But then right now I don’t “get” most forms of communication. There’s just so much of it. Everybody talking at once and all over each other; everyone on the planet typing words into their computers, for ever, like I’m doing now. I fail to see the point of roughly 98% of human communication at the moment, which indicates I need to stroll around somewhere quiet for a bit.
The words we constantly use and the narratives we write reinforce a drama of selfhood that we in the West complacently celebrate. There is also much consolation taken in the way in which writing and narrative can transform emotional pain into a form of entertainment, wise and poignant in its vision of our passage through the world, intense and thrilled by its own intensity. Narrative is so often the narrative of misery and of the passage through misery.
What silence and meditation leaves us wondering, after we stand up, unexpectedly refreshed and well-disposed after an hour of stillness and silence, is whether there isn’t something deeply perverse in this culture of ours, even in its greatest achievements in narrative and art. So much of what we read, even when it is great entertainment, is deeply unhelpful.
Being naturally inclined to relaxed daydreaming, I tend to feel much more substantial and whole as a result of making the effort to write regularly. It would be too easy otherwise to indifferently let my word balloons float away before I’d had a chance to tie them around my wrist and fully appreciate them. Perhaps writing is a form of self-medicating, helping me to focus without the help of doctor-prescribed speed. But sometimes I too wonder if I’m alert enough to the danger of becoming just one more babbling twit on the Internet whose rickety mental well-being depends on never shutting up, or if I’d recognize it happening to me in time to prevent it.