Friday, September 01, 2006

Glah, I feel slug-like to-day. But I got to the bottom of one mystery; the past couple days, I've felt curiously unfocused, as though I was lacking sleep, even though I was sure I'd gotten a solid eight hours each day. But as I was awakened by the arrhythmic pounding from upstairs this morning, I realised it was my grandmothers workmen each day waking me early, but for some reason my bleary morning proto-brain thought I was waking up because I wasn't tired anymore. I confirmed this by noticing I was starting to fall asleep in between rounds of hammer strikes. Yes, I know this ought to have been obvious to me.

And yesterday was Thursday, which didn't help matters. I went to Starbucks and read Sonya's "Nights with Belilah". It was a good, sexy, mysterious story about a guy named Theo who sees a girl named Clarity at a party and becomes a bit infatuated. Also there's some interesting stuff about a girl in a mirror. Maybe a fetch? I don't always catch all the mythological allusions Sonya makes. I sure wish I did. I'm not even sure "fetch" is the right word for what I think it is--I'm drawing on Dungeons and Dragons experience there, as in that game world a fetch was a sort of apparition that lives in mirrors.

Anyway, it was another example of Sonya's fine ability to craft mood and a narrative of emotions with words, in this case charting Theo being somewhat broken by his attraction to this removed female entity. It almost seemed like an exploration of intimacy found through remoteness. I must say I found Theo adorable, though, maybe more adorable than was intended, because he kind of reminded me of Harima Kenji in School Rumble.

To-day in her journal, Caitlin was saying, "My approach to plot has always been haphazard. I don't see plot in the world, in life, and so I am very reluctant to impose it upon my novels. Maybe this is some holdover from my years as a paleontologist, but I am very leery of mistaking actual patterns for patterns that are illusory and vice versa. Most plot is a sort of illusory hindsight, weeding out everything that actually happened and choosing to make a story from the bits that interest us. Synoptic history, I call it. I'm sure it's why I've had to deal with so many 'what happened?' complaints. I have always preferred to leave many of the 'what happened?' and 'why?' and 'how?' questions to the minds of my readers, while I concentrated, instead, on giving them real people and places and mood and atmosphere and subtext. I tend to want my books to unfold by the gradual accumulation of happenstance, the consequences of cause and effect, rather than by following some preordained plot."

I was sort of thinking along similar lines while reading "Nights with Belilah" yesterday. I think another way to put it would be to say that these writers are more concerned with most with what's happening now than with what's happening next. I noticed I kept reading not because I was interested in what was going to become of Theo, but because the writing was good and I wanted more good writing to read. There's something poetic about it. It's less like a melody and more like a series of related paintings in a gallery.

I suppose I oughta get working on my comic to-day before I lose all ability to be coherent. I want to say I finally got the new Double Indemnity DVD yesterday, though, which I watched despite being exhausted. It was wonderful seeing it without the filter of smooshy grey block pixels found on the bootleg copy from China I've had to subsist on until now. Those wonderful black shadows, bright shafts of light, and Mrs. Dietrichson's "honey of an anklet." Not to mention Billy Wilder's instinct with the camera and Raymond Chandler's excellent writing. I love the progression of the "down the line" simile. It starts off as plain as that, possibly referring to a line of anything. But as the movie continues, circumstances and the characters' subconscious slowly seem to mould the phrase to mean a trolley or train on a track, eventually reaching a cemetery and death. The mind of the movie seems to put it together like a person would.

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