{153} Failure of words

About the only skill I have to offer anyone is my ability to craft words.

Even that is limited — I’m not poetically inclined, there is little that can be described as “moving” or “transcendent” in my prose. A reflection of my own physical presence, I think: solid, sensible, plain. I’m okay with that.

In these times of political strife and moral abdication, though, I reflect on the wartime editorials of my own literary hero, Camus. I’m less taken with him as a philosopher than I am with his talent at writing the inner kaleidoscope of human self-awareness. I first read The Plague when I was about 15, and until my parents died I reread it every year. I have described his writing as “words like stiletto knives” and especially in the editorials he wrote in the Paris underground of WWII, that is true.

On the destruction of a whole town on January 29, 1944, by the Germans, Camus wrote:

These dead Frenchmen were people who might have said, “This doesn’t concern me.” But the Germans decided that it did concern them, and on that day they demonstrated that it concerned all of us.

Pure exposition of the dangers of neutrality, pointedly stated in precise cuts of logic and only necessary words.

Such is not my skill. Few are reading my editorials anyway. I have no platform to call out on, such as Camus had with Combat (the underground resistance newspaper he helped run). I’m frustrated by the impotence of this, but then, being unseen has been a lifelong goal, mostly unintentional but no less true for that. I cannot claim surprise at being inconsequential, when that’s been my safety zone. Staying out of sight, out of mind, is a survival tactic, outdated and cumbersome now but still my first instinct every morning.

What are the value of words read by so few?

But like most writers I’m compelled to put forth what thoughts I have and anxiously point them out to people passing by. I keep wanting to make those connections, find patterns and reasons, and write about them. Yes, I’m mad right now, but this has always been true, mad or not.

I’m hamstrung by the overabundance of words on the Web, and my own unwillingness to make myself a target. I hoard my time and energy like a paranoid dragon. I put down words and delete them, then in frustration put them back.

I’m more comfortable writing than talking.

And so, rarely have I ever been at a point where I felt like words were failing me…or, perhaps more accurately, I am failing at words. I’m there now, debating the usefulness of the one real skill I have, when words swirl down the drain of the World Wide Web, when my solid, sensible, plain prose is unable to meet the task at hand.

What if the stories I have to tell are mere entertainment? What if my essays are self-indulgent? What if my writing is misdirected and meaningless?

I don’t know.

I keep writing, because for fuck’s sake it’s not like I know how to stop.


Originally published at ::::KimBoo York.