Letters 1. Then I would rip pages off books, ones I liked, when I wanted to be close to other people so much, so that I could mail loose pages to people I barely knew. Something, unfortunately, long gone. And if I say unfortunately, I say it not because I want to be close to other people, but because I don’t seem to have ripped up books in a really long time.
The length of a paragraph. Pretending that writing, to me, comes naturally is exhausting. To the point that, by the end of the appropriate length of a paragraph, it has destroyed me completely: this pretending, this UNNATURAL sentence, this yet another artifice. I used to think that language could never exhaust itself, that it was always making more of itself. And that was a happy thought. And perhaps LANGUAGE does never exhaust itself. Not I.
Wall. It was built, this wall, brick by book by brick by book to keep the world away. None of the books are books I know. Better to look at them without opening them; the opening, I dread, listening to their spine cracking, losing. The world is kept out of sight since, without me knowing anyone in it, it makes me scared. But all the books that went into the wall, without having ever been opened, are now strangers, too. A second wall is needed to protect me from this wall that is full of strangers. Which means that I will need, eventually, a third wall to protect me from the second one when the second one, brick by book by brick by book, also becomes a stranger. Then, after some time, a fourth. Until there isn’t space.
Fate 1. Even though I am against the idea of fate, today I say that staying here, where I am, is god’s plan. And if I am going to die here, I must accept that as part of god’s plan.
Sheet music 1. What if, in the same way I no longer remember which dot in/on which line of a score corresponds to which piano key, I would forget which speaking sound corresponds to which of the alphabet letters on my computer keyboard? If it were to happen, it is likely that, given the quantity of unknown letters to type, I would think of how there isn’t enough time in a lifetime to know each of them. There are, indeed, letters that I feel close to, like ‘A’, and ‘S’, and ‘X’. Others remain out of touch, like ‘J’ or ‘Q’, which make me think, for instance, of Neptune. If it seems to be one of the strangest and less evident planets, it’s not because of its actual position—it is a planet, as per the definition of ‘planet’, much like any other—but because, in the list of names we repeat ad nauseam to learn the solar system by heart, its name is further away from the names we more often hear.
Sheet music 2. I sing the alphabet to the tune of that well-known children’s song. It is how I was made to learn the alphabet from the start. I am, now, not able to dissociate the alphabet sequence from the sequence of musical notes that clings to the letters. A true shame, considering the fact that I can’t stand children’s songs or lullabies and that, as a writer, I won’t be able to untangle myself from the interference of that first abhorrent song on my judgement of certain letters. For example, if I prefer the way a C note sounds, I am more likely to write words with the letter ‘A’ than I am to write words with the letter ‘C’, given that the letter ‘C’ is actually sung in G. (The combination of alphabet letters and musical notes seems to be the following: AC BC CG DG EA FA GG HF IF JE KE LD MD NC OG PG QF RF SE TE UD VG WG XF YF ZE.)
Entertainment. The book that entertains is an instruction manual. It tells the reader how to assemble, in their head, a replica of the author-entertainer’s desire to be loved. Once built, this desire mirrors the reader’s. Identification stems from wanting of love. Whoever writes-books wants to be loved. Whoever writes, however, doesn’t write books, doesn’t want love. Literature is a lonely superstructure. Whoever writes doesn’t want love because whoever writes dies. And whoever dies dies for the love of it and to the love, too.
Letters 2. Never heard again from many people. I think I might have thrown letters in street bins instead of post boxes. Letters written with the purpose of never being read are moving, sure. But letters written with the intent of being read, when they are not, are even more.
Force of habit. My work is a house, as it were, in which I forgot how to live. As if I would have spent too much time away, as if I wouldn’t have spent enough years inside it, before going away, to have a clear memory of how the days in it used to be spent. Now, I stand in front of it. I miss it because the people in front of it are no longer the people who live here.
Cézanne. Thinking of Cézanne’s way of seeing blue between the red edge of an apple and the white wall on the background, it dawns on me that I don’t know the name of that blue or, for that matter, the names of things, flowers, fruits, animals, types of furniture, of flooring, bricks. But I have, without effort, been able to store words found in philosophy books and in theoretical speculation. I am able to appreciate the nuances of abstract thought, through its many names and by heart, without having ever described a single landscape.
The place of prose. Trusting this place, here, writing, I stay even if fragile to write a strong sentence, owing to, again, so little acceptance where there should be acceptance. What dead writers were doing when they were my age is still a concern; I look for dates, hoping they were, at my age, in as much of a nowhere as I am, often to some disappointment, often having to admit that there was, to other writers, ones I admire, an easier, more natural path to tread through the language of prose. This was usually with the help of their mother tongue, with which they were familiar. I, on the contrary, have never got to terms with my mother tongue. And it is only recently that I have started breaking into the language of prose, to which I had no access granted, even after having exhausted all other forms of image and text I thought plausible to undertake, forms I thought would suit my lack of clarity better than prose.
