Friday, January 20, 2012

Decisions

Story and life are built around decisions.

There are decisions made in each, triggering action and, of course, triggering the response of no action.  Story and life may have, in a metaphoric way, become the equivalent of toothpaste squeezed out of a tube.  Those are the decisions or their lack that have left a permanent appearance of consequence, which in its own way goes at the tube of toothpaste again for another squeeze.

Story and life revolve about the concern, the suspense of which decisions will be needed now “to get out of this mess.”

A story without decisions is no more a story than a life without decisions is a life.  In each case, the lack of need for a decision or the lack of consequence for a former decision are of a piece with the shoplifter who takes some trinket for the excitement of getting away with the theft.

The imperative to make up your mind resonates within you, reminding you how much a part of your life story is and how inextricably story is wrapped in life.  This imperative produces the strange calculus where you find yourself wishing your moments of leisure and memorable dreams involved more decisions, more crisis points, and more pressures to do “things,” even if these “things” were such small details as connecting random ideas.

Again the metaphor speaking to you, urging to make your life more story, make your story more deliberate.  Conflate story with deliberation; conflate deliberation with the build-up to decision.

At times these matters seem arbitrary, perhaps even self-canceling.  You also see story and life more as a sense of alertness and openness to potential.  You, the pragmatist, survey the options before making the decision that will send you and your story along a particular vector.  There is an improvisational presence in such an approach that appeals to you because of your fondness for the improvisation resident in jazz.

For the moment, the goal is surprise.  A decision made has an unforeseen consequence, which leads to the eruption of surprise, which leads to the energy of discovery.  You, your narrative, and your characters derive great mileage from such combustion.

This line begins to make sense:  you, your narrative, and your characters experience the pressure of arriving at a decision, which becomes the tipping point.  Once you and they pass the tipping point, only another draft can save the situation.

If you all pass the tipping point with enough momentum, there will be surprise, discovery, and energy to continue.  In this calculus, boredom becomes minus inertia, the force that slows the narrative, spaces the decisions at greater distance from one another, delays or clouds the surprise, suppresses the energy to continue.

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