The DNA of an Atomic Moment



Everything and anything exists in each single moment. It depends upon what questions we ask of it where it will lead us: in a circle, across a desert, into a candy store. Variations are endless: one part of the fun that takes any prompt and turns it into a story or other work of art.


If I see an old barn set back from the road, questions immediately spring to mind:

-Who might have lived there… and when did they leave?

-Why did they leave?

-What was the size of the original farm on which that barn sat at an angle to the road?

-How did transportation of the times affect choices they made?

-What was the size of their family through the time they lived there?


I don’t even have to see the barn in person. A picture or painting might elicit responses to other times where I can smell barn particles on the breeze.


Moments and snapshots and music trigger a plethora of questions and self-derived answers that can be shaped into a new story.

The artist contains the meeting place of voice, idea, theme… and then works to organize them fluently –this is one example of how tiny things contain the whole.

Other examples:

-The blueprint for life exists within every double helix strand of DNA in every cell in the body.

-There is enough energy within one single atom to set off a reaction that can either power homes or destroy them.

-This is one of my favorite themes to write about: the overall theme to life that within every tiny thing or perception is much more than we casually guess.

Possibilities. Ah.

5 thoughts on “The DNA of an Atomic Moment”

  1. There are three basic theories on the source of a text’s meaning: It may come from the artist, it may come from the text (content, form, etc), or it may come from the reader. Reader-response critics focus on the reader as creator. This school of thought evolved as a reaction to Formalism and the New Critics, who ignore both the author and the reader, and focus exclusively on the text—and further back, Romanticism, which is centered on the author and his creative genius as the source of meaning.

    Today, most critics (and I believe artists, too) take an eclectic approach to what contains or constitutes the whole of their art, depending on the work itself, its subject matter, etc.

    What may seem a simple, obvious assumption – “the artist contains the meeting place of voice, idea, theme” – is indeed an example of how something small might contain a whole, from a point of view grounded in the Romantic tradition of literary theory.

    I find it more exciting to consider a literary work of art resistant to containment in its inception, creation, and ultimately its meaning, within the artist or any other tiny framework.

    Were this resistance to containment not the primary nature of art–perhaps even the primary source of its greatest potential, value and purpose–I believe our work would be a much simpler undertaking than in fact it is…and, a rather dull one.

    1. I agree with you, Joan. Resistance to containment is “the primary nature of art… and source of its greatest potential, value, and purpose.” I love how you stated your case, and while it may seem that I take an oppositional stance with my “meeting place” quote, I do not, in fact, believe it to be so. In the beginning I said that the questions we ask may lead us to a certain destination. This is an example of a narrowly framed question: generation at the initial moment of inspiration. Once process begins, art is open to the richness of meaning pouring in – and out – from other sources. I neglected to think or travel in that direction, so I am grateful to you for opening it up so succinctly. And, it’s a reminder to me to take more of a 360 degree approach, even if I choose to address a smaller slice of that pie. Thank you for adding other slices back in so that we all may enjoy more fully.

  2. Yes, another slice of the pie, a tiny part of a while. Noticing that resistance to containment, and considering the process has begun with a rich potential that exists outside of and independently of the self/artist, that can be experienced and explored freely, without a need for framing, or our own imposition. Is it possible for a moment of inspiration?

    I hope so. I believe I find evidence in some poets’ works–haiku in particular. The resistant– the ghosts that flit around the boundaries between artist and subject, text and meaning, refusing to be contained—that is what inspires and motivates me most as a writer.

    How best to approach it? I shut up. Wait…and listen :).

    1. Haiku is a good example. It is good to get back to skeletons regularly. I feel inspired. The list of things that inspire me need weeding. They arise from within and without: the bubbling of a shared history, a memory, a moment of grace, another piece of art, a dreamed conversation. The list of outer variables is anything taken in through the 19 senses (I don’t know what the count is up to now.). The list of inner/outer categories is endless, I think. And so, after all of my ‘talking’ in this reply, my approach turns out to be precisely the same as yours. I am quiet. I listen and watch. Once *it* has arrived, my role becomes something of a gatekeeper to the flow coming after. Are there other roles I play as artist/writer? I didn’t even mention roles as an imbiber of art. I have to contemplate those a while. Thank you for your comments. I sat with them too, waiting for inspiration. 🙂

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