Book II Chapter Three — Susan Sontag
It is raining this morning, what some people might refer to as dreary, but I cherish these moments of solitude, walking to the rhythm of the soft falling rain. There is a lightness to my step and joy in my soul as if some hidden burden had been lifted. I am happy.
I am headed to the Library. The path is empty this early except for the singing birds and the occasional fish taking to air over the lake. There is a peacefulness around a library. Knowledge patiently waiting to be found for all those who seek it.
I open the massive wooden doors and close them as quietly as possible although I think I am the only one here this early today.
“Good morning Socrates. Would you care to join me for a cafe and a bit of brandy?
The voice surprises me as my eyes adjust to the dim light.
“It is me, Susan. I am over in Alcove #3. Please join me.”
“Yes. Good morning Susan. I would love to join you. The cafe with brandy sounds like a good tonic with which to engage the day. How glad I am to see you. Thank you again for your enchanting evening talk. I was inspired to start writing again after my brief rest period. Your words about the things you believe writers ought to do…”
“O’ you mean. ‘Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world… A writer is a professional observer.’”
“Yes, exactly. I am an introvert who loves to observe life happening and it is happening all the time, everywhere. The great experience of being here is the choice to observe or participate is always one’s own. Like you. I love to get inside words, pay attention to its inflection and usage. Paying attention to the word, and to the world are equally important for the writer.”
“I agree Socrates. The nature of moral judgments depends on our capacity for paying attention — a capacity that, inevitably, has its limits but whose limits can be stretched…But perhaps the beginning of wisdom, and humility, is to acknowledge, and bow one’s head, before the thought, the devastating thought, of the simultaneity of everything, and the incapacity of our moral understanding to take this in.”
“Because of the infinite vastness of time and space?” I ask.
“Time exists in order that everything doesn’t happen all at once … and space exists so that it doesn’t all happen to you.” Susan replies.
“I will have to ponder that one a bit Susan, but thank you for the insight.”
Our cafes with brandy arrive and we both sit back in our chairs enjoying the aromatic blend of the two aromas.
“I watched you this morning from the window walking along the path. You appeared so light and happy as a butterfly. I silently called to you and asked you to join me.”
“That then is why I am here. How may I be of service?”
“There is an essential … distinction between stories, on the one hand, which have, as their goal, an end, completeness, closure, and, on the other hand, information, which is always, by definition, partial, incomplete, fragmentary.”
“I left so many fragments behind Socrates that in looking back I wish I had closed. My task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art, much less to squeeze more content out of the work than is already there. My task is to cut back content so that I can see the thing at all.”
“Are we speaking about art Susan?”
“Well art and love. I miss Annie. I would never acknowledge that publicly while I was alive and now wish I had shared our love with the world. There was more than enough there.”
“Yes, I can see that Susan.”
“I grew up in a time when the modus operandi was the ‘open secret’. I’m used to that, and quite OK with it. Intellectually, I know why I haven’t spoken more about my sexuality, but I do wonder if I haven’t repressed something there to my detriment. Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, but it’s never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody’s in drastic need. I’d rather give pleasure, or shake things up.”
“And with your own words, you solved your dilemma. ‘Private sexuality.’ There is no need to confess your sexuality to anyone except yourself and your lover(s). You know Annie and I believe she knows you equally. No injustice or disservice was done by your privacy. I know for a fact she is still OK with your privacy even as she has ended her own silence on your relationship.”
“Yes! She used the word, ‘lovers.’
“How do you know this Socrates. O’ it does not matter. What is important now is to recover my senses. I must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more… O’ thank you Socrates for this gift of your wisdom and time.”
“It is my pleasure, Susan. Always.”
“What about you Socrates? As I watched you walking the path earlier, I saw a very handsome fulfilled man. I bet you have lots of stories to share.”
“Well, there is one I want to share with you but first let’s get another cafe and brandy.”
The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Four — Martin L King will be published on Sunday, June 02, 2019.