Walking along an alleyway in the snowy evening I looked up at some arbitrary, particular window, thinking of the way I would have written about it, and then thinking about the way I would have read back the things that I had written, and the way that -- for want of a better turn of phrase -- they would come back (or seem, in my re-reading, to come back) as so non-commital. "What was it," I would ask myself, "that made it so important to notice this thing, while noticing it so little?"
I thought of the light of the window. "Mild", I would have written. And other words I would have written: "indifferent", "pallid", "unassuming." Then what was it that I wanted of such windows? What better agenda should they have propounded? And this was the key: I felt that they were protected by this indifference; this mildness nurtured something; the unassuming casement in fact was anything but, and in my head indifference was not a lack of power, but a vast, all-encompassing levelling off of things, an almost vengeful neutrality demonstrating the effortless mastery of both thesis and antithesis. It was this lofty indifference to which all real presences aspired -- an unmediated existence devoid of responsibility, existing for a secret, individual purpose, having to demonstrate nothing to anyone, not even to mean in terms of anything except itself.
And something of all of this comes back to me when I say these words. When I say "mild", I am not thinking of mildness, but something closer to martyrdom, and when I say "indifferent" I actually think of a difference so remote, so far removed that it no longer connotes or computes. When I say "pallid", I think not of a lack of light, but of a form of illumination averse to light, something that luminesces upon extraordinary terms. And "unassuming" is to me like the first line of a joke, since the word sets itself up only to conclude as something other than itself.
And then I take this back a step and think of the strange people I have written about, and they too are mild in this full sense. They have no reason to be, and for that reason every reason. They live ephemeral lives as conclusive statements against all things ephemeral. They neither care for nor believe in meaning, yet the authenticity of their existence is predicated upon it.