17 February 2002 writing/reading as purpose

15:29: Seat overlooking hockey pitch, from the North, some players are arriving...

Writing in the open air - in natural surroundings - the words feel weak amidst the strength of being open not only to the air but to the presences of sky, trees, birds, animals, people (and even of hockey sticks) unrestricted by walls, roofs, windows, doors, central heating,ownership, rights to privacy, etc. ...

Yet as soon as the writing gets going - begins to find its form, its topic or thought - it extends itself, everly outward and inward, to include even the contrast between it and its natural surroundings (as topic)... that is the marvel, its ever and all inclusiveness - the wonder and the unboundedness of literature!

There are now ten hockey players, all men, one black, and they have started to play - and the scene has become purposeful, specialised. Much else is now excluded, almost as if indoors. But the writing continues, as do everyone's thoughts, though these too may have become more predictable.

I am writing as if purposeful activity is wholly wrong, an aberration of nature. Is it? Not if there is substance or truth to this notion of 'afternature', not if what people do is an extension of nature - and its 'art'.

Is this natural, is this art? Yes, yes, he writes, though that is no proof. But proof is not my purpose, nor is hockey. My purpose is writing, and reacting to it as I write it. If I do so.

I meant this to be my first attempt at writing/reading as an end in itself, and as nature, and as my unifying or connecting purpose from now on - in place of such less connective purposes as design, fiction, plays, creative democracy, softopia, even afternature, even diary... my realising at last that this (to me nearest and even dearest) activity is the purpose, the holy grail if you like, of my long search, my quest. How simple!

There are now 14 players, including several women. I hear the clash of sticks and note the friendly atmosphere of a game played for fun, it seems to me. Yes they try to win but this is very far from the aggression-and-passivity of a spectator sport. This is old-fashioned Englishness. Someone told me that the people who play here, on this sloping ground surrounded by trees, book the ground as 'Professor Joad's party'. He was a philosopher well known on the radio fifty years ago. Perhaps he lived nearby. I was told that players come from all over London to this informal hockey playing. It reminds me of the hockey games we used to play on the beach in Borth between natives and visitors. In the end I was the one who organised them and kept the sticks... Not like me to do that - the only ball game I've ever enjoyed... Was it because I was in charge?

16.35 I've been sitting here for more than an hour and my hands are getting cold. Legs also.

So I went - and now I am editing and annotating this indoors, and feeling warm, and happy that this little experiment may have worked - though it's barely distinguishable from what I wrote before.

And on my way back I thought: Yes, this is it! and wrote that thought in my journal.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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