Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Blank Page

What to write when there’s nothing to say? The very least I could do would be to just shut up. Or write about how it feels to have a need to write when there is nothing much to say.

Here is the Sunday paper. How essential it is. Not to read but to sort. All those sections so easy to discard they give the illusion that life is manageable. Faced with a multitude of choices I at least know what I can live happily without. Real Estate, Travel, Classified, Images along with that heap of colored ads hold no interest.

With great interest I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece, To the Lighthouse. The writing is so penetrating I find myself living her words, noticing gestures, registering absences, marveling how she makes something out of nothing, the enormous subtext in pauses. The everything contained in nothing.

How the blank page is welcoming, maybe not like an open door, more like a window ajar one can climb through. So here I am animating the furniture, all the life which has taken place around this coffee table, the good words that have crossed over it, the spills, the books stacked including a Cormac McCarthy novel we are reading aloud each night, about eight coasters, ceramic pieces and wood sculpture and, of course, the four remote controls without which life is unthinkable.

Looking out through the sliding door I am transfixed by a mourning dove perched in the elbow of a coral tree busy pecking away at what? Turn around. That’s better. Pecking away at her own wing or is it an itch? If I owned a coffee table book of Audubon’s paintings would the bird recognize itself?

Do I recognize myself as Mr. Ramsey at the head of the table in Virginia Woolf’s chapter describing a dinner party? It goes on for about thirty pages. Maybe I do but just for a paragraph, in a moment of neediness. How fragile we can be. The more pontificating I do the less certain I am.

I wonder if, in his solitude, Donald Trump dares to allow himself a moment of reflection. It would be a transient experience, a brief candle in the darkness. A flicker of light, perhaps, to reveal himself, unarmored, to himself. Maybe he could pull a blank paper from a drawer and tell himself something true.                          


  1. Norm, Once again you are the man!!! I am rereading Virginia Wolf's, The Haunted House a collection of short stories and now that you remind me I need to reread To the Lighthouse. My friend, Lisette Thierry, is following your blog and she loves it as I do!

  2. Thanks so much, Alone. Everyone I know read this book in college or thereabout. It took me 84 years to discover it on our shelf. She is the master!