"Here it can be seen that solipsism, when its implications are followed out strictly, coincides with pure realism. The self of solipsism shrinks to a point without extension, and there remains the reality coordinated with it." (Ludwig Wittgenstein, T5.64)
This is not a book. But it is a collection of pages filled with prose. I'm working on a secret project these days (all will soon be revealed) that is teaching me something about the changing nature of writing and, perhaps, what phrases like "the end of the book" and "the death of the author" really mean.
Do you remember I said I spent a few days in the Alps with Oliver Reichenstein and his staff at Information Architects? It was a transformative experience for me. Or at least, I suspect, the beginning of one; the process continues. I was especially grateful (hi Chris!) for an opportunity to revisit my views on Zen and the nature of the ego. For a brief moment, sitting there in the most literal of alpine meadows, I had a glimpse of my literary utopia. I imagined building a website out of my ideas, consisting mainly of prose paragraphs, not in a sequence, but hyperlinked through individual words. A site not a book.
Writing stops being "between covers". Every page takes up a position equidistant to the reality it is a part of. A book is a thing. A site, by contrast, is a place. We construct that place and invite our "readers" (now, in fact, visitors) to come. They can make themselves at home. Enjoy the grounds.
And what then of "the writer"? Well, the Buddhists have that useful notion of "ego death", a liberation from the illusion that we are something other than a body implicated practically in the living world, that our existence amounts to more than the space we occupy in the universe. That is my literary utopia, then: each of us working on a site that is the articulation of our selves. Once the basic structure has been built, and the machinery of the hypertext is up and running, nothing remains but maintenance and upkeep. There is no need for a "second edition", nor even a "next book". The self of the author, we might say, shrinks to a point without extension, and there remains the prose coordinated with it.