Friday, May 6, 2016

Conveying presence without excitement

When I first joined Twitter, I got messages from them to just write a bit about what was happening.  Right now, I am sitting at my keyboard typing.  Should I post a tweet of the underlined words?  Should I make a blog post of them?  Should I send an email of them?  Some friends especially like text messages but some don't.

I am surprised at how hard it is to write something mundane, everyday, ordinary, something normally beneath notice. The teacher in me, the male in me, the journalist in me, the modern storyteller and conversationalist, the consumer in me - all five or six or more of us are most reluctant, scared even, to say what we are doing and what we are experiencing.

I was impressed by this New Yorker cartoon when I first saw it and I still am:

It depicted just what the Twitter prompts advised.  "Write what is happening!"  Truth is, I can't.  I don't know what is happening, even in my own body.  I don't really know what is going on in the "back of my mind".  Besides, what I do notice lacks verve.  It lacks a story structure.  If I am going to make a comment in speech or in writing, it should have a point, a purpose, a bite, some pep.  I can't just say that I walked around the neighborhood with my wife and a friend.  I have a habit, an impulse, some training and an intuition that I need to say we saw a black bear on the walk, except we didn't.  How about an eagle?  Nope.

If you want to experience the difficulty of depicting most places and times without the aid of excitement, climax or dramatic tension, try using Periscope or Meerkat or Zoom.  They are apps that let you broadcast your present location and activity out onto the internet.  Here in the US, most people have had a lifetime of tv.  News, "reality tv" or stories are well within our experience.  So the very thought of sitting in a chair in your living room, looking into the camera on your computer or phone or tablet is appalling.  Suppose someone happens to connect up and sees you just sitting there?  We know from tv that in the next moment a shot should ring out or a vase crash on the floor.  At the very least, we should hear a scream somewhere.  But during this entire writing, no shots, no crash, no scream.  

I won't apologize for the quiet.  I recommend you try to expect it.  It is like that most of the time.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
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Twitter: @olderkirby

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