Ok. So. The thing with complete site redesigns is it forces me to go back and edit pages that I haven’t really considered for years. I just got done with the new “Pure Strangeness” section (which, to any astute observer, is merely Bad Ideas, Tales and Insight tossed in a bin together) under writing, and man, there’s some conked out stuff in there. They’re all copies of old AIM away messages I put up; just random little ditties I would throw together in a few minutes before dashing out the door.
I kind of miss that medium. The stuff I usually paste down here in the weblog are ideas or happenings that have been brewing in my head for awhile, which lends a certain amount of polish and insight to them. But there’s a lot to be said for stream-of-consciousness writing; if not as a legitimate artform, at least as good practice for the real thing.
For me, it all boils down to imagery. I think in words more than anything else, which is probably why I’m a better writer than I am writer or musician. I’m a good photographer as well, but in many ways I find that similar to writing. Whether with word or photo I’m always framing shots, leaving things out of the frame, finding ideal angles, etc. I look at something and wonder how I can translate it into a photo, or if not that, words. It’s all encoding to allow dissemination among the masses.
Photography is nice because everything you need to work with is already right in front of you; you just need to decide what to include and exclude. Writing seems to take place more in a vacuum, where something is created where nothing existed before. But it really isn’t all that mystical, as everything, art, music, photography, words, whatever, all refer back to the same thing.
Stream-of-consciousness is exciting because, even as the writer, you never know where it’s going to go. It’s difficult to pull off stream-of-consciousness photography, as all you end up with are a bunch of blurry photographs that you probably thought were going to turn out ‘really cool’ in the end. Stream-of-consciousness music is even worse. Ever gotten really high with your band and played into a tape recorder for a night? While doing it you were sure that somewhere in all those notes, in those disjunct rhythms and harmonies, you were encoding the Ultimate Answer to the Mysteries of the Universe.
And when you listen back to the tape it sounds like the band got dragged under a truck for six hours.
So with that, I really don’t hold authors that write stream-of-consciousness in very high regard, especially if they claim that it’s this Great and Amazing art that Revolutionizes the Human Concept of Crap. Yes, it’s fascinating how the mind can spin things together when it goes out free-wheelin’, but that doesn’t immediately justify publication. Where I’m from, all great works require a great amount of work to actually be good. The trick is to make the all the sweat and toils invisible to the audience. You work so they don’t have to.
As much as writers may want to dramatize it, writing is not a performance art. Jazz musicians can get away —
ok, I’ve lost interest in this post, and I’m busy talking to friends, so I’m just gonna toss it into the burlap sack and be done with it.