Burn After Reading

Ingeborg Bachmann: “I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire.”

Some questions. Some thoughts.

Where is this fire? Perhaps you’re full of passion, to the point of pain. Should it read instead: “I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire within me”?

About the nature of fire.” Are you holding your hand to the fire? Is it hovering above the flames? Why don’t you remove it?

It sounds like you’re using your hand to write. Another way of seeing things: Is your hand writing all by itself? Are you writing alongside it? Is your body, minus your burnt hand, writing its own material?

Are you using your write hand?

Words can contain fire—a fiery speech, inflammatory language—but words can’t contain a fire, can’t command a fire to stop burning. If we’re angry when we write, are we playing with ire?

When you wrote or spoke this line, were you aware, Ingeborg Bachmann, that a fire in your bedroom would contribute to your death in 1973 at the age of 47? Did you enjoy your last cigarette?

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