Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Twisting a famous sentence"

Currently in zombie mode, all written out for the night. This post is about why we fanfict, even though it obviously strays and doesn't really answer the question at hand. The title is a chop-up of a Don DeLillo quote which is in full in the post.

This is not as new an itch as it appears to be. The internet has simply made sharing everything so possible and easy! It is a poetic image to bring to mind: that of prehistoric man stumbling into the darkness of a cave and adding his own twist into the art on the walls. At one point I had thought that art was something you did when the world was stable enough for you to do so. I believed that it is only in a world that has enough specialization that there are those that can focus on creating for the aesthetic more so than the practical. That’s wrong on so many levels that it’s a shame I ever thought it to be true. This world we live in is dominated by money much more than it ever was. We aren’t free of anything. It’s all dictated by where the currency lies. But no more of my pessimism; I am not the man in the basement speaking up through the hole in the floor, I am not waiting in some dark parking garage for the right car to pull up at which point I’d open up my deep throat and talk. No, I’m none of that. In a very real sense, I’m nothing and it’s that nothingness that hits hard. How in practically every way you can think of, there are so many more people who can explain the way they are more rationally.

It’s thoughts like these that lead on to the boredom that we’ve let slip by way of the URL of this page. It’s thoughts like these that inevitably have me deleting all I’ve written, because it’s useless and unimportant and not particularly something I need to have remembered here, because I’m not ever going to forget it. So you throw up a template. You give yourself something to work around, because when it’s all up to you, the writing goes in a different direction: it means something else. This was one of the reasons for the running idea of “See if you can spot this one.”

A Don DeLillo quote from Americana comes to mind: “Passing them on the roads as they journeyed toward their own interior limits, one might be easily inspired to twist the thumb of a famous first sentence. It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.” And here he has captured so much of what I might have wanted say if I had not read that particular book before writing this post. It is the feeling that something you’ve read is explaining something inside you better than you can do so yourself. It is true to say that because we never know the world from anyone’s perspective but our own that we are always going to write about ourselves. Not so much autobiography as noting things that interest us, what we long for, capturing images that have grown to possess our brains.

You quote when the words are important, or when you can’t put it down any better. Different professors will tell you different things. Everyone has a specific way of running their life. The performance piece, I am sitting in a room, can be metaphorically applied to people, studied through their various lovers, using a distillation of sorts, we would find out who that person was in the most natural sense. This is what Imperial Bedrooms was reaching for in its closing line, I think; this is what I’d love to do in a tale called Chasing Victor.

As I write this now, for some reason my typing skills our devolving, are failing on me, as if I hadn’t been practicing lately (if nothing else, this is all a lot of typing practice). But you teach yourself how to do something and you’ll inevitably end up doing it wrong, or at least not in the way that you should or are expected to. And now flicking my fingers out not from the home-row but rather a random placement above the keyboard, I can’t help but think that yes, I have failed at something.

So it’s that feeling; you want to listen to what someone else has said. You want to continue on from someone coming before. If writing is a productive work, then you want to make it a bit easier, steal the beginning from someone else; so often it’s one of those things that has to build up a head of steam to get going at a good pace anyway. This is something I understand completely, even if I’m only rarely right there inside this particular moment.

Jules Verne wrote a sequel to a novel by Edgar Allan Poe. There are, of course, literary precedents for this scratching of the itch. You, yourself, do not have the means of getting rid of this thirst alone, but when you discovered something somewhere that seemed to take the edge off, you ran with it.

It can present itself in any number of ways. You want to know what comes after is perhaps the most common, followed by the question of how things got the way they were, but even more subtle, even more unstoppable is the theft of an idea. Once someone realizes something for the first time, it can never be originally conceived of again, but everything, by this point in the timeline, has been thought of, which is why the idea has to become something less than a commodity. There are no more to be had that haven’t already been think, thought, and thunk to the utmost extent.

It is interesting, then, how this pans out. For it is through direct imitation (flattery or theft?) or continuation that one can find the environment for continuing on, for putting a foot forward again. The result is truly unexpected. Writing as a plot device in itself, can often leak in around the corners. That is not to be contested. And still we find, in the pit of convention, the inspiration we were lacking. And why not? Stranger things have happened.

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