Observation journal: chasing patterns with digressions on the appeal of staginess

This page of the observation journal, as well as featuring a number of local dogs, is a fairly standard way of sorting out ideas. But I wanted to put it up here because it’s the start of a series of thoughts on aesthetics.

Over the course of the next month or two of the journal the focus moves (via a few illustrations and a draft illustrated script) more onto short story structure. But it began with trying to understand what for me was the appeal of staginess in a few stories I’d encountered around that time (mostly movies, but a fair bit of Georgette Heyer, too).

It came down, broadly, to three things:

  • the aesthetic of the story-as-object;
  • the way the impact of something is concentrated when it’s given the weight of a fable; and
  • the importance conferred on something that is so clearly delineated and designated as existing

And it worked best (for me) where it was:

  • consistent; and
  • concentrated.

I keep saying “for me”, but that’s the point of the exercise, rather than a qualifier. There was something in all of these things that was similar, and that I wanted to get at, and try out, and steal or reverse-engineer or turn into something completely different. Whatever it proved about the movies I was looking at (although it did explain a few connections), it started me reflecting on the usefulness of a distinct aesthetic.

And here is a very woolly border collie.

I haven’t distilled this one into an exercise (for those, see art exercises/writing exercises). But broadly, I’ve found it worthwhile to dig into why I like the things I like — not just individually, but also when I start to notice patterns between them.

Stories/movies mentioned: Hilda, JoJo Rabbit, Wes Anderson (especially The Grand Budapest Hotel), Strictly Ballroom (especially the stage production), Georgette Heyer, It Follows, Guillermo Del Toro broadly, Anderson (which Anderson? I do not remember! I will edit this if I do!).