Monday, March 12, 2012

Witness Protection Program


The years you’ve spent in the crucible of dramatic froth and rebound have not been a cause of misanthropy or cynicism.  Time in the crucible has been and still is—on balance—well spent.

You say “on balance” now because you wish you’d been even more aware, early on, of the dynamic in which people—your species, after all—are neither good nor bad, introvert nor extrovert, control freak nor an attitudinal pushover.  They simply are as they are, each according to a permanent or momentary status through which you may be the merest of shadow.

You might go so far as to say people are as filled with complications as so many of the up-market designer wristwatches.  But so are you.  Your time within the crucible has helped you see not only this but other factors yet about yourself. 

With varying degrees of application, you can find significant portions of humanity resident within yourself.  You sometimes believe this is so much the case that you need no longer observe humanity outside yourself, but that would cost you; that would be saying you were aware of the existence of The Grand Canyon, had even visited it on a number of occasions, making it unnecessary for you ever to visit it again.

Back you go to “on balance” for a moment.  On balance, this recognition of your emotional demographic is a positive and fecund discovery; it awaits  your further pleasures of investigation.  You often get as much pleasure from watching yourself in the throes of some destabilizing dynamic—say love—as you get from watching your characters as they edge themselves into the sturm und drang of event. 

Who, you ask yourself, are you to look down on them, particularly when so many of them are squatters on your ego, running emotional equivalents of electric lines, water and gas lines from your sources of supply in order to keep your literary contrivances a step or two from living on the streets?

You have become a witness.  As you watch others, you become impressed by how much more you are able to take in by leaving your judgments at the door.  At this stage of your life, you find greater ease in avoiding judgment of your characters than you are able to keep yourself from rendering on real-life individuals and, since you were the first to bring up the subject, there is the lesser likelihood of you judging yourself.  (If you could speed up the absorption of this process, the quality of your camping experiences would become even happier.)

You are better able to investigate your characters and yourself by leaving the fanny pack of judgment outside the workroom.  The results of discovery become apparent.  Why wouldn’t this tactic apply as well to getting on with your fellow voyagers here in the reality you have carved for yourself from your own perception of reality?

The characters can and should feel free to judge one another and, for that matter, you need to find a way, independent of your grabby id, to capture yourself in some dramatic way, without being judgmental.  (Why, you cranky, judgmental old fuck!)

You meet any number of readers and writers within the crucible of drama; your hope is to slow some of them down for a moment or two, where they will listen before scampering on to heed the call of stories other than yours.  You will bait your narrative with insights, devises, reversals, and shrewd, realistic revelations to affect this interest.

Among friends and students, you are in some large metric a participant.  You carry this same approach into many of your self-investigative modes, alternately a psychologist, sociologist, drill-sergeant, parent figure, curmudgeon, and coconspirator.

When you are at work, whether within those actual moments of composition and revision, or in those times of observation and assimilation (“I’m working.  I’m working.”) you cohere into witness, heaping your senses with detail, constructing scenarios, laying out a trail of cookies that draws your reading self, and others of like mind, forward

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