The Fell Gard Codices

The Aleatory Process VII

November 26th, 2012

Last time out, I wrote about how some of the odd ways probability works tends to produce results from the dice that one would not intuitively expect. This time I want to write about what it feels like to be looking at those results.

When I started writing Fell Gard, I compared it to Philip K. Dick using the I Ching and Italo Calvino using the Tarot. What I’ve come to realise is that the creation of random results, especially random results in large quantities, creates a specific sense in you as you work with them: it is as though you are consulting an oracle. As though there is an intelligence attempting to communicate with you, answering your questions in ways you did not expect. Something providing you with riddles that can be worked out in such a way as to shed illumination on the issue before you.

I know intellectually that this is false; that it’s an illusion inherent in the process. But, as I’ve written in a different context, it is an illusion from which I can hardly escape. The knowledge of random chance does not exclude the sense of intelligence, or at least of design. It feels as though I’m working in a kind of collaborative relationship with the dice.

I have no particular problem with that. My sense is that the process is important, and the result more important, but that how I think about these things isn’t. So long as the story’s written, my attitude toward the source of that inspiration isn’t especially significant.

At the same time, writing of the sense of inspiration brings out something else about the process: it’s not just me and the dice, it’s me and the dice and another part of myself. There’s what the dice generates, and then the intuitive leaps I make based on that, and then the way I rationalise those leaps and consciously work that imaginative construct into some kind of coherent whole. That is to some extent part of the process of writing, the give-and-take of the conscious and unconscious. What I’ve done is effectively add another element to that relationship, a way to harmonise the two things. It seems to be working so far.

Next time, a few last thoughts on the process and how I’m getting at what I want to get at.

You can read them here.

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