Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More On Writing



"I don't know if your dead or not, if you're anyone." Broken Bells



I need to develop a theory of punctuation and the will to stick with it when faced with doubts.

Since I believe people hear what they hear, and that this hearing is independent of what I say, I’ve always thought that punctuation should be thought of as more a guideline than a rule.


Writing should leave you with an image, not words. It should allow for that image to be seen by others as their own, sounded out by their own understanding, in their own way. It needs to have the strength of flex and the ability to surrender itself to other visions. It should crowd itself in and snuggle up comfortably, then clean like gasoline until it burns, leaving an after image like the dead of Hiroshima left on sidewalks.

I write exactly what I see – you see exactly what you bring to the table to look with. I write a specific, in the way that makes sense and order for my world as a way of structuring my senses. You take what I say, filter it with what you think, then summarize my specific with your own, for good or evil, as you are.

In school they teach this – how to find the meaning of a thing – and all the things mean different things to each and  all the people. I write apple, thinking green and made for cooking. You see red, and crunch the sweetness in almost taste. That’s not what I meant at all – not at all.

I see that a comma gives pause, and breaks the speech and cadence. What I meant was a beat and a half – more reflective and deliberate. There is no mark for that and no way of knowing unless you are me – or unless you get it like an obscure art piece left dangling for generations covered in dust and discovered by a special you, alone in wonder at a lost thing now found.

Many things are not great until people say they are great, and then they are, but really, they always were – time meant nothing, but timing was everything. Doing things the way they are and not the way you see them gets you nothing in any length of run that matters. A theory of dots and dashes has to found that works for the way you see it, otherwise, what's the point of saying anything?

When I use a semicolon instead of a period, it’s because I don’t want to interrupt a flow of related ideas by making two sentences from one. It might be because I’m lazy, it might be a comma in disguise, or it might just be an affect I want to lay on the reader. My motivations are never clean with this – and I would really prefer to leave it all more open and imprecise by slapping a dash in place and moving on. You the reader have to guess, but it’s an educated guess that allows for freedom of thought that the structure of a semicolon doesn’t.

In poetry it’s a challenge. Because there is an almost pathological attention to each word and how they flow in a herd, (or pride?) the stop and start and emphasis needs to be almost mathematical… I think.

But it’s the image the words leave without the exact meaning of words interfering that makes the poem. It’s the singsong, dancing meter that makes you remember, not the math. The words mean what they mean – to both you and to your knowledge of me.

I think that I need enough of a theory to be consistent. Enough to show I know the rules and I am not ignorant or ill cultured – that I know that the extra fork of language is used for the salad, not the meat.




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