Friday, 19 October 2007

Clinical Relief with Poles

Could it be that this is the final push?
I'm hitting Tethered Light again, and hitting it hard. These short breaks are truly beneficial: reading through my opening chapters yesterday, they felt new and alive, as though they had been written by someone else.
So, what did I discover?
Technically, they are as tight as the skin on a snare drum.
(You're gonna love this link!)
I was listening to the latest Rush album the other day. Neil Peart is surely one of the most technically accomplished drummers of all time.
He opens one track solo, buzzing one-handed on the snare (and it's not a regular buzz either - think of a military snare pattern), whilst dancing around the toms with his other hand. Bloody hell! To a drummer, there is a magic in those opening few seconds.
But to listen to it beyond that perception, it is little more than a barren introduction to a piece of music. In short, it's not very exciting and is rather exclusive.

I found that I could quickly identify those moments in my opening where I have been a little too clinical: I recognized them because they felt the wrong side of sterile.
I fixed them by hitting the reader's senses. My opening gambit was devoid of sounds, and the introduction of a single line refreshed the magic:

Silence fell from the heavens, dusting the crests and the valley - a silence tempered now and then only by the shrill and distant chatter of emerald-crowned hummingbirds.

Of course, once I had identified the missing element, I still had to define it.
The words distant and only reinforces Penpa's alienation; emerald-crowned adds to that rich and majestic theme of royalty; dusting mimicks the cold snow. I chose hummingbirds because they are the smallest birds, and because they have an exotic quality. I made them plural because they are not alone - they have the family that Penpa so craves (aw, poor Blinky doesn't quite cut it for her, not least because, while the hummingbirds chatter, any conversation between P&B will be one-sided).
Emerald-crowned hummingbirds do not exist in our world. Ten minutes research led me to the ruby-throated hummingbird, and everything clicked.
And, of course, I am quick to remind the reader that everything is important to and loved by God: He watches and presides from the heavens.

So there we see the trouble that sometimes accompanies clinical writing, and we can compare this to the multiple troubles that always accompany inconsidered or poorly understood writing.

Jackson Pollock remedied the ailment of clinical precision by magnifying the element of chance. This seems a terrific solution: as you can see, even when I recognize a sterility, I am still prone to analyzing its solution.

Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles Number 11

I've been looking for a new technique to experiment with for a while now. The word palettes idea does conjur some words within a theme that one might not have ordinarily considered, and goes some way to adding that random factor (still controlled of course: certainly Pollock chose to splatter paint on canvas).

I shall consider new techniques and would welcome any suggestions:

How might we take ourselves away from all that we have learned and retrieve that naivety that might warm a mood and make it more friendly and less oppressive?
(Indeed, might a randomness or a naivety do this? Am I pointing at recreational drugs here? Crikey, that's an interesting parallel [and one that I will not be exploring]).

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