Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Literary-Based Geological Relocation

A friend of mine recently told me that in order to "move mountains with my words," I would have to address "larger" subjects in my writing.

Naturally, I was under the impression that I already was moving them. Twice daily. Like a tectonic game of checkers, I was chucking mountains all over the place, stacking them, putting them in rows and generally having myself a grand old time.

Unfortunately, it seems one's lack of navigation prowess (which makes the mountain-moving a little random, but that is neither here nor there) is not considered a "big" idea. "People actually have to be paying attention to your words as well," my brain reminded me. I wept silently and not a little bitterly.

I scanned the Blog archives and found that of my roster of characters, only The Hardass would move mountains. He would do it with his fists and jaw. Since that is more akin to "strip mining" than moving mountains in the metaphorical sense, which is what I'm sure my friend meant, even he is out of the running.

Then came the soul-searching. What subjects should I tackle? Which ones could I, given the limited space inside my head, even including my sinuses? And by "big" did my friend mean "exhibiting strong human relativity" or "sailing deep and uncharted philosophical waters"?

Farts are 100% relative.

Deities are uncharted. (Those who claim to have charted them are later discovered to be insane).


Perhaps she meant I should express an opinion on things that exert a greater emotional pull on the general populace. Tort reform or abortion rights?

Now I see the problem: Discussing things like that endanger the delicate stupid plants we have carefully nurtured in putz pots here on the Blog. In other words, it would do irreparable harm to the Ambient Moronics (shameful plug, I know), in much the same way that CFCs munch up the ozone layer.

I find people who take themselves very seriously to be somewhat worrisome. I am concerned for their blood pressure, and I am concerned for whomever they're planning to bomb. Ecoterrorists and false prophets are the logical extreme.

Most importantly, they are not funny.

So rest assured, wasters of time, you will not load up your (surely bookmarked) link to the Blog of Stupid and find The Hardass discussing Gnosticism or Paul the CrimeFighter wrestling internally with the question of where to draw the line between "nice" and "euphemistic," and whether or not they overlap with "obscurantist".

If you want to know my stance on these things, meet me at Bob Evans, and we shall discuss them over a plate of sausages.


Jack W. Regan said...

First of all, who the hell wants to move mountains with their writing? It seems a little arrogant and reminds me of all those journalism majors who answer that question of "What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?" on their final exam by invariably scrawling, "I want to make a difference. I want to change the world!"

Writing doesn't have to address "big" subjects. Take "Horton Hears A Who," for example. It's about a speck! And yet we care deeply about the Whos. True, there is a "big" lesson to learned from the story, but "Horton" succeeds because it accomplishes the basic tasks of a story, not because it teaches us a pithy lesson.

Anonymous said...

Just because you can read words doesn't mean you understand them.
Anyone who is a faithful reader of this site should realize that the stories on here aren't what you would find in Time magazine. Anyone who thinks that every story written should have some deep theological meaning needs to wake up and realize that maybe they aren't as important as they think they are.

Jack W. Regan said...

Yes. And I'll even overlook your anonymous status in order to agree.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure Time shouldn't be publishing stories of this type. Perhaps then I would read their magazine.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Dang. You guys rock! Rallying behind (or at least near) me like that.

It's true that not every story has to have a buried moral or an important philosophical lesson. But if you dig hard enough (or do your digging while you're really tired or full of coffee) you can find meaning in pretty much any story.

The interesting thing about that is that the meaning you find in it will more than likely fit your own opinions pretty well. Fine. Problems arise when you get upset at people for seeing something different in it than you did.

Ever read "Lord of the Flies"? I heard it on audiobook, and the introduction by the author (wherein he sounded like a crusty old man) made it clear that "I know a lot of you seem to think that there's a buried lesson in here. There's not. I wrote this story because I thought it would be fun."

Or something like that.

Kevin? I assume you're "Anonymous"? Word, son. I too would probably read Time if they wrote more like Craig and I.

Anonymous said...

I think that Time should publish a blog post in every issue. I would then rush out to buy it just to see which one made it in.

Why do people think that everything that you do has to make a difference? Why can't you do something just because you enjoy it or other people enjoy that you do it?

Personally I think that you should continue to nurture the stupid plants in putz pots. Be warned that if you nurture them too well that you will need bigger putz pots.

Anonymous said...

Clearly your friend meant for you to write about something large, like mountains, or the way certain clothes make her behind look.

Standing behind you, directly behind, can be dangerous, as those of us who love and admire you know all too well. So let us stand discreetly over to the side and say find your own path, plough your own furrough, write your own stuff. Avoid the Robert Benchley pitfall. And remember that it's "wrote more like Craig and me"

Jack W. Regan said...

Oh, Fd's Fd. Your first paragraph made me chortle, indeed. As a behind, ahem, I mean an aside, what's the "Robert Benchley pitfall"?

Jack W. Regan said...

FooDaddy: I agree that there are lessons to be learned from pretty much any story. Buuuuuuuut, as you mentioned, the specific lesson can vary and fit one's own opinions. Could this not merely be the tendency of man to seek for meaning in everything? (We seem to be uncomfortable with something just being--even something as simple as a story.) And therefore we create a meaning where perhaps none exists.

Or it could also mean that a well-writ and constructed yarn has intrinsic worth because, as I said before, "it accomplishes the basic tasks of a story."

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Ha lol! Bigger putz pots. Funny stuff, CCG! That is why we keep you around.

I would LIKE to believe that any good piece of writing causes brain stimulation. Stimulated brains think. It may not be about anything "useful," in terms of it making money for anyone, but it will be thinking all the same.

Which is a start.

Jack W. Regan said...

"I would LIKE to believe that any good piece of writing causes brain stimulation."

It does.

"Stimulated brains think."

Yes, they do. The problem the world has, however, is with "simulated" brains.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

The problem the world has, however, is with "simulated" brains.

Too many people running around with cheap brainware. They don't bother to download the updates, or to defrag occasionally, or even to install antivirus.

Sad. Very sad.

Jack W. Regan said...


Anonymous said...

In brief: Robert Benchley, popular as he was onscreen, in person and on paper, came to see his careers in motion pictures and in writing funny articles as a waste of his talent, grew bitter, and drank himself to death.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

There. I started working on the graphic before I even wrote the post, but forgot to finish and upload it.

So there ya go.

Jack W. Regan said...

Hey! Put down that mountain! You gotta have a permit!

Anonymous said...

please don't drop that mountain! it would hurt whoever it landed on.

Craig is right you do need a permit for lifting and moving mountains.

Anonymous said...

You gotta have a permit and a stance. A permit for the mountain and a stance to get into Bob Evans to talk about your attitude towards it.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Got any sausages? Y'know, the texturized soy protein kind? Them's goooood.