Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Effects of Puberty on Writing

You were about thirteen when you began to suffer from a malady you thought at first was puberty but which, on closer examination, turned out to be much worse.

The malady was hubris, which is about as common in male thirteen-year-olds as facial zits, which you did not have.  The specific form of hubris was thinking you knew as much as many persons and a good deal more than most.

Like most thirteen-year-olds, you did in fact know some good stuff, which you were all too willing to show off because, like many thirteen-year-olds with no facial zits, you braided the hubris of thinking you knew a lot with the hubris of thinking you were not bad looking if not outright good looking.

At the time and then with some increasing regularity, you learned more good stuff, or thought you were learning good stuff.  This is where some of the hubris came in.  You were mistaking a freakish memory for facts with a more global understanding of systems and how they worked, people, and how they worked, and literature, including how it worked or had effect on readers.

Even to this day, you have a freakish nature to the extent that one of your dearest friends said with some frequency that he wished he had your memory.

"Good thing you don't," was your inevitable reply, not out of politeness or deference but from a genuine regard for your friend and his exquisite abilities at so many things.  You believe now and at the times of your protestations that a memory such as yours would have had a severe impact on his output of stories, essays, books, paintings, drawings, carvings, and--well, no need to elaborate more.

Facts alone do not pay dividend as intelligence, much less anything resembling a creative force.  Facts are the equivalent of unrefined ore, unsculpted marble, oil pigments still snug inside their tubes, words in a dictionary as opposed to words in a manuscript.

Facts must be sent into high speed orbit in a manner similar to atomic and sub-atomic particles being spun about in linear accelerators until they achieve great speed, then sent flying as though from a slingshot toward a destination where they will collide as indeed atomic and sub-atomic particles are caused to collide in linear accelerators.  The results of the former are ideas, working hypotheses, concepts, artistic visions.  The results of the latter are the molecular equivalent of found art; they are new, rare, possibly unique elements that would not have been formed in more conventional ways.

Facts must be bonded with associations or have the potential to cause other facts to be attracted, forming complex ideas, visions, and possibilities.  Not the least of such fanciful creations are called characters, individuals such as the Wife of Bath, Bartleby, Oliver Twist, Hester Prynne, Sir John Falstaff, who never existed in Reality, but try telling that to millions of readers for whom they are more real than classmates, distant family, and athletes who give praise to God for any and all accomplishments on and off the field of play.

This is not meant to be an admission that you had no experience of connecting facts, associating things of apparent dissimilarity, when you were experiencing the dual burden of puberty and hubris.  Rather this is an admission that you were too busy being pubescent and hubristic to take proper note of these occasional connections.

At that time, your mantra may well have been "I'll show them," which even at this remove sounds to you an appropriate mantra for that age.  Now, while your mantra is still "I'll show them," it means you will show the various aspects of your personhood what it is like to stay in touch, have conversation among the various aspects of self, recognize the hubristic aspects still resident within the edifice that is you, and effect some kind of internal democratic socialism where experience has the opportunity to inform information, supposition, desire, and a host of social and anti-social attitudes.

A constant source of energetic joy for you is the discovery from time to time that your early information was correct and even some of the conclusions you drew from the information was on the right path toward understanding and discovery.  You find little use or value in connecting information that has little basis in fact, but enjoy seeing how connections are in a way like those path markers with solar panels, enabling them to glow at night, in a real way lighting the way to the destination of discovery, which of course increases the appetite for more discovery.

The facts of the time were child's play in effect, but the child had to do a great deal of playing to understand the physics of the game.

You are no longer waving your hand wildly for a chance to show off the facts you've memorized, but you are quite interested in getting at connections that will put the play to practical use.

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