Am I a writer?

A friend and I argue science, and social science, and literature. She posits, with a grin, ‘in the end, its all anthropology.’ We bring a way of seeing to the world, we create a record, a reflection, of what we see, of what we think we see, of who we think we are. What is cultural practice is also cultural reading. That reading is a record, not only an event. This is the uncomplicated – and yet unfathomable – insight that all the world’s a text. This textuality doesn’t absolve us from choosing a way of living, of choosing a way of seeing. I reflect on Camus, who suggests the opposite: the bottomless reflectivity of meaning gives us the impossible burden, the irreplacable gift of making just that choice. In writing, as in living, we must start by asking ‘why?’

I read Aleksandar Hemon in the Believer:

I want a book to contain a world—indeed the world. Writing is my main means of engagement with the world and I want the scars of that engagement to be left in the language. I write and read with the assumption that literature contains knowledge of human experience that is not available otherwise.

I see a clue in those words. A defense, even, of serious academic writing. Is that all it takes to be a writer? I try to imagine writing without the assumption – the faith – that what I write, or will write, contains knowledge of the human experience that is not available otherwise. I read, in Wittgenstein, ‘a philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.’ I wonder if I can be a writer; if I might elucidate. I try to commit to showing the scars of my engagment with the world. I hope to earn the scars themselves.