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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kerouac's #12: Trancing, Dreaming, Fixating

Here we go with Kerouac’s Belief & Technique for Modern Prose # 12 (go here to read all my commentaries on this groovy list). In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you.
   Ah, don’t you love it? Actual permission from the master to sit and do nothing, let the old mind wander, and basically stare into the void. Dreaming of the day kind is very cool. And not only that, it’s absolutely vital to the writerly life. Thank you Mr Kerouac.
   I am also on a bit of a Thoreau kick lately and a book mentioned previously has really resonated, really hit the spot and taught me so much about Thoreau and the life of a writer. The book is The Book of Concord: Thoreau’s Life as a Writer. Please read it if you are a writer or want to be one. Anyways, the author makes a comment about how, when Thoreau was living on Walden Pond, some villagers in Concord assumed he was, ‘idling away his time’. He goes on to add that ‘idleness was an important part of his work’.
   Can you dig that? Thoreau is about to write one of the most famous and most influential books in the history of humankind and the guy is ‘idling his time away’. Well, I don’t know about you but I know for sure that he worked harder than many of those criticizers ever did. Just like a lot of writers I know, including (I admit modestly) me. And so did our friend and master Kerouac.
   Any writer worth his or her salt (what does that mean anyway?) knows that they have to be a very keen observer of the life before them if they ever hope to write anything worthwhile. Doesn’t matter what genre they work in; the principle is the same.
   And the ‘tranced’ bit is worth a bit of thought as well. Old Jack doesn’t say we should have this left-brained kind of analytical approach to what we’re seeing. He says get lost in the view, go dreaming man, just dig the scene. You know what I’m saying here people? We all do it. We just don’t often let ourselves do it with any sense of freedom, any sense of the old daydreaming thing. In other words, how often do we actually sit in a trance grooving on what’s in front of us?
   Now, back to Thoreau. For sure he kept a lot of detailed and technical notes of a nature observing kind (he’s apparently quite respected among natural type scientists for his observations, theories and discoveries. But don’t ask me what that’s about: not my scene). But he also did a lot of trance like dreaming on stuff going on around him.
   Here is another quote from my latest fav book: ‘A man’s (read person’s/writer’s/artist’s/etc) hidden contemplative life should equal the visible and active one; that coherence made his [Thoreau’s] work successful’. Of course, there are many ways to interpret this statement, but I think I could argue that ‘tranced fixation’ is a very good way to access one’s own internal life. And it sure is contemplative too I think.
   Sometimes when I write I get a weird feeling. I will type something (being able to type is such a gift. Have a look at my post on this subject) or write a few lines in my Journal or whatever. Then I’ll read what I’ve written and think, ‘Where did that come from?’ It’s not like I don’t remember writing it; it’s more that it feels like it’s come from some other place than my own conscious mind. My guess is most writers and artists have experienced similar amazements at their own creations. Kind of like channelling or automatic writing I think sometimes. And I dig that idea very much!
   But you know what I am getting at here. It is by allowing ourselves to actually go into that trance-like state, by opening up to the dreaming (another groovy use of the word eh?), by allowing a fixation on that which is before us, that we give ourselves a better chance of producing something special. Or at least something that resembles the writing we are capable of.
   Time to go now. Gotta go trancing and fixating. See ya all.

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