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Page 230

Hell, then, is immortality in the absence of a willingness
to create. Hell, then, may take the form of a blank page.
So all we have to do is write? Not so. Just dribbling words
only exacerbates blankness. A man alone in a room,
cheerful, begins to speak; his good cheer begins to strain,
becomes hectic, down shifts into mild interest, indifference –
as if his talking is chewing up his life force, but he keeps
talking in voice after voice: Who says, "What I mean to say
is..." – Dad? an uncle? Who, becoming hostile, said
"I'm sick and tired of this. Enough! That's IT! I MEAN it!" --
and went on talking? Mother? Sister? Son? Who, becoming
angry, said "Fuck this shit!" and "DON'T TELL ME
WHAT I CAN AND CAN'T SAY!" Who said "Tough
titty." Who said, with a toothy smile and fanged eyes,
"Oh, this is excellent, isn't it excellent? Look, folks,
more words! GOOD writer! You just keep writing,
and Mummy will give you a big messy kiss!" Who said,
"Oh God! I don't know what to say! What else
can I say!" (Why is the room getting so dark? It's
still morning. And why are the walls so close
around me?) Who is saying, "I'm afraid. Let's be
logical now. This is just talking. It can't hurt to talk.
It will be OK. NO, it's NOT OK. I don't want to
talk about this...". Who says, "Please! Please! Please!
Please! O God! O God! O God! Just stop, O God!"
Who mutters "pleasepleaseplease...". Who says nothing,
sits hunched in a chair, staring at a space on or far beyond
a windowless wall. And this – if the man is alone
in a room writing – we call "Writer's block," but
nothing has blocked him. He has simply talked away
the room, the world, the sense of location and ability
to be, to act, to have anything. He has talked himself
down to apathy. He fits neatly into the air, as if
it were concrete in which a body-sized niche
had been chipped out for him. Nothing matters now
because there is nothing left to matter (it's all just
talk, all the same), and matter itself (chairs, doors,
walls, bodies, stars) is only dimly perceived
through the solid air, perceived as condensed words,
words evoking a twinge of nausea (safest not
to try to move), but only if one touches them,
so there's no point in speaking, no reality
in which speaking may occur, no one, really,
to speak. Words have become as inimical as,
to one who is sea sick, the slightest motion
or the scent of roast turkey with stuffing.

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