Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In Praise of the Nonlinear

A word from Rob Breszny:
Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin decries the linear perspective that dominates modern storytelling. She says it's "like an arrow, starting here and going straight there and THOK! hitting its mark." Furthermore, she complains, plots are usually advanced through conflict, as if interesting action can't possibly arise from any other catalyst.
I invite you to rebel against these oppressive conventions. Wean yourself from stories that have a reductive plot line fueled primarily by painful events. More importantly, celebrate the luminous mysteries that have shaped your life story: the meandering fascinations that didn't lead to tidy conclusions, the wobbly joys that fed your soul but didn't do a thing to serve your ego's ambitions, the adventures whose success revolved around brain-teasing breakthroughs instead of exhausting triumphs over suffering.
I agree wholeheartedly with Le Guin and Breszny. I don't mind reading a certain amount of linear, conflict-driven fiction, but I prefer to read and write other kinds.
In life, while we all experience some suffering, and while I admire the ability to triumph over suffering, often the pain and suffering is from the past. George, a rabbit who grew more and more disabled and certainly experienced ongoing pain and suffering, wasn't just stoic, he enormously enjoyed the good things in his life. It can be therapeutic to complain, but complaints should usually be made as amusing as possible, so that they become a new way of seeing the problem.
Linear thought and linear stories have their place and their uses, but shouldn't supplant other kinds.
If luminous mysteries and meandering fascinations didn't fill my life, would I even exist?


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