Thursday, June 17, 2010

Things I Think About

I think about what it would feel like to take some jagged piece of metal, perhaps the inner lip of a soda can, and rub it around on the bottoms of my top teeth, letting the spaces between bones and gums brush up against the destruction of the can.  Would bone powder scrape off? 

I think about how it would feel if the city bus hit me.  Would I go flying backwards or would I get squashed under it, perhaps being dragged a bit down the unforgiving asphalt until the bus driver stops.  Or mayhap I'd get stuck in the grill, mangled and twisted.

I think about about my personal limits, how far I'd go in order to do something or experience something.  How can I accurately describe something that I've not endured?  The best I can do is guess.  But how accurate is the guess?  How accurate does it need to be?

I think about blood.  It makes me sick, seeing the red liquid of life pouring from our fragile bodies.  Guts splayed open, purple and blue and white.  Flesh carved, slender grooves or wide scars.  I can't begin to imagine seeing it in real life, working as a surgeon or a serial killer or a hematologist.

I think about how bad it would hurt to cut off a finger with a pair of scissors, or cut that little piece of paper-thin flesh beneath my tongue.  Would the pain be numbing or would it result in extreme anguish?  Would I pass out?  It would only take a second to find out.

How can a writer write about something he's unfamiliar with?  If he describes a small rural town in central Nebraska that happens to exist but he's never seen it, invariably he's going to do it injustice.  Someone will be offended.  So if he describes a kidnapping or a murder or adultery, and he's never experienced these things, then he's going to miss the nuances in the emotions.  Inevitably, someone will be offended.

I think about pain, how feeling it brings out the life in us.  The sore on my hand that hurts when I press it, yet for some reason I press it over and over again.  Is something that hurts me different from something that hurts you?  Does a scratch here feel good to me, but on you causes a grimace?  And the people who feel no pain, physical or emotional, are they even human?

I think about love, how something so simple can even exist in our world.  It's desired by all, but many are so hesitant to give and share it that the world is full of people searching for an unfound treasure.  I found it.  I cling to it every day of my life.  But I share it, too.  With anyone that'll have it.

I think about the flotsam and jetsam and lagan and derelicts in life.  How many people have been abandoned, cast away and left floating in the mire of the world?  How many promises have been broken?  Lies told?  Hopes dashed and stomped to the ground?  Who gets stuck with all these broken people?  What do they become?

Imagination is the key, I suppose.  An writer mayn't have lived through things he writes about, but that does not stop him from trying to capture it.  An artist mayn't know what love is, but can paint a picture that captures its essence to someone else.  Perception is a strong thing.  Truly, without the experiences, it's all guesswork; some may be spot-on, and others could be completely wrong.  We are, after all, a rather unpredictable lot.


Angie said...

A very interesting post. Very powerful. I think you're right. We can never really know those things we haven't experienced, but we can try. That's one of the great things about writing.

Crystal said...

I enjoyed your musings today. I've often wondered some of the same things as you about the inspiration of authors and where they get their perspective.

If you ever want to know what it feels like to get your hand cut by a chainsaw, I can tell you all about it.

Jay Belt said...

And yet interestingly enough, even if you lived in that small Nebraska town, you could write about it and still miss details which would offend. Perspective is something never universally shared.

This is a wonderful and thought stimulating post.

logankstewart said...

@Angie: Yes, definitely a great thing about writing. Thanks for stopping by.

@Crystal: Wow, you got your hand cut by a chainsaw? I hope it wasn't serious.

@Jay: Quite true. People are just too dang offendable. Thanks for reading.