Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Pure Magic"

In a posting I cleverly entitled “‘The Duke’ and ‘The Dude’”, I compared the new True Grit with the original, saying that, in terms of “look”, the current version appeared more “autumnal”, finishing, critically, with the observation:

“You don’t remake a movie for the leaves.”

A writer I respect complimented me on that line.

In a posting called “A Race To The Finish Line”, about my struggle to eat up all the bananas we bought before they went bad, I lamented the hopeless situation of that Central American fruit’s rapidly turning rotten, by quoting a fictional medical scientist observing,

“We’ve eradicated diphtheria, banished smallpox, and made polio a thing of the past.  But we can do nothing for the banana.”

A commenter named Ian singled that line out for commendation. 

I’m proud of those lines, and several others than have won praise during my tenure here, but I am reluctant to take credit for them, because I was not truly involved in making them up.  I was simply the medium.  They just popped into my head, and I wrote them down.

Since no thought, plan or premeditation were involved in the process, I attribute these – let me flatter myself and say – “inspired moments” to the only explanation that satisfactorily accounts for their existence:

Pure magic.

I mean, what’s magic?  Something that’s there, and then it isn’t.  Which is not this.  But it is its opposite – something’s that’s not there, and then it is. 

Where did these things come from? 

I have no idea.

(I’ll keep this thought segregated between brackets, but experiences of this nature make it less difficult for me to believe in other things lacking rational explanations.  And I’ll leave it at that.)

I know that other writers – I will call them my “betters” – have more “moments of inspiration” than I do.  But I have enough of them to be humbled and grateful to be their Delivery System.  I wouldn’t want it to happen too often.  It would diminish my surprise each time one of them shows up.

I know.  I’m easy to make fun of:

“Oooh, look at me.  I’m the Chosen One – Touched by a Special Angel.”

Okay, two things.  One, my amazement at what comes out of me is genuine.  And two, I am not saying I'm uniquely special.

Which leads to the point of this posting. 

When I hear a line that delights me to the point of near ecstasy, a line courtesy of another writer moved by the Invisible Spirit of Inspiration, I am proud and honored to acknowledge its magnificence.

This one is not even a whole line; it’s a three-word phrase.  But it almost literally took my breath away, meaning it didn’t entirely, but it came astonishingly close.

The line derives from an episode of Family Guy, a series I alternately admire and can’t stand.  Why?  Because of its infuriating satisfaction in its own unevenness.

The moment in question involves a conversation between two Family Guy regulars, concerning another character’s recent sex change operation.  The exchange turns to the character’s anatomical rearrangement below the belt, which the show’s “baby” character who speaks with an English accent describes as

“…a casserole of nonsense.”

Sometimes, when a line takes me totally by surprise, I don’t laugh.  Instead, my jaw drops, and I respond with a mixture of wonder, amazement and incredulity and awe.

And I respectfully tip my hat.

It is clear the “magic” visits other people as well.

Suddenly, for me, who receives those visits myself on occasion, a connection is made.

And the world feels a little less lonely.


joe said...

You can't be inspired (or to follow your train of thought) "struck by the magic" unless, at some level you're open to it.

JED said...

And isn't it fortunate for all of us that the "magic" for ideas about stories for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, The Best of the West and all the others came to you and not to someone who didn't know how to write or who was some place where he couldn't find a sharpened pencil.

Jim Dodd