Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Crime Scene--Don't Go There

Among your earliest encounters with the tics and flaws of being alive was the conundrum you were introduced to about elephants. How long, the conundrum posed the challenge, can you go without thinking about an elephant?


You saw the enigmatic nature of the challenge with the awareness that under ordinary circumstances, you could go for some time, while under the influence of the challenge, you had yet another irritant added to the things you felt were irrevocably beyond not only your control but anyone's.  Your surest solution to keep from thinking of an elephant was to immerse yourelf in one of your favorite activities, reading.

In time, aware of the slippery business of trying not to think of an elephant, you set yourself the task of trying to discover how long you could go without achieving what you would later learn was a Buddhistic state called mindlessness, a state you then entered with the expressed goal of not thinking of a number of items on a list you'd composed for either amusement or contrariness.

This elephant less attitude may have had an effect on what a number of your closest friends were wont to call your freakish memory. At any rate, given your status this day, having set yourself the task, you can safely claim at least ten minutes as the time in which your thoughts do not return to the challenge at hand.

Not thinking of an elephant brings you round to considering the word "unthinkable" and its subsequent action or, perhaps, purposeful lack of thinking. For a thing to be unthinkable, you'd think it to be something beyond the realm of thought. Nevertheless, you're found of reminding yourself and students how a story should have somewhere in its midst a place where the unthinkable has come to pass.

All the while regarding this point as critical, you have yet to attain the muscle memory whereby you are able to  think beyond the thinkable, find some way to dramatize the condition, then bring it hopping on stage, pointing fingers at the writer, the reader, and the characters.

For the pigeons of unthinkability to come home to roost, you and the writer have to go to that other place where story resides, the visceral line drawn in the sand where enough is written on one side and "don't go there" is written on the other, then force yourself and the writer to trespass. 

The answer to the "I don't want to go there" defense is waiting on the other side of the line. If you don't want to go "there," you might consider something other than being a writer, an actor, a musician, a dancer, a photographer. "Not going there" is Al Gore, having a conversation with Wolf Blitzer.

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