Thursday, 25 August 2016

So It Goes

What is theft? And before you sigh and think simpleton, my question is not phrased in that manner. Hear me out before you attempt a weary dictionary explanation as if the asker were an inquisitive child. Inquisitive yes, but far too old to be spoken to as one, and yet not old enough to stop questioning nor caring for whatever answers are given in the fullness of time.
Some questions, the best questions, take time to answer, require a little fact-finding or soul-searching by the responder, and if you're one and the same person what a conundrum.
You may never give yourself a satisfactory or conclusive answer. Because the selves considering it are too divided, too filled with uncertainties, and when that's the outcome, seeming to be the final one, the query must be destroyed. Permanently. Its identification mark hung like a man from a noose: the dot shudders as the hook asphyxiates. So it goes.
Which I think you'll agree is a fine expression as inserted by Kurt Vonnegut to good effect in Slaughterhouse 5 to symbolise a death, a pause, an ending. Another unanswered question has passed by, crossed to the other side to a wasteland of lost questionings. These same questionings may revisit but reformed and therefore go unrecognised, as if the thought has never struck you till then before. The mind spins tricks like that and squanders mental energy. It likes to waylay as it is waylaying me now.
And yet although it often feels the mind is being held hostage by riddles, the ambush effect does at times serve, for haven't I just inadvertently (and believe me it was so) exhibited a class of theft, that of plagiarism: quoting somebody else's work and distorting the context to emphasise my point, though the original author was declared in this example. I have no reason to lead readers to believe that catchphrase was mine and besides, they are undoubtedly smarter than me and wise to plagiarising thieves, as well as to petty felons who instead of making away with their ill-gotten gains run after notoriety: help the police to track them down.
Didn't I say at the very beginning that my question didn't in any way refer to this kind of theft? But here I am espousing it, sabotaging my initial train of thought which hasn't thus far been explained. Perhaps I didn't set about it properly or perhaps my unconventional definition of theft never will be stated, at least not in this composition, and so the resounding note will be its alluded to originality. Perhaps that's why my mind is barring me from doing so – because although it might have presented itself as original to me it may not in itself be novel; just something I've picked up from the wave of consciousness. Or maybe it's the mystery I'm after...
Invariantly, my pieces get hijacked by interferences: the station I start out from tunes in to something else, something passing or about to arrive. Am I being given to or stolen from? That I can't decide. But I flow with the impulse, uncaring of the results, good, middling or bad. Whatever I'm doing, creativity is at the heart of it, but I wouldn't be offended if people said it was abstract: still developing. For isn't life about developing? Repeating and circling, making errors?
Is theft an error or intentional? Of which theft am I talking of you enquire, the term as used by society or my undefinable one? It doesn't matter as the reply for both would be the same: I don't know. It hedges; sometimes the compulsion has to be obeyed, sometimes it's planned. Ask someone who has been convicted of a criminal act, not someone whose motivations are more banal and in no shape or form violent or injurious. Obsessive perhaps, fostering further disconnection from the world today to a bygone age of writers, poets and playwrights whom in reading awakens the sense that nobody ever leaves this world fully formed.
There will always be unanswered questions: those that can't be, those that you refuse to acknowledge, and those that you hoped to get round to but somehow didn't, whilst the few that you do form answers to can't always be explained. So it goes.

Picture credit: Art Theft, Barry Kite