The essence of a hook


Dostoyevsky spends chapters intertwining nets of the most intricate details, each minuscule, lengthily articulated one being integral to the whole in some way.  You have only to read on to find out where each and every detail matters.  And somehow it’s not work.  Somehow a thing way down the line triggers a link to its connection.  To me that’s juice in itself.  But to end each chapter with something that compels me to press on to the next chapter and the next…  That puts me over the edge.  It almost becomes a frustration.  I have things I should do, but I’m so invested now that I simply must go on to find out what happens with the people in Dostoyevsky’s world which has become my world.

Same thing with music.  Some hooks are so good they hurt.  What’s at the core of a hook?  And when we read or hear one, what’s that mostly dormant thing that leaps from the heart area the instant it recognizes true excellence, like a long lost soul running in slow motion toward its object of desire?  Does a hook that came from another person come from the same place in them as the place in us that recognizes it as being so irresistibly fine and wrenchingly compelling?  If the place from whence hooks come and are recognized and craved and loved so dearly is the heart area, the place that seems to be more in touch with the ethereal, can the same powerful stuff come from the head area, from the brain that likes to crunch and chew on the bones of logics and mechanics?

Any good words that ever came out of me either just popped into my head, interrupting the stress of a gritty, 100% cerebral word-wrangling session that was going nowhere; or they have come out of closing my eyes and typing out all the junk in my head until I start to relax into spiraling down and down and down through layers upon layers to the somewhere where I can see a thing that’s always been there stripped down waiting to be seen and appreciated and known as it is.  Mostly I’m too mental to do that, but when any good stuff does come to me, it never feels like I made it up.  It always feels like a big surprise, like a surprise gift.  And I’ll mentally comment on it like I’m reading something someone else wrote, “Oh, yes!  Oh, now that’s good!”

Does that mean hooks come from the ethereal, the ether, the “out there” and with our brains we organize the “filler” around the hooks?  Questioning is all well and good.  It can entice enlightening answers.  But at this point I think that I think too much.  And I think that’s what blocks creativity.  Listen…

Joe Satriani’s Super Colossal CD is playing right now, and a lot of the tunes are so packed with so many hooks that it’s practically killing me.  And how does Satriani dare dump a bunch of hooks into one song?  My scrounging, tight-wad brain thinks he should save the hooks, use only one per song so he can have more hits.  And that’s it, that’s exactly the mentality that kills creativity.  Look at Satriani’s career.  As an artist he knows, and because of him it’s possible for us to see, that there is no shortage of hooks to be snagged from the ether or the heart or the brain or wherever hooks come from.

That’s my perception.  And all I can see and be is me…  What’s your perception?  Where do your hooks come from? 

11 responses to “The essence of a hook

  1. Hooks. As a fish, I seem to get hooked most often, most easily, by the thing that seems to tempt, tantelize. and tease me, such as a worm, or some thing shiney. It fills a need. It answers a question, It rhymes with “moon” (June, soon, goon) Fulfills my expectations. And then I BITE! I know i “asked “for it . I think i need it. It makes sence. I AM IN CONTROL! Now be sure to put a little oil with the butter so I don’t burn !

  2. L.M. Bass: your cryptic tips were tasty: light, white, flaky. If we fill a need, they will come.

    Hey there Hattie! So glad you stopped by. Yeah, we humans love our complicated, suspense-filled, action-packed dramas, don’t we? If all that’s not going on in our lives, we look to others, books, movies… What’s the essence of THAT? Something to do with diva egos and busy brains, I imagine!

  3. I dont know about the hooks, but I damn well understand your feeling about Dostoevsky. Not many people like his works, but I for one am completely ‘hooked’ (so to say) to his works. Crime and Punishment? The Idiot? The Brothers Karamazov? These are books in which I have lived, even thought I was not a character, maybe I was a passerby.

  4. Drumster: thanks so much for leaving this comment. Dosteyevsky was my first love in high school. I was the tormented mind, the delirium, the despair, the hopelessness, the dim consciousness, the feverish sweat of Crime and Punishment. My barraged teenage mind identified with Raskolnikov’s sick, swarming thoughts and to me he wasn’t deranged, he was my friend whom I understood as did he I. We walked the streets of Petersburg together, and through him I vicariously lived out every diseased thought, every insane impulse, every panicked screaming, screaming to be free of this body-mind that loomed claustrophobic, prisonlike. We’ve gone our own ways since then, but I’ve forever a soft spot for Raskolnikov, and an eternal gratitude and adoration for the man who conceived him.

  5. Seems I’m in a bit of a backslide, A. While I’m pressing backwards, I figured I’d dust off some of your copious archives. I read some Fyodr in Russian lit way back. The Idiot, Bros. Karamozov. Loved it! I was really fond of Gogol, in all his wierdness. I really should take to reading more. Especially when I’m not writing.

    Satchmo, and the multi-hook! I guess you could look at him that way. I always thought he just had some really awesome phraseology. Guys like him are just able to stamp out these indelible melodic patterns. Like listening to a mocking bird or a cockatoo run through their repertoires. Satch is natch!

    You musta had a gaping hole open up in your life’s schedule to be able to slide around and mess with this oldie!
    I’ve never read Gogol, and I know you’d believe it, ‘cause like you said, you and I are half-lit ; )
    But you da music man and know the hooks in person while I’m only half-hooked! I think we’d more or less agree what a musical hook is—a group of notes (a phrase or passage?) that seizes you and you have a knowing that it’s universally heart-melting and not just a personal preference—but when it comes to me talking about Satch putting more than one in a piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was mixing my knowings with my preferences. LOL!
    All in all I know it ultimately doesn’t matter, that it’s only a chewy bone to toss to the brain. I’m just flattered you time-traveled on this site : )

  7. You must read, The Nose, and The Overcoat. Nik was obviously drinking from the same bottle of absynthe as Ed Poe.

    It’s all brain candy. Much like that funny green faerie in a bottle…

    Geezus, music man… I’m not even gonna say it. OK. If one was not particularly an avid reader, which of the two would you recommend most highly?

    On the la fée verte business, I saw DiCaprio doin’ the stuff while he was doin’ Rimbaud, and well, maybe I’ll put that on my bucket list…

  9. I forgot to mention, these are short stories! Definately start with The Nose. Johnny Depp is quite a fan of the green stuff.


    Johnny Depp, eh? I’m definitely putting it on the list.

    Hey, hey! I just looked in the 1800-page short story bible I have for this class I’m takin’ and Gobol’s “The Overcoat” is in there. It’s 21.5 ultra-thin, small-print bible pages long! That must be why “The Nose” isn’t in there. There was no more room. Haha, yass. So good, then, I’ll start right away with my extracurricular “short” story lesson for extra credit from the music man : )

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