Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Activity of Writing.

 “For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.”


In the usual image of the writer and of writing, writing is always belated. It comes after, it lags behind, it re-captures or re-presents.. Life.

 We might say of Joyce, for example, that he manages to render the vicissitudes and minutiae of consciousness, the creative mutations of dreaming. There is a process, a mode of life, which the writer follows, captures and then sets before us. Writing is judged in terms of its fidelity to what has already gone before it.

But if dreaming and thinking (for example) are two of the modes of mental life, writing is another. Writing is not simply an attempt to re-present those other modes. It is a mode in itself, with its own movements, energy, articulations. But it happens on the page not in the head.

The writer is not someone who lags behind life. For the writing is itself the signature and declaration of a mode of life. And the writer is the conductor of this mode of life.

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