A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?




A man, now too busy to read "serious" books, remembered that a philosopher examined consciousness. The philosopher came up with a theory that consciousness is not "fluid" as we experience it - rather it is the product of several different conscious processes which are vying for the attention of the ultimate experiencer. He called each of these processes "multiple drafts".


I think it was Iris Murdoch who said that every book is the wreck of an idea. If you agree with that characterisation - then a writer of books is someone who wrecks ideas. This does not sound very positive, or creative, until you realise that someone who is not willing to wreck ideas cannot be a writer.

Is it the same with all processes which start with an idea and end up with a reality? They involve the wrecking of ideas. Creating something, making something, is about understanding that to make an omelette we need to able to break eggs. But maybe it isn't omelettes that you're making - maybe it's pancakes - you know like the first pancake that is always misshapen, the one that you either throw away or give to the dog (can dogs eat pancakes?).

Maybe making things is like writing books and making omelettes and making pancakes. You wreck ideas, you break eggs, you make things and then you throw them away. You do this all on the way to getting it "right."


Parker! I want you to get it right first time! And if you can't get it right first time - well then you're fired. FIRED!

How hard can this be? I send you out to get the story. You go out to wherever there's a rumpus, burning building, drowning kittens, whatever it is. You write the story. Isn't that what I pay you for?

And don't let me catch you wrecking any ideas. I'm the one around here who has ideas - then I send you out and you get the story that fits with them. That's how the newspaper industry works.

Do you think the board have money to be wasting on "drafts"? In this newspaper market? With this Goddamned internet think putting us all out of business. When you put in a story. They want it right and they want it right now.

And steer clear of philosophers kid, they're all commies - we would never hire one here.

Mary Jane

But Peter, I don't understand. In psych class they said that consciousness is just the activation of certain neurons in the brain. Where are these drafts? And who is experiencing them? If that person or thing that's experiencing them, if they experience the drafts as being fluid - well then, aren't they fluid? And who or what is managing these drafts?

And Mr Jameson sir, I don't quite agree with you either. Surely, you're the editor, isn't that what you do with your blue pencil? Produce drafts? When you ball up the story that Peter's written and throw it at him and tell him to write it again? Aren't you asking him to write another draft?

And wrecking ideas? When you do a major expose on a football player found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl, or a super hero or a super hero who isn't maybe as super as everyone, especially his girlfriend thinks, aren't you wrecking an idea?

In the World

Plan One to Throw Away

Consciousness Explained