Day #4: Nadia Khomami – A Postscript
The 6th Form Garden
‘Were all your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out?’
How are you? It’s been a while has it not? It’s awfully good to see you again.
You must be wondering what on earth it is that I am here for. But before I embark on chronicling all of my current contemplations, let me begin by setting the sought out scene and subject of my present thinking for you. I invite you back into a remote memory; it is a sunny afternoon on a school day, and here I am sat on the hallmarked and emblematic bench of your youth, admiring as always, what appears to be taking place round and about me. You cannot deny here, dear reader, that you are never really at ease with your own self, that you have forever looked on at your surroundings through what can only be termed as a lens; the lens of thought and of introspection. This letter is for you a feast to be devoured, and a cracked plate to in self-regard examine and dissect. Do in the process be nice to both of us, shan’t you?
I am also at this moment in time clutching very tightly my thumb printed, underlined, underscored, highlighted and dog-eared copy of Salinger’sIntroduction To Seymour in my clammy grasp. Yes, you know the book; and it is consequently a time in which a small group of us have just formed the beginnings of an obsession with post war American literature, the beatniks and the Dharma bums. Significantly, any person or group with the title of non-conformist attached to their name. I, or rather you have just completed your morning English lit exam, and suffice it to say, are feeling rather good about its outcome.
So why am I here? Oh dear reader, in this extraordinary piece of prose, your bohemian teenage author (a word we learnt merely this week) is attempting to open your eyes to her, and to yourself. As is often the case with most unintended biographical pieces, I shall apologise in advance for all the self-righteous wit, criticism and sweeping statements that you will see throughout this ambiguous pledge; you must be aware that I have been known to make such futile and extensive remarks in my writing and was more than usually criticised for doing so by my history teachers. But I have always been and forever shall remain a narrator, and that makes us alike in the most simplistic form, we never converse in tactics, we disintegrate in our own analysis. Oh how melodramatic I am! Don’t fear, my points will be revealed, if gradually.
First, I guess it is imperative that I decide on what I am actually trying to say and avoid continuously going off on one of my frequent tangents. I find that one of the few things we have left in the world, apart from our own interpretation of it, is our subsequent portrayal. You and I do this through writing. As compensation for our undeniable muteness over everything that is reality, we seek solace in the one thing which is, figuratively speaking and without fear of appearing too garrulous ourselves, a method of enlightening the apparent unacquainted.
I had been reading this specific Salinger book a couple of days before the exam, and although the subject area would not be commonly compared to that of my paper, I remember clearly the strong feeling I had that the protagonist in the story was some sort of omniscient genius, and I obtained the widespread feeling most readers acquire when they are lost in a book they feel ardently about, that the protagonist and inevitably the writer; was me. Do you remember?
Please reader; forgive my constant rhetoric and lust for remembrance, I only feel that I must keep on persisting in drawing you back; call it a natural and never ceasing doubt in disposition. Further to this, I find what I am going to write next quite embarrassing and uncomfortable, thus dally around with language and idioms, rather than quickly adhering to a subject over which I have sat behind a computer screen discussing for hours on end withwriters, who frankly speaking- and I apologise for my crudeness here, are so quick to judge and embark on what they see as their profound and nobleliterary journey, that they are unaware that what they are so bravely presenting to me is an identical replica of that which has been fed to them.
I do admit that there are two extremes of this group, these writers of which I feel it is essential to mention, because without knowing it – and at this point I feel I am unintentionally making them out to be mere naïve delusionals – they have sculpted a dispute amongst themselves, and, from a personal perspective, there is no better time than present for settling this. There is the pretentious kind of course who lose themselves in self-appraisal, and there is the critical kind who feed off damning the self-appraised. To both, this title ‘writer’ is so unfeasibly venerable and desired that one can’t help but question its very connotations and significance, one can’t help but wonder why the literary world does so ostentatiously thrive off its value and assessment, its grammars and descriptions, its rights and its ultimate wrongs. Oh, you may ask, what has this to do with anything in the whole scheme of things, but don’t you see, it is the foundations of every vowel, continence and syllable on this page?
