Not Borges

Marisa Kohen
Marisa Kohen

Dear Dr. K H,

I am very grateful for the sixty minutes I spent in your company. Extremely. Two hours of total bliss. Sociophobics seldom find bliss around people; indeed it generally is a very demanding effort.

Thank you for two unforgettable hours of steered, uninterrupted, alert conversation on my favorite Southern Gothic authors. “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief…” I quoted, thinking I had mistaken the word “nothing” since Faulkner would have been able to pick a deeper word for nothingness. But I hadn’t. Because Faulkner is a master of the dictionary.

If you can’t become a writer after Faulkner, maybe even Hemingway shouldn’t have become one. I am grateful he did and certain he believed in himself as a writer. But who can write after Faulkner? Borges did, fortunately. And what about all of us who are neither Borges nor Hemingway but cannot help writing?

I am certain the world wouldn’t mind at all whether I write or not and thousands of times in my life after thousands of frustrations, I tried very hard not to write and every single time I found myself again in my room of my own, which is an attic on a different floor in our apartment building, (6. 5 ft by 4.5), wrapped up in my books; fetishist, absorbed, renegade and, most important of all: sane.

Most important of all, sane.

We did drive seven hours to Oxford and to Howard Oak. First writer’s home with no souvenir shop I’ve visited. We ran into a man of about 35 years old who was strolling around the front garden and seemed to be eager of conversation. He said he needed a rest from work and once inside showed us what work was: he was copying The Sound and the Fury with an old typewriter in one single sheet of paper. That was his art, he explained. He had already copied one thousand sheets of paper by different authors all in the same sheet of paper, always in their own homes so as to receive their aura. He showed us his art, that is to say: the sticky sheet of paper full of black ink.

We all do what we can and, and, talent or no talent, it certainly is not evasion what occurs in my room of my own. Nor hiding. Fiction is the truest form of truth. In my solitude, talent or not, is where I discover my own truth, where I create, my own philosophy.

I hope you are well.