Abstract Writing

We have abstract art, abstract jazz, and abstract interpretive dance… but we don’t have abstract writing. No one can teach it and maintain a serious facial expression.

How would abstract prose work? Would it be complete strokes of words, or parts of words?
A portrait, even an expressionist portrait, is made of shapes like noses and eyes, but a purely abstract painting looks like nothing other than paint. So abstract writing might look like nothing other than letters.

alf aosdfjasdfjh e!wof o0qpeqpwfj a?lksdjfjlas dlfjasmnasdfn asdf

A perfect abstract piece of writing. Isn’t it brilliant? It may be a wonderful piece of million-dollar writing, or my tumblr password, who knows? But I think it is worth money and will send it to an agent and wait for my paycheck.

Of course we have many rules in writing. Show, don’t tell, use the correct spelling, write forwards not backwards, etc. We never ask who made the rules, though, and why we have to adhere to them if there are no consequences other than being ignored.

I’m going to try an experiment one day – write a piece of prose without worrying about any rules and see if I gain anything from it. Perhaps it is the tight bounds of the rules that make writing readable.

Pecan edit passive ocean tribe . Tumult green succulence ash. Garbled trouble brain dream. You know what I mean.

Artificial Intelligence can now synthesize seemingly coherent sentences. Here’s the output from a little program I wrote, a little Bayesian Classifier that takes as input a famous novel (Like Sugar Crash) and outputs new sentences in the same style.

“His physical cloth making some of flapjack and fat I am not .
“She should have an alpha inside, someone physically perfect, to her friend responded, clearly an expert on my hair, she wants me to her psychological scars like she was secretly from his physical cloth making some of flapjack and fat I am not . I was secretly from me to her psychological scars like she was wasted in Kobal street . I am not . I am light as she was secretly from me to her psychological scars like that I’m pretty fucking close to be like .

Pretty fucking computer generated, but pretty fucking cool too. A computer writing about stuff in my style, such that it is. I think that’s what abstract is, not complete randomness, but a stitching together of rules instead of meaning.

The Reader Did It or “The Impossible Book”

For a long time now I’ve been juggling a handful of sketches for a book idea – one where the reader is the killer. Not the narrator, but the reader.

I’ve long thought the narrator is a separate character, a disassociated voice, with their own personality and quirks. Sometimes they get the details wrong (the unreliable narrator), or just plain lie, but usually they have some insight into the characters thoughts. However voiced, the narrator remains inside the book. Close the cover and the voice is dead sleeping Dormant.

But what if we break that supposedly immutable fourth wall and bring the narrator into the plot? This is done brilliantly in The NeverEnding Story… where our charmingly un-plucky young hero discovers the book he is reading is about himself. This was magnificently published in a book that felt just like the one described in the book itself, with an embossed front cover, and red and green text. A story that went on forever, in time and vertical space.

 

 

But what if you, the reader, are the killer? How do I, the narrator, talk to you, the reader? First Person point of view comes to mind, but FPV can still take on the idea of a third person. In Fight Club the first person POV is still undeniably someone else.

I am John’s ponderous medulla.

There are some things we all share. You’ve probably seen those Horoscope debunking videos where everyone is given the same horoscope and told that it has been created especially for them. Lo-and-behold everyone is surprised to learn we share traits we think are unique.

Perhaps you, being a person nearish your thirties, have many Facebook friends but only a few you can trust, are a little perverted. Not anything you’d want to share with your friends or family, but nothing you’d tell your partner either. You are not so easily fooled by horoscopes, perhaps you are, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been a very naughty boy girl person. I’m not going to get into gender identity of a murderous reader, that’s an entirely different kind of story, but I will need to know things about you, like what TV programs you like (Friends, Cosmos, maybe HIMYM).

In short, for you to be the killer you need to know that I know that you’ve been thinking about killing your boss. (Good lucking untangling that one!)
Boss because it is probably the only universal murderous fantasy people share (I am my own boss so we won’t get into that).

So you did it, now I, the narrator, have to figure out how you did it, and how it was done. I’m hot on the trail, you’ll have to turn the page to find out if I catch you.

Thumb Wars

All across the world people are in a vicious thumb war for your mind. That’s right, social media polarizes your nation and your world. Pick any viewpoint and half the population wants to kill you, regardless of facts, statistics, or history. People will claim their viewpoint is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Ronald Reagan had Star Wars, Donald Trump has Thumb Wars.

Writing is also a battle for your mind. I’m constantly battling my thumbs, they work at different speeds to my thoughts, and they often type what I don’t mean. They speak a different language than mine.
Sometimes I can just let my thumbs go ahead and do what they want while I sit back and drink coffee, when they’re done I’ll read over the words and try to turn the thumbed out sketch into something coherent, a painting with color and texture.

But writing is a battle for your thoughts. How do I tell the story that I need to tell you and also keep your attention long enough to share my story? One way is to make you care about the characters and what they’re trying to do. Another is to create an impending dread, to trigger something primal that causes you to turn the page. These are all tricks, but sometimes they are necessary to get you to read the next page.

One two three four I declare a thumb war! And we’re off, me vs your attention.