Quote of the Day – 31 July 2017: Notes and counternotes – Eugene Ionesco
"Why do you write?" the writer is often asked. "You should know why," he might answer to those who ask the question. "You should know why you're reading us, because if you read and continue reading to us it's because you've found in our writings what to read, something like food, something that meets your need. So why do you have this need and what kind of food are we? If I'm a writer, why are you my reader? The answer to the question you ask me can be found in yourself." The reader or viewer will respond, schematically, that he goes to a show to train or have fun. Basically, these are the two kinds of possible answers. To train: i.e. to find out who is the one who writes and what he writes; or maybe someone more modest will say he's doing it to find answers to some questions he's unable to answer. Anyone who wants to have fun, i.e. forget about your daily worries, enjoy the beauty of what's read or watched, will reproach you for boring him when it seems to him that you want to train him or teach him a lesson. Anyone who wants to train himself – in case he thinks you want to amuse him, maybe his account, and entertain him – will be able to reproach you for not answering all the problems he himself can't solve. As someone writes a sonnet, a vaudeville, a song, a novel, a tragedy, journalists pounce on him to find out what the author of the song or tragedy of socialism thinks, about capitalism, about good, about evil, about mathematics, about astronautics, about the theory of quantum, about love, about football, about the kitchen, about the head of state. "What's your conception of life and death?" – a South American journalist asked me after I lowered the ship's walkway with suitcases in my hand. I put down my suitcases, erased the sweat on my forehead and asked him to give me twenty years to reflect on his question, without being able to assure him that he would have the answer. "That's what I'm wondering, I told him, and I'm writing to wonder." I took my suitcases, thinking I'd let him down. Not everyone has the key to the universe in their pocket or in the suitcase. If a writer, an author, asked me one what I read, why I go to the shows, I would say that I was going not to find answers, but to find out other questions; not to gain knowledge, but simply to get acquainted with that, someone who is an opera. The curiosity that urges me to go to the theater, to the museum, to look for the literature shelf in a bookstore is of a different nature. I want to know the face and heart of someone I love or not love.
The writer is confused by the questions he is asked, because he asks himself and because he puts on many more, because he also feels that there are other questions he could ask himself, but which he will never manage to ask himself; and all the more to find their response.
In his solitude, away from journalists or nosy, every man, like every writer, breathes a sigh of relief. Sometimes they wonder, sometimes they don't wonder why. But whether he wonders or not, he can't stop breathing. The writer not only breathes, but, as a writer, writes. It wasn't until he started writing, asking questions about the purpose and reason he does what he does. He wonders, therefore, speaking to himself (and continuing to do his job, like an ebenist who collects materials to make a closet, while thinking about his worries, or even what a closet is, without the worries preventing him from building his closet): What do I write? What's the point of what I'm doing? Do I have more to say than others? Do I want to assert myself, i mean justify my existence? Am I afraid of death and want to continue my life in others after my physical death? I'm writing to save the world? To save myself? To bring praise to God or to glorify the universe? To try to see more clearly in myself, to explore myself, to get along, to explain myself? Because I don't get along and ask others for clarification? Because I feel lonely and want to break this loneliness and communicate or face my people? Are all the reasons i've listed above false? Are there any other hidden reasons that i'm pushing me to do something that apparent reasons have no idea and that only mask, willfully or not, the profound reason? I do it because I want to understand the world, because I want to at least put a little order for myself in this huge chaos and because writing, art, is a form of moving thinking? Or simply because creation is an instinctive, extra-conscious necessity; because imagining, inventing, discovering, creating is a function as natural as breathing? I'm doing this because I want to play, but then what's the meaning of this game?
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