Writing Spirit: The Syntagmatic Algorithms
Note: These are my overdue reflections, epiphanies, and mindfucks making it to the 48th National Writers Workshop, to be held from May 4 to 15 at Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. – Marocharim
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The syntagma is an element of a narrative with respect to time. To make a syntagma, you draw from a pool of possibilities; you draw from a paradigm. It’s an analysis of a surface and a structure with respect to repetition and recurrence.
Algorithms are a sequence of instructions with respect to the shortest time to finish them. Algorithms are either determined beforehand, or result from a possibility. They are always well-defined; that you know what you’re doing, or if you don’t, you know where you’re going.
Writing, to me, is a syntagmatic algorithm.
Writing cannot be separated from the writer. The writer interprets as much as he or she articulates. I see the world from a particular standpoint, and what is written becomes the viewpoint. There’s a certain process in it; the way I see it, writing is a subjective science. We can only view the world from a very particular set of senses, and that we should accept the limits of those senses. Yet the writer, in my view, is saddled with the responsibility of extending his or her awareness outward, to try to go beyond the limits.
The “syntagmatic algorithm,” for me, is that combination of mathematics and writing. I hate romanticizing it in this manner, but every time people write something, they leave part of their souls behind. Writing can never truly be writing if you don’t have heart, and if you don’t have soul. What you think is only a part of what can be written. To write, for all intents and purposes, is to follow your heart and soul. You set patterns, you draw from principles. Like jigsaw puzzles or connect-the-dots games, you go about a methodical way of putting what you feel and what you sense into words, clauses, phrases, and sentences. Writing becomes mathematical; an exploration of all possibilities, values, variables, and circumstances.
Impression, expression, imagination, elucidation, inspiration, and excellence. Algorithms towards writing, writing towards an algorithm. Though the syntagma may be one and committed to relative permanence, it will always be drawn from a well of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and dreams. To write with heart and soul, to write with spirit. The mind and the body are fleeting and temporary, but what is written is forever.
I won’t delve into what I’ve written, or what I will write, nor would I dig any deeper into my history than I should. All I know is that writing is one of those very few things that have given me happiness and fulfillment and a reason for living… a sort of purpose in life. While I may not be a very good writer, writing is the only way I know how to best communicate my feelings, articulate my thoughts, convey my emotions, and reach out to the world. In that way, and in so many ways, life becomes a lot like writing: a syntagym made possible by algorithms.
Until then, we all add to the syntagma, with the algorithm that is our life.