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31 October 2011

I progress as I digress

I'll be writing more on this topic later, especially as it involves writing about sex, but I wanted to make an observation on something I find important: digression.  That is, I find things more entertaining, more illuminating, the more digressive they are (up to a point).  I'm just going to use an example from that crappy novel I'm reworking before I send it off to meet its fate.  Option A is a simple statement of what might happen at that moment when you look at someone and 'connect.'

We looked at each other and all of the walls between us came down.

Now, this is crap.  It is crap initially because it is a cliché, and also because it tells you something without letting you experience it.  Digressions can be ways of thinking.  Now, option B is a digression, though it is hampered by my skill as a writer.  Stil, it is more interesting than option A.

In that moment when her eyes met mine, the complete mystery of her background, of her lineage and personal history, of the contradictions she herself encouraged, dropped away and she was – there is no more certain way to put this – translated for me.  She was no longer descended from soccer star progenitors or revolutionaries.  The memory of the grace of her previous turn and farewell receded.  I could see in her another place, a place existing far away, a large house in a lush climate, columned front porches, hot late afternoons, and lemonade, men with well-trimmed beards wearing seersucker suits and sitting on dark-wood chairs in the shade of the porch, talking business and laughing, and women inside talking to each other, fanning themselves, their voices less exuberant but more knowledgeable than the voices of the men, each one glancing out onto the porch occasionally, looking at their husband, or at the other husbands, and moving among these women in their lace and dresses, almost unnoticed, a little girl with black curls and black eyes, with childhood innocence, which is temporary and always close to dangerous extinction from the inconsiderate adult world in which children must survive, a girl as intelligent as the adults, but clothed in the hopes of the unknown future.  This girl was also watching the men outside, especially her father, the man in the largest of the chairs, the man who owned this porch and this grand house and who, every Sunday after the little girl returned from Mass, took her by the hand and walked with her, singing old ballads to her, or whistling snippets of waltzes as he hopped and trotted, laughing as he missed a note, and laughing harder as she laughed too, her little feet trying to copy his in dance.  The little girl watched her father on the porch, and all of the disappointments of life, the compromises one makes with the world and with oneself, the observation of the falling from grace which is the lot of every parent, even those who are in some way forever idealized, and which every child experiences in some way…all of these minor catastrophes were still unformed, perhaps avoidable, and yet inevitable.  I have since come to know Maria’s story, and so I am sure I did not really see all of this, but I did yet see some of it.  And at this moment, I also ceased thinking of the woman I had seen go to her death on the bridge, and thought only of the woman before me.  Maria looked tired, but I saw something of my future in her, either a brief future in my bed or, perhaps a more distant future, which is what it has become.  I hastened my steps as I crossed the street.
But, I digress.

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