To write. To write.
I didn't realise that I had read Duras' Writing (in Chinese) during my adolescence until I was on the plane from Milan to Sicily last week. A feeling of familiarity was evoked despite in a different linguistic territory. It felt foreign, Roland Barthes once said one would ever decipher the true meaning of my text without reading in my own language. But I guess the English translation was in the closer proximity of the meaning comparing to Chinese. The plane was delayed, I finished it during the wait.
Duras has her own way of narration: She could spend pages and pages talked about the necessity of solitude in writing / writer, to a deceased British pilot in World War II, the death of a fly, a room in Rome and finally to an exhibition of a gallery. I am always in awe how sensitive can one's vision be.
Writing and swimming share certain level of solitude: when one is in the water, one is also surrounded by its blueness. This very blue, the entity of water and oneself, in itself is a singular solitude. A possibility is opened like an unwritten book, the unknown. Before writing one knows nothing of what one is about to write And in total lucidity: You alone can both be floating or sinking; swimming or drowning. However, I cannot deny the first reaction of being in the water, is that, I am lost, but one has to be lost in order to write. Because Duras wrote:
I went through a so-called 'writer's block' for about ten years between seventeen and twenty-seven years old - I stopped writing entirely; not because I have nothing to say, but because I felt my 'voice' was lost. When I speak Chinese it doesn't sound like my voice, when I write in English, words do not look like they were written from my pencil. I was a child of two worlds. Gradually, I no longer have the desire to articulate myself through words like I once was, instead I chose to express myself through art making. I taught myself to draw, as opposed to write with my own pencil. I made work which were, in fact, a healing process due to the frustration of the non-accessibility of communication and the investigation of translation / transcription. However, I was never satisfied, I have never had the same feeling of content as when I wrote at night. However, I couldn't write, because I was too scared, I was worried about my grammar, spelling, even the font style.
Soon I found myself in a very deep black hole, this lonesome place where everything is silent. I thought to myself, I must try to write again. Doesn't have to be published. Therefore, I opened a Gmail account, I started to write and save them as drafts. Draft, an indefinite mode of writing, a pointless manner of writing, writing without its audiences. The anxiety has slowly diminished as the articles accumulated. I no longer concerned being 'word-perfect', I don't care what I write. As if no one actually care how you swim in the dark, you can well be naked, skinny-dipping, the water isn't as cold as you imagine, it's less daunting as you expected, all you have to believe is that you are stronger than you already are. I knew that I had the capacity to write, to express, to explain, to envision, as if how Duras could until the day she died. I almost wanted to cry when I read these lines of how she felt about writing: Writing was the only thing that populated my life and made it magic. I did it. Writing never left me. Without it one stops looking at anything, it is a way of observing, thinking and reasoning.
Observing - the first thing I noticed when I looked upon the sky as I was floating on the water in the midnight swim, all I could see was the stars in the dark. Moonshine onto the water's surface. It was so quiet, I could barely hear anything, maybe crickets, or the faint noise of my grass being blown by the wind. When I realised that I was very much alone, in swimming, in writing. Both had to have immense amount of solitude. To lose, to be lost, to find, to be found. And repeat again. It was my meditation, it taught me how to breathe, how to be alone in the entire solitude.
Writers are solitary people. Swimmers are solitary people. Yes you swim with others but at the end no one can swim for you. You are wrapped by the waves, the everlasting ripple and you have to be underwater, and be out of the water in order to survive.
Writing, one of Duras' final works, was a painstaking journey, it reminded me how painful youth once was. Full of teenage angst, unfulfilled love, rejection and frustration. Writing also means not speaking. Keeping silent. Screaming without sound. Writing saved me. Swimming saved me. Duras saved me.