When I find myself careworn by poetics, I tend to gravitate towards lighter, less condensed approaches to writing. Prose is, by natural production, my least refined process, but that does not mean I cannot figuratively invent useful forms to shape it up. After all, that’s what Caliath is all about—exploration of the elsewhere.
One common struggle I undergo when etching narratives is the old and ever so demising struggle of reaction vs. response, one I’ve been quite puzzled with. Art is the inevitable necessity to communicate by way of emotion, which arrives with reaction, but a well-structured fictional reality must be accompanied by an emboss of response, as to foster a process that bleeds into the reader, allowing them to write the story as much as we do, without giving them full creative control of a world we’ve created. That would be evidently chaotic and a bedding for confusion.
As I spent my entire Sunday in hospital aiding my grandfather, I got the opportunity to create a semi-device that allows me to explore the hard-and-soft-lines of a characters approach to necessary introspection. I’ve since baptised it “emotional instrumentality”, subdivided into Tacit Form (before the character interacts with the literary scapes) and Reactive Form (after the character has been immersed in the narrative). To develop a character, one often falls into the entrapment of distancing itself from the creation. As a presumably different being, it would be odd if we built our characters strikingly similar to how we behave normally as real human beings. A character, however, mustn’t be an independent sprout of creativity, but an instrument of emotion, and to allow that character to bend and wield that emotional into depth, is to develop it further than we could initially conceive.
The application of the device is rather simple. You must force that bending by designing around it, effectively hindering the character with obstacles and then, speculate ways to bleed emotion into the escapes. I used the ancient device of interviewing, the likes of which seen in NGE, In God We Trust and Carnage. The following example is merely a quickly figured demonstration. Cascan is a character from Two Brass Towers normally known for his sandpaper personality and general haggardness towards humanity and its concepts.
## Emotional Instrumentality (IV – Cascan)
A. What is your name?
B. Cascan Montverde.
A. In which way do you primarily relate to this world?
B. Painter—used to be a painter.
A. How does society appear in the eyes of an onlooker?
B. Collapsing. A deserted waiting room with fluorescent lights. Never stopping the rattle and, still, always silent, voiding itself with greed.
A. Is that a painting?
B. Paintings are manufactured. A panel with a thousand stacked corpses reaped by the plague couldn’t equal in pain to a single second in that hospital waiting room.
A. Why don’t you paint anymore?
B. Little use. You see, an individual whose life is smothered, then turns to self-destruction. Once control evades, you search for it in every drunken night and whore-house. The craving and hunger to feel any glimpse of power in this entropic reality, it culminates in recklessness.
The artist trades that self-harm for creation, but human nature is an evil game-master. The more a work seeps into your flesh, the more intensely you build it solemnly for its destruction.
A. Are those words of the wise or the broken?
B. Will tell you as soon as you tell me the difference.
A. Cascan, what do you miss the most?
B. Whatever was worth missing, I have since been painted.
A. Is it difficult for you to talk about yourself?
B. There are millions of Men and a small handful of themes. Talking of oneself rarely dodges the horseshoe of building a delusional character or succumbing to fruitless sincerity. Awareness of that simply means every topic has been mangled, shredded and abused far before it attains a shape, including those composing the self.
A. So, is it difficult?
B. No. Just useless.
A. What other topic would you prefer?
B. I’m fond of silence.
A. Wouldn’t silence be just as fruitless?
B. In Briançon, my parents spoke of a woman who climbed the Chaberton in search of a beckoning voice she heard in her dreams. While ascending, she only had silence around her, while her mind was paved with shouts—shouts of pain and doubt, so loud that she doubted her ability to walk or even eat. She doubted her turmoiled and broken nature was worthy of such basic pleasures. She didn’t doubt her own existence, no, she was certain of it, and that was the terror. As hopelessly hopeful as our kind tends to be, she reached the peak, and the wind blew so strongly she could no longer hear the shouts, her mind was finally silent under the weight of a perspective she hadn’t seen before: that of weakness. Once one realises their inherent frailties, everything can be deconstructed, even those slithering shouts and doubts.
A. Is that the silence you yearn for? That of the mind?
B. No, I want silence of the space, the kind she experienced while climbing.
A. Isn’t that silence destructive, according to the tale?
B. Yes, but that’s just a tale. I cannot convene with a silent mind, no one can. We are unsettled by nature, curious and stampeding, inept for quietude. We need our reality as much as it needs us, and that relationship is no less than intoxicating. A silent space only fastens my descent into madness, which I beckon with open shouts.
A. Isn’t that a symptom of poetic exaggeration?
B. Everything is, why act like the form in which we construct our ideas matters more than it should? Had we any respect for the weavings of the soul, wouldn’t everything be as poetic as it is emotional?
A. It the individual just a collection of beliefs rather than emotions?
B. No, that’s the collective’s perspective on the individual. To a singular person in isolation, nothing elevates emotion. In fact, that’s how Art thrives, because human emotion becomes an instrument of translation without possible compare. That’s the universal language of subjectivity.
A. Is freedom a total level of control or a total lack thereof?
B. Neither. Freedom is a construct conveniently parked between the ability to will and the inability to have. It takes as much as it gives, therefore, it’s inconsequential.
A. Isn’t your ability to say that… a product of your freedom?
B. No, my ability to say these things is but a product of my unbound capacity to be wrong.
A. Then, why say it?
B. Perhaps because being wrong is, ultimately, to be free. Free of further explanation—that is.
A. Do you believe in fate?
B. Never have. It’s better to be insufficient in a present that is, than grand in a future that will not.
This rather simple example does not require further complexity. This scenario is striped of visual, sound and material formalities. A blank character in a blank space. But this device was not meant to analyse the way Cascan speaks or even how he presumes choice and responsiveness, but instead, a way to create the groundwork for character sculpting by narrowing his constituent tenets. I consider three of these when applying this device: position of self, perspective dogma, and self-driven emotions. Essentially, we are asking Cascan to pinpoint his perceived origins of self by conducting his emotions.
This sounds dual—in the way that I speak as if I’m not both the writer and Cascan—but it is not, nor does it need to be. These characters are fragments of myself brought onto creation, which means they are bound to reason like I do, since reason is rarely mutable. But reactions are increments of choice that we can meld and shape. A character attains tangibility by reacting to an environment, as such, emotion is a fine instrument to understand which steps to take.
This is, of course, one of my many divergent thoughts, and chances are you wont feel the need to try it. But it works for me, and for the sake of sharing, I thought it might be of value to someone. Perhaps even in concept expansion. Everything starts with a small idea.