Saturday, November 16, 2013

Natural Metaphor

Turn to Clear Vision, Dallas TX, 2013
I often refer to something in my writing classes that I call "natural metaphor." What I mean by it is what is called an objective correlative - something in the story that expresses the emotions of the characters (usually in fiction).

A great example is this: a student wrote a few weeks ago about liking sitting on the floor, but especially liking to sit on the ground outside. She described her ideal sitting circumstance: the form is comforting but not too hard or too soft, she can sit up without any effort on her own, a feeling of sitting on a cloud, able to lie down but not falling down. She described her connection to nature: sky, open fields, mountains, water.

When she was done, she laughed: "Of course, this is really about the whole of my life - not wanting to fall down, to be comfortable, to have enough open space around my emotions..." and we all laughed with her, but the description was both a) more powerful and b) more complex when she also described how these emotions/cravings manifest in a directly physical way, too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Closets, Cocoons, Secrets and Other Obstacles

This video is about memoir, if you watch it with that in mind.
Here's what amazing - the way she talks about the dangers of comparing pain, the way she addresses shame as everyone's closet without using that word. When she talks about closets I think of Chogyam Trungpa's cocoon metaphor for the disgusting but somehow so familiar eg safe places our habits create for us in the dark recesses of our minds.

How to get to what is universal - "your shame is your gold," dorothy allison - while also respecting our individual experiences is really, really hard to do. Please watch this 11 minute video - Ash does it stunningly well.