In the dark 1. Like when, at school, word lists are dictated. The exercise is to write down correctly the words that you hear, but the translation from sound to alphabet letters, in a particular order, seems unworkable. Too abstract, too abstract. ‘OBSCURE’, you say. And maybe that is why I find myself repeating the word ‘darkness’ across different texts—l’obscurité. If writing feels, say, inadequate, it is because each word, perhaps, when written in its final, correct form, does something that is equivalent to the striking of a match. In so doing, the word punctures, even if involuntarily, the darkness that had preceded it, blinds those sweet sounds without alphabet. (And you thought that book starts and stars were beautiful things. Constellations are, in fact, patterns of aggression.)
Letters 3. The letters that arrive, I leave them where they land, on the floor, not too far from the front door. It takes weeks before I put a pair of latex gloves on, blue ones, to open them.
Sentence. I sleep to see if when I wake up, an hour later or so, the sentence will have gone away.
Fate 2. In a year from now, he said, I hope I’ll start understanding why it was that I had to stay here. There were similar instances in the past, he continued, in which I wasn’t able to go away as I wanted, to move somewhere I thought held what was to come, instances in which I couldn’t, at the time, move, become what I thought I should become. Then, sometimes a year later, many years later, arriving where I had wanted to be all along, I’d understand that a younger version of myself wouldn’t have been able to cope with the pain that that place, where I had wanted to be all along, had waiting for me, he said.
Stalking Beckett. Last night, unable to sleep, I searched online for the buildings where Beckett lived in London and Paris. I worked for two years, as it turns out, not too far from where Beckett lived in London, at 48 Paultons Square, where he found himself at odds with the city like I do. The last place where he lived in Paris, at 38 Boulevard Saint-Jacques, in a seventh-floor flat, was different from what I would have imagined, and so was a photograph of his study. I am still unsure it is what it says it is.
In the dark 2. I wouldn’t be able to write, say, poems in the dark. And that is interesting. When I can’t see what I write, I think of how composition in writing—that is, an active concern with composition while writing—stems from an obsessive attachment to words as they are produced. The cage of composition, which is that of well-formed forms, pertains to writing less than it does to reading. It is a perversion of writing that seeks, in writing, to find the pleasure of reading, this pleasure which I have to give up as soon as I make myself write in the dark.
Letters 4. And so I have decided that I will write letters. Then, I will remove the first line—the one that starts with ‘Dear’—when they are finished.
In the dark 3. I worry about form too much; FORMALISM IS FEAR OF DEATH.
Minor literatures. Without any clothes on, except for underwear. I don’t make too much question of seeing what is inside it, but as soon as I start to, in writing, approach the suggestion of genitals, expressions of an old language seep into the more recent language. They are accidental, literal translations. (Hopes of encountering a minor language in those inaccurate, absent-minded translations of old sayings that are somehow smuggled into the text, without raising the writer’s suspicion, while the writer thinks of their genitals.)
Rococo. And isn’t a text, in the end, made out of the few discernible, howling fragments that manage to come for air, to reach the surface of a pool of inarticulate screaming? It is not a body of water but of sound, which the maker of the text contemplates, and listens to, in contemplation, without daring to dip a single, deformed toe into it.
Instructions. Don’t look, don’t look to the side, stay here, looking ahead, here, where you are, where you sit down, very likely, and look ahead. This is the most important instruction that I have, so far, received from an unknown telepathic source, which gives me instructions when I am here, where I sit down. Telepathically, I said. I don’t hear them, the instructions. I know them, rather, as if I would have heard them before. Maybe last time I was here. But last time the same happened. Last time I was here, where I sit down, I didn’t hear voices, inside my head or otherwise, saying the instructions out loud. Just like this time, I thought then that I must had known the instructions from the time before last time. And the time before last time I thought I might had heard them the time before that.
Laughter. How far I am willing to go into masochism, how far I am willing to write so I can become detached from myself, and look at myself detached from myself in the text and laugh at myself, so I can, myself, become one of the others, whom I love precisely due to the screeching quality of the sounds they make when they laugh, like real animals.
Adrian Bridget is a writer and translator. Recent publications include the the novel Treatment and the short prose collection TEXTS THAT SHOULDN’T BE READ OUT LOUD. Bridget lives and works in Bristol, UK.
Roisin Ní Neachtain is an emerging Irish-Scottish artist, writer and translator.
She was born in Geneva, Switzerland (1983) and, though mainly self-taught, was briefly educated at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and then at Trinity College Dublin before studying under Irish artist Gill Berry for two years. She formerly exhibited under the name “Georgie Wren” and is the creator and editor of the online literary and art journal Crow of Minerva.