Thursday, July 17, 2014

In the Moment, for a Moment or Two

When Time passes in Reality, its measurements involve clocks, shadows moving from one side of trees and buildings to another, of time zones, of planets in orbit, of children being called in for dinner, of saloons and taverns closing or, perhaps, opening.  There is a sense of purpose, agenda, movement, all according to a cosmic schedule.  So many moments of darkness or shadow, so many of light, and moments of gray in between.

When you focus on such passage of this kind of movement, thoughts turn to the anticipation of stars appearing or the orbs of sun and moon on the equator, of shadows lengthening or shortening, of distinctions between darkness insects and daytime insects.  

Such thoughts make you feel small, but not diminished, more an awareness of the extraordinary mechanism  of Time, and how a part of its agenda is the slow, steady manner in which things evolve, both in species form and individual.

Sometimes, watching night skies, you track not only the movement of the constellations but as well yourself, from the young, owlish person you were, squinting from behind horn-rimmed glasses, wondering what, if anything you could do to assist Time in helping you evolve.  Some of that early impatience remains with you, the major difference resident in your coping with it, rushing now to read and note and write and listen.

At one time, you barely had the patience to listen to a longer piece of music because of your eagerness to get inside it, take it apart, understand how it worked its own presence in relation to time.  As your music teacher attempted to teach you the written language of music, she impressed on you the way notes had specific durations as well as pitches and moods.  If you depressed this pedal, you in effect sustained a sound for a longer time.

When you had a job working at the camera shop on Brighton Way in Beverly Hills, your employer impressed on you the importance of time as it related to how long the shutter remained open so that the right amount of light got through the lens.  What great mysteries were inherent in such passages of time.  

As if that were not enough, he pressed into your hand a camera, a Leica, with a focal plane shutter, which was an even greater nuance for controlling how much light appeared on an exposed frame of film.

When Time passes in Story, the shadows and tides and evolutions are expressed not so much in minutes or hours but in units that remind you of stars in the evening sky, units called beats.  Within the boundaries of a short story or novel, there are an infinitude of beats, but the only ones you notice are the ones that need to be there to remind you of the specific, inexorable, deterministic effect of the light of drama, passing through your characters and onto the diaphanous skin of narrative.

If the story is your own composition, you've gone through it to remove all the unnecessary beats, beats that are in effect idle conversation and wasted time between the orbits and movements of the forces of characters, engaging in their orbits.

Such stories require of you units of time in Reality, units that cannot be measured in any standard way, rather instead as however long it takes you to remove all the unnecessary beats, then examine to see if you need to insert necessary beats you might have thought were not needed.

Persons you know who act are aware of Time and of beats, at once linking musicians and photographers with the likes of writers such as you.  Such persons have an expression of being in the moment, which is Time out of Reality and in fact Time within Story, where Time, space, and causal relationships merge into a single narrative presence.

Sometimes, when you are in Reality, you are reminded of times when you still lived with your parents, impatient with the speed at which you were evolving.  You quite often would sneak out, against curfew constraints put upon you.  Or you would sneak in, not wishing to be seen in a particular state of being drunk or stoned.  You find yourself being drawn into the Story moment, instead of the Reality moment from which you are only too willing to depart.

Such thoughts make you aware of differing Time zones, those in which you alternately abide and reside.  Being drunk or stoned, in those days, was one of your solutions to the great waves of impatience that crashed over you in your urge to be evolved.  Reading was another solution.  Writing things, attempting to capture your own impressions of light and life on the film of your imagination was your then equivalent of the rolls of thirty-five millimeter film you shot with that focal plane Leica camera.

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