The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

February 10, 2005

after my death, i have been thinking about this writing

you would notice my death as an afterthought, peripheral topos; or rather,
you wouldn't notice it at all. it would emerge, slowly, out of the mud
into consciousness; someone else might say something, might send an obit,
and that would serve as the fulcrum or divisor of event and time. but not
for you, and for me only in the past anterior, as if i might have noticed
what i could not during and after the fact, the passage.

it would change everything, this writing, the speaking and speaker of this
writing, and of other writings that pass through my name, and through the
names of others speaking my name, perhaps borrowing it in an area in which
no return is possible.

the writing, the writing plural, writings, would become remnants, signs of
a life, symptomologies for interpretation, and interpretations which i
could never answer, which would remain in other discursive strata, back
and forth, without my author/ity and for that matter, sourceless,
something that may be a matter of pride for the interpreters, a dissection
table perhaps.

the writing, all this oozing about death, this reiteration, inconceivable
recuperation, would become uncanny, unheimlich, stateless, as if it were
once again replete with the fecundity of speech, a paradox.

in my absence, in the absence of my jarring personality, it would be
recognized for what it is, a continuous meditation by the reader as much
as by the writer, something ongoing, something freed from my personality.

in this freeing the words would speak, as if my magic. they would be heard
and seen for what they are: literature, philosophy, psychology. one might
be heard to say, i knew him when, but that knowledge is of a shell, would
be of a shell, and would be a shell.

recognition would surely come, recognition of speaking and writing as an
afterthought, recognition of a stranger behind one on the street, you can
sense his eyes.

the death would be forgotten in the reading of the writing, for what would
remain would be just that, the reading, nothing more, nothing less, and
the fluidity of a writing now always vulnerable, always on the verge of

but there would remain this sensation, one might sense it as a shuddering,
the interpretation would come later, and would require work.

the shuddering would submerge in everyday life among the living of men and
women still alive. the shuddering would later bring the writing to the
foreground for you and newer readers and readers born after the time in
which i died.

you would know all of this, reading the writing i have written, after the
death, after i am no longer writing, at least writing in the ordinary
sense. you would write what you know.


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