Friday, March 12, 2010

The biggest one they can

You have a lot of freedom when you create something. This property is simultaneously the most wonderful and most troublesome aspect of our authorial capacities.

In other words, I can write anything I want to. Absolutely anything. Here, I'll show you:


But on the other hand, I could also write words that inform, words that entertain, or words that make you think. There are simply a lot of options open to us when we sit down at a keyboard, a piano, or a blank patch of beach sand.

And that sounds wonderful, right? Romatic even. Free reign of the human imagination.

But there are two problems:

Problem 1: Paralysis by options - If I give a person materials and tools and ask him to build a table, that's fine. Most people understand the parameters of what makes a table. But if I give a person those same things and ask him to build "whatever you want," he'd probably stare at me blankly. There are no parameters for "whatever you want," so it's hard to know where to start on that kind of project.

Problem 2: When you give people the ability to make whatever they want, the first thing they make is a penis. Just ask anyone who's ever run a message board.

But that second point doesn't surprise me. Our collective obcession with sex is hard-wired into our minds. Perhaps the best evidence for this is the fact that you mentally giggled a little when you read the word "hard-wired."

What surprises me is the particular branch of creative works I call "swing music about food."

And this is just a sample, there's much more to be found.

These writers looked at the page, saw all the possibilities, and started reading from a menu.

*I think it's worth noting that, while writing a line of gibberish, I still felt the need to follow the rules of capitalization and punctuation.

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