Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shadow Rabbits

Wrapping our minds around the concept of a fifth dimension of space-time is an almost impossible task. Because we exist within the boundaries of three dimensions, our limited senses as humans prevent us from seeing the larger picture. Reality is merely a hologram--a sense of the entire picture, but transparent and uncertain.

Each time we're in a dark room and someone feels inspired to create images in the path of a fixed light source, we see a flat, two-dimensional creation. Our brain catalogs its shadow as the outline of a rabbit. But we are seeing only part of reality. We know, of course, it's not really a rabbit because we can see the contours and position of the other person's hand. But what if we couldn't see it? Would we believe a rabbit really created the shadow?

The fifth dimension is the hand. We see and taste and touch the world around us, oblivious to the things outside our awareness that shape our experiences. Time is a force, acting upon us in all ways at all times. Something we like to think we have control over--the 4.5 minutes it'll take to stop and pick up a latte on the way to work. The two hours we must devote to our daily word count.

In reality, time progresses. Nothing we do will ever be able to harness it. Control it. Slow it down or speed it up. The best we can hope for is a greater awareness beyond the shadowy image on a wall and the inspiration to best make use of its stability.

"An hour is not merely an hour, it is a vase filled with perfumes, with sounds, with projects, with climates. What we call reality is a relation between those sensations and those memories which simultaneously encircle us...that unique relation the writer must discover in order that he may link two different states of being together forever in a phrase." ~ Marcel Proust

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Time, Trains and Polar Bears

I'm watching a trailer for the upcoming new episodes of "Lost." I know the producers and writers have already said the island is absolutely not purgatory. However, it did get me thinking about the concept of heaven and hell.

We all have a vague notion of what we believe each to be. We have no idea if they are a destination of our spirit or a transfer of our energy to a higher (or lower) plane of existence. But these are both concepts of place. The most inspiring and frightening part of the concept of heaven and hell rests firmly in time.

An eternity. Not a place where the train makes a brief stop so we can get off. Look around. Take in the joyful reunions of loved ones or watch flames burn in jagged lines across a barren land. It is the daunting idea that for us, we can't take a step back on the train. Whatever soil our step marks is where the unfathomable idea of everlasting begins. Maybe re-incarnation exists, a ticket to board the train again for the reverse journey, but for now, that remains an outside-the-bell-curve-Sylvia Brown-esque theory.

Embedded deeply within our spiritual life, the notion of time guides our decisions. The swing of moral ambiguity. The choices we made that will earn us that train ticket.

And who knows? Maybe see a polar bear or two.

"A writer uses a journal [blog] to try out the new step in front of the mirror." ~Mary Gordon

FastDraft progress: 69/360

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dopplegangers and Abraham Lincoln

In an episode of "The Twilight Zone", a woman enters a bus station. She purchases a ticket and sits down with her luggage to wait. The people she encounters in the station insist she's said things or done things she cannot remember. The woman believes she's gone mad until she walks in the restroom. In the mirror, a classic vessel for glimpses into other-worldly things and ideas, she sees her human double standing behind her own reflection.

The doppelganger, also called a fetch, waft and fye, has been traced back to the ancient Greeks. The modern Zulus of Africa believe it's dangerous to see one's own reflection lest the soul become trapped there. Many believe seeing your "fetch" is a precursor to death.

Much rumor surrounded Abraham Lincoln, who told a story once about glancing into the mirror above the dresser in his bedroom a few short weeks before his assassination. Standing behind him, perhaps six inches and in a shade darker, he saw his double. Superstitious as he was, he believed it to be a sign.

The mirror, a typical one of its day, was thick. Its imperfect curvature no doubt explains the reflection Lincoln saw. But the mere fact that Lincoln believed it to be his doppelganger could have impacted the way he viewed his own life after that. The decisions he made.

And in the bus station? The woman's fetch acquires her ticket to start her new life and boards a bus, essentially trading places--perhaps even universes--with the main character.

What if it were true? That each of us has a "double" somewhere? A weird anomaly dating back to a fork in the genetic road? Or the split of the universe at a fundamental event, such as our birth, that creates a parallel existence--never meant to cross?

playing: Toadies--Possum Kingdom

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Villian's Leverage and Stamina

When considering a villian's leverage on a protagonist, which is more effective: the character's greatest want or greatest fear? To exploit what the hero wants most drives them to make blind choices and keeps them ultimately responsible for their own decisions. It allows the author to take that one fatal character flaw and draw it out in tragedy. The story, is then, driven, by the protagonist's supreme desire to achieve their goal.

If the villian uses the main character's most basic fear against them, the reader connects on a deeper emotional level, especially if that fear is a universal one driven by the same values and desires humanity shares. It does, however, make for a weaker potential for character growth--a somewhat superificial reactive character that yields a less satisfying read. Yes, the hero ultimately overcomes their greatest fear, but are they as human as they would be had we seen them succumb to the baser desires that drive us all? The mistakes that reveal the most about the human condition?

Me, today::
"The creative power, which bubbles so pleasantly in the beginning of a new book, quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape, keep one at it more than anything." ~Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Time Warp Between Writer and Reader

Welcome to my inaugural post...sounds official, right?

In trying to find words and phrases to create this blog that speak to who I am as a writer, the juvenile "woo-woo" word sums it up. How do I tie my preoccupation with time, and all facets of it we've yet to understand, with the things around me I can't explain and feel a deep need to put on page?

The concept of writer and reader, as it relates to time, fascinates me--how months and years of grinding out the creative images in my head translate into a six hour encounter for anyone who sits down to read it. Time, is then, dictating the experience of the story. While characters sit at my dinner table, push their way into the mundane tasks of everyday life and occupy roads in my subconscious with only a vague destination, they are but a passing acquaintance to the reader. One I hope they'll remember like a friend with whom they've mourned losing touch, but never the connection the writer has.

Maybe that's why a writer's life is so alluring. Writers are hungry readers not content with placing a book on a keeper shelf or loaning it to a friend as a great escape. They explore spaces between the lines. Ruminate in themes and symbolism weaved in a story. Live just a little longer in the alternate universe the characters inhabit. More time. Never enough.

View out the window: rare snow