Rendered Fat Content

Insignificant Increments

Alberto Giacometti: Le Buffet (1957)

" … grown to annoying dominance …"

Honing work—and perhaps all work—exclusively occurs in InsignificantIncrements. Each piece initially reeks of insignificance and even accumulated into bunches, rarely seeming like very much. My Weekly Writing Summaries, which I push out early every Friday morning, sometimes seem to approach significance. Still, even those seem comprised of more grunt work than any casual reader might suspect. I've come to dread Thursdays, the end of my writing week, because they always bring this obligation which I swear is sacred but the creation of which most often feels perversely secular. I buck up and perform my work as if it might eventually prove meaningful, though I also compose it exclusively in InsignificantIncrements. Any thought I might be up to anything grandiose fails to pass my Smell Test.

Once I manage to accumulate ninety of my stories into manuscripts, I once thought those might rise to some level of significance, but those, too, prove to be stunningly banal in creation.
One makes progress a spare inch at a time, and any more significant advancement gets lost in the effort. Feet and miles become abstract concepts, accounting conventions more than lived experiences. I do not make it to my desk each morning with the promise of greatness but accompanied by the usual pedestrian promise of banal engagement. That any of my pieces ever appear other than sparse or bare amounts to an unaccountable miracle, absolutely unexplainable, though it's for sure that none would ever get the chance ever to rise at all had I not heeded each morning's familiar call to create something utterly unspectacular.

Those requiring great success might prequalify themselves to experience the most significant failures, for I know of no surefire way to create anything like a success, consequential or otherwise. I've grown to believe that these might be best described as accidents that happen slightly differently than by accident but never very different. They occur through positioning, from sitting before blank screens or papers and spilling whatever visits that morning. The product isn't entirely random, for it would only emerge with the small supporting discipline, but it's rarely the result of knowing anything beforehand. It is emergent but almost always born into an unpromising world, one reeking of its insignificance. It represents a chance and nothing very much more. In this way, it fully qualifies as accidental.

I built my tolerance for insignificance through years—decades—of dedicated practice. I never once felt even a distant sensation of predestination. I never once confidently created anything significant. Its importance manifested later, beyond whatever context created it. The sculptor never learned of his success, for he had moved on before his work was noticed, his success providing no tangible reinforcement. What motivates the maker if he deals almost exclusively in insignificance and increments rather than finished products? If one looks very closely, one seems sure to see that everything reduces to a similar banality. Here in high summer, featuring stunning visual spectacle, it hardly seems a miracle when closely examined. The snub of a Walnut tree sprouted from a squirrel-planted nut has taken over a spot adjacent to The Muse's favorite tree peony. I can only clip its foliage, which it will replace in a few days. One day, perhaps, the back deck will be overwhelmed by a mighty Walnut grown to annoying dominance purely by InsignificantIncrements.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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