Friday, May 3, 2019

"Friday Questions - Pomerantz Style"

What exactly does that mean?

One:  I am answering questions on Friday.  (Although not every Friday.  In fact, this may be the first Friday I have ever done this.  Still, it’s Friday.  Thereby legitimately qualifying as “Friday Questions.”) 

Two:   I am answering show biz-related questions.  (As Ken Levine does every Friday and I have followed in his footsteps but once.)

And Three:  In distinguishing “Pomerantz-Style” fashion, the “Friday Questions” all come from one person. 


Who, at least recently, is the only person who asked any.

Oh, again in true “Pomerantz-Style” fashion – this would be “Four” – I am addressing them somewhat later than they were originally received, although, responding within a month of their arrival is somewhat faster than my habitual track record.

So there’s that “wrinkle.”
Now, without further ado, let us consider JED’s questions, keeping in mind that I am not singling JED out for special attention.  He is the only one who asked anything.

Pursuant to my “Twelve Angry Cave Men” two-parter (4/10 and 4/11, 2019), with its imagined “transcript” of a deliberating cave-person jury comprised of eleven “Hunters” and one “Gatherer” in which the lone “Gatherer” tries to sway the decisions of the eleven like-minded “Hunters” (“Spoiler Alert” – and fails miserably to do so), JED, after complimenting my work – thank you, JED – curiously inquires,

“Do you make a special effort to give both sides valid arguments or is that just good writing that any writer should be doing?”

My answer to that question is,


Philosophical Syllogism:

“I am a writer.  (Let’s forget about ‘good.’)”

“A writer’s job is to give both sides valid arguments.”

“I gave both sides valid arguments.”


In any discernible difference of opinion – a jury reaching a decision is merely the prototype; it could be any difference of opinion – which, parenthetically, lies at the heart of scene-writing vitality – one must imagine the dueling opinions of both sides.  Based on the adversaries’ determining bedrock beliefs, the “give-and-take” of the argument organically ensues.  (Often without the active involvement of the writer.)

Underlying this literary exercise is my determining bedrock belief:  Nobody changes their mind about anything.  (Making the generating source of my blogatorial effort – Twelve Angry Men, in which a lone man changes the votes of the eleven other jurors, though masterful drama – personally difficult to accept.)

I was also impelled to devise that two-parter because… wait.

The reason nobody changes their mind about anything is that the deal-sealing element of personal experience.  Evaluating the facts of the case before them, the lone “Gatherer” is open to the dismissing charge of “You have no idea what you’re talking about” because, from an experienced “Hunter” perspective, he doesn’t.

Now, back to where I was.

My bedrock belief that nobody changes their mind about anything leads to my lack of faith in the idea of “A jury of your peers.”  At first I considered that a modern “monkey wrench” in judicial proceedings, today’s culture so variously diverse that virtually nobody can reasonably “walk in the shoes” of a defendant whose life is radically different from their own.

Then I realized you just needed two substrata (Latin; neuter plural) of people, per exemplo, “Hunters” and “Gatherers”, and the “Jury of your peers” concept goes right out the window.  The retention of this dubious tradition reminding me of the psychological test the Israeli army used to predict who would successfully “come through” in combat that turned out to demonstrably not do the trick but the Israeli army kept using it anyway because that’s all they had.

“A jury of your peers” prevails because that’s all we have.

You can see how passionate I am about this.  I have strayed beyond the scope of JED’s original question.

Returning to the topic at hand before I run out of time.

I mentioned recently that the relatively easiest posts to write are those chronicling actual events.

The most fun posts to write are scenes, dramatizing issues of strong personal concern.  I enjoy writing them, partly because that’s what I used to do – and still can – taking particular pleasure in balancing the positions of both sides.

Two points before departing, having run off at the mouth answering one question, as I am unpracticed in the “Friday Questions” motif and therefore… like a kid in a restaurant, I have egregiously “filled up on bread.”


Although scrupulous balance is the meat and potatoes of energized scene writing, in our polarized society, that reasonable mindset is virtually gone from our behavioral firmament.  Partisans instead hold to one side, triggering comfort and clarity, but not drama.  Fireworks, yes, but not drama.  Which requires cathartic resolution.  Any chance in the near future, do you think, of our ever achieving that?

Second, there are arguments I can’t write.  Adept lawyers can concoct presentable arguments for anything – O.J. Simpson is innocent – but I can’t.  I am limited that way.  At least as a writer.

Writing “Twelve Angry Cave Men” was not limiting, as I had no biasing dog in the ‘Hunter-Gatherer” dispute.  My dominating concern was the entrenched process, forcing alien factions to produce unanimous “justice.”  That I could write.  And I elected to do so.

Next time we meet, having dawdled on one question, I shall responsibly tackle the other two.

In the meantime, neither I nor, I suspect, JED would complain if others jumped in with questions of their own.

Though I don’t know for certain.

Perhaps JED likes is this way.

1 comment:

JED said...

Thank you, Earl. You not only answered my question but you were able to see into my mind (I think) to find the reason for my question:

Although scrupulous balance is the meat and potatoes of energized scene writing, in our polarized society, that reasonable mindset is virtually gone from our behavioral firmament.

I really do try to read from people on both sides of arguments but find the writing and discussions so grating and "rah rah for our side" that I often can't finish. I know a lot of this is from non-fiction and news but even short stories and literature are becoming this way. It seems that the thinking is, "If you give an inch on a discussion, you've lost."

I am so glad you continue to write. I just hope that younger writers can learn from you about good writing and the importance of really examining a situation whether it's to be fair or to make good drama. After all, who wants to listen to a story of just a droning voice reciting points. What keeps me glued to the page or the screen is a good drama - fiction or non-fiction.

And yes, I would be happy if other people asked questions of you. We all have a lot to learn.

Jim Dodd