Monday, December 30, 2013

Putting Some Teeth in the Narrative

Proof is evidence a certain thesis or argument is true.  To prove water boils at two hundred twelve Fahrenheit degrees at sea level, you'd want to start with a quantity of distilled water, take it to the beach with a Coleman or Primus stove and a thermometer, then heat it to two hundred twelve Fahrenheit degrees.

In that demonstrable sense, proof can be one or more arguments, statements, physical objects, arranged in concert to make an irrefutable argument.  Thus the thesis is defended, the argument made, the proof accepted, the result then assumed to be "true" or "correct."

For some time, in high school, you had extraordinary difficulties with geometry until, after some effort, you were able to see that the issues were arguments which had to be demonstrated based on previously demonstrated truths or certainties.

Proof and its applications has been on your mind since a dream or near-dream state where you dreamed, imagined, or in actuality heard someone saying "I want more proof."

Proof of what?

Who is it wanting this proof?

What will the results and consequences be?

These questions are specific to that particular proof, which identity, like so many things in life, you may never discover.  Thus the existential itch of curiosity, which must be added to other such itches.

Some additional questions come to mind in relationship to this statement:  Is the questioner some part of your psyche and if so, which?  What existential matters have you been wrestling with in dreams or dream-like states?  What if the asker were not you?  What if the asker were from the Animal Shelter or fire station, both your neighbors?  Or the husband-wife teacher pair?

Will you be a better person if you discover the answer?  Will you be more of an idealist or less?

In a compelling sense which you are compelled by your curiosity to consider, aren't stories and essays the equivalents of proof to questions you have of--starting with yourself--your own wishes and concepts, the wishes and concepts of other individuals, and the wishes and concepts of the entire universe?

Is the desire for proof an adjunct of you seeking the writer's equivalent of The Unified Field Theory?  Or perhaps the quantum physicist's quest for proof of how It--the Universe--all began?

Is this itch for proof, assuming it is yours, related to your multitude of notebooks, with pieces of scenes, scraps of moments, brief glimpses of the kinds of lunar and solar eclipses that can and have taken place between and among individuals.

You've in recent days come across a quote by the German philosopher you started following in high school, because you admired what you thought was his cynicism.  At the time, you were not at all cynical, a fact you considered a weakness.

Most ironies work this way for you:  Arthur Schopenhauer, the philosopher you'd thought to lead you into a more urbane and workable cynicism, appears to you now to have some cogent thoughts about writing and the novel.

"The art of [the novel]" he wrote, "lies in setting the inner life into the most violent motion with the smallest possible expenditure of outer life."

You take that to mean the novelist must get the inner character traits rattled to the point of distracting the character, as soon as possible and with a simple, direct stimulus.  The character must see or somehow experience something which offers proof that all is not well. Right now.

You were scarcely through your breakfast this morning when you were hit with such a destabilizing event, a phone call that brought certain elements and facts to mind, proving the existence of a truth you'd long been aware of, the irrational nature of the universe, everything in it with the possible exception of flowers and music, but with particular reference to yourself.

Within moments, while the conversation was still in progress, you saw the outer boundaries of a novel to be called The Dentist. There have been dentists in your family, and you have a pretty good friend now who was a dentist but has decided he would rather sell bolts of cloth.  You have had experiences with a dentist you were put into contact with as a prank by some friends who worked for what was then one of the major manufacturers of books, Kingsport Press.

The prank brought you in contact with a book, Teeth, Teeth, Teeth:  The Incredible World of Teeth, the dentist who wrote it, and an early venture into the world of the non-rational.  You have only just checked Amazon to see if the book is still available.  You can have a copy this week for less than fifteen dollars.

While indulging your breakfast conversation, you were also caused to think of the son of a noted novelist.  You've met the son twice, the famous novelist once.

You have multiple experiences with the person who telephoned you this morning, including once having owned the same car, a VW Fastback whose floorboards had holes large enough to allow the driver to see the pavement underneath the vehicle.

The conversation also called to mind the son of a famous motion picture actor, a man who continues to seek public office.

There is also the matter of the individual who called you being a writer whom you first met some years ago on the occasion of you being assigned to review a novel he'd written.

After you finished the telephone conversation, you experienced a tingling along the chakras and a sense reminiscent of the times you'd been openly consorting with a compound called d-lysergic acid diethyl amide, and falling in love.

You scribbled notes in a pocket-sized notebook under the heading "The Dentist."  A complete set of lower teeth, you wrote.  A dentist who thinks he knows enough about the human condition from the observation of human mouths and teeth to enable him to write fiction.

Such events and attempts to see proof of some thematic reality in them are a part of the larger attempt for proof that is you, which is to say as actual and inclusive as possible as opposed to hubris-driven or, of equal awfulness, an unquenchable naivet√©.

Of those two extremes, you would rather discover proof of the naivete rather than the hubris.

Some six hundred years ago, when composing his monumental The Miller's Tale, for inclusion in The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, "A worlde full tyckl."

Nice turn of phrase there.  The world has been tickled from the outset.

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