Letters to Kafka

I have regressed to childlike play, thank goodness

Dear Franz,

I understood yesterday for the first time that this is not only some form of therapeutic work I am doing in writing to you–it is play also. When Carl Jung split from Freud he said it took him three or four years to recover his way, his path, and in those years, as he discovered the experience and theories of passing through into a midlife stage, he “regressed” to being a child and would play with wooden blocks, the very same wooden blocks that he had played with when in his infancy.

Regressing to child's playAnd this is my play. My “regression”. This reading and writing for fun (fun!) is its own purpose, formless, not for others, not hoping to take on any shape other than the immediate form of my imagination, not concerned with comparisons with others as they publish their memoirs and novels.

It is very interesting, to me at least, that this play seems to fulfil in an almost pure form that little mantra I cleave to that is, in summary, all that I think I am good at: “connect and create”. (Not simply “only connect”). And, also, that my childhood play is so synthetic–that is, borne of some innate love of synthesis, putting lots of ideas and strands and images together. Like collage, perhaps, like art. This, I would say, if I create art at all, is my art. And it is regardless of genre. Am I writing fiction or nonfiction? Does it matter? What matters is the heart. I often–too often–panic about my field. Need to know, to close down, my field of interest, so that I can focus, concentrate, label myself, fit in a categorical assumption, be that kind of person (academic, novelist, etc).

“They loved the range of materials they used.” Dillard says of Rembrandt and Shakespeare, Bohm and Gauguin. “The work’s possibilities excited them; the field’s complexities fired their imaginations. The caring suggested the tasks; the tasks suggested the schedules. They learned their fields and then loved them. They worked, respectfully, out of their love and knowledge, and they produced complex bodies of work that endure.”

I will come back to Dillard and this field, and how one knows one’s field. In more complex detail. And yet it remains so simple: the care suggested the tasks. In the end, that is all. What is it you love (to do)? That is, yes, I am going to do craft pieces, Franz–the first “category” of this external project, how I am putting all of this work into the world (and why not?)–and indeed this project feels real, tangible, and something that is me is essence. I love writing about writing! This is my field also. All the things I wrote yesterday about the type of writing I am, or can be… I spent a bit of time yesterday recalling all those things I wrote, produced, brought into the world: that school paper aged 11; the college magazine at 16 with the poem ‘Lemon’; the deconstruction of the word ‘Nice’ as part of my GCSE work placement; the postmodern essay that spoke of its own nature in my A-Level exam; the Stations of the Cross story about Jesus, god and a drunken father in my degree portfolio; the emails of pure creative spark shared between A and I while she lived in Hungary, our way of staying in touch. Writing with nothing in mind but the idea, and joy, and fun, and playfulness.

I woke at 529am today (and it will get earlier too: 514, 507, 503) to have this morning time, this clear routine, this peace, just me and M my cat, all the blissful, wayward, dreamy energies of sleep still thrown over me, and so much time…! For the first time in a long while I feel as if I have time–even though I know, or perhaps because I know, I do fear the disconnection and pure annihilation of death–and that I can concentrate and focus. And play. This is my play: this writing, synthesising, connecting ideas, creating new work out of these energies.

M is meowing at me. She likes attention in the morning. And all of this is not to say I slept well. But well enough.


Image of child (cc) byLorena

About Alex R Lockwood

I learn as much about the the art of living through literature (especially Kafka) as I do through other people. I read and write fiction and non-fiction, and research the cultural value of the creative writer; the ways that literature impacts our lives; the craft of writing, particularly what it means to be a non-anthropocentric (vegan) writer; the representation of animals; and the ethics of human-animal relations in literature, media and culture since 1945. This site is a platform for capturing the threads of different literary projects and, I hope, offers something to those thinking through the value of reading and writing in their lives.