Source: Ozeno (click image for link)
Today’s post is tired and sleepy. It hasn’t slept in days. It would like a glass of water and some sleep shades. It’s yawning and squinting at the lamplight. It’s managing to stay awake a little longer. It’s brought to you by the letter C. And it proves I’m master of the obvious. But sometimes the obvious gets overlooked in the course of endless distraction. That’s why the obvious often bears repeating.
I suspect that C is the key to a crap-load of despair: capitalism, cars, cancer, cigarettes, crime, civilization (ok, and computers, which while necessary for survival, exponentially reinforce mass society)…all of which are too much a part of everyday reality. Also,
There’s something so solid, so profoundly civilized about concrete (think, Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal and the Roman Pantheon) , so corporate, so corpse-like, gray and set to last for-ev-er. What’s cool, though, is that the F word, fiction, provides one of the choice methods for wearing it away, wave upon wave of water and wind. Who can argue that rational thought, reason, is not responsible for the ongoing disaster we call civilization? And how many humans continue to fight for their right to participate in this disaster as the ultimate happiness and reality?
How is it that any writer or artist can even begin to tackle the idea of “reality” when no one knows what it is? Or consciousness, for that matter. No one can even tell you where it is, let alone what it is. Sure, a scientist or philosopher will point to empirical evidence of objective reality as the basis for everything. They believe passionately in rational materialism; that when we die there’s nothing afterward, and there’s no such thing as magic. Well, who made them the ultimate authority? Sooner or later every theory is debunked. It may take centuries or millennia, but the truth is, all is fluid, nothing lasts. Free will or destiny? Particle or wave? Neither and both. Paradox. You can dip a bucket in the river and say you caught the river, but you’d be mistaken.
I had an instructor in my MFA program who used to say, Be a dumb writer. I thought, How counter-intuitive. But now I understand. You have to be dumb to see things outside the concrete slabs in which they’ve been encased, the worn-out ways others have told us to see them. To be a dumb writer you risk seeing things in a new way and tapping into essence.
Ultimately we aren’t made of matter but of space, of nothingness. Okay, this is Zen stuff, but also the stuff of poetry and fiction. Poetry and fiction allow us to imagine, to dream, to switch to escape mode where other possibilities exist, at least fleetingly. But that’s the beauty of imagination. The word “author” is based on “authority” — not on rational fact, but on truth. There’s a huge difference. And, paradoxically, the most powerful writing is born of things rather than ideas, but it’s not the thing itself, its essence that amounts to “nothingness.”
How does this nothingness help a poet or fiction writer find bearings in a crumbling world based on reason and materialism? My guess is it’s a fertile field.
God created everything from nothing, and the nothingness shows through. – Paul Valéry
Everyone knows mystery is beauty and the spawning ground for all creation and the only real place to begin. After all, we don’t enter story armed with answers but lost inside complex and paradoxical questions. And instead of arriving at answers, we manage only to uncover more questions, because, sorry to break it to you, that’s the nature of life, of the multiverse, and the human soul (if you subscribe to the possibility of its existence). In other words, I’ll venture that fiction creates reality and not the other way around.
Which would mean, of course, that the universe really is made of stories, not of atoms.