Reading, Writing – the ‘Rithmetic
You know, I honestly don’t know why I think of the many things I think of. “About” usually, yes, usually I can surmise why I stick to a thinking project – it might be something that troubles or worries me, maybe it involves something about which I care deeply or enjoy – then I’ll ruminate around on the subject or object for awhile, attempt to figure or follow the thinks, arrange some digits or sounds, contents, feelings or symbols until I make fit or get lost in the simple joy of tinkering.
But then other times, and really quite often, I can’t locate the instigative trail or balancing of reason for why (or how) items pop into or swish by my apprehending (apprehensive?) brain.
For instance, just now (and it’s precisely the unknowing that prompts me to write about it, to squeeze it through language), I was sitting quietly to desk after a very full day of soccer games, bicycle rides and birthdays, perusing Ron Loewinsohn’s Goat Dances, Anne Carson’s plainwater, Jon Anderson’s The Milky Way and Robert Creeley’s Collected Essays – a very normal way I have of grounding myself, discovering a location by mapping found paths, when sploosh! across the internet of my mind zipped:
“I guess I always read and write as if my life depended on it”
And then I stopped. Closed the books, slid them aside, rested my chin in my hand and gazed toward nowhere, wondering what question that sounds-like-an-answer phrase was responding to or anticipating.
Why would I think that?
Lost in language like dancing and syllables, stars and night skies, withs and relation and choros, why would my only clear thought (recognizably anyway) be:
“I guess I always read and write as if my life depended on it”?
When something stops me like that, and I already hear a rhetorical response, but no answers satisfy and questions only multiply exponentially…
I grab loose blank notebook pages and a ball-point pen…
and begin doodling, dabbling, and “showing my work.”
“I guess I always read and write as if my life depended on it” (implied automatic resonant answer: because it does) leads precisely (in this case, given all the contingencies and conditions) to the chicken-scratching rambling preceding this period.
In other words, not to a solution, or perhaps even a working equation or problem, but simply to activity. Reading, writing, thinking it out in lines, shapes and signs.
Now during all this scribble-sketching around the inceptive phrase, my bodymind has been mantra-ing responsorials: “because it really does,” “because I’m not even aware of things happening until verified in language,” “because life just occurs and I don’t know about it until I manifest the experience some way – bounce it off of a counterpart or internal funhouse mirror (other’s words) to learn what it is and isn’t” and so on…so-called “reasons” I guess? Hypothetical rationales for the random (apparently) phrase having typed itself in my nervous wirings?
The only “fact,” as I experience them, is that this phrase: “I guess I always read and write as if my life depended on it” clearly spat itself across the innards of my cranium while I was going about the very normal activity of recovering, soothing, pausing and nourishing myself on books at hand, wishing somewhere it hadn’t taken me all day to reach this quiet, wishing somewhere that all conversations went like this listening, wishing somehow I had something that felt like it needed to be written down, wishing somewhere that I understood myself.
And alas: a baffling sentence in response to no one silently carves and engraving on my consciousness:
“I guess I always read and write as if my life depends on it”
My entire body replying: “well…YEAH! It does! It’s the only way YOU know that there’s possibly LIFE at all, and not just sensations, emotions, thinkings and dreams; reactions, responses and stimuli! Without reading about it or writing words out I personally have no concrete object to sound my experience against, to test a happening – everything else out there from spouse to “god” is always moving, shifting, adapting, changing…just like me.”
“I guess I always read and write BECAUSE my ‘life’ depends on it”