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Second Sitting

I have delineated a chapter break at this point for those of you that go for that sort of thing, but I warn you that the "break" in question is/was very short, and should you cease reading to sleep, or fetch a cheese sandwich, or whatnot, the text will probably have already started again by the time you return. I realize this information may be coming too late, as the "break" has already occurred, so I will by way of reparation encourage you to be disappointed and weep.

This weeping issue brings to mind questions of structure, and does so in such a way as to leave the mind ignorant as to the nature of the bringing agent, arming it only with a clue of a hunch of a notion that the agent is not very nice. To delineate a structure appropriate to the subject or essence of this tripe (i.e., tripe), one must know this essence or subject up close and personal (note the word "personal" as indicating the onset of a personal tone), which in turn can happen by looking closely at its corresponding appropriate structure. The opacity of my writing style at this point means I doan' like you. Deal.

Here's a hint: despite popular suggestion, this book is not a Choose Your Own Adventure(TM), as you get too much of that in real life, which is scary (or so I have been told). If you would like this book to be a Choose Your Own Adventure(TM), please turn to page 48 and read the passage about mucus. (Imaginative readers may wish to imagine that there is some mention of mucus on page 48.)

This book is also not a limerick, because it is too long, and the rhymes aren't in exactly the right places. It is at least not a limerick about anything that a limerick should properly be about, so it's not a proper limerick.

The reader should now be aching in anticipation of the resolution of this mystery, provided he/she can actually figure out what the mystery is, and provided he/she cares, which he/she, as pronounal hermaphrodite, should.

The sense of "should" here is not so much predictive, as in "it's 2:00 pm, so I predict Mr. Rogers should be sloshed by now," as normative, as in "It's a Saturday night, so by divine law Mr. Rogers should be sloshed." Caring about nifty knowledge (like, say, about structure) holds this status of law for the pronounal hermaphrodite because, well, hey, if I were a he/she I'd be saying "What the hell? What sex am I?" because we Americans must be gender conscious so as to know whether to carry a Y-chromosome carriers' card or not. This "must" is not so much a descriptive must as in "You must be Telly Savalos," but likewise a normative must as in "You simply must be Telly Savalos; it's all the rage."

The antiquated phrase "all the rage" is appropriate (or at least nifty) here because studies show that antiquated things are very old, and rage is about as old as the first muffin, though noticeably less stale. Also, antiquated things may occasionally and accidentally be wise. This is a secret, and to know it, you must have paid money for this book, or at least wasted time reading it. Thank you.

The preceding is not random tripe. Well, it is, but it is not just random tripe, in that it conveys some of the sense of the structure of random tripe. Remember what I said about free association? (Imaginative readers may wish to imagine that I have previously said something about free association.) Well, the structure has something to do with free association, with the apparently non-sequitur like say kisses and hairballs and profuse vomiting, because it is some feature of a nasty childhood experience or the universal unconscious (say an inherited memory of some nasty early species experience, probably about you) that these things are in fact sequitur, or at least groovy.

This is obviously a fairly specific kind of free association, as free association in general, unlike tripe, provides entirely the basis for all things artistic or humorous or otherwise creative. For instance, Charles G. Morris in Psychology, an Introduction (7th edition, 1990, p. 324) says that "One of the most widely used creativity tests, Medick's (1962) Remote Associations Test (RAT), asks the subject to produce a single verbal response that relates to a set of three apparently unrelated words. For example, the three stimulus words might be poke, go, and molasses. A desirable response -- although not the only possible one -- relates them through the word slow: slow-poke, go slow, slow as molasses. Arriving at such responses is not easy, especially since the stimulus words have no apparent connection to one another." I might also say this at some point, but only if it seems dramatically effective, or at least nifty. I certainly won't say it using that font. What Charlie is saying is that creativity is slow in a rich variety of ways, and he should know, because he has written a very long book, comprised of 651 pages plus tripe. Elsewhere in that voluminous volume, on say page 286, is a discussion of schizophrenic language: "Schizophrenic thought appears to be highly illogical, and it often goes off on unpredictable and disconnected tangents... e.g. `I always liked geography. My last teacher in that subject was professor August A. He was a man with black eyes, and other sorts too. I have heard it said that snakes have green eyes.' Each sentence seems to lead to the next, but there is no overall structure to the line of thinking; one idea leads to another by means of loose associations, and the verbal expression reflects this disorder... An... more... is... apparently unconnected... with the... like infant babbling... others emphasize the fact that there is a structure... the words are connected to one another..., similar in many ways to normal slips of the tongue... the task... becomes one of explaining why... the person suffering from schizophrenia is unable (or unwilling) to censor these associations...."

So being creative and being loony in a certain sort of way are bees in the same ballpark, ya? If I am to write a symphony that is not just an inane copy of some other symphony, I've got to pull together a lot of experiences of a lot of symphonies, figure out the ways in which they differ, abstract from these to figure the range of possibilities for musical material that can be considered symphonic and strategies for producing such material, and apply this to whatever theme or expression or whatever I want to use for this particular work.

So what I essentially do, or feel myself to be doing, is starting with a few notes and a fragment of an idea and "letting it flow" as I subconsciously combine and associate like freaking mad. If I am freaking mad, the same thing happens, except that I've neglected to set an actual artistic (or otherwise) task for myself.

No, my itty bitty children cohorts, don't you back away and pretend that there is any barrier keeping you from flipping off for any amount of time into loony land. It's true that mental illness is illness, i.e. the presence of some biological infirmity, but the brain is a silly and wily creature with the lumps to prove it... According to some film I (as writing person, not narrative persona) saw in a biological psychology class I once took, the brain patterns which show up in a clinically depressed person are exactly the same ones that show up when you think of your X and how happy you two used to be before things just got all weird... The difference is only that Mr. Nutcase stays that way and you (probably) don't.

Here's a brain-law: if you use a portion a lot, it will get big and strong; if you don't, it does not (thus the psychiatric term "shrink"). So if you practice yo-yoing enough, that part of your motor cortex responsible for "walking the dog" gets buxom. This doesn't "just happen," of course; there are lots of chemicals and little gnomey guys and rubber bands moving and shaping everything, but there is a big link -- causal and correlational -- to what goes on in consciousness. This means that sometimes, if you act crazy enough, you become crazy... by the same process that makes people with the will to live more able to smash their cancers and makes folks with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be healed on game shows until they die on the bus home as it hits someone who successfully killed off the voice of tripe within him and/or her, thus restoring the balance of nature on two counts.

If this subject actually interests you, I suggest you read something real... reading opens up a rainbow of fantabulous colorful ideas, okay? My point is merely that you're two steps from the edge at all times, and though you may never jump off, the force that keeps you from doing so is on par with whatever it is that makes some Kids just hate any food that is the least bit endowed with a bluish tint. No, we don't really understand any of it (and not because it is "beyond the limits of human comprehension," but merely because we, meaning those of us who know stuff, are sort of dim), but these distinctions between people are not the sorts of things to adequately provide the themes and criteria for elite social clubs. This means generally that if you have ever used the word "weird" to describe things you have no wish to understand, you are a sorely deluded and messed-up puppy.

...But I suspect you realize this, for you are, after all, still reading tripe, still listening to your internal tripery, or tripe-o-matic, which is wishing this text would return to being at least somewhat funny.

And so here we are, consciously and willingly reading and writing tripe, because there is something sort of appealing in the trappings of what dummos call insanity, especially if it sounds to us like we're telling our chemicals what to do and not vice versa.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]