheless stunning events for their victims.  Mysteries tell you that one of the best motives for murder and mayhem is the simple motive of a character with implicit belief in his or her rightness.  Mysteries tell you that there is often no real pleasure inbeing right.  Mysteries tell you that you would rather be a writer than be right.  You are not writing to demonstrate rightness nor are you writing or thinking mystery from any sense of justice being done.

Story takes you away from some of the nineteenth and early twentieth-century stories on which you were raised; it tells you there are no formulas that work all the time, that crooks get away with things, racist and sexist men get away with things, con artists get away with things.  For you, the idea of story begins when a racist or sexist gets away with something, leading to the possibility but not the inevitability of a revenge-type fantasy.  You in fact are a strong opponent of the so-called Cosmic or Poetic Justice type story, where the individuals who have somehow been wronged are left to take their pleasures from justice being administered by a source outside his or her own abilities.  You recognize the potential for someone reading these vagrant lines, then coming to the conclusion that you are a Libertarian.  Hardly.  You are a drama fan; if it’s Jake’s story, you want Jake to trigger such outcome as there will be.

You have some control as writer; in real-time life, you are constantly tripping over the consequences of things that you have done or not done, of things that seemed good at the time, indeed of things that seemed so good at the time that you have taken a step backward to see why you are so obsessed with its potential.  This works best when the thing that seemed so good at the time is a story or essay or a topic to be pinned to the dissection board of your blog site.

1 comment:

Querulous Squirrel said...

To me, life is a mystery. I like to think of all the stories I tell, memoir or fiction, as mysteries, though none are technically. I just never know how they will turn out.