Of Precision and Depth Associations

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

— Gustave Flaubert

In love, as in gluttony, pleasure is a matter of the utmost precision.

— Italo Calvino

What is it that this is? That is, of words, these constructions that we like to contrive: what is it that this here is? I have been looking, this day; I am looking for depth association. Each word we lay down should have clarity, could be significant, must be crisp. It is this; or rather, this is what it is at this moment.

This isn’t just about a quality of content in the writing. We may read others’ words and find them stimulating, though sometimes — admittedly — we can also find them repulsive and all degrees between. There’s more within. In some ways, that which is sought is ineffable, or untouchable: it can’t reach the sense world. I’ve written about the feel of words before (this is the closest I can describe it); there are other layers though. This depth association is how I render it this day.

Try to write with clarity, so here it is: the smallest elemental seeds of lines are built into the shortest of stories, which in turn are part of a greater whole, which link into other stories in other segments of the wider collection, and all is connected across time, characters, places, memories, literary references or themes. It is this depth association I am, currently, trying to see in words I read and write. How does what you write connect with your other offerings? How can what I write connect across the sphere of my output? There must be honest attempts at precision.

There must be motifs and geographies, objects and actions, and other nuances, that link across time and page or screen. There must be the slightest repetition or just the insinuation of reference: it must be like light; or, there must be flavours steeped in; or, it is — as I’ve long suspected — the gap between the church bells that resonates with the most clarity. Words can be sharp and delicate, both, but such that after-tastes linger; after-images can press against the redness of the closed eyes; all of these: metaphors can marinate in the whole.

Be clear and precise: what is it that this is? This is a need for precision in the writing and in the reading; rhythm and grace; that which could melt. These are the ideals that gather, though these are the ideals that frustrate. The writer of pulp will earn his sluice of gravy money, sink it and think nothing more, no doubt; the writer who strives for the violinist’s chords may just be sunk by his own endeavours. In the end, perhaps the art of precision is an act of love: there may be depth associations and crispnesses but only those of similar malady might see.


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