Words Words Words
I have been thinking about texts and the charisma they hold in people’s lives. Especially lettered people. Unlettered ones also. But the modern priestly class – historians, literary people, lawyers, academics. I hear the words ‘stay close to the text’, ‘pay close attention to the text’. Texts are in the category of objects. Perhaps they are creatures of a sort. Or are they shadows? I don’t mean ‘text’ in the grand Derridean sense. I mean texts in common parlance. Books. Paper. Graffiti. Why is it that I communicate better on email than in person? Why are we feverishly producing text over morning chai as tweets and status updates? How does one explain the obsession over words – written words? Written on a qwerty keyboard or a smartphone. Look around you and you will see the sky and ground are saturated with writing. Seducing you. Cajoling you. Read. Read. What does it mean to occupy public space without exercising one’s alphabet-intelligence?
A text offers an illusion of certainty. Some version of truth emerges through a text. A billboard declares that happiness will come through mutual fund investment. A tattoo declares that she will love you forever. A text message reveals a hint of sexual enthusiasm. A poem is a failed attempt at building a bridge between creator and interpreter. The creator forever recedes into the horizon. The poem swims in the middle-abyss. And dissolves into word-dreams. Or word-nightmares. As you will. I wonder at the pundit class and their faith in texts – constitution, Koran, Foucault, Upanishads, New York Times. I am growing tired of a wordy world.