That opening quote that I used so freely is what you quickly noted down in the margin of our exam paper that humid afternoon, and it is what your eyes inquisitively, incessantly glanced at every other minute to remind you of the reason the pen was actually in your hand. It would have been quite a picture moment, including the routine scraping of pencils of those sitting in front and alongside you, had it not been for the pressure, not – and this may surprise you- of getting a high grade, but of proving to yourself that inspiration is the key to success. The pressure of allowing us some remaining dignity through comprehending, and encompassing too our prudent sense of judgement, specifically regarding this particular man whom you know so well, Seymour Glass. It must here be noted, dear reader, that Seymour Glass is neither unembellished nor adorned; his significance relies purely on his character being an emblem for inspiration, for drive, and for everything that should be but isn’t.
It is this, which my thoughts amounted to in what seemed to me a battle between myself and the iconic literature students of today as they customarily lectured the world on garrulousness. To outline the main thrust of the argument, I will with blind courage quote an anonymous source, and to fear the worst this could be quite a discomfort for the reader, but it does not embarrass me therefore I hope that you can, wherever you are, also see it for what it is. I am sorry for pressing this quote upon you, I only feel that while, and maybe for the first time I have your complete attention, I should attempt to make full use of it before it fledges.
‘Writers are those established authors and journalists who make a viable living from their work. The wannabes go around introducing themselves as writers, when really they’re as much a writer as I would be a doctor by putting a plaster on a cut. It’s ridiculous. One is not a writer, simply by putting pen to paper. I am not a poet by writing that. It’s not for the individual to decide that they are a writer or an artist or what. Being creative and expressing yourself is one thing, but titling yourself like that is plain conceited. It takes something away from the establishment of writing and art itself. If no one wants to know about it other than yourself, you’re not a writer. You’re a writer, in that you’re physically writing, but not a Writer.’
My God I must admit, the time in which I have contemplated writing this evocative and confessional piece of prose seems never ending. I believe it may be blatant at such a crucial moment in time that conversation, be it with friends or strangers does me no honourable justice, and I seek solace in confidently believing- if to a slight naïve degree that I can compensate for my lack of accurate communication through words. At this point: a distinct era of my life, I can’t help but maintain a fairly strong belief that my statements, be they sensible or not are unlike me, herewith and forever more settled into a safe, transitory period. I myself am stuck between divergent ages- but aren’t we all, as humans?
Tomorrow shall be another ordinary day for you and I, but I hope that by the end of this particular note (or whatever it could be called) we arrive at some form of coinciding, or at least on my part epiphanic adieu, and if you choose fit to see it; maybe commencement of a newly enlightened vision. I am 16. I have important choices to make, but I cling onto the hope, be it original or through some form of false adamancy, that I will in fractions forever remain with you. I can only come to confess that my doubt in character is at the best of times, robustly vague and indeed vigorously hazy; I doubt because I attribute myself to the belief that without it, our desire shall not be frequently replenished because our temperament, dear reader, is not one that can ascribe itself to a single word or memory, or to a single expectation or ambition. For after all, whose is? Our aspiration is the self, our hope is our zeal and to put it simply, our character is nothing if not the character of passion.
And so, at this final juncture, I’ll get around to drawing these deliberations, and I do leave my thoughts bare for you so that you may see them for their true and honest selves. If you can take something away from the establishment of writing and art itself, then do it, for it is only through this breakdown that the real heart of the matter can reveal itself. Never credit yourself the blame for what the world hast brought upon you and never lose faith because of any brandings they lay at the door of your reservations. Societal titles, gems and formulations are nothing but pretence and reputability, do not fill your head with the misgivings and qualms that they brim their pockets with. Bow not your head to prestige and status, and if it too does one-day exit with the rest of them, do not forget that you should nevertheless remain full of heart, spirit and compassion for the rest of your days.
Just let your stars out, let them roam the vast and often beastly sky we seem to inhibit, and know now, dear reader that above anything else you may ever choose to do or adhere to, you will never, I repeat, never be a writer by profession, but my God, you will always be a writer by religion. Rules exist to be broken and theories to be blasted. And most importantly, don’t you ever disregard this for if you do, then you and I both are in the grim and astringent grave. With this I leave you, wishing, hoping and knowing that you will not forget me, and that there won’t be a need for us to meet again in such a way, in the years to come.
An old friend.