Friday, May 27, 2005

Getting Wood In The Woods

Clever and amusing piece by David Hadley (Louise In The Woods) which anyone who writes will enjoy. I should warn you that it involves a heterosexual scenario. But remember that these people didn't choose their sexuality and some of the greatest writers and artists have been heterosexual. (Although ironically many of the greatest heterosexual love songs were written by gay men).

There's a reference in David Hadley's piece to over-use of adverbs being a sign of bad writing. However, adverbs and adjectives are the foundations - and flying buttresses - of pornography and erotica. I first realised this when I read Joe Orton's Diaries. They include some explicit descriptions of his sexual exploits. If you get the book from the library it will conveniently fall open at those pages.
When I read those passages I was struck by the fact that, although explicit, there was nothing erotic or pornographic about them, nothing to get the juices flowing. Then I realised it was because they were clinical, factual accounts, mostly lacking the throbbing, pulsating, descriptive power of adjectives and adverbs.

The other thing that David's piece reminded me of was cyber-roleplay. When I first got the internet I explored a lot of strange things I'd heard about and did things simply because I could. (I once listened to the police radios in New York which for some inexplicable reason are streamed on the internet. A cop found some gloves in the back of a stolen car but they didn't fit him so he put them back. The excitement was too much for me).

Cyber-roleplay can be sexual or non-sexual and even the sexual variety can be so subtle and under-stated that it could be published in an old-fashioned women's magazine. In essence, it's two people in character improvising a story.
The reason that David's piece reminded me of this is that I once 'cyber-ed' with someone who constantly put stage directions and footnotes in brackets during the dialogue, so I started doing the same. The text began to read like a school edition of Shakespeare with lots of explanations and background information. This chap would step out of character and put: (good plot device!) or: (interesting sub-text there!). This convinced me that he was an English student. Eventually I asked him and he was.

It was a fascinating exercise in co-operative, improvised story-telling and by sheer chance I'd hit on someone intelligent and skilful enough to do it well. But it was a story without an ending. Although we pursued our dialogue two or three times, he put so much detail into the story that our two characters never got beyond sitting down to have a cup of coffee and in the real world dawn would be breaking while he was still wittering parenthetically about sub-texts.

Somewhere in cyberspace they're still sitting there drinking black coffee because his character had run out of milk and the shops were closed. Perhaps my character caught the last bus home because his character had started singing along to a Bobby Goldsboro album. Or maybe his character went down on bended knee and asked my character to become his Civil Partner. Alas, I shall never know.


I'm not very punctilious about putting links in my blog. It's sheer laziness. I'm sorry.
But here's a link to the In Our Time website that I wrote about recently. The favourite philosopher poll is quite good fun. They've asked some famous people to nominate their favourite philosopher. I thought Terry Wogan might have gone for Bobby Goldsboro and his seminal anti-theist treatise 'God didn't make the little green apples.'
(OK, I know the premise of the song is that God did make the little green apples, and the stomach-churning country singers who sing about them, but that would spoil my little joke.)
But Terry plumps for Marcus Aurelius. I'm sure Radio 2 listeners request his Meditations all the time.
I wouldn't know. I've never listened to Radio 2.
The day I do I'll start putting my affairs in order and typing out my funeral service.
Incidentally, In Our Time was one of the first BBC programmes you could download to your iPod.
So if you see a youth in a hoodie walking down the street with his earplugs in and a furrowed brow and he suddenly says "No, that was Wittgenstein, you wanker!", you'll know that he's listening to In Our Time.


At 12:36 PM, Blogger Norbert Trouser-Quandary said...

Glad you liked it. Sorry about being hetrosexual, but even my more... er... unusal scenarios seem to preserve the male/female thing. i.e.


At 7:59 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Please don't apologise for your sexuality. I never have.
I was going to say the old line that you can only write about what you know about but, in view of the subject matter of those other stories, that might be rather tactless.


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