Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fighting Forms

Well, that took longer than expected.

What have I been up to? Nothing interesting, really - all the same time-marking exercises that occupy me when I am blogging, just without the commentary: I saw Primer (hard work to understand, unnerving as hell when you do), 2012 (armageddon porn: is that a genre? I think it's a genre), Fantastic Mr Fox (exactly as cool as it thinks it is: Clooney never so well cast) and Rope (brilliant, stagy, one of those wonderful one-take-one-room dramas that seem so attainable for us writers). I played - and am still playing - a lot of Red Dead Redemption, read Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead and Nietzsche's Ecce Homo.

I suffered with influenza, unremitting heat and a housemate who insists on sitting outside my window at night singing to hedgehogs (this is not a metaphor). I unexpectedly lost a gigantic debt, which was quite nice. I worked, both at the day job and on The Vagrant And The Snowflake, which is still more world than story so far but does have some actual words to show for it. I am learning - with teeth-clenching slowness - to paint in acrylics, and have had my hair cut very short indeed, upon the insistence of female drinking buddies.

My life is quite full, I suppose. It tends to fill up when I'm trying to escape from something, or at least escape pervasive thoughts of it, which is where I've been lately. A situation - and no, there are no details to be had here: real people are involved, whose foibles are not as free to be prostituted for Google Ads hits as my own - devolved from merely unsatisfactory to acutely painful, and something important to me was lost. The ghost of the situation hangs around, however, not caring whether it elicits echoed hurt or not: an indifferent nemesis, engaged in asymmetric warfare of a very particular kind. Who me? I'm not hurting anyone. I'm just standing here. If you don't like it, that's your problem.

And it is, of course. I have bored my patient friends to distraction with my woes, trying to exorcise it with endless self-examination (or, as men will recognise it, it-must-be-my-fault-somehow syndrome) and getting nowhere. A lack of feedback leaves the imagination to run riot, to clutch desperately for patterns to analyse, a narrative to make sense of it all, but this is no more material or helpful than the swirling shapes in a Ganzfeld rig (look it up - there are pingpong balls and white noise involved, all very cool in a seventies psychedelia sort of way).

A writer, of course, should ostensibly be able to make hay of this emotional chaff but in practice it's rare for writers to actually do this. Working through one's own emotional issues on the page is actually a lot harder than it sounds: a writer cannot simply use his own experience and character to explore them as this results in the same stalemate he confronts in real life, so he must distance himself, create a new (but similar) character and a new (but similar) situation, in the hope that a parallel version of himself might solve the parallel problem in a way that's, y'know, parallel.

I don't think I can do that. I had some demons to slay when I wrote Control, but that was different, less personal in an odd sort of way. It was a relatable and definitively one-sided event: it wasn't a dialectic. This more recent episode is more mundane, more everyday, and my experience is only half the story - the other half of which is hidden from me. In any protagonist/antagonist relationship there needs to be, if not a victor, then at least a moral victor: but this requires the other person not only to be wrong but to know they are wrong. You can never, ever win against someone who just doesn't care. They had already won long before the fighting ever started.

Anyway, it's not important and I shan't bring it up again. I might paint it instead, the idea of an Indifferent Nemesis (how well that capitalises, as if born to be the title of a painting) having a certain murky German Expressionism vibe to it... I can't paint for shit, but doing things you can't do is the only way to turn them into things you can.

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