Stream of Consciousness Theatre presents: First Try

Happy Monday!

life

I’m often plagued with the phrase “If you can’t find the time to do it right the first time, when will you find the time to do it a second time?” reinforced by Jack Kerouac’s philosophy of “first thought, best thought”

“By not revising what you’ve already written you simply give the reader the actual workings of your mind during the writing itself: you confess your thoughts about events in your own unchangeable way. Well, look, did you ever hear a guy telling a long wild tale to a bunch of men in a bar and all are listening and smiling, did you ever hear that guy stop to revise himself, go back to a previous sentence to improve it, to defray its rhythmic thought impact? If he pauses to blow his nose, isn’t he planning his next sentence? And when he lets that next sentence loose, isn’t it once and for all the way he wanted to say it? Doesn’t he depart from the thought of that sentence and, as Shakespeare says, ‘forever holds his tongue’ on the subject, since he’s passed over it like a part of a river that flows over a rock once and for all and never returns and can never flow any other way in time? Incidentally, as for my bug against periods, that was for the prose in October in the Railroad Earth – very experimental, intended to clack along all the way like a steam engine pulling a one-hundred-car freight with a talky caboose at the end. That was my way at the time and it still can be done if the thinking during the swift writing is confessional and pure and all excited with the life of it. And be sure of this, I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and it got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no feeling. Goddamn it, feeling is what I like in art; not craftiness and the hiding of feelings.”

-Kerouac on “first though, best though” Source: I Fear Brooklyn

and legendary achievements such as the SF short story “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” which was not only written in one sitting/one draft but also went on to win a Hugo Award.  My experience as a cook hasn’t taught me any different, “You have to be perfect the first time, every time because we don’t have time for a second chance” as many of my chefs have told me over the years which became something I came to resent about the industry but made an imprint on how I shape my self as a creator.

I frequently feel like a man running out of time, being out of step with people of my generation and off the beaten path for what constitutes a reasonable existence, approaching thirty with next to nothing to show for myself other than a collection of scar tissue and a creative interpretation on the conventions of grammar and syntax.

I think frequently though about Kerouac’s process, regardless of his claim to write On the Road in one draft, more specifically one 120 foot long scroll he constructed to feed into his typewriter so he could write continuously, but his process was longer than that.  Longer than 120 feet and longer than the three weeks it took him to cover that roll in ink.

His idea was to capture the improvisation of the jazz musician, to create something so raw but right that the first time it comes into being it’s presentable. As Wachowaik criticizes in her dissertation Speed Limits: The Formation, Dissemination, and Dissolution of the Counterculture in American Literature 1951-1972.”

Though Kerouac projected the belief that both great writing and great jazz improvisations should be “simply realized without the thought process of the creator intervening,” he conveniently glossed over the process of the jazz musician, which involves years of study, rehearsal, and revision to produce effective “improvisation” (Elteren 87). In reality, Kerouac spent years perfecting his “spontaneous” tone, often jotting down personality sketches and stock phrases in his notebook that would find their way into his books (87).

Source

She highlights how Kerouac, like the skilled jazz improvisation artist, practiced and conceptualized his art long before ingesting eye ball vibrating amounts of coffee and speed in April 1951.  In this way, it can be said he drafted for seven years while rambling the country the same way a musician can said to be practicing even when they’re just tip-tapping.  A healthy regimen of regular writing and reading keeps the mind sharp so that when the time comes to write, it can be done with clear efficiency.

There is also an ethic to this approach, the school of minimal editing, in that the less drafts a piece takes, just like perfect plating the first time, the more warmth there is left in the final product.  My personal goal, someday, is to write a novel in the first try (in a 5×5 quad composition notebook, black ink, hand written) however I imagine it’ll go something like this:

 

Advertisements

Durak (card game)

Happy Monday folks!

As  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to make my Monday posts “Mystery Monday” partly because I haven’t read anything I’ve wanted to write about that I haven’t already written extensively about for class(1) and partly because my life is just not exciting enough to write a memoir piece every week.  So I wanted to leave a day where I could surprise you my reader, because who doesn’t love a good surprise?

In line with the spirit of mystery I decided to write about a card game one of my flatmates taught me before leaving for winter holiday called: Durak(2).

Durak(3) is Russian for “idiot” or “fool”.  When I asked my flatmate why it was named this, he told me “It’s because this is a game where there are no winners, only a looser and only a fool would play such a game.” It’s a game of some skill and some luck however of the 5 rounds we played, I was overwhelming the durak.

Objective: Do not have any cards left in your hand at the end of the deck.

regular_durak
1. Deck; 2. first attacker; 3. defender; 4. next attacker (this game has a learning curve)

Number of Players: 2 – 7

 

Rules of Play:

  1. Each player is dealt 7 cards. Each player will keep a minimum of 7 cards in their hand until all cards from the deck and the power card (the face up card under the deck, this is simply the top card of the deck after the deck is shuffled and cards are dealt) are drawn.
  2. The first player initiates an attack to the left (player 2 attacks player 3). To attack player 2 lays down a card from their hand. The defending player (player 3) defends with a card of higher value and same suit or can deflect the attack to their left (player 4) with a card of the same value (obviously this card cannot be of the same suit). Any power suit card can defend against a non-power suit card. (Example: if player 2 attacks player 3 with a 6 of clubs, and the power suit [as determined by the power card] is hearts, player 3 can defend with a 2 of hearts)
  3. If player 3 cannot defend, then em takes the card and puts in their hand. If player 3 can defend then player 2 and/or player 4 can attack with more cards of the same value as any card in battle. If player 3 deflects the attack then the attacking card and the card used to deflect attack to the left, player 4. (Example: if player 2 attacks player 3 with a 6 of clubs and player 3 deflects the attack with a 6 of spades, now player 4 is defending against two 6s).
  4. If player 3 successfully defends, then all cards in battle go to the discard pile (a pile off to the side, these cards are now out of play for the rest of the game). If player 3 cannot defend or deflect, then em takes all cards in battle and puts them in em’s hand.  Everyone draws cards until they have 7 or more cards in hand starting with the attacker then clockwise.
  5. Now player 3 is the attacker and attacks player 4, to the left. Repeat.
  6. Players play and draw until the deck and the power card are drawn.  Once there is only one player left with cards in hand, they are declared the durak.

The game is a lot easier to understand once you play a hand or two and is a lot of fun.  It’s a really interesting game that utilizes game mechanics similar to trading card games except with the dynamic of using a regular 52 card deck, the playing field is relatively even.

I’ve picked up quite a few games and some card tricks but only a few are games are really unusual like this one.  If you have any unusual card games, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Footnotes:

  1. I just finished a 3000 word literary analysis essay about the critical effectiveness of Darko Suvin‘s definition of Science Fiction (for the specific quote the prompt was taken, see 2.2) as a literary genre in his brilliant essay “Estrangement and Cognition” with regard to Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wells’s War of the Worlds (which if you haven’t read it and aren’t already familiar with The Gutenberg Project you can read it for free along with literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of other classics; it’s brilliant and you now have no excuse but wait until after reading my post to go drool over the quantity of free reading over there, please) and as much as I enjoyed both texts I just cannot be asked to look at them again much less write about them for a while.
  2. I’m going to show you how the game was taught to me, as there are many variations this is the one I learned and will share with you.
  3. Here’s how I’m going to describe pronouncing it even though I was told many times that I’m saying it wrong but I think I finally got it.  It’s two syllables, the first “dur” sounds like “door” if you replace the two “oo” with a long “u”.  The second syllable borrows the “r” sound but just barely and sounds like “rack”.