Saturday, October 12, 2013

Complexity versus Chaos

Welcome to my inaugural Facebook moment, even though it's taking place on Blogger. I was on my mini stair-stepper this morning and caught the end of a song that I think was sung by Gregory Porter. The chorus of the song was, "I love too fast," repeated several times. The word, fast, nagged at me until I felt the genius of the lyric: it was uttered very, very slowly. Hence, the irony of the sentiment set in deeply. Then, my mind took me to the talent of scat singing−not imitations. I mean the difference between Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, and John Hendricks, on the one hand, and others on the radio whose objective seems to be to utter the same exact sounds with each presentation. I have full respect for the precision and tremendous discipline that it takes to be a musician of any kind. I'm just sharing what I notice, which brings me to the title of this blog post: Complexity versus Chaos.

The title comes from ruminations about a book that I would categorize as fantasy fiction. It was recommended by a friend in response to a discussion of the groundwork for my fifth novel, which I'm writing, currently. I liked the beginning of the novel and immediately saw the reason for the friend's recommendation. Then a barrage of characters was introduced, which felt chaotic. That observation was instructive because it provided a perfect opportunity to contemplate the various ways that complexity manifests in writing. It was a wonderful reminder of the importance of respecting each other's efforts, not only as writers, authors, and readers, but also as members of the human race.


Lesa Hammond said...

I love the topic of this blog. I have studied chaos and complexity theory as a part of systems theory in general. If we apply chaos theory to our writing it would include all of the characters and scenes that interact in an unpredictable yet normalized pattern. Whereas I see complexity theory those same characters and scenes interacting in what appears to be random and unpredictable ways, but at a deep level there is a pattern or a formula for the interaction or behavior. I think complexity theory is consciously used by great mystery writers. Whereas chaos theory can be used by any writer to keep the story interesting and a bit complex.

tannerblue said...

Thanks, Lesa, for leaving such thoughtful comments on this topic. They remind me of the concept of elegant simplicity. Also, how there's a direct way to approach things, and also an indirect way; an "easy" way to do something and a more "difficult" process. So much depends on judgment and circumstances--doing our best, minute by minute, and day by day.