Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Writer as Navagator


Disclosure:  You have been at this subject in one way or another for the past few days, your interest in it apparent in the way you return to the theme of the writer as witness to his or her personal events, the writer as an outsider, and your ongoing conversation with the notion of the writer cast as a loner.

Can it be that as a writer finds voice, and then narrative momentum, and then vision, more and more influences seem to fall away?  It can be and, you argue, is.  References to source material become pounced upon only for one or two facts or concepts, rather than being devoured for the complete meal of their essence.  

Oracles become consulted less often by the self-actualized woman or man, and even then with more of a sense of indulgence toward the oracle.  Quaint old oracle; here’s how the ancients would have approached it.   Canonical and conventional sources—the so-called spine of our civilization and culture--good guidelines though they may be, become less pole stars and more on the order of tourist attractions. They attract the early levels of experience but quickly become nostalgia to men and women who have painted, drawn, written, sculpted themselves free of convention and now assume an orbit of their own, to be followed, tracked, interpreted.

Think about it:  you can no longer say you read a writer for enjoyment because you have reached the stage where, unless you are emphatic and descriptive about the sources and sensations of enjoyment, you are aware of having punted, of having said nothing.

If you were instead to say X’s work, because of its unflinching examinations of family dynamic, or Y’s work, because of the ways it dramatizes irony, for two examples, provide you pleasure, then you have said specific things, identifying at the same time places in you that are affected by them.

But the logic of experience works out for you to now be able to read something you enjoy, then be able to understand why, after the fact of your enjoyment, you have felt pleasured

These are all signs of you needing to rely less on authority figures in your work or your personal life, perhaps even in your dreams or fantasy.  Some could argue this falling away from consulting oracles or parents or mentors as loneliness but, you argue, these unnamed sources would be missing the fact of you having your characters to consult, your ideas to consult, even your failing or failed hypotheses as go-to sources.

Not by a long shot are you divorced from the warp and weft of friends, their agendas, and goals, nor do you feel remote from world events or politics or art or music.  Instead, you have shed a shell.
The shed shell is the shell of reliance upon.  When you see or read a thing at first blush seeming abstruse or coded, or difficult to penetrate, you have a tool kit of experience to rummage through for one or more tools you can apply to gain your understanding.

Here is a simplistic example of it:  You have not set foot on the campus of UCSB for at least five years, perhaps even longer.  You had never been in Building 449, the map designation of the venue wherein you teach.  Nor had you any recent experience with the dramatic sophistication of the parking structures and street-level lots.  And yet, without any information from related parties, using a map you’d downloaded from the university web site, and without asking students or campus cops, you were able to navigate your way, using techniques gleaned from a course in ROTC, which you’d initially failed.

Confidence plus experience, plus luck, plus venturesomeness will do that for a person.

The questing aspirant is aware of other sources of information and does not hesitate to use them, particularly if they relate to a larger project in the works.  The same individual is also grown more reliant from the growing trust in his intellectual and emotional navigational systems.  How ever idiosyncratic they are—and yours surely are quirky—they inspire the further navigation when embarked on a new project.

You get farther away from convention when you sail by your own pole stars.  The journey may take longer, but the risks and the emotions are all yours.


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