Thursday, May 21, 2015

Experience

Experience goes to work on the individual like a particle in quantum physics, filled with unanticipated shapes and behaviors. No sooner than it becomes the glue holding memory together when it becomes the ice axe shattering the cold chunk of Reality.

Without experience, you believe you would be a blob of a boy raised on romantic adventures, seeing each bus and street car as a means of transportation to some remote adventure beyond your imagination.  

You believe this is so because of the years of yearning for adventures spawned in books, films, and comics, where you were prompted to believe adventures were to be found with the same frequency you found Indian head pennies and buffalo nickels, rarities in your boyhood but nevertheless possibilities.

You remember one ache of romanticism in which you forebore to exchange the one nickel in your pocket for a Milk-Nickel ice cream bar sold by the Good Humor truck that plied the evening streets of your Los Angeles youth.  

The nickel in question was a worn, graceful buffalo.  How could a coin with such a noble animal not have special magic?  The Jefferson nickel made its debut in 1938, just shy of the time you began to appreciate the appearance and power of the Buffalo nickel.

The experience of change was in the cultural air.  You have noting against Lincoln; in many ways he is your favorite president.  You have against Jefferson only that he was chosen some years before your birth to replace the Indian and the buffalo on the nickel.  Your experience with coins and paper money is in transit to the point where days elapse before you touch either coin or bill.

In a significant sense, experience began to work as a viable force for you then. given the occasional presence of the Indian-head penny, the magical aura of six cents, and the fact that every time your maternal grandfather saw you, he gave you a nickel, and what were the odds then it would be buffalo?

Your good fortune was the turn of experimental events in your life combining with imaginary ones to leave you alert to possibilities in both worlds.  As a result, experience has the metaphor of wave and particle for you, in this case of verb and noun.  

To experience.  What an invitation to alter one's shape and gallery of responses.  What taking of chances, what emphasis on aiming toward outcomes.  Even placing one's self in the absolute middle of that glass-half-full-or-half-empty argument, the potential for the most modest of successes is high.

Experience as a noun, a souvenir of an event.  Perhaps the experience was painful or frightening or in some other way, disagreeable.  Even so, it is an opportunity to form a callous of protection or a scab, signifying an open wound has begun to knit itself closer.  Scabbed or scarred, you are left a different person as a result of that noun, changed as few such experiences have abraded you.

A significant element in story is some degree of change.  The change may be noticed by a character as the change relates to an external relationship or convention.  The change may be some inner resource the character notices in herself.  The change may well be noticed only by the reader, which is, of course, the intent of the writer.  The reader sees what the characters do not.  The reader sees the irony of what can neither be seen nor spoken of.

If change is the engine of story, experience is the turbo of change.  The line is direct and inferential, wave and particle.

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