Fragments; by way of introduction
I have always intended to become a writer; the trouble is, I haven’t written anything. I have scraped and scratched for years and years and all I’ve got are little fast-drying spurts and blotches of words. Landscapes are evoked and return to dust; poems and songs are cut off mid-tremble. This situation has at last become intolerable.
On why “Fragments” was nearly the title of this project
In college I began a little hobby that I called “Fragments Without Stories” and kept up for a while. It consisted of single odd sentences or snatches of prose that each held the door to an ongoing world of which I knew nothing more. They were magical because they would be forever unfinished. Those single sentences were for a long time all that I could write; everything else took forever, locked up my heart, and hurt my head.
I have continued on in some such way for my whole life thus far, accumulating outrageous masses of scraps and notes for various bracketed wholes. I have cartons upon cartons of filled notebooks, margins, envelope-backs, sticky notes pressed together in the order of their exposition, loose receipts covered in tiny scribbles of insight.
Nothing has been actually finished with nice page numbers and a title. All the while, words have continued to settle thickly on my brain, in long gentle drifts, covering over the outlines of everything I meant to do this week.
A crisis has arrived; the moment of decision
Despairing at last, I’ve decided to at least publish all the scraps. Thus, I will be able to say that I have done something with my life. Possibly this will shame me into getting more organized, or energetically rigorous. Possibly some generous soul will tip me a dollar and thus baptize me as a Real Writer. Possibly I will actually tap together a complete manuscript later on. But in any case, I will be writing, and reducing the masses of words through which I have to wade every day on my way to the daily planner.
A look to the horizon
At the personal level, this is a place for all my fragments, because I think in fragments and write in fragments; and also because my life is itself a fragment, as I have been learning lately. What I know is more like a modulated tone or a song than a systematic model of the heavens; and soon enough I shall be dust anyhow. But if I can’t finish the symphony, I can still whistle the tune; and maybe that is worth doing.
At the social/political level, though, beyond my own world, I also think that I rightly recognize fragments. All things are broken. Every truth is only a piece. We live and move in a world without a cosmology, without the grand narratives we have cast into the fires. And I do believe that we live now in historic times as well. The world is not only nameless and shattered, but also it is rapidly changing. Those changes are frightening many people. I am not afraid, and I wish to speak their names. Maybe this will help.
I am a traveler, and I have seen many places and spoken to many people. The world I was born in, itself out of all recognition to my parents and grandparents, is already vanished; I carry its elegy within me, unsung. The newer world is even less like the old one, with even fewer of the signposts that show the way to meaning, fulfillment, and hope; but I am one of those who remember where they used to be. Also, I have an idea of what the world looks like now, and I can describe it.
I am a writer, and I can paint pictures of the past, the present, and the future which are mirrors for understanding, which give the grip of insight and naming that allows us to stay calm, to find hope, and to do something.
I am also a philosopher by trade and I have found that I know the names of many ideas that have power over people who do not realize this. Much of the loss of a horizon and a purpose that I have seen in my travels I ascribe to this lack of mastery over the ideas which establish the world for each of us. I want to explain some things about current events, political philosophy, power, truth, and language, to empower the fearful and give peace of mind to the weary. I want to describe and identify the power of philosophy, the power of the magic of ideas, and so give people the ability to recognize and resist it when necessary.
In any case, if I write a fragment which is of use to anyone, then I will have accomplished my purpose here! Peace go with you.