22 February 2006

Joyce's 'Portrait' on the Tree of Life

at any moment
on the radial ontology
within a human's branch cross-section

let all the stories
in which the human is currently involved
be lit in blue

but some of these stories are still unconscious
so if the person would deny it
leave that blue
but if they'd recognise it
promote it to green

and if they occasionally notice that story
on their own
(eg when reminded by another's storytelling)
promote that to yellow

and if they know it so well
they'd mention it, if asked
promote it to red

so at any moment
we have a spectrum of awareness
of the stories we're living out

and as we mature
that spectrum shifts gradually
towards the red

and stories about ourselves
that we thought we understood
are revealed to have deeper layers

now an artist
writing an autobiography
is tasked with winnowing just those events
that most efficiently and effectively
convey the range of their lifestories
and the process of their growth

which may mean selecting
a small set of story themes
and returning to them
at successive ages
to show how their awareness evolved

and how it was quickened
or slowed
by the group-awareness of their society

see especially James Joyce
"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"