Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tofu as a Literary Force

Things are never what they seem.  A little investigating, a few questions, a shift in perspective, and the apparent has become something other, through no fault of its own.

You are the force and the cause.  A rose, as Ms. Stein says, is a rose, but given the times you've nicked fingers on thorns of roses, therein is the potential for you recalling the surprise nicks, the tiny drops of blood appearing on thumb or forefinger.  The rose could quickly become the full-blown Belle of Portugal Rose of which Aldous Huxley wrote in his famed study of altered states of consciousness, The Doors of Perception.  

A force once referred to as the entelechy is another case in point.  How does the acorn know to become an oak?  Because of this inner awareness called entelechy that causes the acorn to grow into an oak.  We now think of it as a program, a genome.  Persons, places, and things--most nouns--have this inner programming, this sense of its manifest destiny, its constant state of reaching toward what it will become.

You set stories into motion, then need to step aside as the story takes on a whim and vector of its own, wresting any control or predictability from your hands.  For years, untold years, you have struggled and watched other struggled with the attempts to control such whims of motion.  At some point, you realized you were the same kind of control freak with your stories that persons within your stories in fact were.
The pot calling the kettle black.

Some writer friends all too eager to claim the mantle of control freak.  "Of course we control.  What is a writer if not a controller of destiny, outcome, and closure?"

And what do you say to that?

You say that as well we are obsessive and compulsive, but at least so far as last night was concerned, you cannot tell if you were obsessing or compelling, or if the dream were not a dream but a persistent image of a reality you wished to prolong and absorb into your sensitivity because it was so pleasant.

Giving up things to the process rather than hanging on to dreams and visions has become a vital confrontation for you.  By hanging on, by persisting, by obsessive persisting, you can find resolution of some sort.  By giving things up to process, you can find surprising potentials for closure.  So far as you can tell at this stage of your experiences, closure comes closest to bringing about the way your characters wish to do it in contrast with your perception of the cultural imperatives of this day, this time, this moment.

Things may seem settled or agreed upon, but are those your settlements or the broader, more generalized cultural accommodations?  

Looking about you, you see a growing fear that the human condition is headed for darkness and unspeakable tastes.  You also see that these hints of darkness and morbid tastes have been a part of the human condition as it evolved, with cohorts of miscreants to be found in all strata of society. 

 Story has made us more aware of these darker elements, taking us on guided tours of the darker sides, whereby tourists may become more acute to ways out of hell and into some attempts at the comfort of good companionship and fellowship.

Utopia lulls us to adopt safe perspectives and agreeable points of view.  No wonder it is so boring.  Dystopia is prearranged melancholy.  We require equal measures, side by side, so we may see Reality as it is, much of a piece with the woman who sat patiently through the first hour of your class, wondering when you would be discussing the preparation of tofu.

"In all probability,"  you said, "there will be no such discussions.  We have enough on our platter without tofu."

To your delight, she was back after the break, opting for literature, for Booth Tarkington and The Magnificent Ambersons over tofu.

For all that we over inhabit the planet, we are a lonely race, held together by story, the creation myths that explain us to ourselves, and by the literature that shows us where our imagination can take us, if only we will give it the chance.

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