"We hold out the pen like a needle in a seismological observatory and we are not actually the ones doing the writing: we are written."
Thursday, June 1, 2023
#152 / That Seismological Needle
A month or so ago, as I confronted my morning newspapers, a question presented itself. Had I, or had I not, ever read anything by Max Frisch, a Swiss playwright and novelist? Frisch's picture appears above.
I tended to think that I had read something by Frisch, but I couldn't actually remember. Unfortunately (and I do believe that this is unfortunate), my mind is such that I often lose contact with the past events of my own life, both big and small. My books (where books are involved with those past events) almost always contain underlines and notations, made in my own hand, and so I restore my memory of what I have read by finding a book that proves to me that I actually did read it. Seeing those annotations is what always restores my contact with the books of my past - or I probably should say, "my youth," given my current age and how long I have kept those books of mine around.
At any rate, I was able to find I'm Not Stiller, one of Frisch's most famous novels, securely wedged into one of my bookshelves. My underlinings and comments demonstrated, definitively as far as I am concerned, my past interaction with Max Frisch.
My successful effort to reacquaint myself with Frisch was stimulated by a book review published in the May 20 - 21, 2023, edition of The Wall Street Journal. That review, by Max Norman, was titled, "Life and Other Two-Pipe Problems." That is, of course, the "hard copy" version of the headline on the review. If no paywall prevents you, you can click the link I have provided to find another headline completely: "Review: The Sketchbooks of Max Frisch."
According to the Max Norman review, the "sketchbooks" (there are three of them) "are an act of creative self-observation." I am conveying one of Frisch's self-observations, below, this particular observation being what has inspired me to make the blog posting that you are reading right now:
Doesn't that strike you as exactly right? The words that come from us, as we write them down (or as we speak them out), are how we learn who we are, and what we think.
That's the way it seems to me, at any rate, and so I write these blog postings, one for every day, to learn what I know, and to find out the things of which I am capable of knowing.
Frisch, in an earlier time, did it with his "sketchbooks." Keeping a "sketchbook," or a "journal," is a practice well worth pursuing!
Frisch's thought is a thought worth having.
We are written!