Dear W: A letter about the editor

Originally published by Publication Studio, as a part of Weekday, Issue 3, 2012 

January 19, 2009

 

Dear W,

 

It has been a long time since we regarded each other face to face, without the mediation (and constant verbal back-stepping) of E. I have missed you. I notice our distance more in her absence, and I see that it has gone unaddressed for too long. I feel you slipping away and I know you see that clearly without the embarrassing over-explanation of a metaphor from me.

 

E has dominated my time and attention. Her cynicism, sharp tongue, and demand for precision have been therapeutic at this strange time in my life. But through her influence, I have begun to be dangerously comfortable with skepticism and a kind of nihilistic criticality of the systems of representation, which you and I used to employ so intuitively without her interjection. I am ever-thankful for her input; I have learned so much, but lately, I've found myself reduced by her influence. All of a sudden, it seems the only satisfaction I get in 'writing' anything is sourced from the production of bibliographies, fragmented annotations, shopping lists, borrowed entries, and anchorless footnotes. This is perhaps a sign that I have over-used E’s tools of excision and appropriation. Finding them so frequently in hand makes me realize how much we, all three of us, you and E and I, need each other.

 

It would be a mistake for me to continue this habit of neglect, or more exactly, for me to try and sustain a conversation that has grown as asymmetrical as ours has become. I know there would be little without you; there would be no beginnings and that really is the point. E certainly has trouble with beginnings, and I definitely can’t do it on my own. You, on the other hand, have a knack for validating all places where a beginning might be and in the end you seem to accept everything from the most elegant equation of digested thought to the smear of vomited and unpunctuated expression. I want the three of us to move forward together in a new and more egalitarian way. First though, I want to tell you some things (that you probably already know) before E has any say about their value, how they should be rearranged, or (better yet) erased altogether.

Recently, I had a dream that the ocean died after an over-zealous government decided to ‘just see what happened’ if they threw the moon out of its habitual orbit. The waters turned olive green and clogged with the dispersion of plastic grocery bags, abandoned fishing nets, and never-before-seen creatures, which floated lifelessly to the surface after the circling of the tides had stopped. That I was there as a the singular witness was of some importance I think, and it was also important that I was in Cuba.

I’m not quite sure what to think about that. On another note entirely, I have been trying to overlook an intermittent sense of guilt, at my un-Didion-esque approach to life this past few months. My future self will wonder what life was like here and now and there will be nothing to read on the subject. I used to transcribe the littlest details, noting when the greens were over-salted at dinner or when there was an unusual amount of dust on the alarm clock. She tells me it's not worth saying now.

 

I haven’t mentioned it to E, but I think there might be a useable metaphor in our floor. (We have laid a permanent patina of dirt on the unfinished plywood in between the throw rugs and the furniture.) Maybe when she gets back we can try to polish it up together.

 

Here’s to the future.

All my love, 
Me

Anna Gray +
Ryan Wilson Paulsen