June 11, 2007

no title, really

As I stare out the window into the inky blackness I'm struck with 2 things:

1) my constant refusal to speak literally. "Inky blackness"? Why not just say "darkness"? It's nighttime, it's dark outside. You don't say, "Turn on your headlights now, the dusky night sky is slowly morphing into an inky blackness." You say, "Turn them on, it's getting dark." So what's up with the endless stream of figurative speech?

2) my inability to use fresh metaphors, if use them I must. I mean, it's one thing to make up some cool word picture that draws the reader/listener in, makes you look differently at the world around you. But "inky blackness"? I Googled the phrase (in quotation marks) and came up with 59,300 results. So my subconscious attempt at making the mundane poetic failed, fell flat on its face, disappeared into the inky blackness without even a wave or a goodbye.

So I'm looking out the window at the darkness. I don't like being by windows without blinds when it's dark outside. Anybody can look in and see me. Now I don't imagine that I'm being stalked or anything, because I don't have any money and don't know any Mafia and have never had much contact with the denizens of the dark spirit world who might later come back to haunt me and whatnot. But it's still a little unnerving. What if, while sitting here at this computer, drinking my coffee, what if I unconsciously pick my nose, or who knows what I might do, and someone outside is watching, an innocent passerby, or some protege of Hannibal Lecter, and (s)he sits outside in the darkness, watching, laughing, eating salted peanuts and making plans for my grisly death and wondering if I would go better with White Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. Don't tell me this concern has never crossed your mind, and if i hasn't crossed your mind, then maybe you need to wake up and stop being so naive because it could happen. Admittedly, it's not statistically probable, I'll give you that, but it is not outside the realm of possibility and, I can assure you, you would regret being tossed into some subterranean dungeon in the cellar of a suburban middle-class home while your captor dances around gleefully and artlessly to music from a bygone era, planning your imminent demise.

I'm staring out into the darkness because I'm sitting at my desk trying to write something and it feels rather writer-ly to look out the window at the inky blackness, stroking my chin and furrowing my brow (the cliches just keep rolling in, 25,700 and 31,400 Google results, respectively). I really wasn't sure what I was trying to write, but the lack of a clear sense of purpose has never stopped me before from beginning a task (it usually only stops you from finishing a task). Feeling a wee bit odd at the moment about recent developments in life, and being quite buzzed from the multiple cups of coffee I've had, I charged to my desk and began scribbling furiously, leaving behind an illegible trail of the strange things churning through my brain. I made myself more coffee, for one can never have too much of it, and continued with my frenzied scribbling.

This has become a regular occurrence now, this frenzied scribbling that usually amounts to spinning my wheel and going nowhere. That's another cliche (98,400), but it sort of gets the idea across, sort of hints at the half-articulated ephiphanies (Google found no matches!) scrawled on scraps of paper that now litter my desk.

Language is a heartlessly flirtatious wench, teasing the ambitious into believing the notion that they, with a couple millimeters of pencil lead and a few pieces of 8.5" x11" standard ruled paper, can capture the turmoil of the human soul. I almost said "the human condition" instead, but "the turmoil of the human soul" had far fewer Google results (1,710,000 vs. 1). Anyway, this notion is false. It is a big lie, foisted on you by the wily advertising schemes of corrupt notebook paper cartels. It just doesn't happen, or at least it rarely does.

You let yourself think that your writing tool of choice can capture a veritable snapshot of the failures, and dreams of mankind, and failures of dreams, and maybe even dreams of failures, of mankind. But it doesn't happen.

Words fail to capture what one wants to say, or if they do capture what you want to say, they probably do so in the form of a time-tested cliche ("time-tested" = 1.3 million matches), some metaphor or proverb that is so wonderfully mimetic of reality and so horribly overused.

So apparently I've been hoodwinked, cheated, suckered, and so I sit here, inarticulate and finite, and running out of coffee. If I weren't so tired I'd launch into a postmodern spiel about the inefficacy of language (839 results) and the endless, windless sea of semantic relativity. But instead I'm going to my room, where there are blinds shielding me from public view, where I can read the night away without thinking of cannibalistic voyeurs or the inevitable failure of writing.

Posted by jonsligh at 02:03 AM | Comments (128)