Friday, August 14, 2009

Burning Ink


I tried an experiment while camping this past week. I wrote a page of prose, feverishly handwritten, then tossed it to the smoking flames, to see the ink sear, then crumple into the collapsing paper, bronze running to black, and withering away forever into an ash that will run with the mud of upcoming rains. This experiment came to mind as I walked past an image of Adolph Hitler not too long ago. In a long series of thought associations I stumbled onto the concept of book burning, and as I vested more of an interest and passion in writing literature over the several most recent years, the idea of book burning hollowed me with a more personal sting. My curiosity and tendency towards slight masochism itched me to explore the experience of seeing a written work singe and disappear. I could very well toss my book Whiskey Pike, which I recently self published, but that wouldn’t have the same flare (no pun intended) of indignation, as there is a pdf of the original typeset saved on several computers, jump drives, and CDs, not to mention with the publisher. We see here the glory of the digital age in backing up intellectual property so the artist can rise again like a phoenix amidst the destruction of one physical copy. I wanted to see something unique written, never again to be recreated, slip into the orange flicker of destruction. Of course this experiment is a bit watered down as I knew going into it that I was going to destroy whatever it was I was going to write, and perhaps subconsciously I did not release a depth of personal vestige in my work. However upon completion of the writing, I was filled with a touch of pride at the poetic flow of the piece I had written, and pleased with the aesthetic configuration of words communicating the idea of burning literature. I thought for a second how easily the words came to me in the instant I wrote them, but how ethereal they were without the preservation through ink to paper. Never again could I communicate with such precision the same thought, as I would be crippled by the urge to recreate the same poeticism and rhythm of the first attempt. Writing is very much a performance, a very personal performance, the writer performing at the paper, and beautifully the paper preserves it through the whip of ink or tap against type pad. The hollowness I felt post paper burn struck me with some similarity to the feeling I have had after the close of a play, pleased with the piece but realizing it would never again be seen. There is a bittersweet twist of pleasure with the creation itself and emptiness that it will slip away through the cracks of history, as with anything in life, we realize we are of mortal nature, ourselves as well as our work. Enjoyment of the work becomes necessary to continue on knowing all of nature’s destructive forces. The writer may also face the loss of work in the everyday dance with technology, a power outage before saving the document for instance. Art reaches to be shared, and obstacles to its ability to be seen or experienced can be of a devastating vibration. My experiment in a sense was meaningless as I wrote it without the intention of sharing with an audience and wrote the carefree flick of pen knowing I would never get to share it – the result however with the carefree flick was a piece I felt was actually, truly beautiful, and indeed despite an assumption of closed subconscious, a personal splatter of words that had a raw and fresh quality to it. I almost want to approach all of my writings with that same carefree attitude. It in fact may well be my most honest writing to date. I thought that I may perhaps rewrite it and see how close I could pull out the phraseology that may be lingering in my short term memory. But it would have lost that original flow, and would be a prefabricated attempt to duplicate, as if I were a photocopier – I in fact would not be engaged in the act of creating. I will let the aforementioned piece remain a mystery both for the reader and for myself. I can only image how one would feel seeing his body of work purged and what possible ways there are to cope with such a protest against ones art and ideas. I know how I coped on the level of my experience, which was in all essence self induced and petty. Immediately after staring into the destruction and page particles flittering away as smoke, I pierced two hot dogs with a whittled stick and balanced them above a hot coal. I buried the loss with sustenance by cheap beef frank and slid a momentary step back down the ladder of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.




4 comments:

Berry Blog said...

Cool, I have added you to my blog list under my friends. I'll try to keep up with ya.
http://charliecharlie4821.blogspot.com/

Berry Blog said...

On another note, Stephen Hawkins has recently decided he was wrong when he proposed that when everything is totally destroyed in black holes. He has since determined that ideas are not.
And of course everybody is doing the math again...even the colleagues who disagreed with him.

King of New York Hacks said...

Thought provoking stuff.

jnkw said...

Is the pursuit of the peak experience a masturbatory pursuit? I've been accused of masturbation.