Great Vine

What makes a story? A beginning, middle, and end? Introduction, conflict, and resolution? Well, yes. Of course. But stories don’t always look like that. Sometimes the details are implied or even, the audience or reader just sort of forgives you the detail. What was the big disaster that led to the desperate landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? It was never specified.

What about the Tardis in Dr Who? Is it a phone box? Nope, it’s a police box. It was meant to have a stealth shape shifting ability, but after running out of budget, the police box shape remained. A handy cloak when in 60’s Britain where the show was first aired. Not so much now, or in dimension X or the Cretaceous Period or Feudal Japan… You get the idea. But we forgive them. We even make up reasons to excuse these transgressions.

Take the Klingons. Star Trek’s writers eventually came up with a reason for the changing physical look of the Federation’s interstellar rivals in the a-bit-rubbish Star Trek Enterprise. Fans, though, had been making reasons up all by themselves for years. They had been able to suspend their disbelief and forgive the obvious writing holes because… because what? Was it the tech? Or the journeys? Was it the mysterious planets?

Well, in part, yes. Mainly, though, it was the people. It was the characters. We don’t invest in another half-arsed super hero film because we believe in the reality of the fantasy. We invest because we see the humanity of the characters, because we see ourselves. As a writer, if you get that wrong, you could have the greatest budget of all time and yet nobody will buy into it. A text-book example is episodes One Two and Three of the Star Wars saga. Those prequels gave us underwritten characters who seemed as moronic as the ‘comedy’ battle droids with which they somehow seemed challenged by.

I’m not going to send you to some long drawn out character based drama, or even a short story or novel. This week, I’m gonna go from the serious to the silly. So, let’s watch a couple of Vine reels together.

Each ‘short’ is six seconds long, a feature or constraint of the micro blogging site. Some of my favourites have been put into a YouTube video below.

Each one is comedic, but also, each one somehow conveys a story in six seconds. How do they do that? Have a think, maybe let me know. Or don’t. However you want to approach these micro stories; enjoy.

Also: definitely NSFW

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Food Writing

Reality Hunger was released in February of 2010. I think it’s important to date these kinds of things because in this post-modern culture it’s very easy to forget that there was a time before certain objects, certain phenomena.

Reality Hunger is arranged into numbered sections, most, if not all, are not the words of its author, David Shields.

‘6

I need say nothing, only exhibit.’

For a still forming Creative Writing student at the University Of Gloucestershire, Reality Hunger was important. It was taught almost immediately as part of a transgressive class by Dr Martin Randall. We were encouraged to buy a copy and read it. Many of us came away confused as to what the appropriate reaction should be.

We would talk about it in the pub or the SU, between lectures or walking home from a party. Sometimes it would come up if we stumbled across each other’s paths in town.

’69

There are two sorts of artist, one not being in the least bit superior to the other. One responds to the history of art so far; the other responds to life itself.’

Our gradual consensus centred around Shields’ idea of ‘brickolage’; of forming text or narrative through others’ work. Sampling with a keyboard and words instead of a set of decks and some old soul records.

Myself and a fellow student formed a writing performance group called The Jolly Autocratic Committee and wrote a twelve-minute long performance piece constructed out of found language. I’ll share it with you at some point in the future.

‘204

As a preamble to their performances, traditional storytellers in Majorca would say, “It was and it was not so”.’

At the front of things, however, my writing almost totally dried up for six months. Reality Hunger hit me hard enough to shatter what I thought I should be doing as a writer. I had to rebuild.

It is probably the most important book I own. It was devastating and inspiring. It still is.

‘315

While we tend to conceive the operations of the mind as unified and transparent, they’re actually chaotic and opaque. There’s no invisible boss in the brain, no central meaner , no unitary self in command of our activities and utterances. There’s no internal spectator of a Cartesian theater in our heads to applaud the march of consciousness across its stage’

If you have your own Reality Hunger story to tell, let me know in the comments.

Main Vlog below.

Headphone Commute

One of the Five Standard Small Talk Questions when meeting someone new is,

‘What music do you like?’

I like all music, but I find myself mostly listening to one particular podcast over and over again. Listening to it has me constantly trying to reframe the question: how can I achieve this in prose?

There is a large catalogue of these mixes to chose from but I’d recommend starting where I started, back in 2012, with ‘Analog Caverns And Digital Crypts‘.

Get a little lost in it, find the narrative, and above all, enjoy.

 

 

 

Thinking Time

Sampled over and over it feels like I’ve been listening to various tiny slices of Lyn Collins Think for, well, the total time I’ve been listening to dance music.

Used by funk DJs, MCs, Drum And Base artists and the occasional narcissistic megalomaniac (that’s why we love him) it seems to have no equivalent. If you know of a sample that has been used more, let me know.

It’s hard to think of something more different from Think than Square Pusher’s Come On My Selector. Layered and anarchic, it’s coke and coffee with a video by Chris Cunningham to blow your little socks off. Listen hard, though; Think  is in there.

So let me type this for the first of many times:

Your art is boundless, is comes from the smallest of places and fills the largest of spaces. You can twist and manipulate anything.

Now, watch my favourite music video and use it to go create something.

That’s an order.