Spiraling, Part II

When you hear the word “spiraling”, does it invoke a positive or negative emotion? Admittedly, I take the word with a negative bias, since it’s a downward progression that invokes a falling-back-to-earth feeling. Is it possible to see the word in a positive light? Yes, if you think about Spirographs, which were drawing tools that existed exclusively for the purpose of drawing perfect spirals. Mind you, they’re a complete waste of time, representing an overly mechanical and boundaried form of art that really limits creative expression. But art is art, right? Eye of the beholder, and all that.

And besides, Spirograph spirals are a heck of a lot prettier than the scrawlings that come from whatever writing instrument I’m holding at a given point in time. Which makes me jealous, since I never had a Spirograph as a kid, and Lite-Brite didn’t really do it for me.

So, I reject this justification of spiraling as a positive expression. Let’s try again.

Another way I’ve heard the term used is to refer to jazz improvisation. I’m not sure if it’s entirely defined, but a lot of jazz improv involves running up or down a scale indirectly…there’s a distinct progression. When I do it, it’s usually downward, and I suspect that’s often the case. The first time I heard this use of spiraling was in a movie called “The Commitments”, which is about a soul band in Ireland (and, incidently, a favourite of mine). In one scene, the trumpet player gets annoyed with the saxophonist for spiraling, which he says is jazz, not soul.

Interesting, eh? Same creative overtone as the Spirograph, which you can’t really escape, but more freedom of expression. That’s much more useful toward satisfying a positive bias for spiraling. However, it’s really limited, since most people won’t be familiar with the jazz use of the term.

And besides…oh wait…I just reread this and realized that it’s a hideously boring scatterthought.

Sorry ’bout that.