Connotatively

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" …I can't seem to see the world as it is …"

The way I write sometimes lands me in trouble. I describe my observations connotatively, which means almost everything I write remains open to the reader's interpretation. I'm usually trying to describe the essentially indescribable, perhaps a writer's sole duty. This means that I heavily rely upon metaphor and analogy, constructing relationships that could not possibly exist except as floating thought impressions. I intend to tickle the mind of my reader, but not every reader ends up amused with my antics. Some quite naturally read denotatively, expecting the material to somehow reduce to factual as well as felt sense. These folks frustrate and confuse me. More properly, I struggle to comprehend denotative perception.

I worked hard to avoid studying the sciences in school because I couldn't seem to catch onto the memorization involved.
The short-sleeved white shirted and skinny-tie-wearing crew cut teacher would spout formulae intended to finely describe phenomenon and expect me to echo in catachismic response. I couldn't quite manage to care what Says' Law said and figured I could look it up if ever interested. The whole language of science seemed to insist upon offensively precise language usage, a smothering prospect for a geeky teen fancying himself a poet. I didn't want to understand precisely, but approximately, colorfully. I could leave the actual calculations for someone enthralled by precisely manipulating abstract symbols. I preferred to play with whatever I found on my plate.

I'm not nearly all of any one and none of any other, but when I write I'm searching for something that's never been written before. I do not try to show off how well I've memorized any encyclopedia, but to report how stuff appears to be to me. Under the wise advice that the most personal tends to represent most universally, I steer clear of purely denotative descriptions. My trouble lurks near there. The denotative reader will take exception to an analogy, insisting that I've clearly misinterpreted what clearly is when I was merely trying to draw a picture of the space between and not to anchor either side in absolute fact. Of course this practice sometimes leaves me seeming like an ignoramus to the dedicated denotative reader. I tend to repeatedly learn that I don't know much.

Where, I always wonder, did they learn that? I suspect that they learned that in those science classes I avoided in school. They could absorb the catechism I could never quite catch. They still remember Says' Law and can, with only modest prompting, recount its finest details. My brain doesn't seem to work like that. I seem capable of associating concepts but not of retaining the finer details of them. I can speak as if I understand calculus, for instance, but I could not (have not yet ever) understood how to actually perform the calculations. I leave that chore to the experts who could echo back the catechism to the short-sleeved white shirted, narrow tied, crew cut teacher at the head of the room.

I never know when I might posit a physical impossibility. I'm grateful for the denotative readers in my life for tolerating my many factual shortcomings. Some times I wonder how it came to be that I could not seem to retain denotative details. Is this a gift or a curse? I think of myself as an impressionist. I can report on the meaning of an event more readily (and accurately) than I can report on the color of the dog that chased me down the block. I make a terrible witness because I suspect that I can't see the world as it is, but exclusively as how it seems to me, connotatively.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved










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