Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What a Difference an __um Makes

If you are essaying a topic or concept, hopeful of wrangling it into a penned-in animal rather than a loose maverick, there may be some accommodations available for you beyond convention.  Such an accommodation could be the argument you make for drawing out the word "moment" until it becomes "momentum."

There is at least one example (if not precedent) to be found in extruding the word "date" into its singular form, "datum."  You could also throw in for good measure and to fog up the argument a bit the shift in numbers from simulacra to simulacrum.

Momentum comes to you in effect a cocked fire arm, with a shell in place at the ready, that tiny, resident lethal addition of the terminal __um, owing its definition to the physics description of moment as an entity with quantity and distance.

Momentum may be seen as the effect(s) of one or more moments, arriving at a destination such as the temporal one of now or the physical one of here, delivering a quantity of consequence.

A story is said to have momentum when it oversees delivery of a linked group of moments, delivering a single or multiple package of emotions.  Some of the dramatic FedEx and UPS deliveries are abstracts like closure, justice, romance, and pay-off, all words which, when given proper use, will provide some emotion for the reader or viewer to take home, as it were, to savor, to cherish, to mull over, even to the point of experiencing some life-altering adjustment or understanding.

No wonder some cultures are so nervous about the prospect of women reading and of children, learning to distinguish among logical tools and fallacies.  Someone who has read, has paused to question and consider, is someone who may not take the party line as it has been passed up the generational ladder.

Go ahead, ask your question about which emotion in fact stands all by itself, with no help from others.  Would you say anger?  If you were too quick to answer yes to that, might it be a good idea to go back to unravel some of the cables of emotion, starting with anger.  Is all anger the same?  Is it free of amounts of other feelings?  Are you sure?  To be even more blunt, do you find it possible to regard feelings as single-braid entities?  

If the issue is anger, isn't it possible to conclude some measure of fear resides within the mixture?  And what about the reverse; doesn't being in the condition of fearfulness for long periods of time evoke some form of impatience or anger at the presence of so much resident fear?  

While fear has clear advantages as a warning against impending danger or disaster, and often can serve as energy for important relevant activity, too much fear may as well produce apathy, lassitude, and passivity.

There you are; momentum is the parade of events past a receptor of emotion. Does that sound at all familiar?  When you consider it, you are yanked back by the scruff of the neck into a class called Electric Shop, back in Middle School.  Electrical current, you were asked to consider, is the flow of electrons past a reference point.  

From this consideration, you were led to consider the rate of speed at which those electrons proceeded, their density, their polarity, and their pressure.  What would a Middle School boy do with such information?  How would it influence his thinking?

Not many years later, the boy in question was beginning to look at the movement of events in a story or essay, past the point of his reading them.  With the progression of such observations and thoughts as these, no wonder the boy grew to the point where he felt it safe and fair to say the more intense the events, the more fraught with emotional upheaval their consequences and, therefore, the greater the likelihood a momentum has been established.

Story requires the continuous passage of moment past a point of reference, which is the point of NOW in a story.  Such a linked procession is called dramatic momentum.  If a story does not have momentum, you are correct to ask what, at that particular time, does it have.  You are even proper to ask if the lack of momentum is a soft spot, the writer's equivalent need to a rubberized supportive gesture.

More usual than not, you discover, is the lack of dramatic moments in which the actors behave, their inner lives drawing them to a screeching halt on the terrain of self-pity, self-doubt, and abusive process, directed in an inward manner.

Story becomes momentum incarnate, a relevant and significant parade of individual moments in some kind of emotion-linked parade past a point into which the reader may peak.

More and more dramatic momentum in the twenty-first century has to do with the characters being delegated more authority to carry the story into a tangible momentum, where the reader/viewer forgets about the author/director.  The reader is in effect "inside" the story, experiencing it as the characters do, complete with their assortment of responses to one another.

With your response to this dramatic momentum, you notice a sharpening of taste.  Your story palate is being educated.  The stories in which you get close enough to the characters to eavesdrop on their thoughts or make judgments of your own, as you would and do make on actual persons, has been forged.  The more you begin to see your alignment with those writers who allow you some say in the interpretations of the life and experiences of their characters, the more your own momentum picks up momentum, begins to move without you realizing, without you giving so much as a shove.  Ah, wouldn't Sisyphus have been pleased to have you along on his shift?

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