home page poesis, so called    

a creative lamentation
February 4, 2010


As a writer, I don’t regard myself primarily as an “artist,” because I can’t comfortably see the word without quote marks, which relates primarily (for me) to the visual and performing arts. Of course, writing is a performance, and I do want a post-aestheticist sense of art that puts writing in the center of things.

I say that as preface to a thought I almost began with here: I identify with an artist’s need to do their work in order to understand what and why they’re doing it. Though one can implement a conception, the artist commonly wants to improvise to see what happens, then stand back to see what it is. Someone who regards such activity egoistically would presume that something basic about the artist is represented by the improvisation, rather than surmising that it might be merely a stance-of-the-day, ephemeral, in an ongoing creative process.

Similarly, scholarly interest can be about the subject of interest, not the subjectivity of the inquirer. A clinical interest in pathology doesn’t imply that the inquirer identifies with it. Empathy for a situation or condition is not as such wishing to become that.

Relatedly, sketching a still life doesn’t mean one sees the fruit like the rendering. The fruit may be very pretty and the stance of rendering askew by design. That should not be regarded as a lack of appreciation for the simple perception of pretty fruit. That should not be regarded as most wanting to see the fruit that way. Rather, the stantial rendering is about working with askewed rendering, as inspired by or relative to a given perceptual presence.

Now, you might wonder why I’ve written this. I’m not sure. I have an idea. You might, too—accurately or not (partially apt, partially not). I have an interest in the creative process, which is not only enacted through writing about whatever, but is also a reflective theme. Doing and reflection on the doing belong together for me.

Also, though, I love playing with characterization. I’m not a fictionist, but I enjoy doing what I feel in the moment like doing.

So much can be said about a resonance of perceived other, mirrored other, and real other.

I’m biased by conceptual interests—a kind of narcissism of the inquirer. If an experience was actually stereotypical (inspired by actuality), I’d make it something else, just to keep myself interested. I might be the last to know I was really living a used mystery. If a storyline was inspired by unstereotypical actuality, I’d probably distort the influence further, out of conceptual interest.

Making stories based on actuality can be disturbing to readers who recognize themselves distorted or reduced to a few traits. The writer might assemble composite characters through a name, but the inspiration and complexity of real persons, in their singularity, is so interesting, even though distortion or reduction may be necessary in order to have a manageable focus.

Characterization doesn’t mean that I want to assert that they are that. So, misunderstanding can make me feel desperate to convey what’s going on, which easily looks like backstepping rationalization. Sometimes, it is. Most times, it’s not. It’s a matter of fair explanation, if not reasonably debatable interpretation. Anyway, I’m learning to live as I go along, which is especially challenging with new kinds of experience.

We all want stories that cohere, and life seldom coheres readily. That’s life’s appeal—the mystery, the tension to resolve—that one brings into a story, yet simplified for the sake of manageability.

And who knows where a story really begins. One just starts somewhere.

A discursive backstage gives due credence to the writer who fears that frontstage entwinements have reaped ruin on part of his or her life. But maybe the ruin was not so dramatic (given that there was indeed ruin)—or maybe there was no ruin.

To some degree, real life emerges from competing fictions, in the guise of desired self images, hopes, presumptions, displaced fears, inherited ideas of a good life, imaginings of how good things may become—what’s the catalog of what we humans do? A Darwinian meme machine runs through each person’s mind—our distributed mind, too (a resonance of where things live, came from, go)—a memicry, with some desires, images, ideas, stories, etc., etc. persisting long enough to become shared enough to be reality, to be read as enduring. Others become used mysteries.




  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis