Thoughts About Theme Genesis

Abstract buildingAny old lark can set herself to thinking, and I’m such a visual person, so I’m going to attempt to sketch one of those weird moments when I saw a thought happen:

Random memories had been flitting though my mind, and in that dim landscape, connections began to form—a thought! I saw the thought with an inner eye. The experience was similar to wandering through a thick fog only to discover scaffolding winking through the mist, in the middle of a barren nowhere. Reality as I’d perceived it had been quietly under construction, and all the phantom posts and girders had risen to prop it up. But the thought was flimsy and primitive.

Scrutiny however had an effect: The beams grew firm before my eyes. It was thrilling to watch the structure take shape.

A bell dinged, signaling the time for the Truth Meter to step up and pass judgement on this novel contraption….

Dismal. Truth Meter didn’t like it at all.

And just as I was hit with the realization that my construct had failed to pass the test, an invisible hand swooped in, plucked up the over-wrought apparatus in its entirety, and plopped it down in some other location. The whole piece was effectively re-indexed.

Whoa! What happened there?

At first, the concept had seemed a good reflection of reality—but only in the discernible pieces. The overall structure was dim, implied.

As my focus intensified, the structure acquired more definition. It grew appendages. Bars connected. It became rigid and bound by its own rules.

Then Truth Meter stepped up and said: “This here no longer reflects reality!”

I’d ceased looking out. I was looking in. And yet I knew the construct lived. It had shape and real potency!

Oh, my blessed brain, oh true and constant guardian of sanity, you rejected my darling construct as an inadequate reflection of the natural world—but it would do, you said, it would do nicely, fully formed as it was, for another purpose: as an idea!

I can almost see the dressing, the flesh, the fiber sailing in—orphaned chunks from the nether regions, flinging themselves at the new construct, giving to it their substance: in short, helping themselves to life.

We know the mind makes sense of reality through constructs. But I fear that as soon as we allow the construct to solidify, it will always bear the wrong shape. A fully formed construct can never truly hold reality. It becomes an idea, a meta-reality that selectively gathers unto itself its own trappings—and by George, the idea wants to live!

This may be the birth of themes in art, how we return to the world some little portion of what we’ve taken.

3 Replies to “Thoughts About Theme Genesis”

  1. Cool post Dawn! You raise an interesting question: How well can any thought or mental construct reflect reality? But as you suggested, thoughts have an existence of their own and sometimes they want to thrive whether they are true to reality or not; they can even be beautiful in their own right, leading to art.

    I like your thought process about thought processes, and if I had any doubts before that you are an introvert like me, they have now been put to rest! 😉 Keep writing!

    • Thanks so much for the kind and thoughtful feedback, Lisa. It’s true! That’s what we introverts do! Hah! And won’t it be awfully interesting to see what AI comes up with when it starts thinking about thinking?

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