Cassie Rodenberg: Electron-ic Bonds


The Unresolved: throwing wrenches
March 17, 2009, 11:36 am
Filed under: Musings, Science, Writing

In science, and in writing, we fiddle. Tweaks of old experiments gain success, sell novels, offer new mechanisms. A borrowed idea with our own imprint allows us to overrule our predecessor and ultimately enrapture the intended market. 

Is it better to create our own genre? Be the genius with the cutting-edge design, catchy phrases, pharmaceutical sales? 

As a reader or viewer, do we take comfort in the old ways or look for the new? A spin on a old murder mystery leaves us gasping for breath, aware of the roots, amazed at the author’s daring change. Though we harbored surprise throughout the novel, we still looked for the niche of solace provided in its structure: death, suspect, arrest, unexpected twist, near death of protagonist, another unexpected twist, arrest/death of villain. We like patterns, expected endings, hypotheses.

In a lab, we have in our heads a conclusion, the villain’s mug shot. As viewers of science, we want the same. Though we may deny it, newness holds too many taboos; it’s best to run with what you’ve got, take the prints of the first suspect. Sure, we admire genius but don’t envy the controversy; we judge: crazy or brilliant. 

Still, which is superior? Sometimes we find ourselves disappointed with the happily-ever-after, with a standard conclusion. We crave that unresolved plot-line, impossible romance, convoluted reaction. It’s the wrenches thrown in that satisfy our innate thirst for trouble; we want our hero to forever push his boulder up the hill, our mystery to remain unsolved and our villain to get away.

We want trouble in science as much as we want it in literature. In the end, do any of us want to rest, to be unbothered by ideas, inklings, suspicions?

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