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Slideways

slideways
El Greco, View of Toledo, c. 1596–1600


"I'm sliding Slideways …"

How might I describe my writing? Probably not in the same fashion that I usually write, for a description seems of a different order than an observation or worse, an inference. It seems one thing to state that the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and quite another to explain why. The explanation seems necessary because who could possibly conclude the intention without some sideways explanation, one posed at a slightly higher and sideways orientation, perhaps looking down upon the commotion? I'd say that no one's very likely to jump to an accurate interpretation without some outside orientation, without the author of the expression disclosing his intentions, whether those seem at all transparent or even present in his silly sentence. Explaining that the sentence in question serves as an English-language pangram—a sentence that contains all of the letters of the English alphabet—the deeper meaning comes clear. The sentence still seems queer, but more understandably so.

I face the same challenge but on a much broader scale.
Instead of one strange sentence, I have a whole manuscript of sentences, Three-thousand, eight-hundred and forty-nine of them to be precise. What deeper or more superficial impression was I hoping they'd leave behind? What might they be about? Like Moby Dick's a book about a whale or an Ahab or an obsession or an extended allegory, which explanation might I employ to introduce the book without a cover yet? What illustration might belong on the cover of this one? What impression do I want to project? And in what language or dialect might I state what I will intend to become glaringly obvious? I'm not just asking.

The Muse finds me near comatose, lying on the bed in the middle of the morning. I startle as she opens the door. She's taking a quick break from her usual series of Zoom® calls. I report that I'm working hard, an unlikely description of what might, I fear, appear as me slacking, but I am working, and working very, very hard, for I'm trying to imagine a description, to distill my conflicting intentions, into a statement as clear and as precise as it must be to be heard. A cyclone rages in my head. I hear above the roar and whine, though, the barest start of a story, in words that seem strange and ill-fitting. I managed to transcribe a paragraph and then another, but that second one left me exhausted and reeling. Thus, I was lying there, staring at the ceiling, expecting to see something that had not quite become obvious in the months and months since I'd finished writing that manuscript. Curiously, it seemed to be working.

I hold myself to speak the truth to myself if not always to everyone else. I expect myself to be capable of handling if not the Whole-and-Nuthing-But Truth, at least a fair approximation of it. I do not want some flimsy shading or an alluring misrepresentation. I expect myself to state my truth plainly, without deflection, without too much embarrassment. I seek only to be understood, for I cannot put myself in change of also being accepted. I want any rejection to come responsibly, because the offer didn't please, and not because my offer didn't seem credible. I'm just trying to get my story straight. It's simple, really, once I manage to slip Slideways into the manner of thinking necessary to describe it. Not the manner of thinking I used to create the work, but the one capable of simply describing it. Curiously, thanks to help from my friends (Thanks, Bastiaan and Franklin!), I feel closer. I still feel, though, as if I am that NASA space probe capturing visuals of Venus from near the top of the visual infrared spectrum, where shape must be inferred from heat shadows. I am not yet comatose, however otherwise my aspect might appear. I'm sliding sideways, Slideways, into something terribly important here.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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