Saturday, 28 September 2013

Writing - Age and vision

There are none as blind as those who don't want to see

There are all sorts of sayings about vision, sight etc. 

You can't see the wood for the trees

Seeing is believing

The eyes are the window of the soul

Turn a blind eye

I see know ships

And so on. There is a wealth of obtuse philosophy about sight and perception. I can remember having a conversation when at college, probably in the wee small hours, along the lines of if someone leaves a room and you can no longer see or hear them do they really still exist? All very deep stuff but just a mental exercise really. If you begin to examine language and the references to sight and vision you'll soon get fed up. When we write our tales there is a dependency on sight and from the readers point of view 'the mind's eye'. Our stories depend upon the reader to be able to imagine mental pictures of places and activities we are describing. So when we describe situations we need to provide enough information for the reader to be able to activate their visual memories and then they apply aspects to whatever situations that we have created. In this way we can send our customers to places they've never been to before.

As we age our inner vision is enhanced by experience but it is all quite logical. The more we have seen the more handles there are on which to hang our writing to stimulate imaginations. It is almost inevitable then that reading audiences are at the older end of the age spectrum.

Then of course there is perception. What we see is interpreted by our brains and therein lies a problem. Our brains can be fed false information, rather like the female mammoth in the Ice Age, to the point that we believe something totally different from what is the truth. There comes a point when the mis-information becomes 'the truth' until something disrupts the lie and re-establishes a correct view. At this point I return to the philosophical situation where if you cannot see or hear anything does anything else exist?

I enjoy playing games with the brain. (Brilliant people often have the most persuasive demons). I'm not saying that I'm brilliant but if you spend time analysing your position in the world you are more likely to find the demons. I believe that most people have a demon or two that haunts, even hunts them out. Mine is linked to the clinical depression I was diagnosed with 10 years ago.

There has been a good deal of discussion in the media about how society views (there's that sight reference again) people with mental illness. Tesco had to withdraw a fancy dress costume that depicted people in this category in a negative way. If people have never entered the obscure world of mental defectiveness how can they understand? 

But there are demons. I have a demon that visits occasionally. I don't take tablets to keep the beast at bay but have learned to recognise the signs of its approach. When it comes upon me all I want to do is lie down,curl up and wait until its passing. I sometimes think that having a significant other to hold me would help and at other times I remember being told to 'pull myself together'. It seems that those who have not seen the beast have no concept of what it is all about.

One thing that I have learned to do is to create a form for the beast. It is in some ways a creative exercise and in others a safety mechanism. By attributing it with a recognisable form it seems easier to manage.

Somehow the idea that my personal bete noir is a wolf feels comfortable. At least so it seems until the entity turns up.
What triggers the appearance of the foul and evil head? All sorts of things is the answer. Alcohol can sometimes be blamed, a stray comment, an unfeeling attitude, lack of success, bullying and other factors. The point is that he comes, relentlessly, viciously aiming to consume but never quite able to get a grip. He is an opportunist.

The strange thing is that he's always been there for as long as I can remember. As I have got older I have realised that simple fact and it makes me wonder of others and their demons. They are rather like  the external 'souls' in animal form (daemon) in the story by Philip Pullman from the Dark Materials trilogy. It could be that we are not aware until old enough and wise enough to 'see' them.

God Bless