When I was a kid, the thing I wanted most was a machine that would manifest my dreams exactly as they were, projecting them on a screen or implanting them into the minds of others, and theirs into mine. Before I had developed any aspirations beyond wanting to make out with Heather Thomas I had already stumbled upon one of my biggest writing obstacles.

Writing something down ruins it. It's a fact. I'm not Wittgenstein, so I'm not going to try to explain why or go into some dialectic about the limitations of language, I simply know it is so from experience. I know speed has to be a part of the problem - the sensory mind moves at a pace the lexical mind cannot match, and as that other side of your brain busies itself in translation, the sounds, image, and sense of the dream gets bored, confused, and would rather watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on TNT one more time. As selfish as being a writer is, I'm reminded that there is something selfless in futzing up your own inner experience with the inconvenient task of wedging into a format that others can access.

This is where the dream machine is supposed to do its thing--a third-party device capable of recreating the inner experience with absolute fidelity, freeing up your conscious and unconscious to devote 100% of your inner resources to wonderment.

That would be fantastic, of course, if we conveniently pretend the audience of the world is peopled by six billion yourselves. The problem of expression is merely half the problem--even in the possession of a mechanism to extract a perfect experience, to say it in a techie way, we experience data loss upon import as well. Of all the types of writers, I think playwrights likely feel this loss most intensely. Our audience is right there, at this time, and it's precariously easy to lose them; and once lost, nearly impossible to regain. No wonder we drink.

Writing it Down

What we call a creative art is really interpretation of yourself, by yourself, and then by another or group of anothers. Even when it works I find it destined to disappoint. The magic, or "juice" of the theatre as I like to call it, is our only salve. I think this is why, by talking about it, you are likely to talk your play away. In production, however, there is hope with the introduction of director and actors, the dream will happen afresh and anew--not in the way the playwright dreamt when it was just him and his dream, but a dream manifest, of a community of equally selfish role-players who conspire to second themselves to something not of their making and, by doing, take ownership.

It rarely happens that way, all the egos set aside and the pieces fitting just so. But a boy can dream, eh?

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