So captured by the possibility of having a communal talk in cyberspace about this mystery of writing, that I am writing this, freewriting this onto the site, and it is, except in cyberspace, invisible. And this is what this posting is about, the invisible. And its power.
We know that at the moment we are at our computers, there are goings-on, everywhere, of dramatic and mundane proportions. We sense their truth, without inhabiting the same space according to the laws of old physics. We know that there are writers who manage to catch in the net of their language, and the extra-dimensional nature of their hearts, the truth of what is happening elsewhere, to others, even what is happening at different moments, in different eras. Even that which has never happened, or seems unlikely to.
There are writers with an abiding sense of the presence of the past, the dead, the gone, or with a powerful sense of the presence of the socially invisible, and of the historical that is censored or aphasia-ed out by social amnesia. We aim to write all that a moment contains, in a moment of story. We aim to indicate the complexity of each being we write about, even if they run in with a cup of coffee and disappear for the rest of the story. We aim to discover the invisible and the silent, to develop our own instrument of perception to be able to sense it all, and to write with the presence of the invisible filling our pages, whether crushed tree or mysterious cyberpages.
All this being said, as I was on task, getting together something I will tell you about, I realized some things: any readers of this blog haven’t heard from me for some weeks, although I have been working in a bit of a frenzy. This made me “invisible”. My hope was that you knew I was at work. That you knew that invisibility in this case meant either stopping and entering that slow quiet phase which is a deep part of the creative process we all know, the part we shudder at because it can feel like a deep freeze; the part of the year when Persephone goes underground to the land of the dead and the growing things on earth die, or sleep. Or that it meant that I was wildly working, doggedly working, light bulb on working, slow opening working, sweet dot at the end working. And that you knew that invisibility or silence does not mean something or someone is not present. Only not seen and not heard.
So, how do you work on that in your book, in your characters? How do you write about the invisible in your stories and in your poetry? Is it what you write about all the time, in some way or another? What is the invisible to you, in terms of your work?
If someone falls outside of the box of, for instance, identity, as the United States of America lists in the 5 check-one-or-be-invisible/other boxes, is that person without being? Or, if someone eludes the chick lit, murder mystery, romance, thriller, historical fiction, etcetera genre, is that person not writing to be read?
If one of your characters has, for instance, ceased to be present in the literary flesh in your story, how are they still present? How do you write about characters who are invisible or gone in your stories? How do you write about a city that is no longer itself, a home that is no longer standing, a village gone? Gone to invisibility? Or present in heart, memory, language?
And how do you bring forward the invisible in the tangle of words that is a poem?
Speaking of which, please check the Fall/Winter 2007 issue of Poet Lore, which was established in 1889 and is a publication of The Writer’s Center. I have a couple of poems in there from a series called Advice to Travelers, which came out of my visit to the Czech Republic. Check www.writer.org for more information.
And just know that, invisible I may seem, but there is a whole lot of work happening, some of which I will tell you about very soon. In the meantime, please send in your responses by clicking on Comments below this post and scrolling down to a perfect expandable box waiting there for you to write to the rest of us.
As for the cereal burning on the front right burner in the kitchen, it was invisible to me while I was working, out of sight, out of mind, until I smelled it, but it did make quite a statement. It had been heating up, cooking its truth, all the while.
Peace to you, in the fall.
2 thoughts on “The Invisible: Burning cereal and the creative process. And 2 poems out in Poet Lore.”
How is it that “things unseen, events unwitnessed” can exert an influence, can permeate consciousness? That indeed they do is indeed a mystery. Yet the simultaneity of events can appear to proceed along parallel lines, not intersecting, not influencing each other.
In reference to the above, I think of George Steiner’s essays wherein he lay out the facts that the perpetrators of the Holocaust did so in proximity to “high cultural achievements.” That indeed many of the camp commanders and architects of that horror were “cultured” individuals, well versed in literature and art. Their actions, however, call into question the oft touted “civilizing influence” of the arts.
Still, I remain hopeful. It may be a fools hope, but it is an enduring one.
Interesting, what you say here. Maybe each action is some blend of fulfilling a truth and hiding a truth. Maybe each action corresponds to different aspects of oneself. Maybe the “love of culture” of such individuals and groups is a rationalization, or a proof to them of their superiority (though they may have never created one thing of true beauty themselves). Being close to great art makes some people feel blessed, opens them to the deepest aspects of themselves. For people whose lenses onto the world are shaped with the hard edge of racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, elitism, all of it, what they hear, see, understand of the arts seems constantly kind of self-referential, proof of self and superiority. For those who welcome in the world, literature and art is a road into exploration without and within, a confirmation of the possibility of beauty within us all. Big question.
Civilizing in that sense, in the sense of being able to and open to seeing others as well as oneself inhabiting the same world in a decent and productive and always growing partnership, requires some freedom from rigidity, some ability to feel with others. Art can help with this, and does every day, but a rigid ideology like Nazism, well, it kills what is within the bearer as well. I don’t know, Greg, and I do hope. Fools united.