Considerations

That Writing Takes Advantage

Marguerite Duras, naming the referents and compulsions and privileges of writing, in an essay entitled “The Death of a Young British Pilot”:

Emotions of that order, very subtle, very profound, very carnal, and essential, and completely unpredictable, can hatch entire lives in a body. That’s what writing is. It’s the pace of the written word passing through your body. Crossing it. That’s where one starts to talk about those emotions that are hard to say, that are so foreign, and yet that suddenly grab hold of you…I write because of the good fortune I have to get mixed up in everything, with everything; the good fortune to be in this battlefield, in this theatre devoid of war, in the enlargement of this reflection.

My own writing process often feels dire. It is difficult, emotionally strained work when trying to shape ideas so as to share them with others, and it is desperate work when trying to process the intensity and despair and joy of living for myself—how else to make sense of this thing called living? I adore the work as I resent it, and I’m grateful that this is the way for me, through language. So it is good to be reminded that this labour is actually living itself, a kind of living possible only in the luxury of having access to the silent, still places of contemplation, to observe the charge of experience as it ricochets through the cellular networks of flesh.

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