Lesson 14

Lesson 14

A Lesson by Tantra Bensko



A mainstay of Experimental Fiction is disrupting the straightforward linear narrative flow. Life is rarely exactly linear, and neither are out thoughts over the course of a day. Our subconscious flows back and forth beneath the surface. Linearity can get boring. And it can feel like glue, everything stuck in an inexorable way.

If you free the sections so they can be shuffled, prioritized, rearranged, that gives a sense of expansion, excitement, newness, and can reflect the subject matter.

Write a story in which you skip around. I'm not talking about formal foreshadowing and flashbacks. You can skip in time or in many other ways, but make it anything but ABCD format.

Maybe your main character isn't thinking linearly, maybe has dementia, is obsessed so goes in circles, is responding to a chaotic situation, is multi-tasking, is having a spiritual peak experience and experiencing no thoughts but everything at once.

Maybe the narrator isn't trying to tell about a straightforward list of events but entertain in some unique way.

Maybe the milieu is made up of people going back and forth quickly, lots of information exchange at a fast pace whizzing past, lots of people talking at once.

Maybe the story is about discontinuity.

Maybe the concept is mathematical.

Maybe by stopping and starting, you create a certain mystery or the meaning adds up as a whole.

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Posted 3 Years Ago

It doesn’t start with “Once upon a time.“ It doesn’t make sense to everyone. It happens while you’re just strolling along the path. It happens on days like this. Days of wedding dresses, umbrellas, lampshades and opera spectacles. Christmas white days, snow and taffeta white days, all whipped and peaked like white meringue days. So don’t look for the bread crumbs, the pigeons got there first.

Before the gathering, the private beach was pre-set for the event. A long row of thirteen wrought iron chairs painted hunter green were set tight together side by side. White sand lay in front of the chairs –leading to the levee protected beach-front– it had been hand raked and sieved and then dragged smooth; the row of green chairs cast long, brown shadows that resembled "daddy long-leg" spiders wearing tiara's. The waves were gentle, barely lapping the sand; a foamy, fizzy kiss. This phalanx of metal seats covered a dividing-line between the smoothed private resort sand and the dimpled, disordered granules of common public sand cordoned-off behind them.

Back in the middle of the town, an old geezer ran down the street behind the beach with a stainless steel pot on his head, fixed there by an elaborate knotting of rough brown twine. He shouted, "Lambs to slaughter, lambs to slaughter!" His grizzled and stubbled face showed topographical wrinkles, terraformed by years of repeated concern. His saggy ears stretched long from under the pot helmet as he frantically craned his neck high and low in search of the invisible onslaught. Nothing happened. Nothing was slaughtered. He wore a “bottom of the barrel looking up” expression of a person bobbing for apples.

Meanwhile, out outside of town, on a rough country road, a cream-toned ‘55 Jaguar Mark VII Saloon pulled to a gravel-tossing stop alongside a barbed wire fence framing a cow pasture. A chauffeur in tall shiny boots got out and moved the cross-board gate aside just enough to let the puffing man in tweed from the rear of the Jag, push through. His gray hair disheveled as his head and jowls shook while facing the ground as he advanced grunting and huffing like a rutting stag. The saving grace to his fine attire was that he wore rubber galoshes over his Italian shoes. The chauffeur stumbled behind and kept the motor idling on the Saloon.

A cosmopolitan blonde model in a stylish, bright red tartan coat and solid red wool gloves, struck cliché poses out in the middle of a pasture on a foggy morning amongst a herd of milk cows. The photographer adjusted a spotted cow with one bent horn in the middle-ground focus, chewing it’s cud as the man in tweed came into the background frame and advanced directly in front of the photographer’s lens.
“And what do you think all this pastoral sugar and paste is going to do eh? And you really think all this art photography will sell the client’s line of toupee’s.… how? You’re not Skrebneski then, are you Nigel, not by a long shot. Now pack it up, we’re going back to the studio.“

Picasso liked to paint, eat and collect mistresses, what other life should be expected of artists?

Where does the time go? Most don't miss it until it's gone, passed past. Snap the shots, capture the photo's, develop the exposures. Those still life’s will only amplify the fact of how slow the viewer is moving. Standing still at light speed. The photographer’s done nothing but bend light to his way of seeing. Light is easy to create, there are cities of light, weed-grown around the planet that pollute illumination from galaxies light-years away.

Time-delayed exposures and infrared colors only reveal that those suspected dots of reality are actually magnetic strings pulled to infinity by the electric religion of each star. The manmade, mechanical lens captures what it sees, not what the photographer saw. Struggle, pose, react, breathe... click click click.

Light is nothing but slight of hand, fool the eye, gimmickry. It amuses the intellectual and pseudo-intellectual alike and scares the primitives.

A structure- a house. A house- a home. A home- a shrine in amber. Outdoor Tae-kwon-do-impressionist take oils and canvas and nudes to the woods, pose them on a blanket with a black, curly-haired Afghan hound gnawing a bone and call it art. The artwork- nothing more than a prop for the easel. Head-shots, busts, torsos and reclining nudes, human gestalt anatomy at F-stop intervals. The field of depth is what’s in question.

Back outside the advertising studio, those city boys, the ones with the jackets, bowlers and pipe-bats... they’ll shed some critical light on art. They'll wait in the trash strewn alleyways, atop pine crates and oak barrels and hide behind cornerstone building supports. They’ll wait with dark mustached, unwashed faces; waiting to beat you into the perspective of their world, their hell cropped lives. But you had to get that last shot, capture that waning flavor, of ignorance and violence and depravity for posterity. Didn’t you Nigel?

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Added on March 19, 2013
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Tantra Bensko
Tantra Bensko

Berkeley, CA

I teach fiction writing through UCLA Ex. Writing Program, and my own academy online where I focus on Experimental Writing, which I also teach through Writers College when I have time. I have nearly 20..