A Little Dialogue

A: What are you writing on?

B: You should ask what I’m not writing on.

A: You mean all the projects you would write if you weren’t so busy, or the subjects that so infuriate you that you hold yourself back from writing on them.

B: I mean I’m not writing.

A: Why, what happened? I thought everything was going well… is it a block?

B: In a manner of speaking. I broke my toe.

A: You mean you’re so immobilized by pain that you can’t write? Surely your toe is not so important. It’s too low down.

B: There’s a gas leak in the building from which by rights we should have all asphyxiated during the night, some are celebrating the invention of the term “fashislamism,” history ended and then began again, killing that exhilarating sense of accomplishment, communication passes through all sorts of unavoidable and terrible relays, breakdowns, and distortions, thoughts have to be hidden behind a veil of clarity, the models of my younger days disgust me, the models of today are not yet visible, I am alone, bereft, unappreciated, and, if I am sincere, disingenuous, since I know not what I do. My gait is erratic; I limp along because of a wound that hurts much more than its physical size.

A: By that you mean, I take it, that your suffering over the wound caused by the world is disproportionate to its size, and a stronger constitution would brush the bother aside.

B: Yes and no. Brushing the world, as you call it, aside is the mark of a weak constitution that without such measures would capsize; on the other hand, there is no strong constitution. Among finite beings it doesn’t exist. Either finitude is brushed aside or infinitude is, the one becoming mania, the other depression, all to stave off self-destruction. When one begins to think, however, how many things there are to write on, how much time one has, to be sure, but also how much time could and should be filled with commenting, gathering, analyzing, throwing back these words that circulate around with so little resistance in the press and in books, not to mention in the quiet talk of the mind with itself, how much time it would take, one breaks a toe, on nothing to be sure, on freedom, a terrible intuition. Thankfully it heals up again. But the sense that no matter how much one writes one is not writing, not yet writing, certainly not ever finished writing, is enough to prolong the recuperation and the pain until the end, at least.


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