We are made up of our experiences, what happens to us, what we happen. That is why memory is a door. We enter, we exit. The murderer, who can forget his acts of violence, is no longer a murderer.
When I see her standing there weeping, painting her young face caged, I walk over and stand to her left. ‘Hi.’ ‘Hi.’ ‘What do you want?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘So, you’re crying.’ ‘Yeah. He did it again. I want out of here.’ ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ ‘Okay.’
Any number of possible endings, but an experience that ended in one. She died. We didn’t do it. I remember because it is part of who I should be.
Then there are those other things. Of shame. Kept alive, we are those people, though we should never have been them. Forgotten, there is hope. That we are not those people, but different.
Only a small world can be described, only a small person knows another.
There is a fault line running between my shoulders and the base of my skull. This would not be a problem, it is not active; except for the many people living alongs its invisible divide, setting up homes, planting trees, playing cooperative games; except for those times I stomp from this place to another, hand shaking, dancing, falling down thump thump in the street; except for when it rains. You might think, then, it is safer to sit still on a park bench and watch others pass by, or stand before a window wondering at the weeds. But what if that person wanted to speak with me, or if the window broke? Because then I would have to make room for something new, and one side or the other is bound to slip eventually under the stress of one more crack or stomp. No, instead I will put on this sleep mask, plug these ears, close this mouth, and lie still under this down comforter. That way, certainly, we will all be safe.
All of these religious men hanging upon walls. Without words, lines, splashes of colour what legacy, what greatness is theirs? We err. Impacted by the loud, the colourful, the luminous; stoneflies; we have no say.
A philosopher is a harp lulling us to sleep. A priest, a splinter of flax. And I, well, what am I?
I am nothing at all, or perhaps a leaf fallen from a great tree, carried by the wind to a forgotten gulley, here lay down and fading. A better fate than these poor men, no peace at all in museum halls.
As a man, I cannot compare the revelation of a character to the giving of birth.
As a father, however, I can speak of the joy and pain of watching these characters grow up, a piece of myself woven into each one. The seed of the world around me, the people close and far that I have copulated with all engendered in these men and women, boys and girls – they are our children. What after all, after death, is the difference between these, my literary, and these, my literal, offspring? Will not both continue on in our memories, written and otherwise, and in our own characters? Much is spoken of physical genetics, and what of narrative genetics? What of those Ivan Fyodorovichs, those Mersaults, those José Arcadios that have, in their own way, fused their personalities, their very attributes, with our own? Of character then, I can speak of hope and pride and love.
I can also speak as a voyeur, a curious onlooker into the personal, private struggles of people, real individuals exposed through story for all to read, mock, and lust after. Poor victims towards whom the reader is free of all law and moral to prey upon, vicious judgment and rabid ravish, with absolutely no retribution except, perhaps, its effects on the soul. And yet, in an ironic twist, a voyeur actor, a Peeping Tom puppeteer, with the dangerous power to direct the scenes into which I, the author, am looking in.
This desk is an amalgam of children’s wishes, personal reminders, literary motivators and religious tradition. Like its cluttered drawers and scattered shelves, these four components attempt to provide organization and separation to elements of life that are inseparable.
My life is a study in separation, division, secrecy. Beneath the clutter is a simplicity that, with a simple sweep of selfishness, could flourish and offer freedom in ways no god ever has. Or, perhaps this cleansing is exactly what all gods precisely point to.
The problem is, we are all on display, so we replace journals with status updates, etc. There are very few people capable of living what they believe, which is why religion is a dream, ethics a reverie.
We can speak a great deal about beliefs, about what should be. The problem is, what is is, staring us accusingly in each and every reflection, and so long as this is the case, the only honesty that can be, is silence.
The ménage and messuage of the writer are constantly changing. Once, open, empty so thoughts echo off unseen boundaries returning as subtle, novel suggestions. Again, occlusive mine-shafts, crowded foreign tongues vying for a madman’s reason.
It is not a process: there is no beginning or end, birth-death. It is not a moment. It is a place and a presence, neither perceived nor mensurated, yet always present, tangible alone to the author’s gradual retreat from everything, into the expansive hold of his hadronic self.