Write Or Die

I dreamed of writing, of telling untold stories, but never knew it would become like a state of emergency. I can flow on some paper, but my way of life depends on the mastery of some other type of beast. Writing becomes the mastery of devices, the mastery of structures and constructions, of excluding and of ordering.

I just heard a poet say that he was writing for his life. It just came to me at that moment that I’m in that same position, it’s write or die. The primary way that I convey my mastery over material and make an argument is through my ability to write. I have to produce, and master their language their rhetorical style, their mode of conceptualizing the world, their way of conveying reality. It is publish or perish and write or die. I write to eat, to travel to dream, to earn respect, to pay my rent, to clothe myself, to earn my place, to make my mark. I write to learn, to make sense of what I’m doing. Through the construction of words I convey to the institution that I am a worthy apprentice. This year, I hope to attain that document that says I am a master. I would have mastered something, entered that elite sphere of masters. Master, but not a slave? And mastery over what? Incomplete knowledge? I write to become a candidate, to take that next step!

Right now, in this mad rush, I have deadlines that is screaming “write or die!” I learn, I think, I analyze, I express, I argue, I fight. Write or die. Publish or perish. And we make a living ripping each other’s carefully crafted words apart where we undermine each other’s assertions by exposing their fallacies, irrationalities presuppositions, and underlying assumptions. Any closed society has its rights of passage and rituals to protect the ranks. And academia has all the trappings of a secret society with all its rites of initiations. Trial by fire, works lined up for summary execution. I’ve seen ideas come to life only to bleed red and die under the editor’s pen.

I write to wrap my mind around complicated thoughts that spill over thousands of pages and carry over in countless conversations. Recorded and lost in vocalized reverbations, stored on servers in cyber space, published in journals, resting in library basements, scribbled on scraps of paper, scanned, shredded, photocopied, handwritten, collecting dust in book shelves, pondered, dismissed, disputed, refuted, adopted, accepted, and transmuted. I write to make my intervention in this conversation. Here is my own contribution. I will show them something they did not see, do not want to see, and often want to remain blind to it. Pick one idea, inshallah, maybe it can be transformative. That alone will give this work meaningful.

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