“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed,
debriefed, classified, or numbered.
I am not a number; I am a person.”
~ Number Six, The Prisoner
With the occasion of this entry, I gratefully acknowledge the 6th anniversary of La Vie Graphite, and its embarkation upon year 7. The development and direction of this blog has been quite unexpected, yet much as it is with personal writing, ideas and words meander with the moment. Today, I wrote a bit about this blog, in my handwritten journal, and observed how it seems to continue- and gratefully so. Among typecasts, photo-essays, travels, monastic despatches, and the varied ordinary times of the long pilgrim road of a life of days, there remains a unifying continuum. The pace of publication fluctuates with the slices of time I can devote to these essays, but it hasn’t been for lack of interest. Blogging continues to be as much a worthwhile project as it is an enjoyable challenge. Because entries are date-stamped, there is an inherent motivation to follow through with additional and newer observations. Thus, as with journaling, thought processes, and steps in a long journey, there is continuity.
Six years, and just over three hundred essays along, there are enough reasons to keep going. Reflective writing can generate a sense of creative satisfaction. The encouragement of readers is something I’ve cherished very much. The blogosphere, however, is both ocean and desert. In the elusive vastness of web-based media, readers must forage for writing that speaks to them. That has been my continuing experience, as both reader and writer. Abundance and scarcity intertwine. Yet, somehow, many of us are able to make connections through these electronic means. In addition, digitized words and images can be formed and tailored into ways of transmitting personal ideas, yearnings of the soul, and methods of writing done by hand. As always and ever, my gratitude for readers of this blog continues. My hopes also continue that more readers seeking encouragement and the fellowship of written narrative will find this blog.
Seasons in transition provide an opportunity to reflect upon the adventure of writing. My days and years are trails trimmed in graphite lines. The many written marks and jottings loop and wind into responses, projections, and explorations that evolve with the advance of time. But then, as I’ve found, a writer’s present voice can venture into visitations of the past- as needed. Surely, my preference is to look forward, though I have known the discreet benefits of tracing steps from times long ago. Writing the grand voyage is both documentation and discovery. With conscientious writing comes learning. Thomas Merton acknowledged how writing brought depth to his monastic vocation, teaching him “to let go of my idea of myself, to take myself with more than one grain of salt.” He was certain of his vocation as a writer, affirming that writing was a spiritual gift given to him that he might in turn give it back through his work.
It is easy for me to coincide this 6th anniversary essay with my all-time favorite television serial The Prisoner. I’d have made the reference anyway with the protagonist’s name, “Citizen Number Six” in mind, but now can add photographs I recently took in Portmeirion, Wales. Patrick McGoohan chose to film The Prisoner in the Italianate peninsula village on the northwest coast of Wales, to add to the surrealism of his futuristic science-fiction drama. It was impossible not to recognize the sites of so many location shots when I finally saw the village in person.
The stories stem from a first episode that shows how Number Six had been abducted to a strange island of people with numbers as names, speaking in suspicious monotones, and dressing alike. The leadership (we never know if there is indeed a Number One) relentlessly tries to mentally break Number Six, but he is more than a match for the successions of Number Twos.
Above: This photo, bought at Cinemabilia in Greenwich Village, was framed over my desk when I was in high school.
Below: A few of the artifacts I brought back from Portmeirion.
The writing and filming are brilliant, as is McGoohan’s portrayal of a man who asserts his individuality, refuses to be confined, and repeats that he is not a number, but is a free man. When I first saw these episodes- repeatedly- as a fifteen-year-old, I was immediately captivated. The scenarios gave me plenty to think about, regarding the strength of an individual’s spirit. Number Six is just the sort of hero I’ve most preferred: wit and integrity defeating enemies, instead of cruelty and violence. Corporate tactlessness tends to live at the shallow end, and it does not last. Number Six, like Ray Bradbury’s Guy Montag, and other similar characters, must navigate higher roads- treacherous as they consistently are. And now comes year seven, with number six in its wake.