Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Was Ivan Really So Terrible, or Only Not So Hot?

You are and for much of your life have been an outgoing, expansive sort of person to the point where, when you are not expansive, not outgoing, someone will ask you if you're okay or if there's anything wrong.  Most of these times, the persons who ask these questions tend to be correct in their assessment.

The consequence of being outgoing and expansive much of the time is being asked about your health or state of mind or even some combination of both if you are any other way.

On the other hand, if you'd been withdrawn or notional in the excesses of being concerned about inner workings, no one would question your health or attitude in those rare entr'actes where you projected happiness and outward concern for the world about you.

In this manner, you've begun to describe aspects of yourself and your general behavior.  These aspect of you are things you take for granted, as do those who know you.  Thus all this is set-up to the fact that the occasion is indeed rare when someone asks of you, "You're kidding, right?"

An individual known to be less open and outward than you would be more likely to be asked at random if she or he were kidding.  Hence Platform One, being seen according to the degree and recurrence of your personality traits, Platform Two being the state where an individual is questioned with some measure of concern for a measurement of current emotional state.

The existential question you're most often asked by persons who know you has to do with whether you are reporting a fact or incident as you know it, see it, or believe it to be or if you are exaggerating.

It would be fair for you to ask if your interrogator were questioning which way your exaggeration leaned, because it is possible to over exaggerate strengths or weaknesses, to exaggerate degrees of random and general behavior, and to exaggerate dire consequences or Edenic outcomes.

The more you think of these possibilities, the more ease you find in the belief that exaggeration of one sort or the other is the norm on which assessment of person and personality are based, similarly the norm on which characters are based for their conformity or iconoclastic behavior, their bottle is half full or half empty attitude.

Now that you think about it, you can say for a certainty that you've been advising students for over thirty years to stay away from the centrist norm on the theory that such individuals in real life are boring enough without bringing them on stage to demonstrate an even more pronounced normality.  

If, by chance, you find one of your characters exuding normality, you must contrive immediate opportunities for that character to experience change or to have other characters treat that character in such a way that the centrist finds it impossible to continue.

The dramatic interrogation of choice is the eternal "Are you with us or against us?" This is served on the same platter as, "'Cause there ain't no room for fence straddlin'." The closer you look at such moments and ones of similar conflict, you begin to understand something Heraclitus  (500 BCE) saw when he made his observation about not being able to bathe in the same river twice.  Or perhaps he didn't see it in quite those terms.  One cannot be in the same middle twice.  One cannot maintain the same level of objectivity twice.  One cannot report the same event twice.  Because.  The consequence is the inevitability that one will exaggerate the event whenever one speaks of it.

You love to read the works of writers who have an expansive narrative voice, but at the moment you are much taken with a writer who was influenced by Hemingway, which means she writes in a spare style wherein she favors evocation rather than description. This leaves you at the proverbial fork in the binary road, a place where a writer must transport him or herself, if only to experience the galvanic urge to exaggerate.

At one time in your life, elevators in buildings were manned, as in operated by a man or woman, who would, when you entered, remind you that this elevator was now on an upward rather than downward vector, giving you the chance to stay or step off.  Now, the elevator is automatic, and your recourse is to feign patience while the elevator essays its course, or punch a series of buttons which change its course.

Up, or down?  There were hundreds of them, or only a few.  Things are going quite well or awful.  

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