Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Your Characters and Tough Love

From about the time of your teens until your early forties, your tendency was to be judgmental, even if the judgments being rendered remained private.  This sense of privacy began less from any desire for secrecy than a growing awareness that you were often confronting, making summary judgments rather than well reasoned conclusions, aware too that your writings were growing argumentative instead of the dramatic approach you desired.

In more recent years, much of your day that is not given over to writing or reading finds you taking in events as a witness, compiling and in effect trying on various attitudes in hopes of passing them along to characters you wish to create.  In this sense, you feel a certain kinship with certain actors who seem to be leading rich interior lives while classifying and storing impressions for use as they ply their craft.

On occasions, such as the sudden, surprising explosion you emitted this morning, where you became before your very eyes an IED, an improvised exploding device over a matter of little real importance.  The automotive dealership where you bought your car and take it for repairs and maintenance did not reserve a loaner car for this morning's service appointment.  For your part, when you discovered the lapse, you calmly but deliberately ventured to cancel the service appointment and were in the process of driving away when the service representative presented an alternative that was quick and satisfactory to the extent that your appreciative acknowledgment of her quick thinking kept the transaction on an even keel.

You had sufficient time the rest of the day to think about the you of the explosion, the you as apologist, the various you sorts who would be performing during the day, including the you who would be greeting a new class at the university and the you who would be joining a friend for dinner later in the evening.

A significant difference between the you of your teens and into your thirties and the more contemporary you is crowd management.  The younger you was inhabited by a number of dark, moody, angry forces, some of whom you found troubling because you were never quite sure how to deal with them much less get a clear picture of what they wanted and, in particular, what they wished you to do on their behalf.

Not to imply by any means that the more mature you is a significant enough model of leadership and managerial talents that his underlings, his component parts, follow out of pure devotion and loyalty.  Rather, there is more of a sense of contemporary trust these more recent years, a sense of the various you types having the greater good for all in mind, by which is meant the all of the component parts of you and perhaps something left over for your friends and colleagues.

This pleases you, not from any sense of self-congratulation as from the long held awareness that getting along in Reality is often a stand off.  Your present day component parts are the cranky cynic who takes great pleasure, schadenfreude pleasure, in noting the madness, crankiness, and absurdity of contemporary life.  At the same time, with all due respect to your inner crankiness, you see yourself devoted to an outer life of getting along, being tolerant and agreeable.

Story, for you, is the clamor of these inner forces, picketing one another, jeering, challenging, confronting.  You hear yourself saying in various lecturing and discussion situations that a scene in which characters are in substantial agreement is the last scene; it had better be the last because it signals the end of the story.

Not all characters are agenda enemies; a deep, sensitive love is possible among characters who are able to recognize their points of departure from their loved ones.  Love is every bit as much an argument as it is an accord; it is not whole if it is reduced to one or the other, argument or accord.

Not all rivals are unwavering in their glorious, stubbornness of opposition; there is love between rivals, although it is more likely to be a love of respect and admiration of the energy behind the difference.

You rather admire your inner cranky person and his intrinsic resistance to some measures of change.  He is not weak for adapting to change or even venturing to initiate some form of change.  Without change, you'd still be stuck back at that age eighteen to age thirty-eight or -nine person, much less aware of being stuck at that age than you are now able to see yourself as having been stuck then.  As a consequence, you can even see with some measure of clarity the places you are stuck now, simultaneously trying to grow beyond and keep in place.

The Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, remarkable for his own inner clamor, set down a shrewd vision:


 I, in my intricate image, stride on two levels,
 Forged in man's minerals, the brassy orator
 Laying my ghost in metal,
 The scales of this twin world tread on the double,
 My half ghost in armour hold hard in death's corridor,
 To my man-iron sidle.

The poem goes on for some length.  So does the battle.  Life without the battle for understanding would be less interesting, less rewarding, less likely to rouse you to activity.

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