“It’s hard to decipher where the fictional madness and social seclusion begin and end for both the work and life of Edgar Allan Poe, one of history’s most compelling horror writers who, it’s believed, was wracked with his own demons.“ http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/the-most-reclusive-authors-of-all-time
An engineer normally does not fiddle around with calculations unless it is part of an assignment for which he/she will be compensated. Or it is part of a discovery or a zany innovation project that he/she has taken up as a personal mission. No engineer takes home calculations for fun or for any morbid pleasure. As an exception, some physicists do. I even know some of them. And I know some mathematics wizards. They do it because for them nerdiness is secretly exhilarating. The last laugh is on those who call them nerds. Nerds have missions, projects. They have to have disruption/separation as a constant source of creativity. They smile gently deep inside their minds as others laugh at them indiscreetly.
But writers? What are they thinking of when they stare at a blank page on a .doc file?
Let’s take doctors. They do not cut up cadavers for kicks, or prescribe medicines to passersby because they happen to notice them go past their windows. Here! Take some fucking Imodium! You look pretty ragged and wasted. Ah! You! You look sad! Let me cut out a chunk of your elbow. It may change your life! Doctors don’t practice their profession at home for kicks. Doctors are serious professionals. They follow a code. Ethical standards are on their minds. They have taken an oath. They must be integrated.
Writers, I am told, do cut, slash, burn-up, tear up and then pound on the keyboard, like it is a holy sepulchre, a temple of sacrifice, an obligation, a ritual. We are mission-less, and yet we must be mission-intense. We, like painters, dab, touch-type or hammer with single fingers and create words and phrases, and sentences and stories for the heck of it. Something may come out of nothing. We do not know if we are solving anything.
A writer must sit down to write. Like a painter. You sit down and build the base on a canvas. Sometimes you do not have a project and yet you pick up the brush and make those strokes. That is the general rule. Even if you have a sketch or a photograph that you are simply going to construct on the canvas, you start with this ritual. Writers and painters are similar. They simply start to “put ink to paper” or “paint to canvas” because the exercise of writing, unlike the exercise of solving mathematical hypothesis or theorems, does not have a problem statement, does not have variables and constants that must be shuffled around to obtain a solution. As I write, right now, I am developing the objective of this essay, because I am of the opinion, or I have been repeatedly advised, that the process is the objective. The solution is an enigma, that can happen any which way. There is no problem to start out with, but there will be a solution! The process, Watson, is what counts! Really?
Writers are actually a variety. From serious, structured, storytellers who construct their stories ahead of putting pen to paper, to naughty, mischievous agenda-less vagabonds who thrill-kill with words. Some write for a living, and very soon it becomes a routine. Others have a penchant for émigré fiction. Tugs from the chords left behind. Still others are experimental dabblers who do not always know where it will all end up. But it is the writer-nerds that I have an affinity for. They are the ones who don’t speak much. They smile softly and then come out with a shocking essay. And that is because in their deepest recesses they have pleasantly satisfying thoughts that they feel they must share, but cannot verbalize in public. Thoughts that could be termed morbid, but could also be the ultimate barrier-breaking, g-spot-rubbing rebelliousness. Or, perhaps the most politically promiscuous sins contemplated in a most reclusive recess of the mind. The personal suddenly becomes the public.
The antechamber curtains are swept aside.
The nerds emerge and become the seditionists. The sinful, bannable nerds who push “law” to its limits. They are the writer-nerds who look for a disruptive turn of events. My writers are seekers of deep thrills. Seditious thrills. Overturning thrills. To be one, one must separate. A complete act of insulation from regularity, standard-ness and repetitivity. Complete distancing from the tools and methods made available to us to produce. Often referred by practicing psychoanalysts and sociologists as “alienation.” The process of separation from the mode of production. It is the mode where we actually lose our humanity and produce per diktat. “Whereas a person’s Gattungswesen (human nature) does not exist independent of specific, historically-conditioned activities, the essential nature of a human being is actualized when an individual—within their given historical circumstance—is free to sub-ordinate their will to the external demands they have imposed upon themselves by their imagination, and not the external demands imposed upon individuals by other people.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienation)
Writers must then separate. From that place where we are no longer in charge and cannot function as humans to a place where we call the shots. There is no ink, there is no canvas, there is no paper, and there is no .doc file. There is no diktat from the owners of the mode. There are only deep thoughts. Like the deep net, it is untraceable, unmanageable and even unknown. Only then can sedition happen.
Rana Bose is an author and engineer, and is conflicted at several levels, but is assigned to be on Montréal Serai’s Editorial Board.