Being Original


Recently read “the Life of Pi”. A story about a young boy lost at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. This is the short description, it is also the short description of another book, “Max and his Cats”, written by a Brazilian writer about twenty years ago. Two stories, one major premise. “Life of Pi” dealing with faith, belief, and reality. “Max and his Cats” dealing with an allegory of Nazi Germany.
It’s like two roads going into the same wood, eventually leaving on far different paths. Perfectly acceptable, yet somehow we would prefer that each other discover their own pristine forest, regardless of the potential of multiple visions. It’s almost as if this was a writing exercise in a class, “lost at sea with a Bengal tiger, now give me a thousand words.”
Is there original thought? There must have been at one time, even if it no longer exists. We are just at the back end, when most thoughts have been thunked. (Not a word but I like it).
When was the last original thought, who formed it?
We should raise a monument, declare a holiday, originality has been conquered. We can now rest in the comfortable known.
Perhaps this occurred longer ago than we realize.
The real story after the short version of “The Life of Pi” is that there are two very different stories to believe, the one which was fantastic and filled with meaning. The other that was more mundane, and somewhat horrific.
Why not believe the fantastic? The Tiger and Pi finding a way to live together, and together they experience the wonders of the deep ocean.
We love the familiar, we can wrap our minds around what we know, crafting a story or idea that licks around the edges of our favorite dish, is pleasing to our palette.
We have “sense memory” to help us codify, to place events and circumstances in perspective. Another way of expressing a comfortable known quantity is that “we understand”.
Nothing worse than writing a story that is not understood, nothing worse than writing an original idea.
8/12/03