Monday, July 21, 2008

Actually listened to Radio Lab in a timely matter this week, during a Very Hot run in the park this morning. It was on emergence--how societies can become complex and function even without leaders.

It started off with an amazing visual image of fireflies in Thailand that end up blinking together rather than randomly. Besides "firefly" being one of my favorite words, it also reminded me of the end of Criss Cross, which always warms my heart and makes me feel better about the world.
Someone opened the jar. The lightning bugs knew what to do. They flew out into the night air, every last one. Blinking, "Here I am."

But besides that, the idea of emergence struck me as one that applied to revising. They talked about how you can't take one ant out of the ant society and have it work, or how you can't take one neuron out of the brain and have it contain a whole thought. It's all in how every ant or every neuron works together. A manuscript is made of individual sentences, but they can't function alone. A really great revision won't simply pull out a problem in an individual sentence and fix that, but will see how that sentence fits into the whole, how all of it comes together to form a complex and working story.

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