However, the problem with rolling a ball is that, first, you’ve got to decide where you want it to go. So, in the case of this project, I took some time to gather some data and get a rough idea where I should throw it. You see, when I first described this project to some of my peers, I got three reactions:
Why do you have to meta everything?
Why don’t you just write a book?
What are you going on about?
Sometimes, I would get them all at once. Then, once I’d posted the opening paragraphs, I had to ask myself the same questions. Although I had been thinking about them since the inception of the idea, answering them with something approaching tangibility and cogency seemed beyond my grasp. So, I did some thinking.
First of all, if you got a chance to read my break-down of meta, then you’ll know that almost everything is already meta. Meta is a just a perspective you can use to make sense of a phenomenon that manifests from the culmination of the mechanical interaction effects of related systems. Geeze, that’s a mouth-full and not altogether coherent. Okay, if you envision the system you’re looking at as a tower with each set of systems (ideas, rules, mechanics, social graces, etc) supporting the ones above it, then using a meta-perspective is just looking down to see what the hell is holding you up.
I kind of addressed the book-thing already, but I wasn’t very clear. So, to muddy the waters further, I’m going to use a metaphor to explain what I mean. To me, a well-written book is a unified thing. Many of its components flow into each other. Now, that’s not always true, because we have things like anthologies and serials, magazine columns and diaries. These things are pretty close to identical reflections of what I’m doing here, the diary more than most, because what’s really important in this work is the spaces in between my posts. The posts are important, yes, but the blank spots in time impart unique meanings themselves. Since going back and editing would damage the integrity of the whole project, the author is an evolving process, as well. I’m sure there’s going to come a time when I’ll want to go back and rip all the words off the screen (I’ve hit that point already in some cases), but the book must go on. So yeah, this is a diary whose only special features are its topic and the fact that you get to read and comment on it. That being said, have you ever read a diary and looked at the gap between two dates and thought, “Hmm… that looks significant,” but not been able to nail down why?
If we could go into a little poetry analysis for a second, we might be able to make this idea a little more concrete. Without much of a segue, I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Someday, I might have to gush about how brilliant and flexible the structure of the idea is, but what’s important here is that I also listen to Trock (Time Lord Rock). One day not so long ago, I was listening to An Awful Lot of Running by Chameleon Circuit… Okay, let’s be honest here… I was singing it while waiting for the bus, when I got to the lines:
He is like fire
Burning through time…
Now, music and poetry are technically different things, but they’re related enough to lend themselves to being analysed along similar lines. The difference here, though, is that lyrics don’t come with punctuation marks. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem. Context usually gives you enough information to figure out how you would write the phrase. However, in the case of these lines, it’s not clear whether the pause after “fire” is the result of the need for a comma or because of the rhythm of the music. So, you end up with a set of postulate phrases and no way to determine which one is the right one. In this case, the lack of specificity asks you to consider all possible interpretations. He could be like fire, and also burning through time. He could be like fire and literally burning time. He could be like a fire burning through time. There are more, but you get the point.
The space between these two phrases is left undefined, but, when we hear them, we make sense of them through it. Similarly, the space between posts is a verdant land where any number of burning Time Lords in need of a good soak may pop up. A book provides the illusion of the unity of time by filling in the punctuation for us. Sure, you may have written that introduction three months before you ever touched the first paragraph, but, in the world crafted and edited by the book, that time doesn’t exist. The book is a process that is made to seem holistic, like it just popped fully-formed out of mid-air. The content of that book may not reflect that. In fact, it may be much like this project, but by compiling and concentrating it in one place and time, it loses the slippery free-form of an on-going process. Or, at least, something that has the illusion of an on-going process. I’m not about to go into the experiential difference, because I’m not sure one even exists.
Here, I’m talking about how the reader experiences the whole thing. As someone who writes, that’s my primary concern. Yes, the whole point of writing this is to work through the process of creation, but, for me, the point of creation is communication. If the very act of putting my work in a book changes how my reader approaches it, if just picking it up as a book alters how you approach it, then that’s something I’m going to want to know about. It may be a subtle difference, but small differences build into each other over time. So, I guess, being clearly understood is what I’m going on about (Iiiiirony!).
Word Count: 1605