By Daniel Boscaljon
Images by Melissa D. Johnston
“everytime i write i feel myself disintegrate” is the first letter in a series of posts called Letters to You written by Daniel Boscaljon. His writing is joined by images from an ongoing project by Melissa D. Johnston that incorporates similar themes from a different perspective. We hope the two create an interesting dialogue for the reader/viewer.
i write to you here partly because i know that you will not read it. you do not have the time to drown in my oceans of words, to work through the sentences and sentiments that i wish to put forth. i write, nonetheless, in the hopes that perhaps others will benefit from the words meant for you. these words are all my flesh made text: each time i think about you it is almost always in the words i wish i was speaking or writing, words that i want for you to hear or see or feel. i want my words, like my hands, to be able to touch you: i write despite knowing that they do not and cannot. i open my veins and watch the words spilling out onto the screen, pouring from my heart, pumping outward, showing up in so many fragments. words and spaces, black pixels separated by white spaces all so someday when you have the time and emotional energy i can attest to the fact that i never left you behind but was waiting to do anything i could. everytime i write i feel myself disintegrate from an illusory whole to a mass of differences and separations. a text is not any sort of unity. the words and worlds swirl out of me and i lose myself in them to find myself out of them, to show you who i am through them. this is all that i can do. i write my flesh made words: each is an opportunity for a certain sort of consummation, a meditating mastication, thoughts for you to chew through, food for thought.i want you to devour each of these as a message for you, to taste me through the bland universal medium of language, to see my fingerprints in the phrasing of every sentence and the choice of every word. when you miss me, i want these here for you to find, to take comfort in, to relish, and to remember the times when conversations could be held face to face. these words are mirrors: when empty, they reflect the emptiness within me. when exhortations, they reflect the strength in which i long to hold you. when full of laughter, they reflect the echoes of the joy you once introduced into my life–for nothing inside of me can any longer be separated from whom you have let me be. these words and letters are my own private army, and i am their general: i command them and send them forth into the world on a mission to convey the message of love able to be seen and heard throughout the world. their failure is a reflection of my failure. it is possible that these words unread merely lie dormant, as a spy in an enemy nation, waiting for the right time to take charge and complete the message. it is equally possible, however, that they are an army which will expire without the resources that you would bring to them, that unread they will be squandered, and that the corpses of the words will be found too late becoming only a curiosity to be enshrined for tourists within a museum. every series of words and letters are an attempt to form a bridge to you: they are my workers which move from me into the abyss of silence, working their ways to find you in the hopes that they will connect. i am rooted to a million bridges, spanning from my soul into nothing. the bridges never close: my heart continues to love through them, despite the fact that they lead nowhere and into nothing, in the hope that someday all of the bridges will once more connect to you and we will once again become one. what else can i do? i write here in a space that you cannot see, in a medium that can be destroyed, with anonymous words that can be lost and misconstrued. i write for a you who does not currently exist: each message is a message from who i was in the past to someone i hope to find again in the future. will you read this tomorrow? next month? in ten years? when you read, will the bridges still return to me, or will they be magnificent edifices cutting through the nothing, supported by nothing on either side, hanging silently and orbiting in the vast void which has become our lives? i cannot know. i merely trust, and write. i am the words that i write, and i can do nothing else. this is all i have. you read all that i am, stripped naked before. vulnerable. and now what will you do?
Daniel Boscaljon has Ph.D.s in Modern Religious Thought and 19th-century American Literature, both from the University of Iowa. His interest is in the fragility and liminality of human experiences. His first book, Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in the Secular World will be published by the University of Virginia Press this August.