Shaun Levin


In Writing on June 13, 2022 at 10:09 am

There is something about the novel, about the short story, but mainly the novel, that’s always moving towards resolution towards solving putting things in order and the illusion that this is what writing is for, to give form to existence to anxiety to the internal world to make sense. What if there is no shape what if there is no deep longing for form, that a form must be found to reflect the no-sense of existence, that there isn’t always a longing for comfort. But I’m not sure I follow you, I’m not sure I’m saying what I mean. The writing itself will find its form like water will find its flow. Yes, it’s nice if there’s a dam, nice if there’s a canal and a lock and an irrigation system, but what if you follow the water what if you let the water flow as it wants to flow, do what it wants to do and let that be the shape, let nature dictate the shape, the internal world (the closest we get to nature) create the shape. My god it’s hot and I’m sitting here writing and sweating and even with the AC on evidence of our triumph over nature I can barely breathe it is so hot and sticky and I feel ugly and fat and untouchable sat in the blobbiness the wobbliness of thoughts, the melting and resistance of ugliness and what is the form? Ugliness. What is the form of ugliness if we let it find its own flow everything merging together the messiness and the anxiety and the beauty and the clear and vague the shaped and unshaped, the diffuse, the sharp, to put them together for all of that to live together and that is the form the form is the mess (the complexity, okay, the complexity) of existence and that is what the novel wants to fix to shape into something nice to move towards nice make order out of ugly but what if there is no order what if you don’t need order if you don’t need to calm and comfort by making up stories what if I create something that is messy and ugly and that’s all there is, but the creating is the triumph, the creation is the grace, the making is the AC, the showing of that the exposing of that without the movement towards order towards comfort towards reassurance. Art as an act of survival not as a sense-making, order-making effort. How do you survive? By art. To put everything into one place, the writing, the sketching, the photographs, the poems, the memories, all of that into one place because all of that exists together (in nature) and we are here (here I am) so intent on the segregation of the gestures of expression, the creative outlets, and what would happen if everything went into one place, if everything was there and nothing was left out? I’m thinking of a particular project as I write this, a project about a place, a block of flats I lived in for twelve years, and the different ways to tell that story all the different elements that want to go into that story, the story of one building in one city on an island. Stories and photographs and illustrations and architectural drawings and memories to piece together a time, not to bring order but to remember to document to archive to hold onto to let go and not let go, to put to use, not to waste seeing as we’ve made a choice to make art our survival mechanism and everything is sustenance.

To explore: The writer as hoarder and declutterer.


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