At the conference. Why don't I ask questions anymore?, W. wonders. Why don't I intervene, after the presentations?
He remembers the questions I used to ask, W. says. After every presentation! My voice, booming out! My voice, resounding beneath the vaulted ceilings! For a time - a long time - no conference presentation was complete without one of my booming questions. There'd be no conference discussion in which I didn't have my say.
W. remembers the questions I asked in the warmest and stuffiest of lecture rooms. He remembers my interventions in the final hour of a long day of presentations. In the final minute! I cut through the fog. I broke through the torpor. It was marvellous, W. says. - 'Your lucidity. Your far-sightedness'.
Then what happened?, W. wonders. How did I end up so sullen and uncommunicative? I became silent. Surly. I sat with folded arms, and took no notes.
W. remembers the notes I used to take. Pages and pages of them! With diagrams! In different colours! He remembers the array of pencils and pens I used to line up beside my notepad. He remembers my underlinings and exclamation points. He remembers me writing No!, or Yes! beside my notes in capital letters.
What happened?, W. wonders. Do I still have questions in my head? Do questions still burn somewhere inside me? There's no sign of it, W. says. I sit, W. says. I slouch. I let it all wash over me - presentation after presentation, speaker after speaker. I let the waves break over me.
It means nothing to me now, does it, W. says. All thought, all philosophy. I am a mollusic on the shore, W. says. I am a pebble on the beach, simple and impermeable. I am lost in the single, as the waves break over me.
How did I become so passive, so inert?, W. wonders. When did I give up any effort to think? When did I stop externalising myself in questions and comments?