When asked what I’d like to do with my life, it’s very easy for me to say that I want to write. Whether this reply comes from the joy of writing or from the comfort of the presence of a purpose, however sheer it may be, it is hard to say. It could also be that my reply stems from the belief that only literature (or even all-encompassing art) can save me and this world. The pursuit of a purpose and its subsequent lending of meaning to life masks the fragmentations in our existence. I may not do as much writing as I would have liked to, or as much as someone who is committed to making it a career should do, but the thought of giving up altogether makes me feel like my life would be utterly worthless otherwise. On the other hand, the thought of giving up anything else, or anyone else has never rendered me as helpless as this does. So, I go ahead, and psychoanalyze myself about why I feel what I feel. It also causes me to tell myself that I must stop watching myself live. Too much time is wasted on being one’s own audience. After all, what’s the world for?
Maybe, I want to write to have a purpose, or to fall back on something. Maybe, as it occurred to me the other day, it’s because I would rather have characters live lives that I would be inspired by. Because let’s face it, most people are disappointing. The entire world is disappointing when pitched against our ideas of what we know and expect. Only if I transpose whatever I witness and experience in my life to words, I could somehow win at this thing called life. If I fling all my encounters at my characters and watch how they’d deal with it, I would find the secret to how living is done. If I observe people, mix their characters, I could create new people who would be less insufferable. Yes, they’d have their antagonists, but there would be heroes, too. Heroes who would win for me, even if I lost. Maybe writing is my key to that ideal life I have always been blinded by – the chase which will never culminate, and hence will never end. In the everyday life, someone, somewhere has got to win and literature allows that. Someone, somewhere has to be free from purpose because they’re not frightened the large emptiness that is life. Someone, somewhere has got to rise from the apparent combining of social practices, just to get by. Since it cannot exist, it can be created. Maybe, that’s why writing.
Or it’s because there’s a bubble that I don’t want to break. I assume that’s how surviving happens. Most of it is built on the hope that someday it will get better. While some of it is built on the creating of a better tomorrow, and very little of it is dawdling in the acceptance of whatever comes along. Mostly, it is built on the longing that extraordinary things will happen to us. Writing allows all this to happen – it allows hope, creation, and even flights of fancy. No matter how existentialist a piece of literature, it still borrows from life and builds on it. The comfort that characters are also dealing with what we’re facing allows friendships to form between this world and the one beyond paper, thus making us feel that we’re not as alone as we think. This brings me to solitude and how writing is such a lonely job. It reminds one of one’s primal position in society – all by oneself. I know that I cannot stay alone. I’m just not made for that kind of environment. Yes, I do seek to be alone at most times – mostly when I’m traveling across cities, or between two places, or in that house that I’m supposed to make. But solitude for me is always a kind of traveling, mostly literal, which is something I embrace only when I go from one place full of people to another. Then again, that’s what being alone means, doesn’t it? Traveling inside because one must know oneself better.
Many of my questions get answered by books, and even essays and memoirs written by people. It’s just that as a race we don’t go to literature for answers, instead we go to science. Or to religion. Make no mistake, science is extremely necessary. Religion, not at all. But I think more answers about humans come from literature than anywhere else. As opposed to looking towards literature as an art form for consumption, it should be looked upon as a fountain of answers for the common folk. Vindication, even. For example, not everyone can ask science, or least of all the government, about racism. But you can ask Atticus Finch, can you not? How many Harry Potter fans quote Dumbledore more than they quote their own teachers? This is not to make less of science or teachers, least of all not of the government because it does that on its own. This is just to point out that all our answers are in literature, as they have always been. I’m afraid literature cannot answer the eternal question about God’s existence. That is for God to take care of while literature takes care of everything else.