I have a very strange brain. That's not exactly groundbreaking news to those who know me well, but it's true in so many ways. Specifically, now, the strangeness I'm speaking of is related to the topic of creativity. See, some people are innately creative. I'm not. And yet here I am doing something creative to discuss an act that is inherently creative.
But really, no, I'm not a creative guy. Not, not, not. How do I know? Creative people watch interpretive dance and think...something...about how beautiful an expression of life, the universe, and everything it is. Last time I watched interpretive dance, I was at a cast party at West Point for a theater production we had just done. As one of the more balladic songs--don't recall which--played its tones across the dance floor, one of the primary actor types sauntered out between everyone who was dancing in the non-interpretive, I-want-to-sleep-with-you way, and started wiggling. Sort of. Moving, wiggling, herky-jerkying, and spinning are all verbs that come to mind. Now that I've heard of it, I know that he was just doing interpretive dance. Back then, I thought he was in need of mental treatment. Still kinda do, in fact; that stuff was strange.
What brings the subject up in a fresher sense is my research today. See, I took Stephen King seriously when he suggested, through his On Writing work, that I constantly seek to learn more about the craft. I had the perfect opportunity today, in fact, when due to an illness on my staff I got stuck watching people take an admissions test for four hours. The practice is called proctoring, and every time I do it I'm reminded of its closeness to the term proctology. It consisted of endless repetitions of: scan the room, no cheaters (kinda tough for them to cheat, anyway, since each has her own version); scan the testing company's monitoring site to make sure nobody went over her time limit on a section of the test (which can only by definition happen once an hour); repeat. During that time, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to research more about the craft of writing, since sleep wasn't a valid option.
I hit on something grand, in a strange way. Or perhaps it's strange, in a grand way. I'm not sure which yet. It's called "asemic writing." According to my good friends at Wikipedia, asemic writing is defined as "a wordless open semantic form of writing." Semantics, of course, is the study of meaning, and so the term open semantic refers to the freedom to mean anything, even nothing, in any manner you wish. Open semantics, then, is kind of the opposite of what Stephen King teaches in his book on the craft.
Asemic writing is more or less artfully displayed at several web sites, including http://www.asemic.net/, where the site owner says, "It looks like writing, but we can't quite read it." My non-creative mind says...so what the hell good is it if we can't quite read it? My sarcastic side then chimes in with a comparison of the writing sample displayed at asemic.net with my own handwriting, which is known to be horrible on the best days, from the class notes at West Point from International Relations class. That was the class that recorded the lowest grade on my transcript, in part because I found the subject fascinating right up till I had to study it in that fashion and then found it unbelievably boring, and in part because it was right after lunch. I am a little ashamed to admit that I kept all my notes for about five years after graduation, but those notes brought a chuckle for all those years as you'd see each lesson start with precision and end in a herky-jerky set of scribbles combined with the vertical marks you find concurrent to a student's head-bobbing of sleepiness.
There are more sites devoted to scribbles...or asemic writing...of course. http://thenewpostliterate.blogspot.com/ is a site titled "The New Post-Literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing." As offended as I may, in my non-creative brain, be by the suggestion that asemic writing is what we ascend to AFTER we get good at the readable stuff, I'm fascinated by how much of it there is and by how many proponents the practice seems to have gathered. It's the literary equivalent of that wing in the art galleries and museums I'm always terrified to walk into: the one where everybody is standing around a famous work of art saying how wondrous it is, and all I see is a bunch'a friggin' blobs. Have you ever seen the one that looks like the artist painted a finger with his finger? That's what I'm talking about. In physical art, it's called abstract. Apparently, as I learned this morning, in literary art, it's called asemic.
And I don't get it. Either one. Add that herky-jerky stuff called interpretive dance, too. I just don't get them. I have no creative side of me. Sorry.
Lucky for me, I don't think that true creative brilliance is required to write a decent novel. In fact, that just might be the difference between literary fiction authors and commercial fiction authors. Maybe the literary folks see asemic writing and think on what a beautiful linguistic expression it is, while commercial authors see it as scribbles too. Might make for an interesting dissertation, that.
Not interested in doing a dissertation, though. For now, I'll just continue plugging along in my semantic-filled world.
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