(an undergraduate’s perspective on essay writing)
I found this piece of text today when I was looking through my old undergraduate files. I had forgotten I had written it. It's not too shabby so I thought I'd post it here:
I write all my essays as if they are my first: embarking on an adventure which, although subject to planning, is likely to take me to unexpected places. Do I march boldly into the terrain or just take a few tentative steps? Either way I am exposed. I push forward. I am prepared: ready to learn about the subject and myself. Entering the geography, the territory opens up and receives me.
This is a ritual. The screen has become a wormhole. I bow to it: Namaste! I bow to that in you which is also that in me.
The screen is a portal that can take me anywhere in the universe, traverse time and space. I am anticipatory, my cognisance heightened. Where shall I go?
I search for that place which sits between deference and arrogance: a subtle space which must be negotiated. Can I find it? There is a sliding of surfaces. My feet are unsteady. I feel unstable on this ground. Ego is visible, egotism is ‘writ large’. My writing needs to be confident, not feeble, not conceited. I am trying too hard. In my anxiety to find that space, it slips away. I relax…There it is! Delving into the depths of the landscape she takes me into herself…
I only exist in my becoming. I am rewriting myself, anticipating the self I am yet to be. I stand in the moment where I simultaneously await and become that which was awaited. I reach out to grab the intangible self and it eludes me. The 'I' in the writing becomes the past 'I'. This transient 'I' appears in the space of the writing, in the event. Time is collapsed. I exist in the moment of writing, in the future-anterior of the other’s reading of me…
It is the conclusion. I am in conclusion. Where is the sentence that bites? Where is the hook that will pull you in and leave you gasping on the deck? I want to offer you more: not an ‘answer’, but something that tugs at you and twists inside you.
I write all my essays as if they are my last: you are, after all, only as good as your last novel/hit single/assignment. The deadline is here. Laid bare on the page I submit myself. Doubly exposed.
My essay is not being read, I am being read. And, not just the small 'self' of the everyday, but the 'I' of the interstice, the Self of Brahman that peeps through the words I write…
This piece of prose is inspired by the work of Helene Cixous.