Writers are sometimes like a pack of hunters chasing a bull through a village. The beast has taken numerous arrows and will fall eventually, to bless the household of the hunter in whose field it drops – and none other. By hunting convention – the beast belongs in the household of the hunter in whose field it falls, no matter whose arrows are sticking out of its rump. This is the law of copyright in a mad nutshell.
Serial indebtedness is not exclusive to writing. One could argue that a city trader does not impoverish one Paris bank by five billion pounds without enriching someone somewhere by a princely sum. Or that one country does not become superlatively rich without impoverishing its trading partner superlatively. [The theoretical potential of the quintessential mister average, Jerome Kerviel, (or Societe Generale for that matter) to hobble the known world is a little terrifying, but it has ever been so: one could as easily add value or take away, write the Bible or Mein Kampf.]
There’s no denying the years of affliction a writer undertakes to put his name on the spine of an important book – and there have been books that have literally changed the course of history. Yet, each seminal book, each turnpike essay, has as it were, the quills of tribes of writers both living and dead quivering in the rump of the bull on the desk. The bigger the beast, the more it owes humanity. That is one context of my 2006 poem, The Empty Page (which is probably the final destination of seekers of true originality):
The Empty Page
When I wrote the solemn pledge, I AM TRUE
I did not walk too far along to find I was a lie.
(For the bug smoked in the guts of fish
So I erased and found the small
and pompous words I AM;
which was a name that God had chosen first.
Now, I am not God
(Although I can also on an empty page
create a world that won’t acknowledge me),
so I erased again and left
the humble, uncontentious I;
Until the lie of life began to dawn on me
in greying hairs
and I saw ahead of me
the days when even ‘I’
would be a lie.
So I erased again, and found the empty page.
I found the true, the empty page.