A Wound Reopened Elsewhere

Anne Dufourmantelle, in Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living, reminds depressed patients looking for a quick fix that “medication only patches up the desire to live, or the heartache, or the professional failure, or the feeling of inadequacy; for nothing can sew up such a wound. Nothing except creation, what reopens the wound elsewhere and differently, but on less shifting ground” (86).

Two months ago, I published my third book, once again creating and re-creating myself through words. Writing it gave me pleasure, but it was a lonely endeavor. I write best when nobody’s around, but I don’t write for myself alone. Depressed or not, we all crave connection.

“When we are seized,” Dufourmantelle says, “by the feeling that nobody will ever come to us, that this solitude will not loosen its grip on us, ever, we must still find the strength to extend our arms, to kiss, to love. To say it, to start again, to hear the whisper of that wild voice that calls you from well before your beginnings” (98).

My books are an extension of me, a reaching out, a kiss. A wound reopened elsewhere, my writing is an expression of loneliness that challenges but never defeats loneliness.

Memoir Seminar

Jean Baudrillard: “Cipher, don’t decipher.”

Translation: Keep to yourself. Keep something of yourself for yourself. Keep something of yourself from yourself. Commit silence.

***

How shall we write silence? How shall we write in silence? In what tone does silence not-write?

Knot-writing. Bound books. Unsafe words. Writing is seen as emotional release. It’s first and foremost a building of tension. Writing complicates. Writing frustrates.

***

If you must write a memoir, don’t spill your guts. Deflect reflection. Let sleeping Freudians lie.

Engage like a mistress in tease and denial. Put a hand over your mouth. Hand over your mouth. Muffle your dreams.

Above A Whisper

A previous version of this poem was published in Nervous Lethargy.

I walk on blades
Of grass around
My father’s grave

Avoiding sunken
Markers careful not
To wake the dead

I want to share news
About a great job
My own place to live

The love of a woman
Who finds me
Worthy of affection

But none of this
Has happened
And it’s getting late

I tell him about
Another mild
Chicago winter

And Vegas picking
The Cubs to win
The World Series

My voice breaks
Like mist
Above a whisper

As birds fly in V-formation
Over headstones
Fixed in solemn rows

Paperback Editor #2

Yesterday I posted the revised version of the introduction to The Intimacy of Communication. Below I’ve done the same for the afterword.

After Words: Textual Innuendo (Revised 2017)

 “I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
—Roland Barthes

We are always after words, embedded in the fabric of language. There’s a mystery to things we can’t put a finger on, a sense of loss in every expression.

When I write I’m seeking your attention. I want you to see me as I see you, in the form of an extended seduction. It’s a quest for recognition without making a scene.

However we approach this book, it doesn’t belong to you or me. In fact it belongs to no one. I’m referring to the communal nature of language. We all use words without possessing them. There’s nothing I can say that you can’t say, because each of us has access to the same database of words. But some words I use, you might use differently, in a manner of speaking.

We’re free to appreciate or mimic another writer’s style. I quote Jean Baudrillard, or the English translations of his native French, throughout this book. He wrote eloquently about seduction, which encouraged me to do the same, invoking his spirit to support my evidence.

Throughout this process I feared the worst. Would words flow or stick in my throat? Was the whole idea good to begin with? At some point I had to plow through the doubt and embrace my project. At some point I had to let my mind go.

I’ve covered many topics in The Intimacy of Communication, but what I’ve intentionally and subconsciously left out haunts each line. Blind spots permeate the text. Subterfuge and misdirection abound. There’s no guarantee friends and family won’t find me out, but who’s to say I’m not hoping to get caught?

Perhaps I’ve revealed too much, but to pique your interest I had to show a little skin. In the end, my intentions here were far from innocent. I had a rendezvous in mind and urged you to come.

After Words: Textual Innuendo (Original 2016)

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
—Roland Barthes

We are always after words, embedded in the fabric of language. There’s a mystery to things we can’t put a finger on, a sense of loss in every expression.

When I write I’m seeking your attention. I want you to see me as I see you, in the form of an extended seduction. It’s a quest for recognition without making a scene.

However we approach this book, it doesn’t belong to you or me. In fact it belongs to no one.

I’m referring to the communal nature of language itself. We all use words without possessing them. There’s nothing I can say that you can’t say, because each of us has access to the same database of words. But each word I use you might use differently, in a manner of speaking.

We’re free to appreciate or mimic another writer’s style. I quote Baudrillard, or the English translations of his native French, throughout this book. He wrote eloquently about seduction, which encouraged me to do the same, invoking his spirit to support my evidence.

Throughout this process I feared the worst. Would words flow, or swell up in my throat? Was the whole idea good to begin with? At some point I had to plow through the doubt and embrace my project. At some point I had to let my mind go.

I’ve covered many topics in The Intimacy of Communication, but what I’ve intentionally and subconsciously left out haunts each line. Blind spots permeate the text. Subterfuge and misdirection abound. There’s no guarantee friends and family won’t find me out, but who’s to say I’m not hoping to get caught.

Perhaps I’ve revealed too much. Or maybe to pique your interest I had to show a little skin. Either way, my intentions here were far from innocent. I had a rendezvous in mind and urged you to come.

So To Speak

I can’t write anymore. I hire an editor. She recommends a therapist.

I arrive at the front desk. I share a recent dream in which I tell a stranger nobody understands what I’m trying to say. The stranger agrees but this resolves nothing.

The receptionist says she’s not a therapist. She will be with me in a moment. I give her my name. She looks thirsty. I’m talking about the receptionist. I am told in no uncertain terms to keep my voice down.

I author a book from front to back in a waiting room. I quit dreaming.

I tell a stranger I’m vulnerable. I don’t recommend announcing this in a dark alley after midnight. Or on a first date if you’re into meeting people. A blog is fine. I’m done with books.

I am vulnerable. I write books nobody reads. Books nobody bothered to write but me. Nobody understands what I’m trying to write. Books aren’t blogs aren’t dreams. I fire my editor. This resolves nothing.

I enter a stranger’s dream and say nobody understands what it’s like to tell people on the internet you’re vulnerable. He’s angry with me. I bite my tongue. He throws his voice.

Books are for dummies. I buy mine on Amazon. Books are finished.

A stranger tells his therapist in my dream I don’t understand what I’m trying to say. I agree and this resolves everything. I decide to write cryptic blogs to throw off people on the internet.

I fuck my editor in a dark alley. She says I’m a bad writer. Repeat after me. I’m a bad rider.

I take back my book. Every word.

I write what I know. I quit therapy because I’m too smart for this shit.

I am dumber than a blog post. Someone buys my book and it arrives by drone.

I am thirsty. An author waiting for my therapist tells me he can’t write any more. I ask him to elaborate. This adds words to the universe. Words aren’t people aren’t drones. I see right through the universe. My book drops. Nobody picks it up.

A stranger will see me now. My therapist asks me to elaborate at the same time I ask her to elaborate. She doesn’t get paid to analyze dreams.

I ask my therapist for water. She gives me a voice. So to speak.

She says I am valuable. Repeat after me. I am vulnerable.