Tag Archives: Possibility

Things Falling Together – Creativity as Reverse Entropy

So, this is pretty much a part two of yesterday’s post. So you might want to read that first if you haven’t already.  Today is going to be mostly inspired by Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, Whitishrabbit‘s comments yesterday. Also loads of Modernism/Post-Modernism lectures at Uni. And probably some other stuff.

You can basically translate that whole first paragraph as meaning that I’m going to be a bit pretentious…but then..if you’ve been here before then you know that already.

So let’s get going.

Basically, yesterday we discussed the problems with the fact that possibilities become defined as we read or write. The options close down and there become less available routes available to us. Our myriad hopes and dreams are crushed by the one dominant course of action that plots itself.

The thing is that this ain’t all that bad.

The thing about writing, reading (and life) is that it’s fun. There’s always more possibilities than you think and there’s always more things to do.

You start off with an blank page, and in your mind that represents a chaotic and dramatic struggle of a million and twenty ideas, characters, events, plots, concepts..whatever. This huge disorganised mass of options that could go down. Twenty six letters, then another 26 to choose from after that. The options increase exponentially. Disorganisation rules. All the words in all the languages in worlds are available for that opening. Then anything you can fit after that.

I mean…just how many sentences are there to use?


That blank page could become anything. It could be a magic carpet to take you to far off Arabian bazaars, it could be a Longboat ready to take you to watch the spectacle of Fimbulwinter, it could be a patch of Earth for you to grow beautiful flowers in.

And that’s assuming you lack imagination and use the old tropes that have already been worn out; and even if you do that it could still be something amazing, because your mind remains different to everyone elses.

There’s lots of options…it’s chaos…that’s what I’m saying.

But then you make that first mark on the page.

That first miraculous mark, followed by the next, and the next.

So much pouring out, before you know it, the chaotic whiteness of possibility has been filled with the black marks of order.

Where there was nothing, now there is something. A story. A tale is being woven. An image is captured.

Creation…right there…on that little bit of paper. (Go and watch Mirrormask, Stephen Fry’s Librarian relates a similar creation myth…its also a good film).

And order is created.

That’s what’s wonderful, its not the possibilities lost, its the one that gets found. Defined, properly explored. It stops being a nebulous haze of thought, and becomes a solid, defined and reified piece of something. You can follow the thread now, see where it leads.

Out of the labyrinth.

You reverse entropy.

The structure becomes more organised.

Okay, so you don’t actually break any laws of Thermodynamics…that would be silly.

But you create something out of chaos.

It’s wonderful.

Pynchon carves these ridiculously lost and confused passages. Charts the passages of things falling apart. And leaves you hanging, dangling, waiting for a conclusion that will never come. He plays the game both ways. Leads you down a long dark tunnel of strangeness, raises mysteries and loses you in them. He takes you forward, ever forward, and then leaves you realising you’re on the wrong of the cliff edge.

You’re back in the chaos. You’ve no idea what happens next.

It’s a great feeling. But you’ve been bought there by that tunnel. Choices have to be made to lead you to that point. The route has taken you so far..and your imagination takes over.

Things fall apart all the time.

Try putting something together.

Try and lead people along with you, show them a path (remember it will be different for them….no matter how well you make your path it still looks different through the eyes of another) and lead them somewhere exciting.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the blind leading the blind. Just because you don’t know where you’re going doesn’t mean you won’t end up somewhere.

Doesn’t even matter if it’s nowhere…as long as the journey is fun.

Let things fall together.

It’s a good ride.



Hopes and Schemes – The Promise of Fiction

So, I have this problem.

I love reading, I really love reading. I’ve got huge stacks of books left to read and I’ve read huge stacks of book. The one problem is that bigger than either of these stack, is the stacks of books I’ve started but not finished.

I’m terrible at it.

I’ve started two books in the last week. One of them I only got two pages in before deciding I wanted to read something else first. (It’s the second in a series, I decided I wanted a break before continuing).

So instead I read something else. A book I bought on a whim last year because I thought the central idea sounded amazing.

Now here’s the problem.

I am enjoying this book thoroughly. But I’m pretty sure it’s not turning out to be the book I originally intended on reading.

It couldn’t be…that book doesn’t exist.


But let me explain further.

The book I just finished reading is the first book in the Riverworld Saga ‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go’. I enjoyed it, despite it lapsing into sexist and old fashioned views quite regularly, it’s definitely a little dated now, though part of that is because the main character is a Victorian Explorer.

Now, the basic premise of this series is incredible. Everybody in the history of Earth has been resurrected. Absolutely everybody. By some mysterious force. On a strange and vaguely Paradisical world. With no idea what’s going on.

Just think about that for a while….think of all the possible stories you can have in a world where everybody in history, from the cruellest dictator to the humblest peasant. From the most modern to the prehistoric. Every person ever.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in that setting.

The book picks a good path and makes for an entertaining yarn. But as the book continues, the options and possibility narrow. A narrative path is chosen and the adventures you imagined become, well…part of what you imagined but no longer part of the world that you’re reading.

I enjoyed the book, but I enjoyed my imagination more.

I guess this ain’t that bad, but it is frustrating.

Now, the book I’ve just started reading is called ‘Dying Inside‘ by Robert Silverberg. So far it’s actually been great, and quite unexpected it it’s route. But I still can’t help but think that the central idea is so fascinating, that I’m missing out on a million other stories that I want to read.

The central premise is that an aging telepath, as he grows old, is losing his power to read minds.

Really simple, but give space to have the whole raft of fears and worries about growing old and fading in a totally new way. It’s even got that Epilogue to The Tempest thing going on for it.

The emotional depth of the book, even just a few chapters in is incredible. It’s winding mid life crisis, with being a bit of a moody bastard, with the touching beauty (and horror) of being able to experience another person’s mind, with losing that, and hating it even more than you hated the power itself.

It’s powerful reading.

But it’s not the story my mind was imagining.

But then, that’s actually the joy of books really isn’t it. Seeing how someone elses mind works. It really is a joy; surprises come from that.

Now, us writers (ha) we know what that’s like from the inside, we’ve been surprised by ourselves, but its still not the same.

You can get so angry at an author when the characters don’t do what makes sense to you. But you remember, the characters aren’t you. The author isn’t you. You’re finding out things that don’t come from you.

Seeing into another persons mind.

Books are great.


I’ve kind of rushed this because I have to go to work, but still, what do you think?