few days ago, I posted an essay that has basically been smacking
around inside my head ever since. It was a little piece… similar
to many that get posted around here… a combination of wanting
to produce material this month, the experimental nature of the
site, and a few other assorted odds and ends, which, for whatever
reason had me believing that there might be a few missing elements
in the effort.
way of describing what I mean is simple enough… it wasn’t meant
to be driven as a serious subject offering. And yet, I kept stumbling
into potential readings spring-boarding off of it as a serious
the title… and a link…
is dandy, but…”
essay is an extension… a support… but not a defense of that essay.
I don’t believe it needs to be defended. Instead, I just want
the proper context and atmosphere around for the conversation.
~ ~ ~
any effort, there comes a point where in order to complete it
you have to be willing to let it go. And, in several places… such
as the literary world… in many ways once you do let go, the work
no longer really belongs to you.
yes… it is still yours. But in many ways, you’ve handed it over
to others. Kind of like buying an incredibly thoughtful and personal
gift for someone else. You pour in your soul, place a ribbon on
the box, and then pass it along hoping it will be appreciated
by the recipient.
couple of things—actually three, three things—for your consideration
as we begin.
one ~ Literal and figurative can be delicate (and dangerous) differences
years ago, I was taking a class in college. We were looking at
the work of William Blake and interpreting a poem. For a variety
of reasons, young and naïve and not comfortable really expressing
my stronger opinions, I didn’t really dive into some thoughts
I had about what the piece might be alluding to.
good way of explaining it? My presentation on it could be best
described by looking toward Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden
as an example – I offered up a reading that claimed an apple was
quite literally an apple, though in my mind and beliefs I knew
there was something quite different taking place.
I hadn’t found my voice. Or, more precisely, a strength for expressing
it. And, in turn, learned a lot in the process. Not only were
differences between literal and figurative readings strong, there
was also a more powerful force found in understanding and expressing
your position when siding with one over the other.
two ~ Time provides different views of days gone by
is one good way of considering it. Time moves on. Words lose their
strength, take on new meanings, and may become something stronger.
different way of considering it would be the family… the home…
going back 50 years from today, then another 50, and then another,
and so on while comparing what is believed to be the normal or
standard for society at any of those moments. Look at how similarities
and differences are viewed based on gender, religion, ethnicity,
and the list goes on for quite some time, diving into some very
one generation may view as polite and acceptable may be condemned
and criticized by another. And such reactions can be passionate,
bringing out the strongest of arguments from the head and the
difficult though is to view these differences in their environment.
Certainly some thoughts and actions are not acceptable in a setting
of civilized behavior based on equality and respect. Many though
are more challenging to evaluate from a distance… through a decidedly
different lens. And there are those that wish to rewrite history.
They want to change those words, challenge those actions, and
judge those involved.
three ~ Just because new options are available today doesn’t mean
those having made choices yesterday would change their answers
these days are amazing. And in many ways, we take several major
advancements in cinema for granted. We have color and sound. Basically
unheard of one hundred years ago. But…
they could have, would studios and directors and producers and
creators of motion pictures all that time ago automatically film
in color or add sound if they had such options and their projects
back to do over?
someone selecting plain M&Ms (or peanut) as their favorites
decades ago waver in their devotion if presented with peanut butter,
pretzel, coconut or crispy options?
I set out writing the first essay, I didn’t want to investigate
the underlying… or more specifically, the literal expression
concerning the uses of candy and liquor with regard to the courting
of emotional and physical favor. I wanted to explore the more
figurative possibilities, based more upon the taking of action.
The difficulty? Yeah… well…
is no subtle way, especially with a serious topic, to avoid the
literal when attempting to consider the figurative. In rearview
mirror, the concepts of nice guys finishing last can’t really
work when set up against pouring some drinks. Because in a decent
investigation, there’s balance of thought. A sweet for the sour
would be one way of putting it. Two sides of the whole would be
another. And, you can’t judge a nice guy without establishing
the existence of a bad boy. And once there’s a bad boy, that means
there’s a good behavior and a bad behavior, with good and bad
being interpreted as right and wrong, and once again… as I said
in the essay… we end up with an elephant in the room.
still think the saying is worthy of an attempt at considering
some figurative interpretations. Which brings us to the kicker…
we might need to step back, walk away and not consider them at
all. If the debate is going to involve literal and figurative
points of view facing off, it’s likely there is no win-win to
be found in continuing with the discussion, nor agreeing to disagree.
an attempt to view some sayings… and, by extension the beliefs
of the time… through values established 50, 100, 150 or more years
away from their creation cannot work if you don’t understand that
your vantage point comes with an obstructed view.
few years ago, Terry and I moved into a new house. While setting
things up and unpacking, for this reason and that, there were
some long and exhausting days involved. Easy enough to understand.
entry to the house from the garage involved a set of stairs. These
stairs happened to have a shorter than average rise between each
step. One evening, after a particularly draining day, I went to
make one last run out in the garage. A whole big ball of fun followed.
jump to the ending reveals that we learned where the emergency
room was in our new neighborhood that night. Eleven stitches worth
of a lesson for me. The longer version was pieced together over
the next few days, with a few more trips in and out of the garage
and at least one near miss of tripping again.
I reached the last step, for some reason my sense of place was
telling me I had finished and had a foot on the floor. The half-rise
or such was close enough to give me visual cues that I had completed
moving down. Instead, my next move found my heel catching the
edge of the actual last step, sending me tumbling and crashing
into some 2x4s leaning against the nearby wall.
view… my perspective… wasn’t exactly what I thought. My interpretation
was off. I fell and learned a lesson.
still have the t-shirt I was wearing that night. Washed several
times, it still bears the remains of quite a good amount of blood.
Haven’t worn it. For some reason though, I can’t throw it away
and chuckle when I see it in my dresser drawer. Hard-earned knowledge…
painful lessons… more productive tomorrows.
true dangers involved in what I’m outlining in both of these essays
aren’t really in the content. Closer to the truth is that they’re
found in not properly processing the information available. Awareness…
or, more precisely, the lack of… can send you tumbling and crashing.
Depending on the situation involved, it could be more painful
than some 2x4s and a trip for stitches.
suppose it’s up to you to decide what to do with the lesson.