Monday, 25 May 2009

A full circle, drawn in the day. Sing it out, free will does not exist within the novel. Within the novel, free will cannot exist. Coherency of character, linearity of plot, formality of structure - whether these hierarchies are emphasised through adherence or absence, it matters not. The printed page cannot rise up, a novel is a novel. Tautologies abound.

So an illusion is created then, one of choice and volition on the first page of a novel. What emergentist philosophies can be drawn from my own simple act of ink against paper? As I sit to write once more, too freely distracted as always by voices rising from the courtyard below, by sunlight playing across the windows opposite, is there a need to be aware of the silent constraints that govern all writing? Must I imbue what I have written thus far towards my novel with a sense of the determinism that necessarily obstructs it?

Indeed, there are those that do not believe I am writing at all. Was it not at the record store, in the small concert venue at the back full of homemade lampshades, rubber-plants and tired sofas where I was approached? Certainly it is not the first time that I have been questioned on motivation, talent, production. And all with reason: this is barely writing, this is barely a life. What a nice project, I was told, to write about writing a novel that you are not, actually, writing.

Regardless, the rules in the work (novel if you will it to exist) are defined, the plot resting as it does on the discovery of two photographs. Nothing can be done to these photographs - they are developed from negative, there is never any question of their validity, the innocence of the photographer is taken as a gospel of circumstance. But within these frames, something stirs. The parameters of the photograph, the scenes depicted, the places represented, the people portrayed simply just exist. But the investigations that surround what these photographs depict provide an illusion of parallels, of many worlds.

Without the protagonist's narrative thread, the relationship between the photographs exists coincidentally only. The behaviour that emerges within and around these photographs holds an unpredictability that gives the appearance of possibility.

As the novel progresses, in fact perhaps as any novel progresses, possibility is narrowed down. Worlds become more finite and relationships become further defined as patterns emerge from the writing's extant movement towards an expected conclusion. Deviation from norms becomes less plausible, contrary actions less probable - and here I am not talking simply of fluctuations in characterisation, nor of linguistic tricks and conceits, but norms as basic as one page following another. Sentences continuing to make sense. The book is still there the next time we look at it.

Structures are set and play allowed within it. The movement towards conclusion defines pattern. A narrowing of possibility occurs. A rhythm is set, a world is opened that seems more and more unlikely to explode or regress into non-time. Then the twist occurs, a removal of breath, a revelation. Not a rupturing of all that is known, but just a friendly reminder of who makes the rules.

If the first page of a story provides a deceit of genuine possibility versus novelistic structure, by the final page, possibility has been eradicated. A course has been established. Inquisitions move outside the book. We must scavenge between more covers, to other worlds, to the possibilities contained within other books. This particular journey is exhausted, but within other covers, further fading possibilities await pursuit. To finish a book is no more, no less, than an action towards the possibility of worlds undiscovered. The truth, as it is sought, is brought no closer, but the pursuit is validated once more.

Afternoon falls in the city, is this another wasted day? I could feel guilty for not having been more administrative about the literary tasks of editing, structuring, continuity proofing. But then perhaps, in some way, by writing here I am writing the possibility of the novel into existence. Perhaps in wasting this day, I simply open up the possibility that other days will not be wasted.

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