My name is Jeremy Fullsom, and, in the beginning, there was nothing. Then, there was The Word. Or rather, there was words. Or, should I say: “were words? “
I have vague memories, from before I converted, of a world defined by colour and shape. There was a complex art to the shaping of things that I found enthralling. I remember sitting for hours, just looking at my hands, my feet, a leaf, some strange pattern in the carpet… sitting and examining.
There was a mystery to these things that pulled me in. Each with its own pattern and importance, strung together by light and my vision. My position and perspective.
As I saw the world more, it opened itself up to me. I found that others had large hands similar to my small ones. I saw that the carpet’s pattern repeated itself as it diffused across the floor. I heard that others could make sounds just like I could. I found in those sounds another pattern.
I found that others repeated those patterns. They were everywhere. On every lip, from every tongue. The patterns suffused the world. My world. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to see or hear. I had to do both at the same time. Suddenly, my eyes and ears were connected by the Word. I found a part of the pattern stayed within me, and I could use it.
At last, my head, my being, was unified by the Word.
There was a drawback, though. I lost something in the process. Oh, it’s not that I knew then that I was losing anything. No, all I knew was that the world was opening itself up. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that, in my quest for mastery over the Word, I was losing something so essential to it.
Truth. Or, would observation be a better word? Clarity? No, that’s not quite right.
Whatever it was, I had lost it. The Word gave me great power over objects, but it didn’t let me understand them.
“Can I have juice?” I would scream.
“It’s a mechanical pencil,” I would say.
“What a tacky pattern,” I would whinge.
Years went by like that. Yet, I never realized that the word was not the thing itself. How could I have? My eyes, my hands, my mouth, my ears… everything was unified through the Word and my memories from the Word.
“Soap” was the beginning of my thought process. It wasn’t sticky, green, bitter, bubbly, dish-soap. It wasn’t the feel of it sliming through my fingers. No, even those things are mediated by it. You see now how the Word suffused everything? How it became everything?
I became obsessed with it. I thought if I could figure out what the Word was, then I could separate it from the world and see the world for what it was. I was mistaken.
The Word was a part of everything. It grew and changed to fill the voids I created for it. It had an answer for everything. I had an answer for everything. How could you parse out something that was everywhere, like a thin veneer of truth bubbling upon the surface of reality?
It was then that I realized, with some horror, that the Word was “me,” as well. I had bathed in it for so long that it had adhered to every surface of my “self.”
“Perhaps,” I mused one day in the shower, “It is simply that I am so full of words that I spew them on every surface. I use them to mediate the world, so, to me, they are the world.”
I made up my mind; I sat down and began studying. I looked through dictionaries, thesauruses and grammar textbooks in the beginning. I was looking for something at the core of the Word that could give me some clue to the ultimate question: “Is there a world outside of this matrix of words?”
That notion was quickly abandoned when I realized that looking within words for a world outside of words didn’t make sense. So, I tried looking back to the before-times. More words!
It was blurry. Oh, colourful. Kind of murky. I struggled with movement. Dark, scary, warm, happy. Then, I saw it. There was something in the distance that was so close to me. Something… immediate.
I thought the word, then it was gone. But, it had been there!
I realized that it was a feeling I was familiar with, though not something I could put my finger on. Or, my words. It defied description, yet it had one. It was immediate.
I was there, in the moment. I was alive. I was… feeling the boundary between the Word and myself. That feeling. That word. They were linked. Inseparable.
At that moment, I realized that I wasn’t going to find my answer outside of the Word or within it. I had to look for that boundary. My hope was that I’d be able to see something outside of the convoluted relationship I had to the Word. That boundary could be a crack into an entirely different understanding.
Once more, I began. I started with the Masters, as I saw them. Poe, Lovecraft, Thompson, Kerouac, Doyle, Setterfield, Conrad, Faulkner, Kafka, Joyce, Shakespeare, Milton, Beckett, Blake, Homer, Nabokov, Chekhov, Woolf, Doestoyevsky, Dante, Chaucer, Dickens… I lost myself.
I realized that I’d ceased thinking about my project. I’d begun simply reading for pleasure. So many, many hours did I wile away in these worlds that I began to, once again, forget the real one. Yet, there I was, in the immediate.
Each of them made me feel something real. Each of them wrapped me in awareness. I could feel that I was riding that wave over and over again, that tide created by the rift between the Word and the World. Again, each time, I came up short. Each time, the World and the Word slipped through my grasp.
It was a terrible, wonderful, perfect thing. It was indescribable. No, that’s not quite right. It was steeped in itself. It was… unfathomable.
The Word and the World merged once more.
I sat back at my desk, ran a heavy sigh through my hair, took off my glasses and gave up. There was nothing for me out there. There was no out there. No out. No there.
There just was.
So, I began to write. I had sat down to put words on the page many times before, but I had a different mission this time. This time I was going to create a world. I wanted to understand the Word through its use. Standing on the edges of creation hadn’t been enough. I had to step in and, through the Word, become it.
Words within worlds within words poured from my fingertips. I could see them, plainly written, but something was still wrong. There was still a disconnect. I could see the edges, the seams, in the world where it had been pieced together by my understandings of the Word.
I needed practice. I needed to come into my own mastery of the Word before I could truly utilize it to create my own profound understanding.
I wrote and wrote and wrote, improving my craft with each sentence, each story, each novel. Still, I could see them: the fissures of craft breaking through to reality and back again.
Again, I broke down before my desk, staring at the Word manifest, wondering where within it lay myself, lay reality. Where was “now?”
Observation disjuncted word from world, but joined them again through mediation. I was on the edge of madness. Frustration, unmitigated, coursed through me. My life had been spent in meditation over the mediation of reality through the Word. Still, I was no closer, or further, from my goal.
What had that been again? I stared into “nothing,” eyes unfocused, “infinity” swirling around me, mocking, jesting, consoling. The paunch of age had settled upon me, a small token of the years behind a keyboard. My fingers were neat, trimmed to type, but my wrist burned slightly. I took off my glasses and sat back, staring at the blurred, colourful shapes around me.
And began to laugh.
In the beginning, I’d been looking for the Word and, then, nothing. What I had found was the seam between them: a man named Jeremy Fullsom.
As neat as it would have been to end there, that’s not how the world works, only the Word. With every epiphany comes new understandings, understandings that the Word can order and explain. It’s a growing, ever-changing, all-consuming thing. It even has words for things it can’t explain. Many, many of those, because it understands. That’s what it does, so it understands that there are always going to be things beyond it.
It understands because I understand. I am the Word. The Word is the world. The world is me. But, there are things beyond me. And, I am loathe to admit, beyond the Word.
Words can’t describe a moment, only what happened in it. It can’t capture an unknown, only what isn’t known about it. It’s powerful, but not omnipotent. It has rules of its own that even it has to follow.
Until it doesn’t. Because, the Word is “everything” and “nothing.” My first mistake had been assuming that it was either. That it had to be one or the other. That there was a Word and a world that existed separately from each other. Which is silly, because they aren’t, even when they are.
The Word, like all of our great personal truths, exists in all of its forms simultaneously. Just like the world.
Just like Jeremy Fullsom.