Writing about writing

My readings as of late have convinced me of this: behind the post-modernist love of ambiguity lies the post-modernist fear of commitment.

It’s sad that so many talented writers, able to craft truly rounded characters and rich situations, capable of profound observations about the very nature of our relationship to the world, to memory, to our strange feelings about ourselves and each others, are so afraid of actually picking a branch of the forked road at the end of their books. I am not saying such needs to be inescapably the destiny of a story, but that the option should at least be on the table!

What began as a valiant challenge to the conformist practice of serving you, the reader, outcomes and resolutions all tied up in a bow and neatly presented on a platter, has devolved  into a crutch; both an easy escape from the technical difficulties of achieving such prolix endings without lapsing into clichés, as well as a solution to the problem of having to decide, to commit to an outcome – a practice that brings decidedly dangerous consequences to the comfortable neutrality of a writer.

Realistic, raw and gritty depiction of sex, violence of mind or body and shocking ugliness of character and form, are welcomed tools in a po-mo writer’s toolbox. And since they are also good selling points nobody hesitates to use them. But committing to definite outcomes is becoming rare; this is because outcomes express opinions, which is why fables and parables don’t let you uncertain about their ending.

A committed resolution means offering an opinion, revealing yourself, alienating sectors of the audience that hold differing views. Exposing themselves to criticism while baring their true thoughts has never been easy for the children of the late 20th century.

Of course, life often offers unresolved situations. Science delves more and more in the realm of the relative, and absolute truth is increasingly considered as a concept of the past. But when 80% of the whodunits are answered “well, we just don’t know, don’t we now?” something is unambiguously out of whack.

You’d have to wonder what does all this says about moral ambiguity…

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I love you more than you can ever imagine…
I am an orphan when you leave for work,
but a One-Dog Welcoming Wagon when you return
And when I see you,
darling: if I had a tail I’d wag it!

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Like a Cheshire Cat, I waltzed into your life:
all smile and very little substance
You did not reject, flee, or retreat
Instead you taught me

You said “I believe in you”
I said “Thanks” – slowly materializing…

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how far we are from who we were…!
we stretch our arms and we can touch
our wives, our parents, our children
yet there is nothing that can breach
the inmense abbyss that keeps us from ourselves

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This train rode only at night
It had no windows and it had no doors
It had no load but the dreams of passangers
it never carried in it darkened hull
Its cargo laden with the absent bodies
of the travellers it never held.

This train bore no speed and no direction
conveyed no desire but that of indiference
This train was hitched to nothing but itself
and carried onwards through night’s thick shadows
for no more reason than the rails were there
and no more conscience than the rails themselves.

This was not a train of meaning or destiny
It was a train of accident, mere chance
This train just happened and will happen again,
and every time it will not mean a thing.
On every time its nightly darkened shadow
will seem to us a message or a curse

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