Words like violence break the silence

Ideas continue to bubble up, and sometimes desire. But there is no time, and not much energy. Writing feels like something I used to do, a long time ago.

The actors always convince me, to my horror, that most of what I’ve written about them until now is false. It is false because I write about them with steadfast love (even now, while I write it down, this, too, becomes false) but varying ability, and this varying ability does not hit off the real actors loudly and correctly but loses itself dully in this love that will never be satisfied with the ability and therefore thinks it is protecting the actors by preventing this ability from exercising itself.
~ Franz Kafka

It is as if an author were to make a slip of the pen, and as if this clerical error became conscious of being such. Perhaps this was no error but in a far higher sense was an essential part of the whole exposition. It is, then, as if this clerical error were to revolt against the author, out of hatred for him, were to forbid him to correct it, and were to say, “No, I will not be erased, I will stand as a witness against thee, that thou art a very poor writer.”
~ Søren Kierkegaard

These two quotes form the epigraph that opens Seymour: An Introduction, the last published book by J.D. Salinger, a book which, at one level (and there are many) is a book about writing. What these quotes say, among other things, is that, at times, as soon as you try to write, you find yourself killing that thing you were wanting to say.

I have not been writing lately. There are many reasons for this, and some are even legitimate. One of them is that as soon as I start to put something into words, it dies. It may be my desire to write. Or it may be that my attempt to write about that thing kills it. The end is the same. No words.

That’s okay. This will pass. This sense, this difficulty, has come and gone before. It’s come again, and it will go again. And there’s no sense in forcing yourself to say things that don’t want to be said.

In the meantime, there is silence. Which I’m finding is something we all need more of.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

~ Rumi


Selected reading since May 3, 2017:



10 thoughts on “Words like violence break the silence

  1. ha, before I read this I was going to make a Depeche Mode comment but I thought that would sound disrespectful, but look: there you go. Right there alongside Alan Watts and Tolle! Good to hear you are working through all this and if there’s space in that field for another, meet you there.


    • Yes, I borrowed your title trick there. That Tolle book is one of the best in the stack. I never thought I’d be all-in on a new agey Oprah pick but I am, and only twenty years late to the party. Come on down, it’s a big field, very roomy. (Get it? I made a little joke there.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • My friend Brad gave me The Power of Now (is that what it’s called?) by ET for our first sabbatical to Germany in 2009 but it didn’t stick with me for some reason. Is that the one you liked? Maybe try again. I like the joke BTW. Connection to your writing stalling out in May related to Cornell I wonder. Ah, who’s to say. Will all come around. And be better when it does.


      • I don’t think the Power of Now is a book that can be picked up and read cold. The pump must have been primed beforehand, if you know what I mean. There needs to have been some sort of prior exposure to its content in some way, whether that be personal experience or study of some kind. But in the proper context, it packs a lot of punch. I don’t think the stall out was connected to Cornell, I think I just needed a respite. Thanks for the encouragement, duder. Hope all is well in the PacNW. It’s nasty cold and wet here today.


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