I was the Copyist again at The Sirens’ Stage yesterday. The rules of engagement for the Copyist include no invention, no interpretation, no metaphor, so that the writing sticks as closely as possible to what’s going on in the room. But of course there can be no objective writing: it’s never without invention or interpretation, and in the transliteration of action to text every word is a metaphor.

There’s a curious balancing of authority going on: I’m the one writing, but I can only write from what’s there, and for the most part what’s there are the people. People speak and then come over to see if I’ve written it down. Who’s making the text? It falls among us somewhere between competition and symbiosis.

The typewriter is very loud when it’s in use. Whenever I’m not typing it’s because nothing’s happening, and the room falls doubly silent. I wonder whether the staff at the front desk dread picking up the phone or opening a file in an otherwise blank section of time, because the minute they move they’ll make the typing start up again. Sometimes I expect they do things too discreetly for me to notice, and they must wait to see if the silence remains, and if it does, they know they’ve got away with it.

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