Theories of Missingness: An Intro & Draft of a Mission Statement
In February 2023 my hybrid memoir, “Fayettenam: Meditations on Missingness,” will be published by the University of New Mexico Press. In this blog, I plan to write through, around, under, and over the book I have written. What will appear between covers, after all, is a coalescence: years of writing, reading, researching, thinking, cutting, adding, quitting, starting over, reimagining, and seeking the opinions of others, through which I tried to make a more-or-less linear book.
I call it a hybrid memoir, because though the main thread in “Fayettenam” is a family narrative, several other threads are woven through. Those threads come from my obsessive, totalizing effort to recreate a human experience at the individual, local levels and at higher, social, worldly strata of missingness as a shared experience and as a grand figure of human identity beyond missing-personhood as a literal phenomenon.
Most of my writing life, when at work on a theme, I’ve been compelled to read every book, poem, article, story, novel, play, lab report; watch every film, find every painting, sculpture, opera, symphony, ballet, monument, building – every constructed thing that intersects with that theme, until the theme becomes All. This time, somehow, I was able to cut, frame, and shape a work that someone thought readable and publishable.
Left behind in many folders on my computer are the outtakes, research, and varied notes; fragments, alternate possibilities, other books I might write someday, or that others might take on.
In this blog I’ll start and re-start some of those alternate versions. I’ll write into the fragments and outtakes to find where they lead. One starting goal is to see how the real, social, human problems of missingness can be reframed through the prisms of creative nonfiction – how social, political, legal, psychological, or spiritual responses to missingness come together in new ways.