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What It Pleases Me to Write

Barthes writes: "If he often foresees books to write (which he does not write) it is because he postpones until later what bores him. Or rather, he wants to write _right away_ what it pleases him to write, and not something else." Yes and yes. And what bores me is often the prospect of tracing an already foreseen path, the getting down in writing of something already thought, the prospect of a writing that is not a discovery, that is not somehow contingent upon the moment of the writing. This final bit, this aspect of contingency, folds over into Barthes's desire "to write _right away_ what it pleases him to write." I incline toward the journal, the fragment, leaving the book projects only foreseen and never executed, because I do not like cutting myself off from immanence, from the vitality of the moment in which I am putting pen to page. Behind the formulation of the sentence, this sentence, is the humming of the refrigerator that has just turned its noisy self on again, the hammering and sawing of a neighbor's renovation project, the afternoon of exercise and errands that I have ahead of me, the awareness of this ephemeral space for writing that I am carving out for myself, the rich smell of wet earth and vegetation that links this morning's Brooklyn kitchen to other moist spring mornings, to quiet walks in grassy country. None of this background is the point...it is easy enough to ignore in order to remain focused on the generation of this particular thought. But the background, the borders of this space for writing, are indispensable to it, to me, and I am acutely aware that at any given moment the focus will shift, the background and the task will merge, the minutia will become event and subject matter: the imperceptible transition of a spring morning into a spring afternoon. The journal, the fragment, permit me to remain attentive to that immanence, that shift, to remain connected to that vitality. The fragment permits the attention to cut away at a moment's notice. To pick up again later, or not. The fragment is equally prepared to drop away as inessential, anomalous, or to become recognized as leitmotif. The fragment is the writer's resistance to the monomaniacal nature of writing.

To write _right away_ what it pleases me to write (and then leave off for the day, as time begins to press): With relief, I am allowing myself at last to embrace the fragment, with the justification (one of many) that it recollects the permeability of thought and memory. Non-linear, discontinuous, one thought, one memory, does not lead from and to another. Instead, each thought and each memory may arise from any number of others, variably, and in turn lead to any number of others, unpredictably and unexpectedly. The fragment resists the rigidity of thought and memory sequencing that is reinforced by writing that is continuous and linear.

Finally, it pleases me to write that as soon as I leave off writing the day fills up with thoughts of what ought to have been written, of what must be written on the morrow. I can begin to anticipate the crowds now: faces and places and routines of this fleeting Brooklyn ordinary, memories that stand out so sharp in me (a discourse on 'thisness' over _alubias_ at El Corral in Hervas; Castaneda's 'gait of power': my father exhorting me to run barefoot into the night desert of La Bufadora) that they pierce with urgent desire to be framed as consequential, packing lists I have known and packing suggestions for the existential traveler, a book project perfectly suited for the bedside table or the commode, perfectly suited for five minute consumption at long if not infrequent intervals.