I am sitting around waiting for a call from my urologist. I called this morning to report a bloody discharge in my urine, an unexpected problem. I have no other symptoms, no pain, fever, no nothing except the bloody urine. While sitting around I was looking through a old journal of mine and I found an entry dated 10/23/06, written a bit over six years ago. It began with these words, “Who is the author of a text?”
I passed the time asking a number of questions. Is the one affixing one’s signature to a text, whether by affixing one’s name to a page or by actually signing a document, the same person as the one who wrote the piece? Is the person whose signature is attached to a piece the same person as a reader approaches that text outside of the presence of the author and at an indeterminate time in the future? Am I the same person in this very moment who signed the piece? The same person who wrote the piece in the past tense? The same person when, some unspecified time in the future reads the piece?
Perhaps I am not the same person I was when I began this post. In fact, I began writing in the morning and soon after I began writing my son arrived ready to do some work around the house. We then went to lunch where we spoke about many things including the weather, his drive to Phoenix, pain and the advances in medicine. We discussed my cancer, the treatment and side effects of the surgery. We even went shopping for socks. All of this changed me from the writer I was a few hours ago to the writer I am at this very moment. While the changes may be subtle, they are not insignificant. Every act, whether intentional or not, leaves an infinite number of unintended traces behind, some physical others less so but nevertheless show impact on the future writing.
Am I the same person I was before I was diagnosed with prostate cancer? I don’t believe so! In fact, I can point to major differences in my attitude and approach to my own lived-experience. I know I am more aware of little things, of connections, of reasons for being. No, each and every experience, whether significant or mundane poses a problem that changes one’s approach to life and the challenges we face.
For one to think differently is to argue for permanence in the world, a world in which things are absolute and certain when, in fact, nothing remains the same over time. Truth can only be determined for a particular moment in time and determined by examining all the evidence both pro and con. The truth that is then worked out is what Dewey called a warranted assertion. Once, not so long ago, people believed that there were only four elements that made up the entire universe: earth, water, wind and fire. This was held to be true and inviolate. No one believes that today because of advances in science presented evidence to the contrary. This is but one example of change that makes truth relative to the questions being asked and the evidence being presented for any position.
So here I am writing a text that is fluid in the writing and open to changes in thinking. As a writer, I am writing the text in what I call existential time. When I complete the text I leave it to a reader to explore. The text itself no longer exists in existential time, rather it exists in archival time. As a completed text, I, as author, step aside and leave the text to a reader and while the reader is reading the text in existential time (for the reader) s/he is reading a document that only exists in archival time. For the reader of a text, an archive of the past, the reader invades archival time through an infinite regression into the past, to a time when the very text being read was written and signed by the author, yet the author of the text no longer exists; for the writer, assuming s/he is alive, the time the text is being read is a projection of the past turned forward, a future now, that begs for a reader’s interpretation. In this sense, the past and the future turn into each other and meet at the reader’s now.
What interests me here is how having prostate cancer can inspire me to look at things closely, to experience my own thinking from a time long ago and to begin to rethink the ideas held in them. I approach what I have written not as an author but as a reader. The one who wrote the entry I am exploring no longer exists, I as a reader can gain some insight into the thought process I once had, but that process only appears to me in the trace within the text I signed.
- In Those Days . . . At This Time (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)
- In Every Sorrow There Is Profit (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)
- Taking a Break from Time Pressure (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)
- Holy Cow, What Do I Do Now? (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)
- What More Could I Ask For? (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)
- Panic…or Don’t Medical Records Count for Something? (rogerpassman.wordpress.com)