Posted in Of Life's Dramedies, Of Writingly

Of Digression

Vintage fairground poster. Spot Popeye! Source:
Vintage fairground poster. Spot Popeye!

When I started this blog, my intention was to write in the form of traditional essays. A blog can be anything. Even I, as a many-time failed blogger, could see that. But, I chose the essay because that was the form I had written in most of my life. I didn’t have skills in poetry, drawing, photography or anything else that I could hope to produce with any competence or consistency. But, I knew that I could attempt to write about something, which is what the word essay, that comes from the French essai, means. This form, and the manner of titles it chose in its formative years, where it would attempt to say something about something (which could be anything) by prefacing it with an Of gave me the order I needed for what I wanted to do. Its simplicity, its minimalism, its endless scope for subject gave me the structure I needed to build this into something. Something, that can be counted among other alive and thriving blogs. Alain de Botton has argued that in our taste for how we design our lives, we look for the opposite of what we are. It isn’t an exclusive, black-and-white scenario, but to him, the general rule is, one with a colourful temperament looks for something minimalist and uncluttered; and vice-versa. I suppose that is why my meandering, digressive self still unfailingly seeps into this minimalist structure I’ve created. But, does that work towards its fault or its merit?

My mind is like a fairground. Many different strands of thought co-exist next to each other, and I go through them like a child who is going to a fair for the first time with a bag full of change. This is the normal state of it and, in fact, I prefer it. I abhor the singularity of thought during extreme mood swings. Even when I’m happy, my singular happiness feels empty, while the reverse is an even greater causation for emptiness. I like the colourfulness of my mind, though it means I can’t do anything in great detail. I wish I was an expert in something. That I knew everything there was to know about something. Even when that happens – like it did for The Beatles and Al Pacino films – my memory is not good enough to retain all the information. I retain impressions instead, where I always remember the emotive aspect of something rather than the informational aspect.

But, I digress. Both, in the sense of digressing in the last paragraph and in general. The consequence of having such a mind is my incessant, uncontrollable propensity to talk too much and write too much. Before you judge me, I do make an effort to listen. I’m not always successful but, if I did not have enough information feeding into my fairground mind, it would have run out of business long ago.

Of course, being a meandering self isn’t very practical. A comment I’d often get for essays in school was, “too long!” “Get to the point” is something I’m sometimes told. That is why I prefer writing to speaking. With writing, I can cut the refuse. Which is what I do everywhere else if I have time. I can even “kill” my “darlings” if I manage to be wise enough on that day. But, in this blog, I want to to defend my meandering writing style. And I have a very good reason for it.

I write conversationally. Even if I chose the medium of the essay, I still make a point to keep it light, contemporary, personality-driven, jargon-free. When we have conversations, we aren’t exactly drawn to people who speak with an introduction-body-conclusion structure. Conversations can neither be linear nor cyclical. Conversations are sometimes connective, sometimes non-sequitur, communications where the only coherence we’re looking for is in a stated idea, not even a sentence. Not in the conversation as a whole. We gain a general idea of what is being talked about, remember certain phrases, and most of all, remember the conversationalist. With writing, we expect some sort of linear/cyclical structure or order. We expect it to be a unified, logical thing.

But, that kind of writing for me is like a monochromatic sweater, whereas I prefer quite a hippie poncho. That is just how my mind works. I could give you the monochromatic sweater, but it wouldn’t be true to my intentions with this blog. My hippie poncho maybe too confusing and kitschy for you, but “my coat of many colours” is what “my momma made for me” while she also made the rest of me. This is how I was born and I hope it isn’t too irksome for most of you. I really can’t help it.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

