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So I saw this post by birdhousefrog just after watching a lecture by Oliver Sacks on hallucinations. Yes, I'm a TED junkie. Deal.

So it got me thinking about that moment before you fade into a dream, when you're falling asleep and the patterns your firing neurons place on the back of your eyeballs; you know the ones, that swirl like electric acid-green ink in still, abyssal waters. And how your mind tries to make images out of them and then those images acquire thoughts, and those thoughts acquire meaning, and those meanings acquire...

[A horn blows in a distant land]

Plot. What's interesting to me about NaNoWriMo at this point is how somehow plot rose out of these random scribblings like those crystal gardens you could buy for a couple of dollars back in the early seventies, where you put these small bits of what looked like plastic tile at the bottom of a glass of water and add the "magic solution" and the next day tall towers of what looked like melted wax had grown out of the tiles, forming the underside of a very drippy cave.

So I now have a murder mystery with all the usual TV-murder-mystery twists. And I'm finding that the plot is best advanced (you'll love this) by letting the characters work it out for themselves.

When I was twelve, I had a three-day dream. Every night, for three days, I went to sleep and I was right back at the moment I left, as if there was a VHS tape in my head and I'd paused for the day to deal with the trivial and the mundane. Then, at night, I was off with Tom Sawyer, being chased by Napoleonic police through the countryside, with an evil bellhop monkey with wings (yeah, I know) after us as well. My grandfather had become a yogi, and my grandmother some sort of entwife. The president of the united states had pushed the red button, and it turned out to be wired to a bomb under his chair. We were prime suspects. They caught up with us. We came quietly. Final reel out, celluloid flapping in the brilliant white.

I am beginning to think there is a part of the brain devoted to plot. It is a necessary part of the brain, tied to causality, that tries to make sense out of the world. Here's a thought-exercise:

1. take a vase.
2. Extend it at arm's length.
3. Let it go.
4. It shatters on the floor. Why?

Why? Well, because you dropped it, you fool. Well, duh, yeah. But wait a second. Why did it shatter? Well, it's also because ceramic is brittle and the floor is hard, and the forces at the point of impact overcame the colloid tension of the ceramic matrix. It's also because the Ming Dynasty made such fine porcelain that we still imitate it today. It's also because the factor G exists, which binds bodies with the weakest inter-atomic force, that of gravity.

But you dropped it, you fool. Yes. There's the HUMAN explanation. And that's where plot comes in. Our minds must make sense of the world, so we must have plot.

When I was a little older, my sister said to me "All life is a movie." I thought it was a stupid, pretentious thing to say. Problem is, twenty years and more later, I understand just how right she was.