Monday, June 2, 2014

Thoughts on Writing (An Introduction to Imaginary Friends - Part I.)

Editor's note:
Yes, this is the introduction and work statement that accompanies Imaginary Friends. I am leaving comments open on both the posts that unfold this poem and the individual chapters of the novel, and I invite my readers to conduct a conversation relating the information in the narrative to the expression of the structure in these verses.

I also want to take a moment to spell out dedications:

The italicized segment at the beginning is for Ariane Zurcher, her husband Richard, and their daughter Emma. It was written in the crossroads between my ability to model NT speech and my true feeling, and I hope that it aids in the translation between my book and my meaning.

“Culture Sculpture” is for Amy Sequenzia and Judy Endow, who are both responsible for the mess of phonetic stimming that is my activist poetry. The way they speak, in verse and on screen, against the treatment of our siblings in bad situations is inspiring to me, and I attempted to have a talk that reflects what I have learned about language accessibility from both our conversations and their writings.

“Standard Model” is for Ibby Grace, Kerima Cevik, Melanie Yergeau, and Nicole Nicholson, who are all people who challenged me to find new metaphors that provide an understanding of my way of being to people whose methods of cognition are not necessarily like mine, whether that is because of personal taste, education, race, social class, religion, gender, or for any other reason. I will admit now that it was the section written with the most love. You will be able to read it on Tuesday.

“Sense Information as a Superfluid Movement” and “Look for our communications if you want us to bother with your language.” will post Wednesday. “Sense Information” is for Nick Walker and Kassiane Sibley, who remind me constantly of the relationship between my mental health and my physical being. I would not be able to regulate my body well enough to communicate what I really mean if I did not have their constant motion creating tidal forces to modify my trajectory. “Look for our communications.” is for Alyssa Hillary, the person I know who most exemplifies what should be meant by people who use the term “self-advocate ACTIVIST.”

“Poetry as Scaffolding” and “Narrative, Literacy, and cross-Cultural communicating” will post Thursday. “Poetry as Scaffolding” is for Zach Richter, whose challenges to my communications as I have been writing have been both necessary and exciting, because they underscore the importance of the entire project of this book and its associated discourse verse. “Narrative, Literacy, and...” is dedicated to myself, because I have painted my way into a corner in a wonderfully stimulating room and I need something explicit to code switch out of it so I can write prose again. Please read it as a moment of personal reflection and transformation.

Then, on Friday, Imaginary Friends begins.

Thoughts on writing... (An Introduction)

This is a scaffolding between covalent states of existence, a transdimensional narrative represented in an unrepresentational medium, and a series of middle school graph paper drawings of four-dimensional logical equivalents to cubes.

It is my tesseract tract. A verbal version of a speed metal guitar solo. A stim that begins with the impulse to define the phrase “to know.”

What follows is a work statement,
a clarification of my methods and motivations
delivered with dedication
and the intention of clearing the air
in advance of any audience-driven misperceptions
about what the actions of one Autistic character
reveal about my attitude toward myself or my parents.

Clay Dillon is not one thing,
not a stand-in,
not a safe place for me
to re-tell my autobiography.

He's dangerous, because he's so wounded
yet so identifiable to all of us,
and at any moment he might divest himself
of any hope that his existence
will get more tolerable.

To tell his story is hell,
and I would do well to stop doing it,
but I can't, because
he is a pattern in the fabric of existence
that keeps emerging
due to the physics of a language
that excludes his cognition
from meaningfulness
and participation.

All I can do is clear the air,
explain that the words are not the only argument,
and hope that my readers
are able to use these words
as building blocks
to construct 
my nonverbal communcation
from an intangible mass of context,
emotion, presence, and essence.

If you can't do this, then you might enjoy the tale,
but you will never understand it.

It is the same story told over again and again from many angles
to illuminate the gaps in the visible surface of each of the others,
to use metaphors for different audiences,
to represent a series of interlocking subcultures.

It creates meaning in what the medium isn't showing.

It's the reunification of the elephant the old men were feeling,
but it's still rendered incompletely
because of the gaps
in the meaning
of the meaning.

This message, unlike what comes after it, 
is understandable only for what it's not showing.

Do you understand me?

The knowledge I seek to unpack is not new,
it is merely an extrusion
of an idea that has spent history
itself into existence.

Right about now, you should let yourself perceive
all the things that the word “spell” means,
because the phenomenon I'm describing
is what magic is the folk metaphor for doing.

Every verse that follows is the same as this one,
but you shouldn't notice the repetition.

I. Culture Sculpture (Antiquing for fashionable old-new narratives)

It perplexes me that the first
persuasive language I remember
from back when I was a child
was something we don't actually fit in
to the rhetoric triangle—
it was a fable—
and I'm thinking we need to expand that traditional triangle
into three dimensions and regard it more like a four legged table,
with a surface
we can use to lay out each other's ideas
and examine them objectively
in accessible language
for everyone to read.

Instead of treating the mythic like an accessory,
we could be relying on its support openly,
because it is an inherent property
of our communication process,
so (LOL) in theory,
it's already influencing
the selection of your evidence
in every goddamn study,
and a new model of
rhetorical structure
could provide access to
the internal criticism
we need
to check our assumptions
against our culture
before publishing results that require
resources better spent elsewhere
to be deployed against
our unfortunate misconceptions.

It would be best if, instead,
we grounded our
canonization of the mythic
in the fundamental truth
that pastors and professors keep impressing on the public
and getting frustrated by
because they can't get it to stick.

There's a reason that both
rock n' roll poetry
and hip hop lyrics
rose as methods by which
the lay public
accomplished the transmission
of identity, philosophy, morality,
and a shared narrative.

It's because the sensory aspects
of constructing language
are a part and parcel of constructing
the core message,
an idea that advertising has run with,
but which is disdained
(to great personal disadvantage)
within most academic discourses.

So I guess this rhetorical triangle
in three dimensions
that turned into a work surface
is more of a classic antique,
maybe it's gate-legged:
an unwieldy structure to be sure,
but eminent in the way it accents
any setting's elegance.

To recap:
A communication's complete composition
incorporates both rhetoric and poetics
within an identifiable begin-middle-
end mythic structure
in a super-balance
that requires
(to discuss it most advantageously)
that we
would fold these aspects back
on top of one another like prime movers,
outgrowing Aristotle,
who made a priori divisions unnecessarily
and without regard to a skeptical method
in his construction of models to test
crass assumptions (I mean theories).

<sarcasm>One has to wonder what classical philosophy would be
if the Greeks had invented the technology
to call out straw men and cherry picking.</sarcasm>

The balance between these forces is all relative,
but to explicate their interaction advantageously,
we first start back at the original triangle.

Next: "Standard Model".

Interested in supporting Shaping Clay? Click here for subscription information.