I can’t believe I’m still learning how to see. I figure if I learn to do that, I can write. I’m not talking about eyesight. More correctly, I’m talking about learning to look. I see too much. I want to look, as Martin Heidegger suggests, so as to allow for a clearing, as if to licht or light up a thing or thought. That way I’ll get a chance to examine it apart from the rest of things. Allowing for a clearing saves me from the hoard of clutter in my head, the diverse stream of stuff of the world I live in. In a clearing, ideas and things get a chance to be understood and experienced.
When poking at things and ideas in a clearing is working, I feel I am writing. Just as I frame a photograph or compose a painting, placing my subject on its own is a way of framing out the clutter that might keep me from seeing a certain few colors, objects, tones or textures. That’s my idea of story anyway: allowing people, places, memories, details as needed, to stand in a clearing. Perhaps, in doing so, I may get closer to stuff, understand stuff more clearly, and if I’m lucky, my readers will too. It’s hard work though, trying to understand things in, as Alan Watts says, this wiggly world.
I think this too. What with Raymond Carver, James Joyce, John Updike, Amy Tan, William Faulkner and all the other brilliant minds in people’s laps, why should I want to go through all the work? I remember reading somewhere of Bob Dylan moaning about songwriting, “There’s enough good ones already.” One could say that about poetry, prose, and all the rest of the hybrids annexed and prefixed with the words free, acid, flash, beat, jazz.
But for some reason, that I haven’t figured out just yet, and despite the deep doubt that there’s a hole on someones’ shelf for a book written by Samuel Saint Thomas, still, I do it. I write. I like it. It juices me. And tapping away in the middle of the night makes me think I’m getting a wiggly thing or two of my life to sit still for a spell. Then something else gets wiggly. Then there’s more tapping.
©2005 Samuel Saint Thomas