The flow of writing

I thought this was beautiful from Richard Seymour on thinking-through-writing. I’ve always been fascinated by the non-linear and apophatic creativity involved in writing (the fact I’m linking back to blog posts which are many years old suggests the role which blogging can play in this). However I find these non-linear states more difficult to access with age. Up until a few years ago I regularly wrote in a quasi-automatic ways whereas now I’m much more prone to impeding this flow:

Freud called on the metaphor of a ‘train’ of thought, to describe the networks of thought formed in conditions of ‘free association’, a sort of dreaming out loud. Lacan, likewise, spoke of thought following in the ‘train of the signifier’, arms doubtless in tow. The metaphor indicates how unfree, fixed and determined free association really is, as it clings to invisible rails. But that is too linear. I find that, when reading is working, thought moves in cycles, wheels within wheels, their rotor motion drawing in associative radia of thought, and perhaps generating new unconscious networks: meshwork, as Christopher Bollas puts it. When the Bollasian ‘receptive unconscious’ is involved, thought achieves a certain ‘porosity’: psychic ‘genera’ spawn ‘lateral networks of association’. I find myself, in other words, pulled thrillingly along by whatever I’m reading, presumably performing the full range of physical reactions, muscles tightening and releasing, hormones secreting, face warming up or draining of colour, fingers clenching… but also making lateral jumps, opening new screens and searching, scratching notes in a journal as sentences or phrases occur to me, skipping back to re-read and then pausing, putting the book down as I involuntarily slip into reverie, and making some notes about that, and once again back to the thrill of the chase, until, eventually, having started too late, I always, always, have to finish too soon.

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