Saturday, November 24, 2012

An incident within an event within a scene

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (535-475 BCE), reminded us we could not swim (probably meant bathe) in the same river twice.  This vision has evolved to the 2012 era from the southern California philosopher Lowenkopf, whereby one cannot drive the same Interstate Highway twice.

Things change.

You change.

A significant element in that change is the capability to form associations with persons, places, and things as the catalyst for the associations.

You were, earlier today, heading west on I-40, forming associations with a number of things including a particular book for one of the two reviews you have due and hope to have completed and sent off before I-40 leads you into the yet more familiar territory of US 101 and Santa Barbara.

A favored word came hitchhiking along with you on your journey and as hitchhikers tend to do, this word began making conversation, reminding you of the care you'd taken to include it in your last book, intending it as a useful tool in the craft of storytelling.

You needed little reminding.  Event, as you see it, is a significant happening in a story, a birth, or perhaps a death, possibly even an anniversary celebration of a birth or death.  All these, to be sure, count as events in your own personal storytelling toolkit.

But then, the voice of association began to appear roadside, and at length you were persuaded to stop to take it aboard, where it immediately began, as hitchhikers are wont to do, a conversation.

The association hitchhiker had no trouble with event, even going so far as to give it a nod of respect.  But after a time, you found yourself caught in the conversation with event and association to the point where another word was included.

Incident.

Story lines up in field formation around event, but it becomes filled with the coltish and anarchistic energy you so much admire in your favorite writers when event becomes nudged into incident.

Newspapers and Internet news blog sites are filled with events, many of which appear swept under a particular thematic rug.  When an event becomes triggered into an incident, the results move closer to the equivalent of Page One.

As you listened to the conversation, shifting from sing-song conversation into a more oratorical shade of rhetoric, you noted how one of the two books to be reviewed is about acting, in fact a partial description of the teaching techniques honed as a student of the Russian actor/director, Constantin Stanislovski, by Stella Adler, an individual who acted as well as taught in this country.

Incident has a nice sound to it, neither too flamboyant nor bland in its implications.  Incident wishes to present itself to you as, "Something was planned for the event, and as the plans became implemented, something else happened to affect two or more characters.  As conversation wishes to become dialogue, event in story wants to boil over into incident.  Thus incident is the event 'gang aft aglay,' as Burns had it in his lovely, haunting offering 'To a Mouse,'"

Such lovely logic here:  Two or more characters approach an event within a scene within a story.  Each has expectations of how the event will play out.  Each has an inherent vision of being right, or perhaps entitled for one or ore reasons.  These characters meet.  Their purposes tangle.  They clash.  Brer' Rabbit's Tar Baby story can be seen as mere child's play in comparison to this immediate event, this--this incident.

You by no means feel as though you've let event down in your book, but if and when a revised edition is called for, you will be sure to associate that useful tool with the talkative and persuasive hitchhiker you picked up just outside Gallup, N.M.

You should also mention how persuasive incident was when he put the bite on you for enough for a decent cup of coffee, "Not the rabbit pee urn coffee they serve around here, but an honest double shot of espresso."

You recognized an incident when you experienced one.

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