Metalogue

metalogue1

" … a snake chasing his own tail,
still deeply uncertain what he might do should he ever finally catch up to it."

Prose comes in many forms: dialogue, monologue, diatribe, lecture, and scold, to name but a scant few of the more frequently encountered types. Fiction and non-fiction hardly stand as distinctive designations, each more dependent upon the author's intention than any pervasively factual foundation. Historical fiction can and does sometimes seem to better represent a period than does scrupulously fact-based history. Commentary takes many forms, and so might be accurately described as a meta-form, one not beholding to any standard classification. Much prose follows subtle rules that if they were ever written down, I haven't found the source document delineating them yet. To speak of these underlying forms seems to require violating those underlying forms, to go meta or mina to them, for speaking of a form seems to require sidestepping the form itself, which might subtly prohibit self-reference as a premise for employing it. My personal ethic to avoid telling people what to do cannot be conveyed by telling people not to tell people what to do, and this highlights the paradoxical territory speaking of underlying forms traverses.

People have been after me to classify my own writing, which I've always found to be a challenge. I can more easily declare what it's not than what it might be.
I know for certain that it's clearly not Detective Fiction or Historical Non-fiction. It's also very clearly to my mind NOT sci-fi, a genre I can't even read let alone write in. Is it memoir, then? Only intermittently, not exclusively. Am I ranting when I write? Sometimes. I'm clearly not lecturing or scolding or holding myself up as any sort of expert on anything. I think, perhaps—only perhaps—that I expose my internal commentary, making what should perhaps remain implicit internal chatter somewhat more explicit—often as edges lacking specific form.

The venue seems to never change, whatever the topic or title. I characterize myself in almost self-referential ways, as a snake endlessly chasing his tail without having actually sealed his self reference by latching onto it. My prose seems to move in roughly circular fashion, not so much zeroing in on any conclusion, but usually only surveying potential resolution space. It might get closer to some resolution but only in passing, if that statement even makes any sense.

This world still seems utterly confusing to me. I might explore its many facets without drawing any specific conclusion about either its nature or its content. It seems more everything/and to me than anything/else. Perhaps—only perhaps—I might describe my prose as most Metalogue-like. The purpose of Metalogue, a Gregory Bateson-crafted term originally intended to describe a particular form of inquiry, was never to come to any concrete conclusion, but to encourage varying perspectives which might coalesce into a different form for each participant; to broaden perspective. Problem-solving inquiry always seems to try to distill itself into a single defendable conclusion while Metalogue might no more than make explicit the breadths and depths of the observed, leaving the concluding, if anyone feels compelled to conclude, up to the individual who was perhaps better informed as a result of the Metalogue's many machinations. This formless-seeming form, an integral element of the enquiry. My mom would have called this technique "gumming into submission."

A Metalogue might reasonably include bits from any form without proving true to any of them. It's a form of considering while explicitly not intending to convince or persuade, but to merely impart perspective. It's inescapably impressionistic. Like me, the reader might never be entirely certain what to make of a piece I've written, for it will only very rarely explicitly conclude anything. It explicitly includes me, though, as the present observer, in every reported observation, and might too-easily be mistaken for solipsism because of that property, though I seem to question my own veracity about as often as I question what I'm describing's.

To the innocent inquiry "What kind of writing do I produce?", I'm trying on a fresh face. I'll try describing it as Metalogue, with the clear expectation that my response might probably spark a deeper conversation—a Metalogue, if you will—intended to impart deeper understanding without necessarily drawing any definitive conclusions; a perfect reaction to my description, at least to my mind. If I were a different sort of person, I might much more easily draw definite conclusions and impart them. I might rail up a crowd of followers cheering me on against some nefarious Other, but I lately conclude that I am explicitly not that sort of person and accept that I do not aspire to become that sort of person, either. I remain nobody's self-help source or life coach. I might provide empathy but not answers. I usually just end up sharing my manner of thinking on a topic, a snake chasing his own tail, still deeply uncertain what he might do should he ever finally catch up to it.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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