Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Writing - Lesson 6 of 6: Rhythm

Of necessity I have some more very long quotes for you all but I think it is necessary to properly explain Rhythm, read through them carefully and consider what B. says seriously because I think it's something that you either already have an understanding of, or you don't.  It doesn't mean you won't ever if you don't yet, but it's something you'll have to read and see if you come to the same conclusion I do.

"...It [Rhythm] is one of the hardest subjects to explain because it is so simple and universal.  A child is born with the manifestation of Rhythm present.  It breathes.  A fair start which nature provides for all.  After that, development follows.  First in walking, second in speech, third in emotions.  One step, one word, one emotion changes into another and then another, each with the same allegiance, a final aim in view.  This is the first level of Rhythm- consciousness.  the second level arrives when outside forces impose their Rhythm on you.  When you walk or move or gesture with or for others.  When you walk in line; run to meet a friend; shake hands with an enemy.  when your words answer other words; sweeping you with them or holding you still.  When your emotions are the direct answer and result of somebody else's feelings.

"...[The third level is] When you command and create your own Rhythm and that of others.  It is perfection.  It is a result.  Do not hurry to achieve it.  The student must start with the second level.  He must not do much at the start.  All that is required of him is to notice these manifestations in real life and store them away in his brain.  Special attention should be given to the results of different Rhythms.  The best thing to start with is music, where Rhythm is most pronounced.  Go to a concert; a street organ, if you prefer, will do just as well.  But listen to it with all your being, entirely relaxed and ready to be swept by the definite measures of the music.  Give yourself up to the emotions it brings to you.  Let them change with the changes in the music.  Above all, be attentive and flexible.  Follow music with the other arts, these with every-day occurrences. 

"...look into space and listen with your inner ear.  Music, and the other arts which follow naturally, will be only an open road to the whole of the universe.  Don't' miss anything in it.  Listen to the waves of the sea.  Absorb their sweeping change of time, with your body, brain and soul.  Talk to them as Demosthenes did, and don' weaken after the first attempt.  Let the meaning and Rhythm of your words be a continuation of their eternal sound.  Inhale their spirit and feel at one with them, even for an instant.  It will make you, in the future, able to portray the eternal parts of universal literature.  Go through the same experience with woods, fields, rivers, sky above- then turn to the city and swing your spirit to its sound as you did to its creative rattle.  Don't forget the quiet, dreamy, small towns- and above all, don't' forget your fellow men.  Be sensitive to every change in the manifestation of their existence.  Answer that change always with a new and higher level of your own Rhythm. This is the secret of existence, perseverance and activity.  This is what the world really is- from the stone up to the human soul.  The theater and the actor enter this picture only as a part.  But the actor cannot portray the whole if he does not become a part."  (119 - 122)

Every story has a Rhythm much like what is described here.  We mimic life and we mimic it in a way that actors learn to pull in from the rest of the world.  So too should writers be pulling in this Rhythm of life that B. talks about in this chapter.  You've learned to Concentrate, both on your experiences, and your writing with lesson one.  Lesson two helped you to remember the emotions of life and help them bleed truthfully into your characters.  Lesson three expands on what Dramatic action is and how it doesn't have to be in an explosion to be just as vital  Lesson four was Characterization and understanding how the character is different than you and how to make the characters different from you.  Lesson five was the use of observation, true and in detail of the world around you.  Lesson six is finally the culmination of everything you've learned to do to feel the Rhythm of the world around you, the tug and flow of the words in a conversation or the actions in a scene or even the flow of the scenes around you and your characters.  If you're aware of it in real life how can you fail to write it into whatever world you're building, whatever scene is laid out before you or whatever conversation your characters have.  Learning to be aware of these things, of this Rhythm and working to extend it can only help your writing in my estimation.

Finally I have a last quote for you that really struck a chord with me and I hope it does with you as well.

"The Creature:  I don't think I did anything unconsciously.  I am a very matter-of-fact person.
I:  I know you are.  The actor must be- How otherwise could he dream?  The only person who can dream is the person who can stand with both feet firmly on the earth." (34)

So let us strive to understand the world around us that we might be firmly placed and so that our minds can fully fly free while our feet stay firmly on the ground.