Writing for writing’s sake can be a helpless exercise. It’s like wading blind through a sea of voices; sometimes you’ll fall into a current only to realize it belonged to someone else first. Finding new things to write can be among the most challenging of objectives; one can start to feel like the infamous fool, the one who once uttered the words “everything that can be invented already has,” around the turn of the twentieth-century. But as wrongheaded as those words were, so is the thought that originality is bound to escape the modern writer, at least in the age of instantaneous publishing and propounding drivel that the Internet has so hastily provided us.
Filed under “Favorite Lines from Movies I’ve Not Yet Seen,” a quote from the newest trailer for “SPECTRE”, the upcoming entry in the James Bond film franchise: “You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane.” These words are spoken to Bond from the mouth of a man who looks as though he’s been up for days on end. The words, in context, are meant to conjure danger lying in wait for the unsuspecting Bond; out of context, however, the specific image of a kite lends more to the conundrum most writers or artists or the like find themselves in at the outset of a new project. Outward, invisible forces take up and carry the kite, and though we are not meant, nor able, to influence the wind, we can and must harness it, counterbalance ourselves against it, and ultimately, fall. (With style.)
I often think when I sit at a desk that I’m bound, through my own ignorance of myself, to create, or recreate, something I’ve already done. It’s a powerful fear, and it dares me towards a deeper journey. But achieving true originality, a worthy goal of any such trek, in reality only dimly lights the path that you might otherwise be lost from (I’m certain that there’s an allusion to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I probably could have used, but no matter). Being lost matters, of course. Even more so, I’d suggest, than finding such an ending.
But it is also the regenerative nature of, among other things, cultural iconography (read: Star Wars, from fan fiction, to T.V. spinoffs, to J.J. Abrams and beyond) that brings with it a fresh element of complexity—and for that reason I have always despised the connotation that words like “derivative” have undertaken. I think of it as cultural sustainability. It feels like Paul puts it, getting to the bottom to go back to the top of the slide; weaving around mysteriously like the electrical synapses of Asimov’s Bicentennial Man; everything sort of flies about, almost imperceptibly, but at every moment you’re left with something new made from something that’s already been. Things that, when added together, are only sums, get rearranged and combined again, coming out more as results of a complex algorithm than of simple arithmetic. Certainly, the studious-types will always argue that we funnel into the same inescapable archetypes, and maybe we do, but not without some quixotic bravery.
This all means something; more probably, it means nothing, and may be read by a corresponding population of no one. Many people often disagree on the value of nonsense; I only happen to prefer it. But I still have not answered the initial question: what exactly should one write, and why, if not to benignly stretch one’s fingers, and in light of the fact that so much has already been written?
To think. Look what I’ve done.