When I write I think of innocence. But how can I be certain that I am, in any conceivable way, innocent? And innocent of what? Of a crime or crimes; such as deceit, lies, slander, hyperbole, the long list of misdemeanors lawyers and critics may find useful in their professions? Or of something deeper? Something like, say, the refusal to become a saturated being that regards experience through the looking glass of being there, done that, so what’s new? Or worse: a rock, a barren field, a dried well, a non-reflecting glass, a mute shell: the death of the writer, the absentia of ideas and expression. Then- if I may - changing sides and becoming a reader, my innocence lost anyway, what do I expect from the writer? Like a raped virgin with my clothes torn by barbarians, do I plead and expect for the divine reconstitution of my virtue? And what if there are no gods? In such a case, will I be given the chance to simulate innocence, forget myself in words of compassion, of nostalgia, of others’ woes, of emotive rhyme therapy? Yes, the first and foremost is to define what innocence in writing is, what quality I (the reader-writer) seek, that cleansing well where sins are washed, virtues are reborn, the baptism of words that forgives everything. And then I must explore the test of innocence, if such a test exists.
Let me begin: it took me many copious writing years to realize that art does not explain. It describes. Here is the moon, up there, its abode hamstrung by belief, not a astro-geological phenomenon but the goddess of molten cheese. My training as an engineer must have had a lot to do with my delay in realizing the obvious. Seeing something beckoned to be unscrewed, unplugged, turned upside down, thrown about and broken to bits, explained. The aesthetics of science are an epiphenomenon, not an agenda. They follow, they do not lead. The wonder comes not from observing but from understanding the observed. Until the illuminating instance of explanation, observing is not wonderful but a torture. The scientist is therefore a child with a mind. The artist is a mindless child. He needs to wonder about things so deeply, so wholesomely, so astoundingly, that nothing else can happen to him beyond that. Amazement must be overwhelming, conquering-all, destructive, an ultimatum; write or die. Thus comes writing, like the shedding of blood or the spurt of semen, a reflection of bodily functions too innumerable to mention, an irreversible torrent of processes where the mind is beside the point. In this context, innocence manifests in the description of reality by someone whose senses are so sensitive, so hysterical, so short-wired, that he explodes with description. Therefore innocence, aka the instinctive halting of wisdom; a spontaneous at best, psychopathic at worst, state, a lone antenna weathering the storm of time and aging, stuck on a barren summit and transmitting signals, words, novels.
How do I know I am innocent? How could I? I am in the dark. Lost inside a shaft, accelerating into the bottomless abyss of meaning. There is nothing here to hear or see. My body is no more. It has blended with the engulfing, all-permeating darkness. It has lost its shape, it has become one with everything, like those oceanic polyps, the colonies of transparent nothingnesses that float with the currents. In being such a creature, I can tell you only what I see inside. I see that which you cannot. So listen.