Never let it be said that back in Panhandle County (which, as I recall, was located in either Texas or Oklahoma, or maybe Kansas), we didn’t receive a good education. They taught us the Classics, such as that old favorite tune, “Dixie,” and several of the poems of that great American poet, James Whitcomb Riley.
Pan Count Grade School also instilled in me my lifelong love of reading and writing. This was very helpful. Without this installation, I would never have read George Orwell, author of that classic essay, “Why I Write.”
As I recall, George’s major points were, Number One, he wrote because he liked to see his sentences on paper, and Number Two, he got a kick out of getting back at his enemies.
Samuel Johnson, on the other hand, is quoted as having said that only a fool writes for the enjoyment of it. His major point was that money is always the object. This point was probably what inspired his friend, Boswell, to write a book about ol’ Sam.
I don’t write very much anymore. Being dead is only a part of the reason. It could possibly be the only reason, except for the fact that I’ve been cremated and outfitted with a robotic body, like several of my fellow companions. So being dead is not a good reason for not writing much anymore. Oh, I could use it as an excuse, but my buddies would be on my tail in the twinkling of a star. Which is to say, they’d heap hot coals of scorn on my aluminum head in every column. If they can continue to write, why can’t ol’ Orville the Fourth?
I used to write because I was an aspiring writer. Fame, glory, heaping hot coals of scorn on the occasional idiots in our midst—these were among the reasons. I also enjoyed the occasional paycheck doled out by my editor.
Now I don’t write much because I spend my time wisely, in deep meditation. It isn’t the rotgut I imbibe that leads me into the depths of thought. At least that’s not the sole and only reason. It’s the joy, as the composer John Cage once put it, of having nothing to say.
At least that’s how I interpret his motto: “It’s hard to say something as good as simply nothing.”