Friday, May 31, 2013

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

You are the sorcerer.  You are also his apprentice.  You occupy the same body.  Although you do not come to combat over the difference in roles, each of you is aware of such concepts as turf and boundary.  Status plays a role.  The sorcerer cherishes the thought of having served an apprenticeship and of having amassed a level of confidence if not actual street cred.  A sorcerer is more aware of risk in a practical sense because many of his activities are performed in aware of the relationship of risk versus consequences.

The apprentice is both worshipful and cocky, wanting to try his hand at some of the alchemy and spells he believes he can handle.  He is not about to be intimidated by something as paltry as a risk.  Sometimes, when the sorcerer is hunched over some tome or in the throes of some experiment, the apprentice wants to sneak in a rain storm or small earthquake--nothing over a 3.5 or 4.

When you begin to feel yourself losing control of your outward senses in the moments before you cross over from browsing the pages of a mystery novel to becoming entranced by it, you feel yourself on the exciting cusp of awareness.  The moment is for you much like the moment before the body shifts gears (and brain waves) from the waking state to the layered pudding of sleep.

When the process is in motion, there is the dizzying sense of being on a conveyance that has whisked you past the last recognizable stop and into a surreal world where things morph from the real to the fantastic, seemingly at whim.  The whim, of course, is your own.  You know that much about it.  The whim is also the whim you did not know you had.

There are discoveries in mysteries and dreams that surprise you with their inventiveness and unexpected appearances.  Talking dogs.  Former girlfriends from you distant past.  Individuals from your immediate present, dangling themselves before you in ways you had not expected you had interests in delving.  All these, of course, are turns of event in dreams. Some of them happen with such intensity that your excited anticipation betrays you by waking you out of your dream. Those turns in mysteries get your interest at a similar high peak when the investigative officers begin discussing the need for exhumation.

When a crypt or grave is invaded in a mystery, some shocking surprise is guaranteed to follow.  The corpse will not be the one anticipated.  The anticipated corpse will be something other than human or animal remains, say old telephone books or bags filled with sand to approximate the weight of the supposed deceased.  Another potential for surprise and complication is the discovery of more than one corpse.

On numerous occasions, you've had reason to perform literary or memoir exhumations, disinterring journals or old drafts of old manuscripts or perusing the pages of notebooks for that illusive paragraph or two, of a sudden vibrating with some kind of urgency, much in the manner of a cell phone with its ringer muted, vibrating to let you know someone out there wishes to have words with you.

Like the exhumations in mysteries, delving into such accounts of events of your life or your imagined accounts of events you wish had taken place tend to provide surprises, some of them in their ironic way like the contents or lack of contents of the disinterred containers from mystery novels.

You exhumed some accounts of your time in the early 1990s, pursuing a number of short stories to successful completion and publication, your pursuit of a statuesque young woman often referred to by your pal, Digby Wolfe, as The Viking, and the tangible evidence that your handwriting has gone through some evolutionary changes.

Most if not all these journal notes were first draft, thus the surprise that after a span of over twenty years, they did not present to you a picture of yourself you had to gulp to accommodate. The surprise was that the corpse looked pretty healthy considering the gap in time and the sense you have of having made some steps forward.

Such ventures of exhumation are vital to the process you think of when you consider the consequences of trying to use words to describe stories, which in their own way are puzzles.  Your choice of tools are words, but you're well enough aware of the concept of the sorcerer's apprentice that you realize you are, in these terms both the sorcerer and the apprentice, engaged in a dialectic that could grow argumentative.

Of course you recognize that, were you to check your notes of the 1970s, your positions as sorcerer and apprentice would maintain about the same ratio of generational difference.  But if anyone can take a risk, it's you.

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