Being a five-act meditation on Dark Matter,
design, music, memories and broken crockery . . .
I've seen you astride
the wind and the tide
my dark angel, you greet me
with a samurai sword,
close the chapter . . .
This book is ended
and I put it down,
find I'm befriended
in a foreign town,
I'm here, but nearer to the future . . .
But only yesterday night
I stood in the pouring rain,
shouting at the thunder:
I said "Lord, I'm starting to understand
the hidden mystery."
Lord, the compass falls in my hand,
I can sail to the far horizon . . .
Could you conceive a mirror
where you could never see yourself?
--Peter Hammill, "This Book"
Dark Matter 1: I'm starting to understand. Remarkably (and against all odds), my three projects keep lurching forward, each exhibiting something that resembles Progress--at least from a distance and when backlit. In the absence of film-star looks or a saint's patience, this is seeming proof that an industrial-strength focus complements my previously noted relentlessness. And here John Irving has my back, having noted, "You've got to get obsessed and obsessed." (Though on some days, I wish being Cary Grant had been an
option . . . )
Recently I unthreaded those strands of the novel collectively called "The Composition of Dark Matter" and rewrote them as a reconstituted whole. And afterwards, they had to be rewoven into the fabric of the book. Spending so much time with this distilled version of Tony's Dark Matter caused me to consider the way writing invisibly takes up most of my time, giving shape to the smaller, observable part of my life.
If someone doesn't know what I'm engaged in, I wonder what it is they assume I'm doing? The only certainties are (1) the solitary nature of the endeavor and (2) the repeating cycle that shifts through apparent day dreaming, sporadic scribbling and then full-bore, speed-lashed keystrokes. And in between these "episodes," well, there's a lot of wandering about, waiting to again lock onto inspiration, increasing the amplitude until it's discernible amidst the ambient noise of more predictable approaches.
The only thing giving away the game is the flying-fingers-on-keys phase. Remove that bit, and there's not a lot of difference between writing and being one of those disturbed souls who wander the streets talking to themselves. Okay--except for the in-tow shopping cart. (Though toting a messenger bag full of Moleskines comes uncomfortably close.) And yeah, maybe the imaginary friend part. (But thinking about it, that pretty much describes having an agent.)
Writing is the 95 percent of my personal universe not visible to anyone else. And the only way to know it's there is by studying the impact on my public life--how it invisibly frames my daily actions. So, yes: Dark Matter.
I've been thinking about this as I continue to grapple with why I persist in blogging. Let's face it--it's not like I need to bang down even more words after my daily dance with the novel's neurotic characters. And yet from the outset, I understood this site was a necessary adjunct to the current set of interlocking projects. I couldn't have articulated why I knew this, but the certainty was there. Now, after rewriting the book's embedded novella, I finally realize this blog has been a similar, serialized analysis of my own Dark Matter--reportage as gravity lens.