Friday, May 8, 2015

The Schrodinger's Cat Approach to Story Writing

To have a sense of something is to have a faculty for a particular response to a specific stimulus.  A sense of danger alerts us to potential and actual threats to our safety while a sense of humor triggers the awareness of an ironic computation in which the threats of danger are of our own manufacture.

For a long time, you believed a primary motive for your interest in and devotion to writing had to do with the belief you were writing to make sense of things, for such readers as you might have, but primarily for yourself.  

Writing a thing, then shaping it into a story, you reasoned, would give you a greater sense of the way the universe worked and the people within that universe behaved. For some time, you had that sense when you finished a project, even to the point that you were in fact learning how the universe worked and how, by making use of this information, you could find ways to contribute to the working of the universe rather than merely taking from it.

But there was always something ephemeral about that sense, something that did not support subsequent readings.  In this way, irony was introduced full spectrum into your senses; you were learning things other than you supposed.  You were learning some of the things quantum physicists and satirists were learning.  The laws of mechanics have twists and turns.  Learning and experience bring optional outcomes,sometimes multiple, simultaneous outcomes.

The universe does not like to be pinned down.  Stories do not go about, presenting themselves to deserving writers, not without making them work for the proper outcome, the one that flies in the face of conventional and expected outcomes.  There is irony in Schrodinger's Cat.  There is irony to be found in used car lots, romantic relationships, and coffee shops

 This awareness did not give you the sense you sought, which was a sense of some kind of order.  But it did help you to acquire a sense of humor.  With this particular sense comes the knowledge of how funny it is for you to expect, much less seek explanations.  In a way, any given expectation is Schrodinger's Cat.

Speaking of cats, friends, associates, and strangers are now telling you of stories about cats who've returned after having been away for months, explanations for their departure remaining part of the mysteries of the cosmos.  They are telling you your cat will return because it is the nature of cats who have gone missing to return.  They will tell you that cats do not like to go missing unless they have to, and that a cat does not always understand when and why it has to go missing in order to return.

Persons go missing.  Ideas go missing.  Logic goes missing.  Parts of you go missing from yourself.  The Italian polymath, Giambatista Vico (1666--1744) spoke of cycles of return.  With exaggerated simplification, you can say he was one of the precursors of Schrodinger; he certainly influenced James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.  Things are not linear.  Experience is not linear; it curves, turns on itself, becomes a moebius strip.

If your cat, Goldfarb, returns, he will be your cat, but he will be a different cat, parts of him unknowable.  If you set a story aside, either because you have finished it or because you are looking for an answer to how you should deal with it, will there be parts in it that are unknowable because of its separation from you.

In the same way learning the various parts of speech gave you a toolkit filled with implements to conduct your searches, the growing awareness of senses offers you the literary equivalent of those remarkable cameras and sensors hurled out into space.  These instruments return photos and, in some cases, samples of conditions where Mankind may need to position itself if it is to survive the indignities we've inflicted on this planet.  Your ventures include images and examples of that one significant element so bound up with Humanity, the sense known as irony.

Some of the available senses help use see, hear, small, touch and, thus, feel things.  We also from time to time experience senses of certainty, order, disaster, and commonality, as in common sense. We believe we recognize when a combination of elements do not fit together as we've been assured they would,  At such times, we question the sense of the outcome.

In the warp and woof of our inner and outer cycles, our teaching schedules, writing time, coffee dates, meetings with clients, we are in effect going missing from some routines and returning to others we'd not even thought of as a routine.

A writer walks the block on which he lives.  Sola Street to Micheltoerena to Olive and back to Sola, tacking up Lost Cat Posters.  Half way around the block, he sees a likely target, a telephone pole.  When he draws closer, he sees a Lost Writer poster has already been tacked to the pole, bearing a recent and disturbingly accurate photo of himself.

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