Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Field Notes from Reality

Although there are times when the outside world, the world of reality, acts up at you like a self-conscious photographer’s model who protests having a a picture taken, all the while wanting several pictures taken, you still believe the written universe is a more interesting, less dangerous place to be.

True enough, regardless of the risks to your preconceived notions and internal wiring inherent lurking in literature to trap the unwary you, there is still less danger than in the outer world.

This is not an easy game to referee.  Fiction can lead you to not only believe in but as well expect preordained results, poetic justice, and the twenty-first century equivalent of gifts from the gods.

If you are not careful in your reading, stopping your examinations, say, in the nineteenth century or the early parts of the twentieth, you might believe that faith, hard work, willingness to take a risk, and, of course, love are the vehicles to be driven off into the sunset, where right will prevail and the faithful will be rewarded.

Fiction also allows you to feel you’ve had advance warning about some of the many misadventures and pitfalls to afflict the human condition as you wander about, trying to figure your way through its maze.  In that sense, too much reading can and does lead to a kind of arrogance, allowing you to think that because you’ve observed the folly in so many others, you will recognize it when you see it, making it easier for you to avoid it.

Even though you are now at less than ten percent of your collection of book acquisitions, you feel comfortably insulated by the ghosts of those given to the library and good will during your abrupt change of living conditions.  A discussion with an interesting student or a friend can send you into a pattern of associations with books you’ve read, books you’ve yet to read, and books you intend to read, where the theme of one recalls the theme of something seemingly disparate until you begin to see bridges spanning decades, centuries, countries, and languages.

This is not by any means meant to show contempt for life experiences.  From your own times in various trenches or in various Edens, you have a considerable array of material from which to set out scenarios, on the spot, with a good chance you’ll have been correct in your projections.

The moderate individual could argue that there is no contest; the reasonable person can draw upon literature and experience to equal degrees of result.  The less moderate realist could bring to the argument the focus of Reality being equally fraught with opportunity for profitable wisdom and, after all, isn’t living in the moment of event more functional and, well, more real, than reading about it?

The creative individual must apprentice for a considerable time within reality before retreating to the workroom where light maybe refracted rather than reflected, images may be reduced to dots or pixels, then separated farther, sounds may be stretched beyond their conventional harmonic patterns to create new conventions.

There are any numbers of ways creativity may manifest itself.  For starters, we have none muses; surely more are awaiting birth.  Like intelligence and volunteer flowers that sprout between cracks in sidewalks and roadways, creativity may flourish anywhere and within individuals previously thought to exemplify such euphemisms as slow, different, and other.  Some of us wish the luxury of investigating this slow, different, otherness, experimenting with kinds of successes and failures well outside the framework of our education and professional training.

You find yourself from time to time trawling on the outer edges of reality, not fully aware of what you’re looking for.  Perhaps the quest is a brief conversation with an unexpected source.  You’ve had enough of these by now to be more likely to indulge greater levels of potential than before.

Although you do not look your age in the extreme of that sense, you do not look the way you did when you were out swimming in the oceans of romance and courtship, nor does your age preclude your interest in such things.  And as such things stand, you have more or less become invisible, simultaneously allowing you to see more going on about you.  Should your interest grow specific, you now have to ask for what you want, let her know you are hitting on her as opposed to mere banter or flirtation, thus you are at once more of a witness, as you described yourself yesterday, and a surprise participant.  In earlier years, you were more likely to be the witness, but there were different things involved then.

You like this sense of invisibility, knowing that should the occasion arise, the anonymity is gone with a word or a gesture, and in reality you are neither more nor less vulnerable than you were in earlier years.  Your style has changed, your voice has changed, your vision and tool kit have changed.

All this has come from going through your tool kit, tossing out the props you no longer need, flossing after meals, making sure you take good notes and superb specimens back to the workshop.

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