13 thoughts on “Of Digression

  1. Interesting post! In which Botton book does he write about ‘life design’? I’ve read his works on travel, and the news, and enjoyed both very much.
    One of the most challenging things in using any web application or computer program as a tool of creativity or expression is the limitations that are ‘coded into the architecture.’ We are limited in what our ‘meandering’ minds can achieve when using a tool like software that is so firmly built around a structure of rules.
    Jaron Lanier writes about this phenomenon in his book ‘You are Not A Gadget.’ It’s one of my biggest complaints about Facebook – it’s such a small tube of creativity to try and squeeze the whole experience of a life through!
    So in that sense, I much prefer blogging to posting on Facebook, because of the extra room to be creative – but even blogs can sometimes put walls up around how we express ourselves.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! The de Botton book is called The Architecture of Happiness. It is about our relationship with designs around us.
      Blogging is definitely much more creative than Facebook, especially because you can create your own persona, instead of having to answer a zillion private questions before you can get anywhere. I don’t think they are even in the same class. The lack of a dislike button makes all the difference. WordPress is definitely a more positive and creative sphere.
      I have no idea about how to write programs, but I often find it rather interesting how the limitations of one language( I only speak from my experience of knowing linguistic ones! ) can cause certain states or emotions to be difficult to express. I encounter this most in translation. Because I have been trilingual all my life, I often find I think differently in each of them. So, when sometimes one bleeds into the other, the results are usually not good!
      The challenge and pleasure of any creative form is how much you can do with what you have. I write prose. I crave to do much more but don’t have the skills for it. So, with every post, I try and think of something different to do. That is the best we can do really, when stuck in one form. I hope that applies to programming too.
      Thanks again!

  2. I love your fairground analogy…and especially the vintage poster you found! I enjoy your digressions. It’s the wondering where you will go that makes your posts so interesting. I think of my own mind as being like a bag of pick ‘n’ mix sweets…..and more than this, eating them in the dark – no idea what is coming next! I know many little snippets of information and knowledge, often enough to get by in a conversation with someone who knows more – because I have worked out the knack of getting them to do the talking!

    1. I do that too! We do have things in common! We must have crazy minds, Dr. Who fans are likely to be so with the randomness of that show! I love your sweets analogy. It is such a lovely way to be looking at it, which shows you have a lovely mind. I never understood the Forrest Gump quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get.” until recently. I am a lifelong Cadbury’s fan, especially the Dairy Milk, and I always know what I’m gonna get. But, I recently got a box of Belgian chocolates as a gift, and with the distinctive wrapping of each one, I finally understood the analogy!
      With such a sweet mind, not knowing what comes next shouldn’t be a problem!
      Thank you for enjoying my writing style. I really feel very, very grateful.

  3. I feel an affinity with the ‘fairground’ image. My mind works like that too. I just had a stranger (a friend of a friend) come for dinner tonight and it turned out to be one of the best nights of my life! It was like racing from one amusement to another – one wonderful topic or idea or discussion to another – I’m still smiling! I was able to let my thoughts out for air and enjoy being (mostly) understood, while enjoying my guest’s thoughts also. Wonderful!

    1. That is so nice to hear! It’s wonderful to find people you can talk endlessly with about anything. And in our case, fairgrounds can appreciate (and commiserate with) fairgrounds. From one random rambler to the other, hope you are having a nice day!

      1. Thanks for wishing me a nice day! I’m afraid I’ve just been riding the ‘big dipper’ of the fairground – from the giddy heights of last night to the disappointing depths I found waiting for me today. I’m trusting I’m in for a nice easy ride on the ‘teacups’ or ‘ferris wheel’ tomorrow 🙂

  4. You speak of the difference between meeting someone and blogging. When we meet people we want to experience their body language first. When we read, we want the words to trigger interesting associations in our own brains. You speak of the brain as though it lives its own life – I like that! Looking forward to wandering in your parks!

    1. Thank you! I hope you like all the amusement on offer here! My brain does live its own life, as does my hair. Not only do I sometimes think I’m many people, even some of my physical parts seem separate from each other. Body language is definitely first. I think, more of a general impression, their voice and the way they speak more than what they speak. Also, I’m very self-conscious myself, so I’m also focused on the way I am perceived by them.
      Thanks for reading! I hope you come back again and read some more!

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