Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Future as meta-for

An old friend from high school asked for my help. He was assembling a basketball goal for his son, and was stumped in the process. When I thought about what was being asked of me, it made me ponder on high school again, and all those holiday seasons before that. I had spent most of my time indoors, going outside only to play with toys. Not build them. But the fresh experiences did not stop there. I never realized it consciously, but whenever I'm confronted with a pile of parts, and the picture of a finished product, I constantly examine how each bit forms into that whole. Basketball goals are made from an unexpected number of mysterious shaped pieces.

While working, and sometimes cursing, I thought about my next story. It's about time to start taking down notes lest I lose ideas I've worked on. I claim to be a character-driven writer, yet this story, just like the last one, seems to have artifice as a main part also. It'll be another future telling, as many of my shorter things are, and it's a task I try to take very seriously. No one can know the future, after all, the strange, mercurial continuum that it is. I read somewhere once that science's job is to make true what art aspires. Or maybe I just made that up (been doing that a lot lately, and it terrifies me). Technological advancement isn't linear though; it's exponential. Fifty years ago, authors wrote about the 80s and 90s. Movies made during those decades made claims about how things would be by now. The gap is collapsing. I guess what I'm trying to do is widen it some.

The novel is coming along in stops and starts as well. Like a car with a bad starter, it was frozen out during the editing frenzy that occurred in late fall. Since trying to crank it back up, I've had to pop the hood and peer and poke at things. Recharge the battery. Put more air in the tires. It isn't beyond salvageable. It isn't back up to its racing form just yet either.

I can't recall (but the internet can; another shudder) what I was up to this time last year. If I had to guess, I was probably trying to avoid making grandiose claims about what 2012 would bring, and how 2011 had been. I'd like to think I was sticking to my years long model of getting better, wiser, stronger at every page turn of the calendar. I took some steps backward, but I honestly believe my net displacement is beyond where I started. Much like my friend back in high school, I'm not who I was. I've visited him again since that frosty day of labor outdoors, and our creation is still standing. A ten foot tall declaration.

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