The lever rose with a weighted slowness as he took three steps forwards, his arms above his head, pushing the lever upwards. And stopped.
He took three steps back. The lever descended, smoothly, his hands arresting its fall.
No one knew its weight; it was heavy, like a fallen tree; too thick for a grown man to wrap his arms around, and two leverworkers operated it at all times.
Three steps forward. He exhaled.
No one knew what was on the other side of the wall the lever entered, its fulcrum the only break in its smooth surface. Neither wood nor stone, the wall disappeared in the sky and on either horizon.
Three steps back. The sun dropped out of sight to his right, and the lever stopped, locking in its lowest position, where it would remain until sunrise. He lowered his arms, grunting from the stiffness.
“Let’s go then,” he said to the older man in front of him. The old man’s gray hair stuck wetly to his head, and he didn’t speak as they walked back to their homes.
The morning would come soon enough.( Read more... )
I don't know what's wrong. But I'm trying to get over the hump today. I've written a little over 400 words that I don't really like and I keep needing to force myself to go on instead of walking away in disgust. The humor isn't coming out funny; it's coming out mean. And it's the tiniest of a thread of an idea to work from, but it's all I've got.
Honestly though, I feel like I've reached the point where if I don't write a column this month, I won't write one ever again. And I'm not ready to stop yet. I just wish there was more blood in this turnip.
I'm even involving a little whiskey to see if it helps.
It started when I was thinking about songs that are sung in a foreign language, yet are still able to cause an emotional reaction when I listen to them.
That led to me making this playlist on YouTube.
Some of these songs are also available in English versions, but they don't always make me react the same way: there's this feeling of alieness I experience, like I'm somewhere else in a different world. And yet, the emotions I feel are very much of this world.
I've been thinking of ways that words and poetry cause emotional ressonance, and how (if) sometimes, the meanings of the words can detract from the visceral emotion that is trying to be conveyed.
So how do I work around that?
I keep kicking around the idea in my head of spoken poetry that does not rely on understandable words to present emotion. But there's a hinderence in using a different language - for one, I don't know any other languages, and two, the words still have meaning, even if I do not know exactly what that meaning is, and that is enough to distract.
I keep listening to the playlist over and over (and the ads every other video are pretty damn distracting, too).
I'm thinking that the way for me to approach this is using words that sound real, but aren't. Not in the same sense of Dadaism, even if it was created by my beloved Marcel Duchamp. I'm not trying to do anti-poetry in a deconstructive form through meaningless nonsense presented as art, leaving the viewer to try and determine the seriousness of the artist, as well as the intention.
So while the words will be meaningless, the emotions will not be.
That's part one.
Now, thinking even further, can the emotions of poetry be presented without using any sound at all? Stories can be, of course. (Thank you, Marcel Marseau.) But broken down to just base emotional presentation, can poetry work not only without words, but without sound at all?
Can I do a slam poem without the SLAM?
That's part two.
Part three is even more nebulous. Spoken word with only words. Turned away from the audience. The writer detached from his writing, so the audience has no preconceived notions of what will be presented.
There's a part four bubbling around in there as well, but it's barely even coelesced into even a feeling.
(How can I explore this without ripping of Laurie Anderson?)
I do know that this is not something that's going away. These alien feelings are deeply connected to my experience after surgery last year. Turns out there's even a term for it- "Pumphead". And it's more common and serious than I knew at the time. Not that I really had much of a grasp on what was going on at the time, even after I thought I had recovered.
Maybe that's where the idea of non-existing words come from. Those times when I knew that what I was saying was not matching what I was thinking, and even worse, what I was thinking wasn't matching what was really happening.
I need to explore this.
I'm obviously not allowed to lift anything over five pounds yet, and won't be until April. I need to wear my chest vest until the end of February, not only for protection but also as a reminder that I can't lift anything heavy. I was really concerned last night that I was having trouble breathing and catching my breath ... turns out I had the vest on too tightly! I wonder if this is how a bra feels ...
Two weeks ago I set a goal for myself to write 1,000 words per day of something, anything. The first week went well. I finished my docmentation of the "other universe" experiences I had while in my coma, and worked on another project as well. That second project was not coming along like I wanted, and last week I really started slacking, writing a couple of hundread words per day, if that, even. I was unhappy with what I was writing, and it wasn't until this past weekend that I realized this.
I tend to expect my writing to be as close to a finished piece as possible when I write it down, mainly because I tend to work the words over in my head first, and then micro-edit the writing as I go along, doing whatever small, quick edits are necessary (to my mind, at least! I have a feeling that a real editor would rip me apart.)
This latest work I've been, urm, working on has been significantly different in process, and is full of passive-voice and telling-not-showing and make-outsider-unhappy-structure. My big realization was that I'm not unhappy with what I'm writing and writing about; I just haven't recognized it for what it is - a rough, first draft. It's a brain dump to get the gist of the story down, and once that's finished, I'll go back and take this structure and add the meat and dialogue and discussion and description that it needs. I haven't done something like this in so long, I'd completely forgotten what it's like.
In other words, stopped being so critical of myself and start writing as if no one is reading.
That's actually not quite accurate- I sleep fine once I fall asleep.
But I've been afraid to fall asleep. Not because I'm afraid of dying (which would be understandable, considering how near to death I had been while hospitalized), but because I'm afraid of going back to that alternate world I lived in while under sedation for two weeks.
It was not a pleasant place.
I've been staying up as late as I can, usually going to bed at 9 and then reading the news and Reddit until midnight or 1 am, when I finally force myself to turn off the light and try to sleep.
I've never actually returned to that other world, but the dread has always been there. It doesn't help that the nighttime environment of our house somewhat mimcs the oppressive and depressive atmosphere of the other world (not because of any innate qualities of this home that I love - more just the general feel of the night and lower illumination.) Here's a snippit from when I returned home for the first time after escaping from the hellish rehab facility I had been initially taken to:
My fever spiked a lot during the night. I was convinced that the images on the posters in my room where actually demon spirits from Japan using the posters as a gateway to get to us. I shouted at them (hopefully, only in my head). I saw posters moving across my ceiling, and the smoke detector on the wall in the corner seemed to move around the ceiling to different spots when I wasn’t watching it.
In retrospect, it's easy to see how surrealistic these events were. But to me, not only did they occur in real time, but they were my real life. I had lost my job; I had lost my best friend; I had been mistreated and poorly cared for and trapped with little to reassure me. It's no wonder I was so confused and nonsensical after I was brought out of the coma.
I've been hoping that writing down as much of those experiences that I had while sedated that I can remember would help me to rationalize them and move on.
I finally finished today. 25 pages and over 12,000 words.
It's everything I can remember, but I have a strong feeling that I forgot a lot as well.
Hopefully though, I can begin working on getting back to a normal schedule, starting tonight. And a normal life as well.