It’s a hideous situation when your only minor gift in life (if that’s what it was) is with words, and you find yourself increasingly bereft of words. I grope around in the dark, the words seem to be disappearing right before my eyes, and those that I still have I can’t put to use. And because words were everything, I’m left with nothing, a void, no way to express any meaning — nothing, just emptiness. I’m grasping at words with teeth and claws — and nothing. Perhaps I’m just beyond weary of words, I’ve felt this thing, this numbness, coming on for a long time now, years even — or perhaps they’re really deserting me.
Every now and then, I struggle to write a post or two just because abandoning the idea of expressing myself (with words, which is my only way) would mean a total defeat. But there comes a time — there has come a time, now — when it seems pointless — why torture myself for a few words on a blog or (more often, because I constantly fail) in some document never seen by a human eye?
What do you do when words are gone? When you’ve stood on your bare knees begging for words to mean something — just something — and they just stare back at you, empty?
There’s no place among the humans either, because there’s nothing else to human interaction than to produce an endless flood of words — to get people to understand your words (and fail), get them to agree, to disagree, anything goes, as long as the constant stream of words is kept flowing. All those words just to prove yourself worthy.
Of course, that is a minor issue. But what about when all you could do was to write, when that was all that proved you existed at all? And then you can’t do that anymore, because the words stare at you malevolently, they won’t oblige anymore — they turn their backs on you. They make themselves entirely numb to you.
I have no attachment to writing, except it’s all I have that anchors me, in the most brittle way admittedly, to the human world, in which, mostly against my will, I am forced to live. (Mr Dog doesn’t care much about my words, which is a blessing if there ever was one.)
At this particular moment, I’d rather do something with my hands, or anything that doesn’t require words, but that’s always been a — I don’t know how to put it — non-option. There’s a path that’s been staked out — or it’s a dogma that I’ve had to adhere to: every supposedly “intelligent” person needs to dedicate him- or herself to words, or numbers. It’s the only thing that matters. The words written on tests, and so on. Competing with other people’s words, proving yourself again — to be worthy — with words. Being the most “right” — with words, again. So the hands go off and live their own life, detached; idle hands nervously scratching winter dry skin ’til it bleeds.
And then the words fail, they’re gone, and you stand there with nothing, no crutch, because the words were everything. I think my relationship with words have been going downhill for a long time; dealing with them has become an obligation — an obligation that exists only to prevent you from looking into some abyss or other. And only because there is nothing else, which basically amounts to the same thing as the abyss.
And because of that, I’ve continued to struggle, as if I could wring or tear something from those elusive words — if I only hit my head against them hard enough, long enough, insistently enough, it — whatever it is — would work its fragile magic again. To what avail? Nothing happens, just frustration and the occasional pointless text.
If I lived in a society in which the ability to walk a thousand miles was an asset, then I’d be alright. But in a society where everything that counts is sitting all day at a desk producing words — and then in your spare-time producing even more words in the company of other people who produce words, words, words — in order to afford a car that will carry you those thousand miles — sitting down, producing more words in the meantime — in such a society someone like me is lost. Because it all depends on the predictable production of words. Or numbers (but that was never my thing). It’s a culture less about having a brilliant head than having a reliable head — a reliable output of words.
But though I’m not too bad with words, when the muse allows it, it’s never been predictable and I’ve never been able to use words for anything that ultimately proved useful, rather the opposite: it’s all been for no good at all. So it is of course right that the ability itself should desert me; what other reasonable punishment is there for wasted resources? For what reason should it stay?
(I don’t know what Steiner said about things like these. If someone could refer me to something, it would be splendid — or else, simply forgive me once more for not being “on topic”…)
This was a long-winded way of saying I’m going to go through my older documents and perhaps I’ll publish some pieces I wrote earlier — but apart from that, I will, for the time being, relieve myself from all of my imagined writing “duties”, I will stop battling words like a knight battling a too powerful dragon. I’ve tried to become decent at writing again by forcing myself to write, and it clearly doesn’t work; instead I’m having a premonition that words will abandon me completely if I continue to force it. I’d like to arrive at a place where I once more feel a spark for these things, writing and so on, and words come to me without me chasing them, and threatening them with violence, screaming at them, tormenting them, and where language can be a source of communication rather than a dark monster hovering over me, demanding that I achieve something that I can’t see what it is.
I have no idea what I’ll do instead — possibly walk until my feet ache. That’s all I know how to do.
(Image: a forest back in the Autumn of 2014.)