Writing. August 3, 2011

I love stylish writing. Prose that plays, wiggles, and spills over the lines. But not too much.

There is a certain, incredible freedom to the pen that purposefully writes for the sake of writing, for the sake of life itself. Writing, it seems, can sustain life.

A true writer is someone who can write beautiful nonsense.

I’ve often wished to be a true writer, but I know that I’m not. It’s okay, though: I’m happy to read those who are. I’ve come to think of myself as something of a homiletic essayist with tedious philosophical habits and pretensions. (To be a philosopher and a true writer is utterly miraculous to me.)

As a philosopher, I usually consider good writing to be an exercise for and manifestation of clear thinking—even if one is thinking clearly about being unclear. This is how and why I teach writing. But this way of conceiving the metaphysics of writing is too narrow.

When I read a writer, a true writer, I am not interested in the clarity of her intellect: I am reading, devouring, masticating, salivating, keeping myself alive for a moment and dying in the next.

The beauty of writing cannot be reduced to its analytic merits. There is a flux of life in the Word that is music, sex, birth, breathe, suffocating…

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