Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Being Slick

For some reason I was thinking this morning about slickness, and then gloss came up—in the context of adding a gloss to something.

It's a word that seems positive enough on the surface (slick as that may be . . . ), meaning "Done or operating in an impressively smooth, efficient, and apparently effortless way."  And yet, I am wary of slickness, mistrusting its glib, effortless slide.

I was terribly disturbed my last year of high school to think that the short story of mine which people had most liked was what I considered slick.  Why did that so bother me?  I suppose it's that I always want, instead, roughness, texture, a down-to-earth aesthetic (wabi sabi), a homespun feel?  Old surfaces with time and weather written plainly on them.

And yet, I find looking for images that "smooth" covers quite anything, from sexy models to a Griffon Bruxellois to an otter.  It includes obsidian and agates (some with moss intrinsic in their grain), which I am drawn to; silk, which has that pleasing friction to it too.  I'm given, surprisingly,
a smooth curve
a smooth skate
a smooth newt
a smooth lumpsucker
a smooth dachsund
a smooth lanternshark
a smooth green snake
a smooth grease pencil
a smooth desert dandelion
a smooth Aston Martin
a smooth soft-shelled turtle
a Chinese smooth bore cannon
a smooth Arizona cypress
a smooth water
a smooth descent

So smoothness, slickness, gloss, is not after all as glib and without character as I have tended to think it.  I might well try to smooth my way (and writing) more . . . and in fact writing on my laptop seems to encourage that kind of efficient prose.

The foliage of a Smooth Arizona Cypress, Ragesoss
Smooth paint on the village postbox West Stow Suffolk, Keith Evans

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