Basically I must regard other writers as pretenders. Trying on a voice, and settling into it, executing it for all it is worth. I always remember my Uncle Robbie saying he divided writers into those who were doing something that he could do himself, and those who were doing something he couldn’t do; admiring the latter. And this savage distinction, I remember thinking, was kind of fatal to literature. Though it sounded like he held a reverence for whose who could write things beyond his own abilities, and that he humbled himself before them, it revealed that he regarded writing itself only as a matter of ability. He had no category utterly outside his own comprehension. My Uncle Robbie was combative, in regards to writing, and fatalistic in regards to his own ability; but this I saw as essentially his own vanity, a kind of reverse vanity. It put a chill on the whole enterprise of literature, in fact. He had no expectation, no category for absolutely unheard of content. And I knew that this is what I wanted, I wanted to hear something outside of life, outside of the question of anyone’s ability–more than I wanted to be a writer myself. If I was a writer myself, I did not want to be measured, precisely not measured for this–for my ability. I didn’t want this to be the distinction, because I could see it was only aimed at heralding the well-written. These writers, like Uncle Robbie himself, a fine poet, were all of a generation that were too capable. Noble as he was, Uncle Robbie could nevertheless read everything. He expected to understand what he read. There was no category for a writer who could both access the inexpressible, and then have the stuttering ability to do it; not just write what Uncle Robbie could not find the talent, or more like the time, to do himself. This would be to present the heretofore unrecognizable, the absolute novelty of the world, the similitude of mystery itself. The execution of such content would be rendered, concomitantly, as if indifferently, with no style that one could isolate and obsequiously admire. And that is the category I put myself in, if I am to be a writer at all, because I require of myself to always start from the crisis in my awareness. I am essentially equivalent to one who strives endlessly to speak the truth of the crisis of life. And if I hold any of this ongoing content now, it has happened during a life in which, along the way, I can see no other literature–except pretend literature. And therefore I must bear the identity of it. The height of pretension is the neutral, the blase understanding that pretends to erase the self, and arrange the universe and history as if there were really no question, ultimately, daily, squarely facing a person. For I will tell you what is the question facing a person. I will tell you that, over and over, and you will not suffer any recrimination, so gently will I tell you about that question which is always facing a person. Heretofore, perhaps, no one has spoken of this quite so directly, but what of that? They are all pretenders.

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