& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Let's see you lay a finger on me"

I thought of writing about Isaac Bashevis Singer (Yentl) and Saul Bellow (Him with his foot in his mouth) today.

The news peg – can’t get journalism out of my system – is the controversy over Tiff’s selection of Tel Aviv for its City to City program.

Then I realised that doing so would be stretching the context too far (‘text without context’ – Rushdie).

It’d be unfair to the masters Bellow and Singer to unnecessary link them with this issue. Then, I thought of writing about Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. However, I couldn't start.

For sure, I’m desperately in search of a good subject to write about.

I haven’t finished the two books that I’ve started reading. Consequently, I’ve nothing to write.

During August and even this month I’ve fallen back on my monthly blog entries.

I deleted some of the entries from the earlier months because I felt these entries were merely indulgences and nothing much to do with the theme of the blog.

I also removed most of the widgets that I had so eagerly installed in the enthusiasm of starting this blog in January.

The blog is trim. I’m not. I’ve ballooned with an ever-expanding girth at the midriff.

And, I don’t have anything to write.

I’m reminded of a piece Isabel Huggan gave us during the Humber School for Writers’ summer workshop that eloquently describes this phenomenon.

No, not fatness, but emptiness.

It’s called But What Actually Existed Here Before the Big Bang?

Oz writes, “He (his father, an academic writer) never had to sit, as I do, staring at a single mocking blank page in the middle of an arid desk, like a crater on the face of the moon. Just me and emptiness and despair. Go make something out of nothing at all.

“Actually who hasn’t been through the ghastly experience of sitting in front of a blank page, with its toothless mouth grinning at you: Go ahead, let’s see you lay a finger on me?.

“A blank page is actually a whitewashed wall with no door and no window. Beginning to tell a story is like making a pass at a total stranger in a restaurant. Remember Chekhov’s Gurov in The Lady with the Dog? Gurov beckons to the little dog, wagging his finger at it over and over again, until the lady is blushing, ‘He doesn’t bite,’ whereupon Gurov asks her permission to give the dog a bone. Both Gurov and Chekhov have now been given a threat to go by; the flirtation begins and the story takes off.

“The beginning of almost every story is actually a bone, something with which to court the dog, which may bring you closer to the lady.”

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