I learned to keep at a certain distance from things – and to make myself a little bit invisible while I observed and understood them.
I can always, quite easily, put myself in other people’s shoes, so to speak, and look at the world through them.
I like reading the world through a writer’s eyes, rather than seeing a writer looking at him or herself as if at the center of gravity of the world around them.
Cities have often been compared to language: you can read a city, it’s said, as you read a book. But the metaphor can be inverted. The journeys we make during the reading of a book trace out, in some way, the private spaces we inhabit. There are texts that will always be our dead-end streets; fragments that will be bridges; words that will be like the scaffolding that protects fragile constructions.
Writers tend to think they occupy a much more relevant place in society than we actually do. But we really are closer to buffoons and jesters than we are to whistle-blowers or moral guides. Accepting our rather insignificant place in society can be depressing – but it’s also freeing.