Eight-hundred Words [A Short-short Story]

Infinite possibility is an avalanche waiting to bury me?

Skimming pages is not reading.

To read or not to read, now that is the question, whether it is nobler with the eyes to see the depth of the text, or with them, only look at the page, fooled by the superficiality of the paper, the words organized in lines; linearity, linearity, thy name is vanity. What am I saying? To say sooth or truth; they are one and the same thing–how is the truth soothing? Most of us recoil from it. And so we have a very degraded sense of beauty. Beauty is Truth, I say?

To know is not to doubt. Doubt always with the intention of making no gain. We’re all in love with the idea of infinite possibility at the same time we doubt knowing anything enough to reach our necessary probabilities.

What then must we say?

Having coffee is as necessary as breathing? I have coffee every morning. I cannot not-have coffee. Coffee is life as wine is life as women are life, or so I say, think I should say? Or is it that I imagine that it would be something to say here for you to hear and take in whatever way it is you would take it, in, these words, and more words–there will be no more words than these as I present them, say them, write them–I write every day; I go nowhere without pen and paper accompanying me wherever I go.

Nothing beside these words; there is no outside these words as I say them write them for you. What could be outside them? What is outside anything anyone says at any time anywhere in our lives? I only know how a person speaks to me what she says to me when she says it to me where she says it and why she says it; either in the way she explains or the ways I interpret or both or neither and something else.

How many words a day? How many words a month. I am writing words now for how long? I think I can see me at the beginning. I write words every day; I wrote words yesterday and I wrote words every day when I was in my twenties when I decided that writing was life, that I could not live without writing whether anyone read my words or not. I am going to write tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow every day for the rest of my life until the day I die, the last syllable tolling.

I will write on my last day if possible. I have written for a long time; by the end I will have written more than a million words; I might have already written more than that. How many pages in long hand is it, twenty thousand? twenty-two thousand, maybe twenty-five thousand pages of words or more stuffed in boxes at the bottom of closets. Words, words and more words; yes, rivers and rivers of words, and rivers of words with tributary rivers of words themselves with tributaries and the tributaries of the tributaries with streams and the streams with brooks and the brooks with pools collected in cul du sac nooks in forests I’ve walked or heard others tell about when sitting around fires or tables with or without wine or beer or vodka or cognac and a lot of laughter in a way the world in the middle of being.

So, with all this, or with only this, what do you have to say? Who am I should be within your grasp of learning, of your having read, or of your having understood, or of your having put your own pen to page for at least five hundred words—I have five hundred words to say on anything, I used to say, even the things I have no knowledge of, the things I do not know anything about at all. So, yes, I know you can say something, that you have seen something, as seeing is both vision and understanding–vision itself sight; vision itself being able to see ahead, to see into the things that will be? To have been does not take prophesying; as it is has been was . . . what will be will only be by our determination, no other?


What is it about these words, or the number of them. I have a sense of what these mean, but the number of them means what? I remember I used to say that Joyce exhibited an extraordinary economy in Ullyses. A far lesser writer, I used to say, would have wasted eight thousand pages to do what Joyce had done in eight hundred.

What is it that any of us can accomplish in eight hundred words? I ask sincerely.








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