06
May
08

Piecemeal Thinking

I am a piecemeal thinker. I happen to be a piecemeal writer, too. In fact, I realised today that I approach almost all of my various ventures in piecemeal fashion. While I dabble with all kinds of thoughts, quotes, mottos, concepts, I hardly ever string them together into a whole, at least not unless I put a lot of effort into it, and I usually can’t be bothered to do that. I’m not much of a rambler or ranter, either, because I never know what I want to say next, or what anything has to do with anything. *awkward pause*

However, I am also a conspiracy theorist who likes to connect the disconnected, join the disjointed, juncting the disjuncted (tiny emphasis on “junk” there). As I am thinking about piecemeal thinking, for example, all sorts of things pop into my head and link themselves to the “piecemeal” idea: my bumpy prose, my strange memory, my inability to produce coherent interpretations of literary works (unless by that you mean construing a thesis out of piecemeal observations), the way I easily lose myself in a poem’s details from which I then impose an interpretation on the entire poem, the way I’m irritated and confounded by the statement that “Milton’s blank verse is the verse-paragraph”, the way I lose interest in a project after finishing a single part (for example the way I used to paint Warhammer miniatures – spending hour upon hour on each model rather than do a quick brush-up of the entire army as was custom among my fellow Warhammer players), the way I play chess (cherishing brief tactical skirmishes and opening and endgame mechanics, but often lacking a comprehensive middle game plan), even the way I drink (slowly imbibing one gulp by splitting it up into little gulps). I’m synecdochic: I work my way from the part to a whole. But I don’t experience or perceive wholes, really. Wholes are labels referring to whatever part of the whole I can think of first. I would like to describe my thinking as a “chain of associations”, but the associations are so loose that “a ball of wool having received the kitty treatment of associations” seems a more apt metaphor.

However, the realisation that I have a tendency towards piecemeal thinking may prove to be rather redeeming and indeed productive. All you need is a hook that ties the pieces together. Here’s Alan Moore on the topic in his comments on the creation of V for Vendetta:

A couple of days later, I wrote back to Dave telling him that the Guy Fawkes idea was definitely it […] In the history of any strip or book or whatever, this is the moment where you get your real reward… the moment when all of the half-ideas and idiocies gel into something that is much more than the sum of its parts and thus entirely unexpected and utterly beautiful.

Nice.

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2 Responses to “Piecemeal Thinking”


  1. 1 catchthevision
    June 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I really enjoyed this piece with its inherent contradictions.

    If I’ve got it right, it’s about seeing all of the bits, being confident that they are all interconnected, and yet not seeing the whole. But if all the bits are interconnected than the whole could be so big as to be pretty invisible.

    You sound grounded in the process which exists where past meets the future, the fleeting moment of the present which, as soon as we’ve consciously spotted it, has gone! How to be grounded in something which barely exists?

    Isn’t it great to grapple with this, in a way which accepts and enjoys whatever flows?

    Perhaps the hook that ties it all together is you?
    I’ve blogged around some of this stuff in a piecemeal sort of way, but perhaps without as much coherence as you have given to this, so many thanks.
    Url: http://catchthevision.wordpress.com


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