More on laughter and ideas by Bill Kirton
As a follow-up (or -on) from my previous two posts (on the themes of 'what is laughter?' and 'where do writers get their ideas?') I offer this anecdote about an incident during a car journey I took many years ago with my daughter and her family. It was a totally insignificant event which nevertheless managed to achieve some momentum – and which I've decided I can twist into something connected with the writing process.
I was in my daughter’s car, being driven from Glasgow to
‘Oh look, an amusing banana,’ said my daughter, with the devastating satirical tone which is obviously my legacy to her.
Never one to be out-satired, especially by someone for whom I’ve striven to be a role model for years (with limited success), I challenged her choice of adjective, suggesting that, for all we knew, it might actually be quite a serious banana. Bananas, after all, already have a bad enough press in that they’re always held responsible for unfortunate slip-ups (NB and sic) by politicians and others of stature. Thus, rather than being mere instruments of comedy as they lie on pavements or in corridors of power waiting for unwary strollers, their purpose (or even intent) may well be to draw attention to aspects of the ideology, theology or overall morality of their targets.
So compelling were these considerations that we didn’t even progress to psychological or sociological speculations on the owners of the car and their decision to accessorize their vehicle with a dangling ornament which was colour-coded exactly with their paintwork. No, the object in itself offered us a multi-threaded mix of postulate and conjecture involving jaundice, egg yolks, fluorescent safety vests, cowardice in the face of the enemy.
And so on, and so on.
Indeed, had my two grandsons not pretty soon made it clear
that the various banana analogies were becoming homicidally tedious, we could
have still been analysing the semantic and socio-political importance of bananas and their
role in the development of Western Philosophy when
I know that the main effect of this thankfully short blog will probably be to make you vow never to read anything I write ever again (and certainly never to share a car with me), but it does have a point, at which we’ve almost arrived.
At the time, I put a short note summarising the above on my Facebook page, whereupon one of my friends began to speculate on the fruit's place in the developments of democracies, dictatorships and (of course) banana republics.
So my point is this. When people ask ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ (see my blog last December) the answer is ‘Everywhere’. Because it’s not necessarily the original idea that’s so important but the life it takes on and the infinity of directions it can follow. Words generate other words, synonyms, antonyms, and all of them open more doors, bring more potential layers of meaning. The banana was a silly example but, for that very reason, it makes the point better. If the initial trigger for the idea had been of greater significance – the death of an individual, the revenge of one person on another, the pulsing of some extreme passion – its ramifications would have been correspondingly greater.
All of which means that writing’s quite easy really.