Essay by Steven Maimes
Surely, we know that our moment-to-moment living is but a fragment of our entire life. Whatever we do is fragmented and constantly changes. We may repeat the same actions, but our self is always a bit different and older in time.
Our thoughts are fragments and constantly change. They are part of our ongoing mental activity, part of an inner dialog. They are temporary with no conclusion; they vanish over time. They are like breath, we take them in, observe them, and let them go. Some thoughts morph into other thoughts or exist as stimulus. Thoughts like people have a life, they are created, they live and die.
When we form our thoughts into words, we freeze them for a moment, we articulate the thinking process. As our thinking is fragmented, so are the raw words that we initially use. They do not exist in a final version, they are fragments. In one sense, fragments stand alone for a moment in time.
Fragments are a major part of writing today. We write in fragments with text messages and tweets, Instagram updates and Facebook postings. Reports contain fragmented bullet points. Poems are often composed of fragments and authors compose stories and narratives using fragments.
By fragment, we mean short and concise. For a fragment to have an aesthetic literary form, it needs to be longer than one sentence and no longer than one paragraph. It needs to be polished by the writer. It needs editing and revising. Sometimes it needs to survive a waiting period with time for contemplation and silence.
Fragments point to a slower way of communication. Before the Internet, people wrote letters and waited for a response, people read newspapers and slowly absorbed information from the environment. People did less multi-tasking, stayed more focused, and had longer attention spans. Because our attention is often disrupted, we might find fragments easier to read.
When reading fragments, we are more likely to remember what we read. Fragments are tools to remember. Our brains are often bad at remembering details – they get the gist of things. We try to remember details of the past, and often remember only fragments.
Reading fragments can open the door for discovery and exploration. A fragment is not an end, but a means to exploration. If we recognize fragments as fragments, we can accept them as poetry, not requiring more. The absence of more words allows the reader to continue the fragment by thinking, questioning, and imagining. Sometimes this additional activity is more powerful than anything the fragment could say.
– Steven Maimes is a writer, philosopher, and author of the new book Fragments Within Time, available on Amazon.
Note: This essay in not part of the book Fragments Within Time.