Just finished reading an intriguing post on "Risk and Reward". (http://gannonned.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/risk-and-reward/). (h/t to Wolves and Writing on Facebook for the share.)
The author mentioned Rachel Whitehead's casts of the negative space beneath chairs. I remember reading and looking at them online years ago but had forgetten them.
Negative space and concepts of negative space appeal to me. A few decades back, I took up Sumi-e. I loved the simplest strokes using blank ink on rice paper, leaving a great deal of negative space to allow the strokes to stand alone. When done well, which I sometimes managed, the strokes conveyed the entire world around them by being allowed to stand alone against that blank space.
I think using and allowing negative space requires strength, boldness, and an open mind to see what remains when all else is gone.
In that way, I prefer negative space in literature. I don't like everything explained to me and tied up in stories. One of the things I dislike most about so much commercial literature and Hollywood movies is that everthing must be tidy and neat. I prefer that there be some negative space, with matters left unknown, unremarked, misunderstood. Most of us live much of our lives in negative space, from unknown causes of traffic jams to looks strangers turn on us and their lack of interaction when you smile and say hello, to bewildering government and corporate policies and friendships that drift away. We spend time pondering these negative spaces in our lives.
Without realizing it, I took all that to heart as I wrote the story I just completed. Although urban fantasy, toying with our sense of reality and certitude about what is real, much of that is a reflection of my thoughts on negative space. The story is told first person. Things happen to the protagonist. Much of it is not explained, forcing him to now deal with the negative space of unusual situations and lost memories.
Negative space in thoughts and events inhabit space by not being there, consuming energies and driving new energies. In a sense, negative space in our minds is a place of creation, destroying what we know by twisting memories into what we think we know, and creating new memories and knowledge.
The essay, "Risk and Reward" briefly mentions Kierkegaard and the concept of leveling, and that without leveling, we can't know if what we believe is real and true. I heard of this years ago in a philosophy course but had not consciously thought of it in years; yet it seemed like that's what the story I wrote addressed. This man's reality is being torn apart. In that process, he learns that he can no longer believe what he once considered to be real.
With this, I've traveled full circle in thinking. Reading about negative space and leveling decades ago began a course that finished its run when I sat down and stared at a blank, white computer screen and began typing a new story that flowed into me.
The mind remains an amazing landscape. Think of all the negative space that may exist there and what may come of exploring it. I think that is why writing appeals to me: it's an exploration of the negative space and attempts to understand it.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com