A blank page

3 min read

A blank page. No words are there? Well, no words were there. How does writing begin, when… staring at a blank page? It may seem a silly question to ask, but it’s certainly something that we all think as we fiddle in our minds in the same way one might fiddle with a pencil before starting to write. We usually have some sort of plan before beginning a composition, that’s what outlines are for. But what if we just simply started writing without any sort of a rudder with which to guide the flow of ideas and thus printed words on a page? What’d happen if we abandoned all desire to control the flow of contextualization forming before our very eyes? It’s almost a kind of controlled randomness. Just enough thought to keep the sentence after sentence appearing contextually relevant and artfully produced, but none of that rigid, creativity-breaking spell through overexertion of the mental muscle.

Such a kind of writing conjures up ideas in my head of, in Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, drawing the bow back and, upon release, having no thought of the release of the arrow, and hardly a thought of its trajectory. The drawing of the bow and the release of the arrow happened of themselves in a way. This state of mastering something as complex an art as traditional Japanese archery is, as Dr. Herrigel puts it, an “artless art.” It’s not trying to be art, but expresses itself thus.

This writing right now I have no idea where it’ll go. There is a bit of a fear of writing this badly; not exerting enough control over the printed words. There is also a freedom of composure akin to leaves falling from a tree. There is no thought of the sentence as it flows from mind to fingers to screen. There is only a watching of the words as they become etched in ephemeral reality, on the pixels of my screen. It is amazing our bodies can work so autonomously yet so perfectly at once. The fear of losing control is eventually transformed into a joy of losing control. The arrow has left the bow.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi / Unsplash

As the arrow is on its way to the end of this piece, I still do not know where the target is. I am ever more curious about where I’ll find it, in between here and there. It’s really a joy to write like this, at least for me. Images of jazz musicians on a stage are evoked from the wellspring of consciousness, and thrust into vivid realization, considering the lack of control yet beautiful execution displayed by those kind of performances. What a joy it’d be to do that, so fearless and ready, like a cat awaiting its next leap for a mouse.

Tempting it is when doing this to stop and think for a while about what is being said, to hesitate just a moment too long and so to lose the flow of thought so incarnate in the rapid pressing of the keys. Sometimes it’s wise, sometimes it’s foolish, but it’s always disturbing the flow, like the flow of water in a stream… it never hesitates, but always goes the right way, for there is no right way. There’s only the way.

The way can go in any direction, fueled by unconscious depths surging to the surface in a slow trickle unbeknown to the one flowing. Carl Jung once spoke (I believe in one of his books) of writing characters with his hand and not thinking about what is being produced, in this case, a complete abandonment of conscious thought. Once it produced a Chinese symbol; then, someone from the east arrived to see him shortly thereafter. Such coincidences he coined as “synchronicity”. And it was marked by seemingly disconnected events which have in them a meaning, which is not at all causal.

As I finish this essay I have mostly forgotten what I have said. It takes a moment to think about it as I type this, simultaneously going back in my memory thinking “what did I even write.” Before that, I really wasn’t too sure. But now, the arrow has hit the target, and we are left to string another one, for another day.

Note: This essay only was very minimally edited post-completion (due to its experimental nature) for grammar, a few clarity tweaks, an image, and accuracy.