Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The One Place You Don't Want to Stay Too Long

 When you experience a condition of stasis, you are the you who is between worlds of the present and past. Within this limbo, change does not wait for a cue in the manner of an actor in the wings, waiting for the proper moment to enter or, in one of the most dramatic of all departures from the stage, that most dramatic departure by Antigonus in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.

All too true, the stage directions read EXIT< PURSUED BY A BEAR, which when you first came upon it, with no warning from the instructor who assigned the play in the first place, seemed to you the kind of romp you should some day put to use of your own. 

As many unhappy campers have discovered, being pursued by a bear is not fun, and in fact becomes, so far as you know, the paradigm of anti-stasis. 

You could also call into play one of your favorite memes, developed well after your years as an English major and as the consequence of many pages wrenched from the platen of the various typewriters in your life, to be wadded into a ball, then sent sailing in the direction of the nearest wastebasket.

On the page, stasis presents itself as some long interior monologue, some even longer description, or some conversation about the nature of existence that are soon to become analogous to your wresting the sheet of manuscript paper from the platen of a typewriter, thence to its doom. Status presents itself amid the sweat of activity and the hard place of the need to make a decision NOW.

Even a character in hiding from a pursuer, fearful of his or her excited creating revealing his or her position to this would be attacker, cringing and willing his or herself into stasis, is behaving in the requisite, non-stasis manner of the binary activity in which the goal is not to reveal the tell-tale signs of hiding.

If stasis is business as usual, un- or anti-stasis become components of the necessary anarchy to fuel story.  Begin with an individual, Fitzgerald tells us in "The Rich Boy," and before you know it, you'll have created a type. 

Proven over the years to have been right enough, at least in literary matters, even if he wasn't the first to have noted that observation, he was the first to have expressed it with such eloquence and to have done so in the midst of a story. 

Now, however, it's your turn. Start with stasis and if you don't with some dispatch destabilize it, you'll have created a narrative or an account, but you won't have created a story.

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