The Comments Section
By Bobbi Lurie.
I apologize for answering paragraph by paragraph — I can’t find my books by Jabès, so I can’t create an appropriate response (though this response is titled “to this essay which has been obsessing me”). Simply put: thank you for writing it.
I love this essay — it brings up all we face: the things we did not/cannot/will not read.
But I think it’s only a problem if we trust some judge outside ourselves.
As unscholarly as this is, I feel confident that I am drawn to the books I need to read. I’d say I do not really want to read the books I did not read. I truly want to read an essay by Heather McHugh in Poetry — but will I? And if I don’t, do I have a right to say I wanted to?
The things I truly “want” to read, I’ve read, under the threat of many etcs. Reading is a secret affair, something we must hide in order to simultaneously please while remaining alone with ourselves. We attempt to touch others, from a distance. We, writers, know the safety of “about”. Writers, especially, I’d say, are very eager to read anything relating to their obsessions.
You, Andrew Gallix, especially, through this essay, have given me an abundance of metaphors. Thanks to you, I shall be kept busy, as in “right now I’m lost in the writing of Emmanuel Levinas”.
If we think there is a list, how can we find the unknown?
We write to escape but the residue is what was written — the residue represents death while the process represents life.
Writers speak stench – Kafka
I take great joy in deleting my most precious words. The stench of dishonest pronouncements often leads me to see I never lived a life; I only wrote, drew, sung, etched, acted, taught, to hide in the “about” which leads to the artifice which is the only truth: art.
“the realm of the unread has spread like a split-bottle of correction fluid”: what this means (to me) is I want to read more of your work — that is for sure. It’s never the essay; it’s the way it is written. I love the flow of your words, but also, and especially, the brilliance of seeing this enormous thing we (me, I) have been unconscious of, before reading this…
Thanks to you, I found Emmanuel Levinas again; I was distracted by Jabès, who I cannot find.
Had I not grown up on Anais Nin, learning she lied about everything, only later, when I was no longer a young girl, pouring over her “diaries” — had I known it was fiction, I never would have read them. From that day on (that day I read Henry Miller’s book, whose name I forget) genre is/was/will be what I care(d) about. Genre and the actual act of writing — to be given words is grace.
How angry we are when what was given is taken away, whether through the body or through the book.
The book is a corpse. It is the dead matter, the substance of the ego.
I have been going through old journals, finding lists of books I did and did not read.
They mean nothing to me.
What means something to me is that I am going through my vast collection of already-read-never-to-be-read-again books, purchased today books, books to read — piles of books everywhere — books of friends I am obliged to read, research, and more. Mostly, it is a joy searching for and then finding those few, though too many, books I feel I cannot live without, even if it is me who will be the first book off the shelf (there will certainly be no “witness” — it will be oblivion (this is definitely a run-on sentence).
I have made an effort not to purchase hard covers. When they are given to me, I cringe. “This book will live longer than me. Where are the paperbacks?”
With no respect due to Hannah (Arendt), I do not consider her someone capable of determining who is, and isn’t, a genius. Her level of consciousness is only at the level of her own consciousness. Someone with deeper understanding would know they know nothing and as they seek to read “about” what they know (nothing) there is less and less to read. Until there is nothing. Which is pretty much how life seems to be to me. Banal is not the word, Hannah. I’ve been with lots of Geniuses at Apple. They managed to delete all my files after March 2007.
How true! It is a writer’s fear that someone will actually read their writing…at least, for this writer, it is true. I am only a writer while I’m writing. When I’m not
writing I turn into an author of books, of objects, which are misinterpreted by everyone. The biggest shock I got was that you, the author of this essay, knew that the title of my first book is/was/is, The Book I Never Read. For you to mention this book in relationship to this essay: I was deeply moved – and am – simply to have you write the title, in reference to this essay, for this is the place I want to be: the place where something can never be read.
Always, everywhere, most of what is said is said by people in their prime; people with a dream, a view, a goal, a need, a joy.
What happens when you, yourself, can see your own end? Shocking to have spent a life behind the pen, writing or drawing the “about” which was not lived. The books which were not read; the friends which were not made…
And this much-edited version of ourselves, which we have tried so hard to present to the so-called “world,” has, in the end, nothing at all to do with the thing written about.
It is a secret. We are here. We are writing. And then we aren’t.
Kafka was serious: he wanted all his work destroyed. Kafka would have been sickened by the Kafka-T-shirt shops in Prague. The “famous” poet (meaning: “other””poets” use the word “hate” in relationship to him, though I like him very much) said to me, “You’re crazy. You’ll be missing an experience.”
I said, ”if all of them are dead, if there is not one alive to tend to the cemetery, if the cemetery is kept, for financial gain, by a government which once sponsored their ruin, entering that cemetery is a sin.”
For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live – Theodor Adorno
Later there was an Iranian who connected to both of us. She hacked my computer — no one wants to hear this story, therefore it does not exist. But I must live with this invisible knowledge, as America is kept busy creating opinions “about” The Oscars.
I have not slept. I may hate this later. But if I don’t write a comment now (after having promised myself that I would never write or read another comment in the comments section again)…this is the living me. A run-out sentence, too tired to correct spelling mistakes.
And I think the ego is jealous of THE GREAT ERASURE and wants to imitate its eternity through non-existence.
“The solitude of the subject results from its relationship with the existing over which it is master. This mastery over existing is the power of beginning, of starting out from itself, starting out from itself neither to act nor to think, but to be.”
– Emmanuel Levinas, Time and the Other, 1946.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bobbi Lurie‘s fourth poetry collection, the morphine poems, was recently published by Otoliths (Australia). Her television reviews can be found in Berfrois. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, though she once lived in Chester, England, bordering Wales, and she misses it; she misses the word, “ta,” especially. She does not know how to punctuate; it may be too late to learn; she keeps using semi-colons, improperly (maybe; maybe not).
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, March 10th, 2013.