Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Distractions

You'd first became consciously aware of the nature of distraction after moving away from the relative (for you) ease and lack of challenge at Los Angeles City College and into the larger-scale crucible of UCLA.  Midterm examinations arrived with a speed you'd not anticipated, primarily because you were enjoying so many things on so many levels.

In fact, you were enjoying so many things that you began to write about them instead of studying for your midterm examinations and establishing a program for demonstrating your understanding of your courses to your instructors.  The things you wrote impressed you; the examinations you wrote did not impress the instructors.  The second half of the semester would give you the opportunity to rectify your lack of planning and your approach to learning which was in the same relatedness as your lack of challenge at LACC.  But once again you were blindsided by the distractions of stories, arriving at the time to prepare for your final examinations.

You came away somewhat better on both counts, better examinations and better stories written in what seemed deliberate choices of stories and writing over examinations and piecing useful information together.  Once again, you were distracted from tasks at hand.  Once again, your specific interests distracted you from the overall thrust of a class.

Thus a dangerous habit was formed.  The only scholarship that seemed to matter to you was the scholarship triggered by your own curiosity or, dare you say it, distractions.

So far as your vision is concerned, Life and Reality, by their nature of huge strands of event and little if any at all of motivation or agenda, cannot compete with drama and story for the specific reason that they have little agenda or motivation except to preserve the species.  Life and Reality need distraction in order to convey story.  Distraction provides such essential elements as conflict, suspense, and tension.

This equation explains to you why your own Life and sense of Reality are so often challenged by one form or another of story elements.  This also explains why you are vulnerable to distraction., for instance the "discovery of" or "attraction to" a story or subject for an essay or even some expanded note taking as rendered in these blog entries.

Attention deficit disorder might, to the most minor degree, have a voice in the equation as it relates to you, but distraction is by far the more suspect with its tendrils of intrigue and interest, pulling you away from a reality-based task at hand.

You marvel at the way writers in all the genres you read have developed ways of throwing distractions into their stories, causing them to seem plot-driven and realistic at the same time but also representing serious departures from the kinds of logic we apply in Real Time.  You also study these ways, wishing to represent your own departures.

In its way, story is more rational than Real Time.  Story is based on a series of triggering events where one move causes the next, which in turn causes another, then, before the reader knows it, there is an entire downstream trail of consequence.

You have no sense of the number of times you've been distracted since those early undergraduate days,after you'd made the transition to UCLA, nor the more layered and nuanced  natures of the distractions.  Not studying for a course in, say, Shakespeare meant a conscious decision to spend time with one of the arguably most significant playwrights of our culture, which meant a downstream debt accruing interest.  Somewhere in the more immediate time to come, Shakespeare would have to become the distraction for some other Real Time debt.

The implications become clear; you are in a constant state of being distracted from Real Time by story, which by definition is more interesting and that marvelous word fraught which, you believe, derives from freight and in the context of your intent means filled with and carrying elements.

You are in a realer sense than you ever thought possible an absent-minded professor, because you are a professor who is constantly being distracted from many of the chores and responsibilities associated with being a professor, relying in a sense on your distracting interest in the areas wherein you teach.


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