Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A story/ a Barthesian reflection/ a collection of words

Just a little story that I recently wrote for Rachel Marsden's current project 'Words are all we have' which she will discuss in the upcoming symposium Type Writing at BIAD. And some visual paraphernalia to keep it company ... 


When he was writing, he felt different; liberated almost. A bit like nothing mattered because he showed nobody his words; they were his secret. And, he knew that the words would not betray him because this writing happened in his thoughts, or in fleeting moments on scraps of paper he would find here and there, and keep, secretly stashed in a little box under his bed.

One day, he noticed that the box was very full. It overflowed with an abundance of words and little snippets of writing, that, when he ran his hand through them, danced around in the little box. He put the box on his bed and decided, in a moment of contemplation, to unfold them and open out his words; to gather them up.

As he looked at them all laid out like little toy soldiers, he wondered: which way do they go? where is the beginning and where is the end? where are the edges of the words and where is the middle? All of a sudden, a big gust of wind blew through the window and all of the bits of paper whooshed up; fluttering in the air like butterflies and slowly gliding back down in a scattered pile. One piece fluttered down, lingering and dancing seductively in front of him, and his secret written words landed on the floor, next to a strange and rather odd looking contraption called a ‘typewriter. “To type write?” he said aloud, “what a wonderful idea!”

And so, he proceeded to type up all of his fluttering fragments on the strange machine called the ‘typewriter’. He gathered up all of the pieces of paper that had looked after his words for so long and with a great sense of purpose, he pressed the keys of the letters of the words from the little bits of paper, which pressed the long strange silver things into an even more strange bit of ribbon which transformed into letters on the page.

So enthralled was he at the type writing, that he became feverishly engaged in hitting the keys to make his words all appear together for the first time, and before long, little errors began to appear on the page. At first he did not notice. And then, as he admired his work, he noticed slippages between words; where t’s became y’s and u’s became i’s. And strange symbols like [‘s and :’s and !’s and #’s appeared through his words; scattered throughout the surface of the page.

He stopped for a moment and waited for a feeling of anxiety from these slippages. But, it did not come. Instead, these errors gave him pleasure and he embraced them into his gathering of words. Every slippage becoming a new-found and untouched version of his self. These accidental stutters made him think of all the other stutters created from the words on the tips of other people’s fingers and the fingers on the tips of other people’s words who had pressed down onto the very same keys. Each stutter, stumble, slippage was a mediated pause on his own existence that was filled with silences, stains and imperfections. Every stutter like an unnecessary silence on nothingness.

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