Monday, November 11, 2013

The Death of the Author

They strung him up last Thursday. I can't say that any of us were particularly surprised, but at the same time it was a shock to see him struggling, to see him actually depart this world. But it was inevitable after all he'd done, all the words he wrote. The problem is, though, what are we going to do now? I've tried to go back to reading the same as before, but it just doesn't come the way it used to.

I thought it would be okay. I thought that after he was gone I could just go back and keep flipping those pages, but I- I just can't, there just isn't anything there anymore. Or at least, I can't understand them. The words are so wrapped up in who he is, the sort of person he was and the way he used the words that came out of his mouth to talk about the ones that came out of his pen. He was the only person who could speak of the text, who could tell me what he meant and then tell me what he meant by his meaning. But that's all over now.

I just couldn't believe when he--

I'm sorry.

When they started the execution, he looked composed, orderly even. It was unreal, but I felt sort of confident that it would be different with him, that the words would still make sense just because he was still making so much sense even when none of the stuff around him was. But then it happened, he choked and choked and there wasn't anything left, and the pages flew up in the air and shifted and changed order and shape, and all of the connections dried up, and it was done. I burned all his books later that day, they're useless now.

I don't know, maybe that's why books are so wonderful. Maybe because they only live as long as the person who wrote them, that's why they're so special, so fleetingly precious and fragile, like a butterfly or something. Maybe that's why being a reader is such a powerful and achingly meaningful thing, and it's true and beautiful, and I believe it, but you can tell me that over and over and I still won't be okay when they die, when all that power just vanishes like it never existed, when the meaning of a text just disappears as soon as its creator's last breath expires. And I am constantly haunted by the knowledge that my own words, even these, will cease to cohere as soon as I am gone.

So, the end, I guess?

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