Monday, December 14, 2009
Find the Wheel by Martin Heavisides
Frequently when writers tell stories in unconventional ways--which may be defined as "ways a particular reader is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with"--they are accused of trying to reinvent the wheel. My reply to this has always been:
Telling a story is a completely different kettle of fish from reinventing the wheel. They're horses of a different stripe, and so's a zebra. Some scientists maintain an ostrich is a giraffe of a different neck but I'm not altogether persuaded this reasoning is sound. We're on safer ground I'd say, maintaining that the correct shape of a wheel, for maximum effectiveness, is round and the same might be said, in a way, of the palindrome. But is palindromic invariably the correct shape of a story? It would certainly cut down the size of the slush piles.
Very few fish, while we're on the subject, are round, and to the best of my knowledge at least, no Kentucky Derby winners. Tigers aren't especially round, nor are they horses of a different stripe, though I suppose there are some who might disagree. To convince themselves that this is wrong, I recommend they try saddling a Siamese. (There are obvious arguments against saddling a tiger.) Then again I've never been accused of trying to reinvent the tiger--why is that do you suppose?
Not that I'm looking to take on the project. I don't think I have a single idea that would be a real improvement on the current design, and anyway it's inadvisable for me--I always get too close to my work.
People are rarely round, especially in North--wait a minute, I'd better rethink that one.
Trees embody roundness as a dynamic component of their form, maybe I could reinvent the tree. What would a story look like if it looked like a tree? It's true that a printed book has leaves. . .
Maybe I could reinvent the shaggy dog. True, a certain number of readers are allergic, but who imagines it's possible to please everybody? Did you ever hear of a book with a sold out print run of six billion copies, or even close?
I'm not sure what my point is--then again if this is a wheel, why should it have a point? Actually it would have an infinite number of points (doesn't sound possible I know, but it's true--an infinite number, count 'em up yourself if you don't believe me). That sounds like a lot of points but none of them is the point, since they can't be (successively or predecessively) distinguished from each other. So, fine, I have no point--I should presume to reinvent the wheel? Make it square with clearcut corners that each come to a point, that would cut down on functionality some. But does a story have a function? Have to think about that one. Organize a multi-participant debate. Does anybody know who you'd contact to. . . ?
Posted by Gabriel Orgrease at 1:02 AM