Sunday, April 26, 2009

Started working on the Party Girl text. Finally. At least I had a deadline - it was what I wanted to give my fiction workshop class for my final submission for the semester. the installation itself, it feels very rough, raw, and, I think, doesn't hold together. It doesn't do what I wanted it to do - which is to tell a story. More precicely to tell a narrative of American consumerism. And then I was reading through another blog I follow - - and looking at the workshops Dean Wesley Smith and his wife Kristine Rusch do, which several of my friends have done and love - and there was one that was about structure, which made me realize...oh, yes, that's part of the problem with Party Girl. There's no narrative structure yet. It is just a jumble of information because there's no narrative thread.

Which, having recognized it, interests me immensely becuase it's at the crux of what I wanted to explore - that narrative impulse, the ordering of random pieces of information and the way we create a story to make it all seem cohesive. Jonah Leher wrote about this on his blog,The Frontal Cortex (, the other day:

Why do we do this? I like to think of these confabulations as necessary half-truths to preserve the unity of the self. At any given moment, our mind is overstuffed with disparate sensations and fleeting thoughts; our different hemispheres want different things and distinct blobs of brain pump out distinct emotions. Why, then, do we feel like a unified person? Why do I feel like "Jonah" and not like a collection of random and stray neural emanations? Because we tell ourselves a story. Just as a novelist creates a narrative, we create a sense of being. The self, in this sense, is our work of art, a fiction created by the mind in order to make sense of its own fragments. In Proust Was A Neuroscientist, I quote Virginia Woolf on this mental process:

Am I here, or am I there? Or is the true self neither this nor that but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give rein to its wishes and let it take its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves?

So here I am, reminding myself once more about the process, the exploration, of figuring out what it is that will give these pieces of information that spark of life (cue the scene from Young Frankenstein) that will make it all come together. Structure, structure, structure. Our minds know the shape something is supposed to be in even if we can't articulate it, and, when it doesn't match what we want it to be, it doesn't make sense.


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