Sunday, March 18, 2012

Definitions and Implications

1. Let us begin with definitions:
2. Editing is work, requiring concentration, an awareness of the author’s intent, respect for the author’s intent, and wishing for the author to be as successful and far-reaching as possible with the work at hand.
3. Teaching is work.  You wish to convey a range of vision to a wide demographic of student, wanting for as many aspects of the demographic as possible to connect with the vision, then modify it to the point where the vision has the student’s fingerprints all over it.
4. Writing is not work; it is play, but it is difficult play, excruciating play in which, if the play falls short, the entire purpose of the writing may be lost.  Play is to childhood as technique and behavior are to adulthood, thus play becomes practice for adulthood and adult games.  Play is to writing as writing is to life.  Thus writing is life.  Although some approach writing from places such as anger or a sense of abandonment or frustration at not being able to control sufficient portions of Reality, there is yet the potential that they will have found ways to use play as a counterpoint or subtext.  Henry Miller was such a person, no stranger to play, although he had other agendas.  Ayn Rand was no such person.  The writing of each individual, seen in relationship to play, speaks with eloquence to this point.  At the time you knew Miller, he was able to tell you that a bad day of painting was better than a good day of writing.  He offered you your choice of a booklet he’d written about painting (The Waters Reglitterized) or a watercolor.  You’d read most of his material at the time.  You chose the watercolor, which you still have.  Somehow, the books of his you’d had are not with you.  This was not a result of overt deliberation.  You only met Ayn Rand once, under circumstances where discretion was well advised.  You were quite drunk, at the stage of drunkenness of extreme garrulousness and good fellowship.  Even at this remove in time, you are pleased with yourself for all the times when you were that drunk and were still shrewd enough a judge of your behavior to know to keep your words and actions at a minimal level.  With the exception of an acute sense of disbelief, of you’ve fucking got to be kidding disbelief, you got nothing from Ayn Rand and have nothing to offer in return.
5. With those definitions and observations lodged into place as prologue, you are ready to set forth another belief:  To the extent that you can, you attempt to come at the day’s session of writing with a sense of it being enlightened play, in which you intend to play yourself out.
6. You hope you’ve written enough things during the times of your writing life to have used up all the jokes, incidents, and smart-ass remarks you’ve saved up over the course of your life and are thus able to come at whatever it is, even things such as this blog essay, with a few things cached away as possible.
7. The implication of # 6. Supra is that the jokes, incidents, smart-ass remarks, and associations of today are fresh rather than leftovers from previous days.
8. Further implication is that the associations and discoveries you make today are surprises for you, some of them admittedly unhappy ones, nevertheless things you’d not anticipated.
9. When you were young, barely in your teens, you generally fell asleep the moment your head hit the pillow, a circumstance that often came as a disappointment because you’d wanted to have a few moments to review things you’d experienced or had wanted to experience during the day.
10. After a time, the notion came to you that you could prolong your waking in-bed time by inventing stories which, depending on their capacity to interest you, would keep you awake longer, sometimes as much as two hours longer.
11. Story was almost by definition a series of events that kept you awake, avid of information about the outcome or consequences tumbling down from the earlier events.
12. You did not consider it fair to contrive intriguing events during the day that would keep you awake later; the narrative had to begin as you settled into bed.  The consequences of not being able to design an intriguing opening situation or problem or adventuresome expedition were simple enough:  you lost the game by falling asleep.
13. At some point, you reckon thirteen or fourteen, you began with a more or less ensemble cast of boys, girls, men, women, and, of course, you, as characters.  It was not long before you realized sex had come into the calculus and you were on your way to adventures beyond your power to contrive.
14. With the realization that you were beyond your power to contrive, story became the flame and you the moth.

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