Thursday, 27 March 2014

Imitation

Mimesis means "imitation" as well as "representation." Imitation of someone else's style can force you to stretch out of the bonds of habit.



Thus the rewrite exercise. Impose a different set of circumstances onto the sentence structure of someone else’s writing. I did it myself. I chose a writing style and structure that I thought was something I wouldn't ordinarily use. 

The original is from Dylan Levi King’s “The 33 Transformation Bodies of the Bodhisattva Guanyin” published in Grain, herewith:

There was a man seated in the back of a flatbed tricycle. His hair was bright white, combed back, and he wore a threadbare black blazer. The man smiled at him from under a pink umbrella trimmed with lace. The procession kept walking. The megaphone chastised the rain. Incense steamed from Guanyin’s shoulders. The rain--
--stirred the sea under her lotus desk and she calmed it with a sweep of her willow branch. She looked up at the clouds. The rain fell and didn’t reach the sea and fell only into the mouth of her ceramic jar. The rain--
--left its cool moisture on her skin.
--fell in juddering waves. The water came to his knees as he walked through the park at Granville and Number Three Road. In the parking lot at Richmond Centre, the water rose to his waist. He climbed the escalator at the SkyTrain terminus station and the water rose to seal him on the platform. The water threw itself against the glass walls of the station. White foam swept along the surface of the water, carrying torches of bull kelp, a yellow hard hat, a crate of oranges, shredded paper. He heard the rain drumming on the blue skylight above him. He saw a train siting a few hundred yards down the track, halfway to the next station at Landowne. The rain--
--emptied into the drain with a dignified, steady gurgle. She sat down at the head of the tub with her legs pulled up against her breasts. She pushed back the shower curtain. Cool air dried the warm water on her face. She folded her legs under her and stood up. She turned off the faucet. The shower curtain held in the last bundles of steam. She reached out and grabbed the heavy white towel, wrapped it around herself, and stood breathing in the steam scented with her roommates’ shampoos and soaps, the smell of her clean white hair.

***  *** *** *** ****** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

My Rewrite

There was a man seated in the front of the club at a small table. His hair was bright blue, tied back with a black velvet ribbon, and he wore a dazzling sequined blazer. The man smiled at Pete from under long fake eyelashes. The room begin filling up. The electronic dance music drowned out all other sound. Reverbs shook Pete from his feet to his shoulders. So many people. One--
--brushed past Pete to reach the bar and she sat next to the blue-haired man with a sweep of her long black cape. She looked up at the rows of bottles behind the bar. Her index finger rose and pointed to the wall but she didn’t catch the bartender’s attention so her finger hung there and pointed until it dropped to the shiny black surface of the bar. She was a man--
--stood in front of Pete for a moment to reveal a tattoo on her skin. A knife on her throat--
--danced in shuddering jerks. His jacket reached his knees as he jangled himself through the crowd gathering near the bar. In the dance floor at the far end of the bar, a waiter in a pink bow tie bowed in front of two middle-aged men in striped trousers. The waiter held a round tray with two martini glasses for the two men and the two men took the drinks and toasted the waiter before they drank the contents of the martini glasses in one gulp. The waiter threw confetti on the men and went back to the bar with the empty tray. White dots of light swept along the faces and clothing of the crowd, tracking spots from the disco ball above the dance floor, across top hats, a yellow beret, a pair of giants, solitary woman leaning against the wall. Pete heard the beat drumming in his head and above him to the neon blue ceiling. He saw a bouncer sitting a few metres from the bar on a stool near the restrooms, his back to the room as he spoke to a young man in high heels--
--lapdanced with a white-faced man or woman in a kilt with a slow, steady rolls of his hips. He sat with his hand on the man or woman’s shoulders near the front of the club with his legs straddling his or her lap and his chest pushed against his or her breast. He or she pushed back the lapdancer with two palms. Hot air poured above Pete from a vent and dried then moistened his body in his clothing. The lapdancer folded his arms across his chest and stood up. He turned up his nose. The lapdancer stepped back into the crowd in front of the bar in a gap of light. He or she reached out and grabbed the lapdancer before he faded into a gap of darkness, dragged the lapdancer back onto his or her lap,  and leaned back as the lapdancer put his hands on his or her shoulders and squirmed in his or her lap against until the white-faced person on the chair smiled so wide the blue light from the ceiling struck the gleaming white teeth and the dark lipstick around his mouth and turned the entire room into his or her expression.
 

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