Friday, 5 October 2012

The sharp, hot stink of fuel

It is a singular sensation, when I can feel the inspiration starting to spool up in my mind. The dynamics of it really do resemble the behaviour of a giant turbofan, even if it often decides to awaken itself without any impetus from a decision on my part. At first there is the inertia to be overcome by whatever mystical starter motor turns the spindle -- at the perimeter of my attention, I become aware of that up-curving whine, matched by a faint, smooth line of vibration as the power stage gains rotary momentum.

It’s as if the pressure of concepts has been building up behind the turbines for some time before the low-pressure fan is finally clutched in and starts to turn. That is the equivalent, for me, of my ideas visibly gaining real traction, cooperating in the precursor of actual thrust. What was once an airy collection of thoughts becomes both concentrated and linear, and when that happens, I know I’d better wind up whatever else it was that I was doing. Because when those igniters light up, it’s all over, and I will be in the grip of an irrepressible creative frenzy that will flatten or ingest anything in its path.

Once the fuel is burning, the kinetic properties of my creative spirit have more in common with a solid rocket booster than a docile airliner powerplant. I believe it was a NASA technician who said there was no throttling back those things: “all you can do is light it and ride it”, and to me it often seems as if I can barely hold on tightly enough not to be peeled away by its sheer explosiveness.

However, as the personification of Lamarck’s complexifying force, I am discomfited by such a brutishly simple analogy. I would much rather imagine the intricate synergy of my neurotransmitters as operating like the J58-P4s that powered the iconic Lockheed SR-71. I love the idea of a completely unique propulsion system that thrived in Mach 3 cruise, at whose heart was a captured sonic boom that actually caused fuel consumption to decrease as the airspeed went up.

And on that note... I think it’s well and truly time to jam the throttle forward and haul back on the stick.