In his Letter on ”Humanism”, Martin Heidegger once powerfully postulated that “language is the house of being”[i]. From this, it follows then that writing is the process to it that not only promises but also engages in laying the foundations for a well grounded building and then working on a continuous planting of a garden to that house (referred to by Heidegger as ‘Dasein’, which literally means ‘Being-there’ (Solomon 1972)[ii]. To my humble thinking, writing is an act of faith and a way of saying that we still care, still remember and will never forget. It is a way of saying that we do exist, resist and insist. We write, for one thing, to make sure that we are not going to accept to get lost and remain short of words nor are we to also entertain cheap optimism and trivial tarrying and then find ourselves left behind without a home and a garden for being.
There is no disputing the fact that a writer, worthy of being named one, is someone whose ink and paper are very much like the good steps of the bedouin or the wayfarer in the desert of life. The bedouin, it goes without saying, is naturally walking and often forcefully working his way through the sand dunes, singing cheerfully and having no guide but his heart. He knows perfectly well that he is to be held accountable for his own destiny and should accordingly keep moving forward without nagging or complaining in order to eventually arrive.
Notice that many people may tend over time to forget that life is a journey they need to go through. And to render it even worse, many of them are busy fighting in the wrong battle. However, those of them who feel like writing probably know that it is a struggle of memory against forgetting and a quest for meaning beyond triviality. The writer thus could neither forget nor make allowance for readers to do so.
To be able to write something readable today, we certainly inceptively need to extensively read inwardly and outwardly. We need to read and continue to read even at the hardest of times and in the most uncomfortable of places. Then, we have got to begin to think about setting a certain method of what to write, how to go about writing it, how much time to be invested for its sake and what purpose the writing task to be undertaken is expected to serve. For the point of good writing, Dmitry Fadeyev makes clear, “is not to tell the audience what they already know or what they want to hear, but to give them your perspective, to give them your sight.”[iii]. We will start writing only when we sustainably manage to distinguish between the need and struggle for expression and the desire to impression that must be kept at bay.
There where perhaps the “raiding on the inarticulate” [IV] thus comes about in order to be able to “catch the wild goose” in an exhaustive “wild goose chase” (T.S. Eliot) and there where perhaps the wayfarer should learn to keep himself together and buckle upon his own journey of life and resume it for better adventures and better horizons despite crippling setbacks and blocking hurdles. And when one finds himself in need of rest, as it often stands to reason, one should rest so as to refuel his sense and sensibility. One should rest to actively read a few pages more and to patiently revisit a few things more. He also rests to be able to interpret the many directions offered towards the roads more travelled by and the ones less trodden waiting for being arrived at in the course of will and time not to mention, of course, the few hidden shortcuts leading to certain destinations for those who have none. When the need comes for sleep, one should learn how to sleep as well with an eye closed but the other open good enough for what is coming and what is not coming.
It is important now to point out and readily remind of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche which provides, as I see it, the fullest expression and strongest raid on the inarticulate. Those who have read the man carefully and seriously perhaps have come to realize that, in the course of nine years, he managed to write fourteen books for this purpose. He was a philologist in the first place. But he refused to remain imprisoned within language barriers and made his best to hammer out the far (Greek philosophy) and the near (German philosophy) and hardly parried any questions. Only Michel Foucault and Jack Derrida, as far as I know, could have been to him as Aristotle and Plato were to Socrates. By seeking to trespass the gate of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, one would unfailingly come across some pithy, brave and blatant words. In them, Nietzsche nominatively asserts, by way of Zarathustra, that:
“of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood. Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit.” [V]
And further on, he wittingly remarks:
“I have learned to walk: since then I have run. I have learned to fly: since then I do not have to be pushed in order to move.” [VI]
To briefly conclude now, and in as a few words as possible, a good writer never blames his own tools. He seeks to refine them even as he reads and writes for better times to come. Writing is a refusal of death. It is a confession and a way of saying no to silence and oblivion to better resume the great struggle and the great journey. To stop writing, then, means to refrain from self-learning and to deprive oneself of an otherwise rewarding self-guided search for self-improvement. Writing, bluntly put, is a way of thinking. And thinking, Heidegger tells us, “accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of the human being.”[VII].
[i] Martin Heidegger, Letter On “Humanism”, p.239 (Translated by Frank. A. Capuzzi)
[ii] Solomon, R. 1972, From Rationalism to Existentialism: The Existentialists and Their Nineteenth Century Backgrounds, Harper & Row, New York.
[iii] Thoughts, Reviews & Translations by Dmitry Fadeyev
[IV] T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
[V] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra (translated by Walter Kaufmann).
[VII] Martin Heidegger, Letter On “Humanism”, p.239 (Translated by Frank. A. Capuzzi)
(Tunisia, February 2021)