He felt, obscurely, that what was needed was a ceremonious, ritualised piece, in which the personal would gradually be extinguished and reality—the reality of death, of his friend, of his own relation to death, to his friend, and to the death of his friend—would gradually emerge. But as soon as he sat down to write he found himself involved in failure and betrayal. What he wanted was to try and make sense of a specific, a unique event, the single irremediable fact of his friend's death. But as soon as he began to write that death turned into literature, another story, well or badly told, as the case might be, but still one story among thousands. Yet what he wanted, why he was writing, was to make himself understand that this was not just another story, that this was final, irrevocable, once and for all. And to say this was not enough. It merely turned the enterprise into a slightly more sophisticated story. He had wanted to use art to honour his friend and instead found himself using his friend's death as a prop for his art.
As so often in his struggle to emerge from the cotton wool of the self into the clearer order of art—for what was art if not a clearer order?—he tried to start with the immediate: with the cloud of anguish and confusion which lay so heavily upon him. But for once a solution failed to emerge. He was trapped in the cotton wool. He could not put a sentence down without questions of style, of selection, of appropriateness, thrusting themselves upon him. He did not want to write more beautifully, more euphoniously, he wanted only to get at the reality of what had happened. But that reality would remain hidden until he found the right words, and each time he rewrote a passage, scratched out a phrase, the futility of the whole business overcame him. More than futility, betrayal.
Friday, January 04, 2013
Noted: Gabriel Josipovici
The following is from Gabriel Josipovici's story, "He", collected most recently in Heart's Wings: