“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.”
Kingsley Amis

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Day 16: On Describing the Indescribable
Tue 2010-11-16 21:05:28 (in context)
  • 31,010 words (if poetry, lines) long

As I mentioned some posts earlier in passing (in parentheses, even), I've set myself a rather difficult problem for a NaNoWriMo-timed novel draft. The character of Jet is largely imaginary. Obviously every character in a novel is generally imaginary, but Jet is even more so. She is merely a projection into space-time, a fiction created by a undimensional being in order to have an effect on a physical dimension. In reality she has no physical form, does not communicate or think in words, does not use physical senses to perceive the world, doesn't live in a world that can be perceived by the physical senses. Words as we use them--words in which this book are being written, thanks--do not apply. Even names used on that plane (see excerpt below) are merely convenient fictions.

Jet's real existence is quite literally indescribable. This presents a problem for the author wishing to describe it.

Mostly the novel is set on Earth, where Lia lives and where Jet is visiting. No problem there. And I can explain away Jet's thinking in terms of space/time by saying "Well, she is dreaming. When you're dreaming, even when you know you're dreaming, your memory of waking reality is limited, right? Same here. Jet's awareness is limited by being in a dream of Earth."

But then I have a few scenes where Jet "wakes up" in her really real reality, the place where the illusion of space/time exists only as a sort of role-play or metaphor for non-spacial beings to play with, and I run out of excuses.

What do I do about it? Well, so far, when I write scenes in Uberreality or whatever we want to call it, I start noticing and questioning spacial metaphors...

"I push the thought away." But away implies distance...
"I try to keep him at a distance." But you can't have distance if you have no space.
"I perceive the shape of what he's thinking." But shape is a feature of physicality.

Spacial metaphors are everywhere in the English language. I participated in a 15-minute word-sprint and got only 366 words instead of my usual 500-700 mainly because I was thinking really, really hard about this stuff. Every time these sorts of turns of phrase come up, I tried to explain away, or subvert, or replace the physicality implied by the turn of phrase.

So I've been coming up with what are probably inadequate attempts at describing Jet's experience in Uberreality. Where we would walk away from a person or go looking for a person, Jet expands or contracts her awareness to include or exclude their awareness. Except "expand" and "contract," again, imply the growing or shrinking of physical space or physical shapes. Gah! I fail. I think I set myself up to fail.

(Just keep telling yourself, "This is only a rough draft." Forget the impossibility of the impending revision. Just generate rough draft.)

You know what? I think I need to reread the Seth material. If not now, then at least in December. Because the idea of physical space/time being more or less a consensual fiction sounds a heck of a lot like the Seth material. Seth/Jane Roberts probably did a great job describing non-physical existence.

I wake up, and I think I'm still dreaming. I'm lying on a wide lawn, the sort of water-wasteful endeavor you see in front of office buildings. The bullet wound in my left shoulder is throbbing, and I can't breathe straight. Of course I can't; my left lung is punctured. I've just plummeted nine stories to the ground. I am on intimate terms with pain, and I can identify every broken bone. There are many. And from the rest of the internal damage I should have bled out minutes ago. I should be dead. And Lia was here, right here, just a moment ago--where is she? I need to get the lapis stones to her--

Or did I already do that?

Why hasn't the dream ended?

A lightly amused chuckle cascades through my awareness like an unexpected waterfall through a suddenly leaky roof. A tall blond man stands over me, grinning. His eyes are an unlikely purple.

And I remember. The dream has ended.

"Chender, these tricks are getting old." It takes me a moment, just an extra effort of will that I hope Chender doesn't notice, to disperse his illusion. Then the office lawn is gone, and with it, my mangled human body. Pain is no more than a fading memory. Pain is incomprehensible; physicality is imaginary. Why do you continue playing such games?

For a moment Chender's human form remains, bending the experience of existence around him into a remarkable semblance of space. Then the body he uses explodes into confetti, into a cloud of dazzling lights, into nothing at all. Sight itself is exposed as a fiction. There is only a shared awareness in which we communicate.

You believe the dream so implicitly. It makes you irresistably easy to fool.