Sunday, November 29, 2009


"The true mystery of the world is the visible." Oscar Wilde

Oscar knew what he was talking about, and for someone as gabby as he could be, he had a gift for synecdoche, a fancy term for the-part-that-stands-for-the-whole. Twelve head of cattle, for instance. (And let's hope those heads stand for the whole animals or we're all of a sudden talking about Surrealism.)

Writers tussle with synecdoche all the time: are the seven piercings in Lola's' left ear enough to acquaint the reader or among those piercings do we have to know that one is a cross and another a skull and another a tiny airplane? Or is the quirky airplane enough and the others just typical Goth dress-up?

One thing writers do is make the visible world vivid again. It's easy to get caught up in the quotidian and to find the stench of old ideas savory.

A poet named Nathaniel Tarn talks about "the rabbits in the divine upstairs that never could sing anything below."

A line like that just slaps me around. I particularly love "divine." I don't want to write like Mr. Tarn, but he makes me want to write better. Or maybe just lean back and enjoy the mess I've made of things.

Whoops! I have to go now. Buddy has climbed the avocado tree and is pawing at the window. Maybe he has a message for me from the visible world.


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