How much electronic pain must be suffered at the delighted hands of masochistic fairy muses, who flit about teasing the writer with half-formed ideas? All day long this one has been continually dive-bombed by brilliant sparkling thoughts, only to see them fade away as soon as the mental hand reaches out to grasp.
At the heart of the exercise is the certainty that such grasping is not in vain. The hope stretches beyond wishing, to the point of clarity: gems are meant to be mined, not left in the walls of rock, forever ignored, forgotten.
The analogy searches beyond the immediate: while the gem is the goal, it goes beyond just writing, or just ideas. The gem reflects the natural light of value, inherent in those lights who have perceived it. The woman whose flashing eyes reveal far more spirit turmoil and joy than most in her company. Hidden to most, she is accessible to the seeker who somehow just can’t stop perceiving. Like the ephemeral muse, her quick quirks of dangerous laughter upsets the apple cart of decency and “the norm”. The writer understands and yet knows that he doesn’t get it all. His self-awareness understands the depths of his own ignorance, and the intrigue tickles his mental taste buds. A flavour, filling the mouth with ambiguous fire.
It’s not often this happens – this departure from every day mundane musings, and when it does, it’s certainly welcome. I was reading “Jitterbug Perfume” (once again, probably for the tenth time, but who knows – and more importantly who’s counting?), when a new pre-ordered book slipped into the e-bookshelf of my iPad Kindle application. The dangerous world of espionage had always intrigued me, and so I flipped over from “Jitterbug” to read the first chapter. In normal mundane times, I would start such a book but wouldn’t stop until it was finished. My appetite for reading has always been like that: voracious and hungry, and unable to stop until full. I’ve missed meetings and have been late for doctors’ appointments because of it. There’s no shame there, really. I revel in the fact that brilliant ideas, written painstakingly by good authors are so greatly appreciated on this side of the internet.
Yet, this time, I only made it to the first couple of paragraphs before the compulsion to jump back to “Jitterbug” irritated me mercilessly. I knew why, too. Robbins’ writing – at least in this work – does not lend itself to distraction. Literary vortexes are like that. This one is anyway. It tends to consume concentration, with the promise of reward. His dark maelström of lightening beneath bitter clouds floods the consciousness with meaning and soulish rapture. It instigates and enables so many epiphanic ideas and thoughts. I suppose it’s why I read the book so many times. There’s an old commercial about the snack food “Bits and Bites” – where the cartoon narrator reaches into a box and pulls out some content while saying “something different in every handful”. “Jitterbug Perfume” is just like that, with every reading.
It’s an unceasing drill sergeant too, demanding, obstinate and blunt. The bright thoughts demand action and reaction, and doesn’t seem to know what “tolerate” means. I suppose the contrast becomes too apparent: the world “Machine” wants everyone to take a seat and settle down. We are cajoled and advised to be content, to watch our favourite TV programs, to eat our fatty foods and be quiet. To be precise: the Machine would rather we shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and don’t stir up any shit.
Following that advise is what gets you old. It’s an intricate preparation for disease and death. Many of us are cool with that, and plan accordingly. When we question that direction, and ask why it is, the only response is “well it’s complicated”. Truth-speak for “not only wouldn’t you understand – we don’t want you to get it.”
The Machine keeps stepping on my chi, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough of it. The best defence is a good offence, and the best offence is to be offensive. Challenging my own direction is scary and a little invigorating. It pleases me to be displeasing to conventional wisdom.
One has to suppose that the grown adult’s self-imposed rut comes from a lifetime of digging and creating a nest. Even the most creative of us gets used to the idea of comfort wherever we can find it, or create it. Stability is the goal, and at least for me, stagnation is the result. So there’s a trade-off isn’t there? If you want security, be prepared to be bored. If you want excitement, know that your life won’t be all that stable, and it certainly won’t be predictable.
Deep in historical awareness – the same awareness that exists within our DNA – is the exhilarating knowledge that steps into uncertainty and risk have their own reward. Joy, excitement, and even a measure of a type of security. It knows that the plush fruit of its acts will shine attractively to those who don’t yet have it.
Ever wonder about the state of the economy and where it will all end? I have. Some things seem certain: those who invest themselves in artistic directions always have willing buyers. People who – like me for so long in my life – have become art voyeurs, the Hansel and Gretel of life’s forest, excited by the new trail, but lulled to a certain undignified grave.
The choice becomes simple. On one hand, we can concentrate on consuming (and become consumed), and on the other we can concentrate on creating, bringing new life and enlarging our perceived horizon, constantly growing and finding room for more growth.
Voyeur or voyager.