10.28.2005

They Live

The other day, I had the opportunity to talk to some younger writers. One of them mentioned Salinger and how he used to find his characters so real, he would often refer to them as real people. For instance, according to this young woman, he would say things like, "Holden would never do that." She said this in a tone of awe, like it was unusual. Abnormal, even.

For once, the little safety mechanism that's supposed to keep me out of mental hospitals activated in time. I said not a word. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Thing is, I thought all writers viewed their characters as real people. I thought it was normal. At least for writers.

Hell, even the members of my writing group refer to my characters as if they were real people and I talk about theirs the same way. Last December, I was having trouble with a scene and, after patiently listening to my frustrations, one member of my group just turned to me and said, "But she would never do that. She would..."

It can be so annoying when other people know your characters better than you.

Earlier this year, this same character -- she lives to cause trouble -- got mad at me and stormed out of my head and went and stayed with another member of my writing group for a few days. Eventually, she got tired of tormenting that person's muse and came home. And then, a week or so ago, the sister of the trouble-making character got bored because I was overworked and stressed and had no time for her, although it was her turn to have my full attention, so she just up and left for a couple of days.

No lie, the spot in my brain where she normally resides was blank. Empty. Hollow. She did come back, but I still have no idea where she was or what she did while she was gone. I doubt she'll ever tell me.

6 Comments:

Blogger MacDuff said...

David Hume shows to quite conclusively that there is no such thing as self and that self is a construction of the imagination. So you ought not to be surprised at treating fictional characters as real people they are as real as you are and are a product of the same factory.

10:39 AM  
Blogger MacDuff said...

delete the first 'to' in line one above - I dont want to be even more incomprehensible than I am.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Coyote Beta said...

Sorry for the silence, MacDuff. Was off on vacation. Apparently, so were the other coyotes. How does David Hume show this? What are his arguments? Do you have any links?

10:47 PM  
Blogger MacDuff said...

I didnt realise there was a pack of you!
I think this might be a good link http://www.iep.utm.edu/h/humeepis.htm#H2
But please don’t trouble to read it all just to reply to me.! Just take it that if you haven’t read Hume I am recommending him. I hate it when people lend you books and you feel obliged to read them.

Quoting from Hume the self that he disposes of is what he refers to in this early paragraph..
‘There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity.’
His argument is along the lines that we as human beings acquire our knowledge of the world through the senses that is the only way we can acquire such knowledge.
What we perceive through the senses Hume calls ‘impressions’. So if we see a tree then that image of a tree Hume calls an impression. We also have ‘ideas’ as Hume calls them for example the memory of the tree that we saw.
Hume says that for anything to be said to exist , for example the tree , there must be an ‘impression’ that you can point to. In the case of self Hume says try as he will there is no impression of a self that he can find. When he considers what goes on inside his own head he does not find an impression of self only individual perceptions of the world and ideas. The argument is much more subtle than that.

1:06 PM  
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