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On having forgotten how to swim
Or—a small boat built of absence.
Sometimes one stands too long ashore and in the midst of absent meditation quite forgets how to swim. Here I stand now looking at the sea, and with these first steps into shallow water, I feel perhaps I still know somewhere; if not consciously, then at least I trust my body, which somehow tends always to be smarter than me. Yet still I am forced then to ask: where am I going? For if one is to swim, surely there must be a reason! Of course, I have avoided any reason thus far by writing in this strange style—for this is the swim; one of us, the sea.
Writing tends to follow a path, simply by the nature of language; and before that, time; or rather, our finite embodiment contains us as a single body moving in time; in other words, as a dotted trace in time-delay, a line. We can understand a piece of writing, in line with this, as akin to a journey; where are we going? That I still have not decided. This is a sea journey, perhaps there will be something of interest over the horizon; or perhaps we will end shipwrecked, even here it might well happen. I have as Baudelaire "never tasted the delight of a finished design."
My pile of documents is a yard of wrecked ships, voyages discarded barely out the harbour whether by foul weather or ill-design. These days the proper distance of a voyage is for most measured by the length travelled by the sound of a tweeting bird; so a sentence or two. Some hardy souls might even read a whole thread! Yet to write anything of actual length—well, that requires quite the arrogant author. To think that any would hold fast throughout, such a thing seems now unlikely. Those who love me might bother, or those I somehow shame into reading a thing.
Once upon a time, I am told, people wrote whole books; journeys that might take as much as much as months to endure. Yet today we are used to fast food and snacks, something more readily digestible is desired. Have the problems of the world become smaller to suit our shortened attention spans? Sadly not, I think—if anything our world is now more complex still. The wires have irreparably changed things, and in their changing they have rendered themselves nigh invisible. Sometimes I contemplate that someone has solved all this already; and yet they wait, a tome stowed away at some decaying address.
If only we had some answers, people say; and yet—answers to what? If only we knew the right questions, others (more insightful) claim; and this is rightly the crux of it. We don't even know what to ask anymore. The proper question now (and always, but more so now in this age of fragmentation) depends on the individual, and so the writer must find a question that sits latent in everyone and no one; somehow rendering abstract this loose thread and showing how it may be tied. Here I write still in lieu of all this; perhaps you will find something in it, if even you make it this far.