You know Eric, it’s not for not thinking about you that I don’t write. It’s because I have so many things going on in my 83 year old brain cells, that I never know where to begin and put some of my thoughts down on paper. I think you’re a bit like me in this. I’m sure you remember, better than I, those moments in our past when our writing would be one unstoppable stream of ideas as we reacted to the events of the world happening about us. Nothing or very little that was going on made sense to us, but we tried in our writing to understand a bit, and not just make fun of the craziness we saw about us. We tried.
Now from time to time my wife of 55 years will resurrect something, mostly from those before the turn of the century email exchanges between us, and give them to me to read. These exchanges, along with much else written over our life time by friends and family members, are stored away in some 40 t0 50 volumes of our family archives, eventually going to our children to do with, what?
Our correspondence was certainly a rich exchange of ideas, and it’s probably something both you and I do easily, almost at the drop of a hat. For ideas, well we don’t lack them. Unhappily I have never given any overall structure to my thinking. It’s helter skelter, all over the place. Nothing much has come of it. And I think you and I share that characteristic, having our thoughts in disorder, and probably accounts in good part for what draws us together, that, and our love of irony, and skepticism and probably most of all humor, in particular being able to laugh at ourselves, the quality that I probably value the most, at least in myself. The inability to give a structure to my thinking, to bring all my ideas together, or even a selection of them, is probably why I’ve never written a book.
But what I wanted to share in this mail was a sentence I stumbled on just this morning while reading a review of the Dictator, the final volume of Robert Harris’s trilogy about the Roman philosopher-cum-politician Marcus Tullius Cicero. It was this sentence that struck me:
“All that will remain of us is what is written down.”
Supposedly the man who said this was Marcus Tullius Tiro, first a slave, then a freedman, of Cicero himself, and frequently mentioned in Cicero’s letters. After Cicero’s death Tiro published his former master’s collected works, and I guess he is why we have Cicero’s thoughts still with us today. Do you conclude, Erik, as I do, that we should do more writing, the kind of writing that won’t perish with us, that won’t be thrown out in our wake like probably so many of our other possessions?