I am not a real writer. Real writers hemorrhage words. I'm just the opposite.
I'm running out of them. Sometimes I feel like Alice's Cheshire cat, a bit of me
disappearing with each book I write. This might seem like a paradox from
someone who's published several.

The important thing is not that they were written,
but where they led me . . . to the far side of language.

I blame the Navajo and Yup'ik Eskimos for that. My mistake was going
to live with these people. (Mistake? How can one return to central
New Jersey and resume teaching after living with Eskimos for two years?
I resigned my professorship.)

It was here I came face to face with language incalculably older
than my own. Among people who can still speak the original Word—the earth's elaborate, strangely lyrical conversation with itself. Mankind's conversation with the living and intelligent Real that defies analytical language—a conversation better suited to the ambiguities of music and dance and story. (Whereupon, I happily confess, a vast and vexing chunk of my language world simply vanished, like Alice's cat.)

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