Monday, August 07, 2006

An arrogance of mine

I always wonder what's going on in other people's minds because mine is always doing something. The idea of emptying my mind is entirely alien to me. It's hard to keep it down to a level where I can type or talk fast enough to keep up with it. Naturally, most of these ideas are not particularly useful; there's a constant background hum of random snatches of songs with the words jumbled up, meaningless juxtapositions of ideas and concepts, and an endless sequence of detours. Sometimes my mind fills the empty space by working out, sometimes more than once, how I would go about explaining something to someone, or asking someone something, in some extremely unlikely hypothetical situation.

Sometimes I imagine if a telepath ever met me, he'd die of boredom, though not before I died of embarassment. This is so fundamental to my mind's inner workings, yet so hard to explain without sounding bizarre and like I'm just kidding, that I can't help imagining that everyone else's mind does some of the same stuff, and they just don't see a point in talking about it.

All those semi-random juxtapositions of ideas and combinations my mind is trying out, like some cheesy 1980s movie depiction of a computer breaking a password (letters and numbers spinning, settling into place one at a time), produce an awful lot of very weird, surrealistic, and interesting insights which pass before my mind's eye and then move on, displaced by the next one.

Once in a while, I'll hear someone praising some public figure for having remarkably weird ideas. A stand-up comedian whose act explores things people take for granted, or an RPG author who creates surrealistic explorations of real-world phenomena, or the bizarre turns of phrase in a song, or the exotic imagery in a film. And it's not that they're praising the execution, the quality of the writing, the realization of the vision; it's the oddness itself they praise, and wonder what kind of mind it takes to come up with such ideas. And I can't help but think: I have ideas that odd in the shower every day. Ideas that are just as far off the orthodoxy center, but hold together with themselves with just as much jarring internal consistency. Ideas that, if I took the time to write them down, would be just as bizarre and yet just as compelling as any of them.

Whether I could realize them as effectively, that's another matter. I am a pretty good writer, so maybe I could give Kenneth Hite a run for his money, if I could put as much time into it as he can (which, clearly, I can't). But I am no songsmith, so They Might Be Giants have nothing to fear. I couldn't deliver a joke on stage to save my life, so Steven Wright can rest easy. And Terry Gilliam can keep making his films in peace.

My life is plenty full, so I know I'll never have no better use for my time than to put the quality of my weird to the test, and prove whether this is just unfounded arrogance, or founded arrogance; and sometimes I wish I could, just so I'd know. For now, I'm content to observe that, contrary to common opinion, execution, not inspiration, is usually what makes great work; there are far more great ideas than great results. So it really doesn't matter. For all I know (and as some stubborn part of me insists on believing), everyone is secretly having ideas just as weird all the time anyway.


Big Al said...

You are a HELL of good writer and should put some those ideas to paper. I am very surprise you havent done it yet. Myself, I get to distracted and my use of the english language applied to paper is minimal but you HG should explore that creative side of yourself.

litlfrog said...

We are each of us an island. There's no way to know whether your rush of images, words, and concepts is similar to mine, or to Robin Williams' or Kenneth Hite's. I think the answer lies closer on the scale to "We all have thoughts like that." Perhaps you're more aware of them or are better able to articulate and retain them.