Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Writer as Mountain Goat

Of all the possible types of leap a person may take in the course of a lifetime, the leap most leaped has been the leap of faith.

You've taken a number of those yourself, in the process giving a fair imitation of your favorite dramatic character of all time, Wile E. Coyote.  Your faith in making the leap was as resolute as the coyote's, and from our experiences with that scruffy scallywag, we know the inevitable downward plummet to the hardscrabble turn of reality.

But the leap of faith is not your favorite leap, nor is the one leap which, in your opinion, is the one you and many of those about you are only too willing to make.

That particular leap is the one of logic.  In the throes of this leap, you gain brother and sister leapers, competing with you to see who among us can make the most fallacious or misbegotten threads of logic, using devices such as the argument ad hominem, circular reasoning, the straw man, and the false dilemma as distractions from a proper progression of logic toward the articulation of a cogent argument.

An irony hovers over the idealized notion that you might with success carry forth a logical, cogent argument.  Even were this so, cogency is no guarantee of success, only of the aptness and correctness of the inherent logic.  

There is some room for logic in story, if only to set all the dramatic ducks in a row and to have all the narrative p's and q's minded, but as you are well aware, story does not stand on logic alone--at least not on that kind of logic.  Story stands on the logic of the heart.  To introduce another logical anomaly into the argument, the mixed metaphor, story not only arm wrestles with the heart strings, it has a logic and credibility of its own in which many of the readers will resonate with.  Many, but by no means all.  

Most writers and for that matter readers understand this calculus.  A thing that resonates for everyone is not to be trusted; it is too reductionist, too global, too much one-size-fits-all, and we, at least you, are not about to put up with such ease of  resolution.

You were born to a culture in which there is a presence cited in the Kabbalah, by definition a logic of mysticism, referred to as the Ayn Sof, or divine origin of all created matter.  Those with a more theological bent than you would say the Ayn Sof is God without manifestations or characteristics, a clear link with the Hindu Brahman.  There is also a mere Ayn, which is a divine nothingness over which persons of faith must leap at risk of missing to reach the Ayn Sof.

You have been drawn by many a curry and many an argument and many a flower to consider Brahman as well as Ayn Sof, each being the same thing with Hebrew and Sanskrit names.  This probably accounts for you knowing more words in Sanskrit than Hebrew, but to keep the focus for a final moment or so on logic, that probability may not account for the reality.

Writers make other kinds of leaps, many of which involve leaps of time and space.  Your considerations of Wile E. Coyote caused you to write a good deal about him, offering him forth as the patron saint of characters.  Indeed, he experiences martyrdom in nearly every episode in which he appears, his focus on that one thing he will never obtain, The Roadrunner.  For dinner.

Another less quirky character for the writer to consider is the mountain goat.  Not nearly so scruffy or disheveled as the coyote, the mountain goat has a certain nimble quality, allowing it to leap over the edges of things, more certain of a safe landing by far than Wile E. Coyote.  The mountain goat expects to leap with safety, even over an Ayn or divine nothingness.  The coyote has his expectations blinded by his focus.  The coyote is doomed to failure and to a kind of myth of Sisyphus drama in which he is forever doomed to humiliation.  This is by no means a comfortable emotion or state of affairs.

The writer and the mountain goat get to leap, pretty much on their own terms, except when the thing the writer attempts to articulate becomes evasive.  The goat has no such problems.  

The writer also has some of the Wile E. Coyote qualities, wanting the goal, the literary equivalent of the Roadrunner.  With persistence, the writer may break even, which is a percentage you'd settle for if you had any control over such things.

The writer is looking for story, for occasional flirtations with certainty, for adventure, for romance, for connection.  On the road from Las Vegas, Nevada, to St. George, Utah, there is a splendid sprawl of incredible, precipitous landscape where mountain goats frequently are seen, pausing for a moment, contemplating a jump from one point to another.  They are majestic creatures.

You find yourself drawn to leaps, even though you lack the grace of the mountain goat.  You often leap over logic, which is to say probability, hopeful your leap will have some of the saving grace of the mountain goat and none of the genome of disaster that is so much a part of Wile E. Coyote.

You are drawn to a a steep slope.  At the other side, over a divine nothingness or antimatter, someone speaks to you and you see ideas and consequences you try to describe as you leap, hopeful it is a mountain goat leap and not a Wile E. Coyote leap.

No comments: