The Is that will become Was

All that is now, is become was. By the time the now that I am describing has gotten into my eyes & ears, wormed its way through my brain and mind and found its way through my fingers into the www it has become the past. My now, has already become your then. Even if I write about the sound of the keys going up and down, it is still past and has passed.

How can I reconcile the immediacy I feel about the things I’m doing now, with the sense that it is slipping away into oblivion (or a dim flicker of memory to be evoked dimly at some future time)? How can I capture the now now, without feeling that the only thing remaining in the cage is old now?

And if I can’t even keep the now fresh then how much more difficult is it to dredge up a feeling or thought from my youth in order to show it off brightly? Impossible?

But what are we talking about here? Are we really wanting to record things as they are? Or are we wanting to make something better? Fiction is not fact and memory is not the same as the construction of a memory from the things we have in our minds now.

Today adds a layer of jam to the bare bread of yesterday’s memory. The things we know now are bigger and better than what we knew then. We learn, we grow and we generate more from the less that was.

Write me a fiction based on the contents of the last evening you spent alone in your house, apartment or room.

What are you going to tell me?

About the numb death of the two hours (yes, we both know it was closer to four) you spent in front of the TV? Or will you describe, in technicolor or otherwise, the three times you went to the toilet? Perhaps you will tell me about the four times you went to the cupboard or fridge to fetch more snacks? And yes, we both know that neither of us want to remember the time you spent picking dead skin from your toes or dry bogies from your nose or fresh lint from your clothes; so we’ll not go there.

Or instead will you tell me about the high points; the things that stand out in your mind? And will it be something real, or something you’ll embellish and polish up so that it’s brighter than real?

Life is not dull other than when we think (and tell) it so.

It’s your choice.
Tell me what you will.
I won’t judge.

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Inflatable Spectators

Sat in the airport waiting room in front of a TV that’s showing Australian women’s cricket. Judging by all the empty seats around the stadium there are probably more people watching it here in the airport than live and direct.

Seems a pity that sportspeople should put in all that effort for such little support, so here’s my idea: blow-up fans.

This could work for any spectator sport but I’m thinking of English football where the crowds are very often less than the stadium’s capacity; particularly if it’s a mid-table clash on a dreary Tuesday evening in the depths of winter.

Here’s how it would work: if there is no-one sitting in a space at kick-off, a hatch opens in the base of the seat, an air-pump kicks into life and inflates a life-size football fan, complete with scarf and shirt in the appropriate colours.

And here’s the clever part: each fake fan is fitted with a feedback mechanism. Microphones picks up the sound of the crowd and AI filters that noise for chants and songs. If something appropriate is detected, individual speakers mounted in the head of each rubber doll play back that chant in complete harmony with the crowd.

This, if course would lift the team on the pitch and they would respond by scoring more goals and winning a greater number of matches.

What do you think; is this the future of spectator sport? Mindless dummies in every seat singing their cold hearts out for something that ultimately means nothing to them?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address (the comment box below) please.

Awash

I’m awash with myself. I ooze out of every pore. The very body is composed of parts of me in various lumps and dilutions.

I cannot help but help this fruit to flow. This prose. This effulgent effluence. I won’t stop it, nor do I wish to.

Embrace me or throw me away. It matters not. Only accept this: that I am me and will express myself so.

Time in Novels

I read extracts from the following:

  • Octavia E. Butler, Kindred  (2014 [1979]) – the part where the heroine of the story goes back in time for the first time, saves a child from drowning, resuscitates him, has a gun pointed at her face and then travels back to the future.
  • Kate Atkinson, Life After Life (2013) – the part, set in 1910, where the baby is born, dies and is saved when the doctor arrives just in time.

Then I thought about the way that they undermine conventional time.

  • What is surprising about the way they are structured?
    K surprises because it is not just memory that travels to a previous time, but the actual person themselves. And not as a younger person to a previous part of their lifetime, but as the same aged person to a time before their life began.
    From the evidence of this extract, LAL does not have a surprising structure. It is a straightforward historical drama written in modern-day language such that it could be a contemporary story. Did I miss something? What’s innovative is the description of the birth. Very poetical and a little (nicely) disjointed. There are several components to the way time is handled: it’s set a century ago, time passes in the extract, the doctor is late and there are a few brief flashbacks.
  • Does it make it more challenging to suspend disbelief?
    The way in which K takes us back to a previous time is not challenging because it is described realistically. Although the device used to take the character back is not revealed, the experience seems to be grounded in reality somehow. Plus, there have been other similar books (The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and various Science Fiction stories) and so the ground has already been prepared.
    I don’t recall having to suspend belief for LAL. Again, did I miss something? It’s just history as fiction as history.
  • What possibilities do these devices open up for the writers?
    The device in K for manipulating time makes it possible for writers to range freely over all of time without worrying about the mechanics of the act. They allow characters the freedom to travel through time.
    For LAL: what device?!
  • Are there elements that you think might be problematic, or that you as a writer would find challenging to achieve?
    Regarding K, the problematic aspect is handling, realistically, the reaction of characters finding themselves, unexpectedly, in other times. They are going to be disoriented and so how can this be described uniquely for each new character undergoing the journey without turning it into a cliché?
    The extract of LAL does not seem to give an indication of what is happening in the rest of the book. I’m guessing, from the title (Life After Life) that this person/soul is born again and again into different lives/bodies and that is the point of the book. Sounds suspiciously like reincarnation to me, which, for a good part of the world, is the accepted idea of what happens when you die. As such, how is this problematic?