A friend sent me a beautiful and thoughtful response to my last post, “Turn Back Now,” a response that became a reflection on her own relationship with writing.
Given that I invoked her in that post–she’s the scholar who studies memorial space–it seemed only fair [with her permission] to let her speak in this place, this time, for herself.
What critical geographers such as Edward Soja and Doreen Massey argue is that we privilege time over space. We think chronologically. We don’t think spatially. Time has that ruthlessly linear quality that demands a sequence, linked events, a history, a telos. So Soja, Massey, and everybody are all like space needs to be elevated to the same status as time. But the thing is, they don’t have any good examples of what that really looks like, especially what a *grounded* spatial perspective would be.
The thing is I don’t think Western thought can really get outside of a temporal perspective. I think we are going to look to other cultures for examples. Take all the Mayan end of the world shit–the West with its linear thinking automatically thinks in terms of an end; whereas, of course, the Mayan calendar is a circular conception of time. And…that’s about all I know about it because I myself pretty much can only think in terms of time too.
OK, so what does this have to do with your writing? I don’t think the idea of returning as a reader outside of the kairotic moment as you return to your writing is the right idea. First, I think you are returning as a writer, not a reader. Second, kairos, of course, is hitched to time; to think spatially is to abandon kairos. Ironically, to abandon time, then, makes everything a kairotic moment.
Everything is NOW. To return to your writing means that you are writing NOW.
An excerpt from my pre-prospectus (that I need to motherfucking revise):
Nedra Reynolds notes that cultural geographies often turn to the metaphor of the palimpsest in order to read spaces because the palimpsest demonstrates how texts and spaces can be written over without losing the original inscription. Reynolds further links this type of reading to Soja’s trialectics because the way in which “inextricably intertwined temporal, social, and spatial relations are being constantly reinscribed, erased, and reinscribed again” is similar to the continual re-reading of the palimpsestic text (Soja qtd in Reynolds 139).
So you are rewriting–which I don’t think is the best term–I think you are writing new. Fuck metacognition and the gaze too–that’s shit for readers. You are writing. And I think you are writing to save your life.