Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some Notes of Mistakes and the Assholes Who Make Them

On your last trip to the market, you bought two items by mistake.  Your error in both cases was selecting a product directly next to the one of your intention.  You didn't realize the mistake until the time came for you to use the product.  

The first product, vegetable juice (four vegetable servings in one glass) didn't register on you until you'd poured a glass full, then sipped at it, thinking you'd somehow picked up a spoiled container.  Then you read the label, whereupon you saw the list of contents.  The container and use-by date were beacons of congratulation, applauding you for your healthy choice of a fresh product.

The second mistake did not become apparent as a mistake until you opened the container, preparatory to measuring out a cupful to introduce into a pan of boiling water.  This was not steel cut oatmeal.  This was flaky oatmeal, the kind you've deliberately eschewed in favor of the nutty flavor and gritty texture of the steel cut, the kind most likely to turn mushy.

Both products are fresh and usable.  You've pretty well killed the juice, and as for the oatmeal, well, next time, you'll double check.  The point here is two mistakes riding on the irony of your recent cataract surgery in both eyes, leftie on March 21 of this year, right-o on May 2.  The irony is enhanced when you consider how vast an improvement the vision in your left eye and how neither it nor your correctable to 20/20 right eye require contact lenses any longer.

Mistakes, such as those in these previous paragraphs, are of judgement.  You could also say lack of attention.  To speak to your love of pun and inference, you could say lack of focus.

Mistakes come in all formats.  Consider the possibilities of mistakes in identity, mistakes in assuming information to be accurate and correct, mistakes in estimating outcomes, mistaken intentions.

There is hardly a mistake you can conceive of where you are without significant experience.  If uniforms were to be issued or identity insignia developed for degrees and numbers and durations of mistakes, you would be esteemed on sight as a distinguished veteran.  Over the span of years you've been engaging in scientific analyses of mistakes, one important product has emerged.  You are no longer ashamed of them, you have in recent times become accepting of them as indications of your humanity.  

Someone with your record of mistakes has some experience with being called an asshole.  When you think about the implications of being called an asshole, you render the term to mean "a person who makes many mistakes."  The last time someone called you an asshole, your response may have seemed on the surface to be quick-witted, but you believe it was more in the spirit of shared humanity.  "So are you," your response began.  "We're just assholes in different tribes."

Mistakes, their causes and consequences, are valuable tools for the writer's toolkit.  Your standard method of producing the armature for a character is to determine what that person wants.  Then you begin winding intentions and actions about the armature.  Mistakes, past and present, are good physical demonstrations of intentions, how the character sets about achieving goals, and how the character has been shaped by the consequences of past mistakes.

Since these reflections are about mistakes, you will keep discussion of successes to a minimum, hopeful of reminding yourself that tomorrow's notes could well deal with successes in executing one's intentions.  The common denominator in this dialectic is asshole.  Successful individuals are by no means free from being assholes.

You may be mistaken in your belief that mistake assholes have better traction as characters than success assholes.  This is, of course, a question of judgment and preference.

At one time, someone in whom you sensed the potential for a romantic interest asked you your preference in chiles.  Red, she asked, or green?  You are a fan of both, but since a chile Verde is one of your favorite main dishes (try spooning chili Verde into a fresh, flaky baked potato or sweet potato), you said green.  Big mistake.  Not what she wanted to hear.  Even your avowed preference for chicken simmered in mole sauce--you started to say cut no ice, but that would have been a mixed metaphor and, thus, yet another kind of mistake.

Like their creator, many of your characters' biggest mistakes are mistakes in judgement.  This may point the finger of asshole (another mixed metaphor, right?) at you, but consider this:  You'll never run out of material.

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