Shaun Levin

Memory and Everyday Life

In Writing on September 21, 2012 at 7:37 am

They write so they won’t have to touch, their hands tethered to the page, hands that keep moving on the page, stuck to it. As long as their hands are moving, writing, jotting down, scribbling, they won’t be able to lift them off the page to touch you, to hold your hand. Their eyes, too, are glued to the page, stuck to it, fixed. They have averted their gaze from you; you cannot make eye contact while their gaze is on the page, following the movement of the pen across paper, the pen that keeps moving and carries the eye with it, carries their scrutiny away from the world.

Inwards? They say: Aren’t we taking the world with us, inwards?

But, more literally, it’s all happening on the surface. But, but, but (oh, listen to them!) the surface is just proof of depth, of something below it, each mark of the pen a slicing that longs to reach below the surface, to beneath the covering that is the page, the manhole in the pavement that wants to be lifted to reveal the ladder to the underworld.

The pen waddles across the surface. The pen tickles the top layer of skin, rushes over parchment. And they like to keep writing, to keep that pen moving, and even more than that, there’s the keyboard, a good excuse to have both hands occupied, both hands moving, both hands not available for touch, and that gaze, that crazed look in their eyes, the frown, the hunched-over posture to protect their heart, guarding it like a new-born thing. Don’t even try to approach them, don’t even think about getting nearer. They’re writing, moving beyond skin, beyond the flesh, typing and scribbling their way inwards, tapping and tapping and tapping as if each letter were the strike of a hammer, bashing away, reaching further inside, deeper, to somewhere more profound, more words, more of everything on the page, on paper, the screen, more of everything to protect them, so crazed that it’s hard to tell whether they’re building walls or breaking them down.

The pen moves forward. The tapping of keys like running on the spot. But, they say, at least I’m getting some exercise!

They wish for the wisdom of blind prophets, for a world where interiority is everything, where imagination is reality. They feed on the world, live like parasites, sucking the blood out of memory and everyday life. That’s the kind of people they are. And when they are done, leaving their trails – their entrails – on the page, they want you to look, for you to be there to shake their hands, to hold them, to clap. They want you to tell them about your day, take them to the theatre, to the South of France, anywhere, anything, just so they can have a reason, fodder, shiny things to scurry with back to the page, so that through their words, through the tapping of their fingertips on keyboards, they can touch you back, touch you in places where normal, surface touch cannot reach. It’s just the way they are.

  1. Good to see you back – laying your entrails on the page.

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