Friday, June 22, 2012

Arguing Neighbors


Since you were old enough to put words to such concepts, you’ve been beleaguered and badgered by arguing neighbors wherever you lived.  The arguments on occasion reached epic heights of acrimony, causing you to lose sleep, your ability to concentrate, even to think out rational solutions to rational problems perplexing you at the time.

On occasion the arguments devolved to things being thrown.

The arguments seemed to have begun at all times of the day or night, sometimes for no apparent reason.

The arguing neighbors were, of course, you, snarling, sniping pairs of opposites, their exchanges escalating from the relative calm of Socratic arguments into accusation, recrimination, and at last the exasperation of one of the parties wondering what the other expects.

You more or less solved the problem out of a need for time to work, sleep, think, read; you also solved the problem from a growing awareness that none of the arguing combatants was in any way malevolent or had pernicious agendas.  Quite the contrary—each combatant thought he was right about what you needed to do next.  In fact, some of the arguments had to do with which of the combatants had your greater interests more at heart.  Some of them even thought they were saving you from life-reducing errors.

Back to conversation again, now that you’ve figured out the opposing forces within, following them to the point where each said in effect that you could trust it when it offered suggestions.

This is, you believe, the way it is, the roiling inner lifestyle, as it were, playing out from one or more genomes with which our species is encoded at birth.  Sure, there are occasional mistakes and some individuals have no inner conversations or are swept along by inner voices of such range and intensity that they in effect become the driver for a time.  Sure.  On balance, most of us, you included, develop a social contract with these neighbors.  Your friends who write are, you admit with great fondness, quite daft, but are so in the daft ways of writers.  Musicians, writers, photographers, artists, and actors have overlapping points of interest and similarity.  In particular, this group you’ve just mentioned are all manipulators of time.  There are other things attracting you to them and them to you, thus the attraction away from ordinariness and toward the daftness that comes from being caught up in a particular focus instead of a particular lifestyle.

To observe that ordinary individuals do not have inner arguments is to buy into an enormous landscape of error; the entire Homo sapiens species has inner conflicts, some of them quite similar to your.  In fact, while you are different, somewhat apart, you are also approaching being congruent.  How would you have any hope of inventing characters that seemed lifelike if you did not have some similarity of inner conflict with the kinds of individuals you would not object to having as readers and, in fact, strive to understand so that you might better be able to accomplish that relationship?

You were going to use an adjective and call the relationship between you and your readers a happy one, but that, too, is a dangerous judgment.  You could attract readers who find your logic, circumstances, and characters so specious as to cause them great guffaws of mirth.

Relationships are fraught with possibilities.  Nearly every relationship has the potential for becoming metaphor for arguing neighbors.  Better relationships take this aspect of the chemistry between individuals into account.  Something in the chemistry of a close bonding causes the individuals to live in a state of mutual accommodation. 

You could advance the hypothesis that if there were no real-time arguments among neighbors, there would be no story.  Were you to do so, you’d be speaking to the attraction of the inner narrative, as seen, heard, felt, and remembered by the writer, the painter, the actor, the musician, the dancer, the photographer.

The “it” of the creative narrative may owe a great deal to time—time, for instance, in the kiln, or the tempo of a composition—but it also owes to that personalized strand of linked impressions we call design, and what is story but a particular strand of scenes and impressions linked in a particular pattern?

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