November 9, 2010

"The tumour that will destroy me is in the proximity of my speech area. But I am also a word-earner."

Says the art critic Tom Lubbock:
I have been doing this all my life as an adult. And I still survive as a language-user – speaking, listening, reading, writing – over the past two years. Or, rather, I survive in fluctuating ways....

I'm no longer fluent. I've forgotten how to do it. I can't do it automatically. I can't hear whether a word that I say has come out right or not. It's as if it's not me that's speaking, but some kind of inefficient proxy forming the words. It's like there is a time-delay between speaking and hearing your own words, or if you were speaking a language whose phonetics and semantics you don't properly know. And when I speak or write, the words do sometimes come out wrong, slightly nonsensically. 
Ah! The decline! But it is not the saddest decline — this painless fade-out.  If this happened to me, I believe — I hope — I would write my way through to the end, like this. Would you not embrace the end of life as a writer and crumple, visibly, into the diminishment of your powers?

11 comments:

Chase said...

Sad yet inspiring. Makes you so thankful for the ability to communicate so easily with words. And the beauty of language.

Thank you for posting it.

It also makes me think about Roger Ebert. A different case, but still someone for whom word craft is the essential part of who they are.

ricpic said...

We'd be better off if members of the cosseted class didn't yammer on about their dying.

Richard Dolan said...

The point is to live the life you are given, and make the most of it while it lasts. Even in its decline, life is not a dress rehersal. It sounds like Lubbock is doing exactly that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Would you not embrace the end of life as a writer and crumple, visibly, into the diminishment of your powers?

Hell, no. If I was a great writer faced with this situation, I'd use my remaining gifts to write something like "Invictus", and then I'd go out on a sailboat and set it on fire. When the flames are visible from shore, that would be the signal for my legions of fans to start my wake. And one of the provisions of my will would be an equestrian statue of my giving Death the finger.

traditionalguy said...

We are like grass that springs up and flowers for a season, and than withers and dies and is blown away by the winds. But a full life span is a blessing to be thankful for, while a shortened lifespan is a curse that also can happen. I often remember the famous Marines battle challenge, "Do you want to live forever?"

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

We are like grass that springs up and flowers for a season, and than withers and dies and is blown away by the winds.

A reed, but a thinking reed.

I often remember the famous Marines battle challenge, "Do you want to live forever?"

I do, but not at any cost. For my model I take Guan Yu.

veni vidi vici said...

"Crumple into the gibberishment of your powers" is more appropriate phrasing.



wv: "pactoria" -- a town in the southwest whose entire population suffers from chronic bowel impactions.

Kristin said...

reminds me of "Flowers for Algernon"

Bob said...

In two famous cases - - Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson - - the writers took matters into their own hands and went out as they desired, and not as nature would dictate to them.

Methadras said...

I'd tell them to go in and get it. I'll take my chances in an operating room than take the bullshit way out of diminished capacity and wilt like a dying flower with the lingering memory that I could have taken the risk to make myself whole and succeed.

Sorry, this guy is a coward.

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