Sense(making)

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” – Pablo Picasso.

I mused on Twitter about having started three books, read half and stopped, even though they were good books. I got this response: “Because you get your fill of style from it and have a good time communicating with that writer and then you go to something else.” I liked that. It got me thinking about our obsession with things being finished, tied up neatly, fully produced. With tasks being completed. That we are considered to have a focus or attention problem if they are not. But the fact is, the endpoint of any creative work is arbitrary: for both the creator and the consumer (I use that term in the sense of drinking it into our bodies, not in the sense of purchasing). Sure, it may be dictated by convention such as plot arcs or composition norms, but really, the only end is where we decide to stop.

I’ve written before about the peculiarity of the shifting self, about a writer trying desperately to cling to the same mindset for the duration of creating a book. It’s the same, I think, for reading one.

And that brings me to sense. Does a book make sense if you don’t finish (reading or writing) it? Does it matter? I love the idea of wisdom and entertainment intuitively gleaned; experiencing through mood and idea.

Maybe I get bored with traditionally structured narratives, of things being what they seem. Maybe I get a kick out working those perceptive, as opposed to judgmental, mental muscles.

I started reading Event Factory by Renee Gladman today. It’s about being an outsider and language and how we make sense of things (or don’t). I found a review of it on Goodreads that says “I respect how hard it is to make not much sense while keeping a reader reading. It almost coheres as being about writing something one step beyond coherence, like science fiction infused with a dreamy abstract poetic (not lyrical) instinct with sociopolitical flavours.” And I just love that. I suppose it speaks to me because my current manuscript doesn’t make a lot of sense, either, and it was nice to see someone appreciate that that can be a choice. A purposeful expression of alienation.

I think about how one discrete consciousness would make little sense to another that didn’t share the same history and references. I imagine there are shared patterns among the same species, but only you hold the key to your mind. No one else can drive that thing.

A stream of consciousness in writing can be tricky to decipher, and yet that is often beside the point. It is a literary mode that uses language to describe non-performative, subjective experience.

It’s like putting narratives on dreams. A dream is to be felt, not explained, and that’s what some forms of writing strive for.

If you have been following this blog, you will know that I like to experiment with sense-making. I will often take fragments of writing and shuffle them around, or combine journal entries with story, or pour thought directly onto the page with no regard for continuity or reason. It fascinates me, what our subconscious reading mind will latch onto. How we overlay our own agendas, how we are able to switch from narrative to perceptive mode simply by taking in a form of language or structure we didn’t expect.

Articles like this don’t need conventional conclusions.


The painting in the header is my own: Portrait #4.

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