Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What happens when the words explode your head?

So what's going on? I've been on an ice cream sandwich binge. I eat an apple for every one though in some feeble attempt to balance the indulgence. It's an ice cream confection ceremony. I peel most of the porous chocolate wafer off of each side, leaving enough so i can grip it from the bottom, and leave a rigid rectangle of exposed ice-cream standing defiant on its own with no sandwich to support it. The ice cream looks like it never even needed the sandwich to hold it. Like it's been freed to just be the sort of chemically tasting vanilla it had been since initially being assembled and wrapped and filed with eleven others in the box. Yes, I bought the box. It tastes just as good as it did in first grade when Mrs. Hammer, the ice cream lady took my dime on Fridays. Ice Cream day. I'd thrust it into her hand and try not to look at the dangling nearly detached mole hanging on her neck as she handed me the prize. Why couldn't she just flick it off? Godammed plagueing my life dangling light brown almost like a chocolate sprinke mole. I would shudder, my whole body would twitch and I would almost get the gag reflex but just pull back. Sometimes it would get stuck in my mind and the more I tried not to think about it, the more vivid it became and the more ominously it dangled . The ultimate horror was the notion of it somehow touching or God forbid getting on my ice cream.

I was thinking about David Foster Wallace today. Roughly my age and swimming in words, trying to keep his head above them all and finally not. I can see how it would happen and I envy his ability to focus and stick with it until whatever happened or didn't happen . To capture his brain on the page with all its tangents and spasms. Almost stream of consciousness but on a short leash. Messin' with the margins of language. Controlled chaos. I guess he finally just exploded. His head exploded. I totally get it. Maybe. When I write a lot I get myself into that elusive "zone" and these mazes of ideas, and then the ideas start to get words on them, like metal shavings on a magnet and then the maze is walls of words and I can't see the idea anymore. It's smothered by words but I'm stuck there in the maze I started and I try to find my way out with ideas...head toward the light but the ideas just get words all over them again and they start to dictate the ideas and that's backwards...isn't it? the words start talking about each other. A sentence looks back at itself before it's even done and comments on itself. That's just too soon man. Get at least a few sentences away before you do that shit.

Sometimes I escape to the next paragraph, knowing full well I left a viable idea back there to fend for itself, awaiting my return to see if I can get the words to talk to it, about it, sensibly. And sometimes the idea just peels away and the words stand there alone, standing free of the idea, birthed of it. Maybe that's a poem. Or a C+. The ideas and words need each other though and they take turns winning. I really like the words all by themselves sometimes, just like a newborn baby with the umbilical cut. But you can't just spray the words out there without an idea can you? Ahhh. You see, I discovered that you can. Just throw some words down and they'll sometimes find an idea where there was none, or spell out the way through the maze to an idea that could only have been reached with the words as the guide. The cart finds its horse. And no matter how many ways you pull the porous chocalatesque wafers enclosing the battery acid tinged vanilla ice cream apart, they all finally end up in the same place, united as one. Just like us.

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