Letter to an old friend



Dear _________,


I hope this year to leave the web more behind than I have managed to leave it so far. I have an Underwood standard portable on the way, and hope it works fine and I can get back into the swing of writing that way. If I can manage it I hope to leave the computer off far more and quietly slip away. Counsel of perfection of course, but perhaps it will enable me to get the balance a bit better this year.

Liberation comes softly, slowly, as the sum total of our small decisions and choices. The very idea of liberation can become oppressive of course, that's why I no longer have it as a goal. My goal is simplicity, fewer possessions, to be creative, things like this. Liberation isn't a goal for me, it is a by-product of living more in the way I want to, part of which means no longer buying into the things I have decided to reject, no longer colluding.

I'm not trying to live by anyone's standards but my own. Sometimes the farcical nature of mass media intrudes, but it is a quickly passing matter. Live in a city you expect the shit and pollution to wash up there. I just gradually move upriver in my inner life and these distractions have less to catch on.

Yet still I take a little interest. The art is to take no interest at all. None whatsoever. Not even in the slightest bit curious. As you know, I chucked my TV in the bin over a decade ago. Whenever I have been somewhere where there is a TV I have sat down and watched it, goggle-eyed, addicted, but thankfully knowing this is just a reminder of what I got rid of. And it is useful to have that reminder.

Hakim's stance of no computer and zero interest in the web I admire, but I've set myself certain tasks that can only be achieved on a computer, and my desire to complete this work overrides my desire to have the computer out of my hair, out of my life. I recognise certain things it can do that are useful. I can't take the Luddite stance that Hakim has. But for a long time the computer has seemed like TV to me, distracting me from what I really want to do, how I really want to live... but a computer is good for some things, so one faces the balance, and getting that right.

It slows the process right down. Can't go, can't say goodbye, to the world in the box. Turn it on, it's got you, four more hours wasted with nothing much to show for it. Death's clock ticks. There seems like a real world out there, but so hard to get to sometimes. Yet turn the computer off, settle down to reading a book with a cup of tea in the quiet of the night, and reality is almost instantaneously enhanced. Been reading "Essays in Idleness", the Tsurezuregusa of Kenko, from 14th century Japan. Wonderful book, reminding me of a simpler world. Also reading Henry Miller again. He said something interesting: "Usually the artist has two lifelong companions, neither of his own choosing. I mean--poverty and loneliness. To have a friend who understands and appreciates your work is a rare experience." Well he was fucking Anais Nin and complaining he could hardly walk side-by-side with her he had such a hard-on. I came across her diary of that time in a charity shop the other day.

Anyway, I digress, I was talking about my hatred of the machine, which just grows and grows, so much so I even wonder whether I want to complete the tasks I need to complete on it. In desiring to lessen my use of the computer it has only brought out an awareness of a dependency normally kept hidden and under wraps. It seems like a sickness that has spread the world. Is it necessary to feel this way just to wean oneself off, like a maggot spotted in a feeding bottle?

I like typewriters. I like actually having a distinction between a first draft and a second draft. I like being forced to simply write, rather than constantly going back and revising as I go along just because it is so easy. I'd rather get it all out and then think about revision, which a typewriter forces.

Yet I envisage sitting at a typewriter having nothing to say... staring out the window... and why is it anyway that a whisky bottle looks so at home next to an old typewriter...


Best wishes,