Dialogue on Writing, and Avidya

Okay, so my net worth at this point is – if the house sells for what I hope it will – but of course I will never sell this house here on the river – almost a third of a million bucks. It varies from day to day due to the price of stocks going up and down, but…

Damn!

Yeah. It only happened a couple of years ago. A relative died and left me this; I had no idea he had so much money. I always figured I’d part of a $200,000 house, and would use that money to pay off all my debts, with a mere pittance leftover. Instead…

Instead you got a bunch and so you what, quit your job?

Well, no, it was more complicated than that, but yah, shortly after the will was probated I left my main vocation and have not re-entered the workforce since that time. Their loss.

Whose?

The workforce’s.

Oh – yeah. So whattaya do now?

I’m busy writing.

Yeah?

Yeah. Finished a book about – uh – a year ago. Been busy ever since. Another book.

Oh. What’s it about?

Ah, hard to say really. I hope to use a Magritte print for the cover.

I’ll ask again: what do you write about?

This one is about nescience, which is another word for avidya, which is another word for not-knowing. A state of non-knowing. So I’m writing about what we don’t know, a set of several stories that are somewhat connected by this idea of epistemological gaps or blind spots.

So you’re not saying you don’t know what you’re writing about . . . but that you are writing about what you don’t know? 

That’s knotty. Never mind. 

Okay. I’ll put it on my list and look it up. A third of a million, eh? How long can you live on that, man?

Well, I try first to make it, on what cash reserves I have, to the March following the end of the world in December 2012. I’ll be 59 ½ then, and can tap my retirement savings without the penalty. Hopefully there’ll be enough left to keep me going (if the world does not end, heaven forfend) until social security kicks in. That’s the plan. 

So you have done all the long division on this.

Oh yeah. And I am not a math person.

And you think it’ll work out, huh? 

Yeah. But I can’t live high on the hogleg (as some say) unless I get a job. And there is the utter wild card of personal health thrown in there. 

Mmn.

So: you never thought a person like me – obviously stupid about money, incapable by nature of making or saving sums of money – would or could wind up a low-hundred thousandaire

A what? 

That’s my sleek term that switches millionaire into another term. A thousandaire has thousands at his command, not millions.

Oh yes. The writer is always active. You and your words. 

Do I detect a tone of derogation?

Hm. Well. Go on, I’m listening. 

You didn’t answer my question.

No, yes, I do find it hard to imagine you as a person of wealth. Taste you have. Class of a sort you have – though it is involved with what you know, not the strata of society you come from. I – I have always thought of you as a person who knew well how to deal with poverty, with having nothing much materially speaking. You seem to thrive in such semi-squalid environments – remember? I doubt your ability to shift that and know how to decorate a living room with artwork.

[Pause of remembrance.]

You are wondering what I do with myself all day, every day, aren’t you?

You’ve said that you write. 

Right.

So um what’s the point of all this writing? Do you intend to entertain, instruct, annoy…?

I don’t know. I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m not sure I’m doing it for any grander reason.  I suppose deep down I want to be remembered after I die.

Transcend mortality, eh? Obese chance of that.

Well I guess.

Isn’t it a big change, this movement to freedom after however many years of wage-slavehood? 

It was one I was glad to make.

I’m sure. Changed your life’s daily course quite a lot, I imagine.

O yeah. It has. I am generally more relaxed. I know I shall no longer have to deal with oafs, goober-heads, gossips and racists. I shall have to learn how to handle investments, retirement income and other money, and I will learn how to lever down needs and desires until life becomes much simpler….

A tradeoff of sorts, then.

[Pause tape while each person checks their phone.]

Why are you looking at me like that?

Like what?

Like that. With your – like that!

I have no idea what you are . . .

Forget it. I have trouble reading faces. I try to write every day, on like three or four things that I’ll never finish, and I feed the dogs, work the garden a bit if it’s not too hot, keep the fence cleaned off, windows cleaned. I stay busy. I’m training a hummingbird on the porch. 

Oh yeah?

It scares the shit out of visitors. They think it’s a fairy, Tinkerbelle or something. And in the evening I like to sometimes take a drive.

Where to?

Well I was about to tell you. 

Well okay then, duh –

I’m not gonna tell you now. You’re listening with an unclean motive, I can tell.

[Laughter]

“You got a lotta nerve,/ to say you are my friend –”

I know that one: “When I was down,/ you just stood there grinning.”

© 2020, 2017 Thomas N. Dennis

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