Friday, January 9, 2015

Butterfly Nets, Too Much to Drink, and Chasing the Chimera of Story

Although you do not by any stretch of imagination or logic intend these notes to be a diary, you begin today with the hierarchy of writing things as you see them today.  They have been about the same for some time, but the excitement here is your understanding that they could change without warning.

1.  The most difficult thing on a given day is starting, with words in that limbo between hands and mind, already forming, wanting you to stop whatever else it is you are doing, even if the thing you are doing involves making or drinking coffee.

2.  The second thing is deciding at some point where this material begins.

3.  The third thing is the decision; where does this stuff go.

4.  The fourth thing is keeping these three things in some visible perspective that is not yet part of a thought or composing plan,an  immersion in association that triggers connection.  

The beauty of this process is the ease with which it can be shoved to the back of the line on those days when you approach work with the equivalence of a garrulous drunk who has buttonholed a new listener somewhere, has a lot on his mind, and is well enough oiled along the path of lubrication not care for the moment who hears it, how rational it may be, or how likely it is to produce an evocative vision.

At times in your life, you were in fact not a mere equivalence of a garrulous drunk, you were one in actuality, convinced you had a vision that might escape you as sobriety insisted its way with you.  Of course such moments as those, in whatever bar or cocktail lounge or tavern, stay with you.  They are reminders of how frustrating they were, you having a vision so tangible you could almost touch it, along with the fear it would, in its inchoate fragility, get away from you.

These ideas and notions you chase are, after all is said and done, chimeras, mythical beings, often with a remarkable range of body parts.  There's one now, you tell yourself.  Better still, it tells you, calls your attention to it, knowing you are the sort who will wish to see it, capture its essence, pass it along as a totem from its world to yours.

You tend not to be interested in ideas and notions well within your grasp, at least not until you catch them and yourself off guard, in a condition where you can see them in the right light, at the right moment, in exactly the right context (which is more often than not a position where the idea is in a foreign, anomalous setting).

You might say of yourself that you are a shepherd of anomaly or chaos.  One of your favorite kinds of Western movie was the one centered about a cattle drive because you knew there would be at least one stampede in that story.  Take that a step beyond the Western.  For you, a story is a better story for having an actual or equivalent stampede.

Does your fondness for the writings of Vladimir Nabokov begin with your awareness that he is an ardent collector of butterflies?  Do the photos of him, traipsing about with a butterfly net symbolize for you the notion of yourself, involved in your own search for these chimera ideas?

One thing to see the idea, gloating away at its distance and separation from you, another thing altogether to attempt to capture it, get it down on the page, fit it into a compelling order whereby some complete stranger might happen by, see it, and understand what all your fuss was about.

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