Lately my curiosity has drifted towards abstract designs through the venue of storytelling and creative non-fiction. After all, what is image without meaning? And what purpose does storytelling serve if not to create symbol for abstract thought? This is often called theme or moral lesson, yet maybe there is more to it. Maybe there is an aspect of storytelling that is so complex and so abstract we don’t even have a word for it. Maybe even the shallowest yarn can have a deep meaning that, while escaping the conscious mind, cannot avoid being absorbed by the sub-conscious mind. Anything that can affect the sub-conscious mind is a dangerous tool.
Not that I am against a good old fashioned philosophical rant to break up the monotony of fiction (see Melville, Steinbeck, Hemingway, et cetera). These are thrilling to read. These are deep gems I mine up from the dark earth and show them to the world. That’s a good analogy, mining the depths of literature for brilliant gems of wisdom. Of course, the analogy continues. What good is a gem but something pretty to look at? And when it ceases to sparkle it’s no more than an expensive paper weight without application.
Something can be taken away from a story (as mentioned earlier) no matter how shallow the theme. And wisdom is best ingested in subtle bites, like slipping a pill into a dog’s treat, or a virtue within a good story. The medicine is hard to swallow. We connect that thought with the memory of the past, the nasty spoonful of something that was meant to taste like grapes but tasted more like the bottom of a pharmacist’s shoes.
And so is wisdom. Wisdom isn’t fun. It's too much like discipline and discipline is never fun no matter how good it is for us. And so we use stories like dog treats. And good authors, wise authors, inject medicine into our treats.
Authors are doctors of wisdom with no accountability regarding theme, virtue or sound philosophy. We need a Hippocratic oath! Perhaps once there was such an oath; the religious critics of righteousness and secular critics of unassailable logic. Yet the acceptance of subjectivism has caused so many schisms in the moral fiber of the literary evaluators that they lack any kind of amalgamation of virtuous ethos.
Wow, that sounded all scholar-like. How’s this? We can no longer decide what is right and wrong and therefore there is no right and wrong therefore evil prevails. Through story after story, this collective erroneous philosophy and wicked virtue seeps into our society. Thus, as writers we can only be fighting for the return to virtue or playing fiddle while Rome burns and laughing maniacally. The Jedi or the Sith Lord, you decide.
I can’t expect anyone to believe this. I am reduced to a quack with an “End of the World” sign wrapped around my neck. I’m just a bit of color in drab world, too low brow for the nobles, and too high brow for the prots. I’m looking for a place in line to stand only to discover no one wants me there, not if I plan on complaining the whole time, at any rate.
Complaining? I don’t know how to do anything else, sorry.
-D. Gage (i.e. Nosmo)