I keep having an idea. I fed it and it kept coming back and it’s grown and now I kinda think of it as my own.
What I really mean by those words is that I have an idea-egg laying place. I’m not crazy, I promise. I use metaphor to strengthen meaning as by folding it like a swordsmith does his steel. Over the years, I’ve come to acknowledge that this very place of swordsmith folded meaning is itself the best egg to incubate. The process that feeds itself through its own evolution is always fun to capture ephemeralinguistically. As with a Magritte painting, we must look passed the sign to (the space around ourselves and the sign) to see what is being signified.
In fact, if you really want to dig your fingers down into the soil of the matter at hand, you may recognize, with me, that an “egg” (in this metaphor) is condensed “incubation”. If an “egg” is simply condensed “incubation”, then the best question to ask’s: “what’s ‘incubation'”?
My earliest memory of it was in our house, in the living room, as a child of 5 (or so). This room with hardwood floors had built-in shelves/cabinets, painted white, with a glass door per shelf that swung down from the top. I was in a corner of the room in early afternoon and the sun was shining in through a partially opened curtain. I had one of the glass doors swung up and I had a paperclip and a rubber band on the shelf in front of the books behind, and I knew there was something important that I was playing at.
This is one of those subtle realities of childhood that is difficult for one adult to describe to another. Of course, as with language learning generally, kids are good at it but nevertheless completely unconscious of it and unable to describe it. Adults fare little better and much worse. They(?) have the words with which to approach the effort, but they’ve largely lost the experience to some buttons (habitual behaviors) they’ve learned to press to reach it.
What was I playing at? What was that feeling in my heart? Like a ringing in the distance and(?) my desire to be filled by the sound of it. Today’s words, of course. Then, it probably felt closer to a tiny fire made from twigs scavenged from between blades of grass that dwarf them. What I think I was expressing was the beginnings of a tendency to reflect on “fun”, or even stare at “fun”‘s “sun” (am I blinded?). Did I, as a child, find that fun? I realize now, I found it significant. What does it take to sustain fun? What are some conditions that define its borders and its gateways?
What I mean is that I knew, even then, that my play was a ‘in place of’ something real. I knew I couldn’t build what I wanted with the paperclip and rubber band and the hinge mechanism of the glass door of the shelf.
I was gently showing a thing that I had space for it.
Maybe I’ll call that “step 1”: Pick a thing, any thing. “Anything?!” I can hear you thinking. Sure. In math there’s Newton‘s Method for finding successively better approximations (to a real valued function f(x)…). Just guess a solution, using your best judgement, and start applying it and the algorithm should draw you in closer to the solution you seek (‘less you get stuck in a Newton fractal of the soul [common enough]). This will be the thing you grow.
In ‘step 2’, the ‘algorithm’, you discover and encourage the conditions upon which it sustains itself. Look to the aches and pains and pleasures of its passing and arriving to get a sense for what it wants and needs, and try to bend yourself in such a way as to provide for it. Or decide not to and let it go. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Do you want the whole story of how I got to what I’m about to describe? The details will have to wait, but generally speaking, taking that moment in my life as a beaker for the alchemical deposition of the active elements of the gestalt, we could say that my play gradually broadened to encompass the books that were behind the “first tools”. And, generally speaking, my play has kept broadening to include more aspects of the room and the world.
I can’t imagine what you are thinking right now. That is probably a failure of my ability to communicate. I should form tight words around standardized meanings. I sorta apologize. I empathize, at least. But, I have to admit to unabashedly deriving childish delight in traipsing after meanings that scamper along the boundaries of expression and in getting my boots muddy.
By following the evolution of a meaning in relation to the means of its expression the “empty sentence” has proven to be a fertile “space for it”. Does my writing lack focus for this laissez-faire attitude? Usually I wrap up “apparent divergence” quite nicely with claims that it was all an expression of what I was trying to express, “triply” so. QED