Thursday, October 13, 2016

With Reference to Your Account

If the joke is dramatic in form (and you argue in favor of it being so) the unifying force for story becomes the connective tissue linking the references and details. 

These references and details influence us as we read and absorb the implications of dramatic action, perhaps not directly, but with at least as much impact on our awareness as when we are in a room that has now been entered by a mosquito.

References--the direct and indirect invocation of some person, place, thing, or event--and details--the inclusion of a particular tone or quality--fill our reading sense with sensory assurances that the dramatic information we're absorbing is real story rather than homily, propaganda, or, worse yet, appeals to the snap-judgments of bigotry.

Only yesterday, you were drawn to a reference you'd been aware much of your life, thanks to one aspect of your childhood reading and the accidental presence in your life of a child of one of your mother's cousins named Sanders. 

The reading in question was Winnie, the Pooh, that remarkable series of stories for young readers in which the main character was also referred to as Edward Bear.  At one point in your younger adult life, when you stopped by your parents' home, you discovered they had a guest, a second cousin with the surname Sanders.

More details and references: Often when you visited your parents' home, you were not surprised to see seated at the dining table the affable mailman, Clarence, who seemed to know he could ask for and be served a sandwich of considerable dimension and content. 

On one such visit, where your mother informed you she was making sandwiches for your second cousin and Clarence and what was one more sandwich, and would you care to join them, you overheard Clarence attempting to distinguish your cousin's true surname, was it S-A-N-D-O-Z, or S-A-N-D-E-R-S. 

Your cousin immediately confirmed the Sanders spelling by saying, "I have always lived under the name of Sanders," which led you to suspect at once that your cousin had also read Winnie the Pooh, a fact you confirmed by repeating the A.A. Milne title, and your cousin nodding, yes, and Clarence saying, "Whoa.. Slow down."

Living under the name of, a synonym for using an alias, had begun to slip from use. Indeed, you, at the time, were living under two pseudonyms to the extent of using both for stories you were beginning to publish. To complete the reference to the A.A. Milne material, although you did not know it at the time, you were on a collision path to be the owner and human companion of a notional Blue-Tick Hound whom you named Edward Bear.

Through the course of these web log or blog notes, you've spent some time articulating and giving dimension to at least three aspects of yourself, or individual components you were living under the name of, these being The Writer, The Editor, and The Teacher.

Yesterday's flash of awareness of the braided intricacy of the Self, the Story, and References to Details, as evidenced in those sentences beginning with "In a rather nice irony, McNeil lived under the name of Sanders for nearly two years before I pointed out to him, one evening when we went for drinks, that Sanders is often a Jewish surname," shows the working process these three individuals, whose names you live under, employ.

Back to reality, for a moment, with Clarence, who is African-American, saying to your cousin, "That's what I was trying to figure out. That Sandoz don't sound like you, you understand what I'm saying? Now Sanders, that's a name I can get behind, they's a ring of truth to that." 

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