Thursday, February 15, 2007
When The Writing's Done
The act of writing, distilled to its essence, is a jail break. A solitary gesture of defiance, of desperation, of hope. A shaking of the fist at the walls that surround us, or a rueful glance. And always, in the end, an attempt to breach, climb, or tunnel under them. And then sometimes the metaphor becomes real, as is the case with prison literature, and we realize, as readers, the true power of the word. To bear witness. To transcend. To liberate.
Kody Scott, the LA gangbanger known as "Monster", was the latest in a long line of jailhouse writers. Before him there was Jack Henry Abbott, and George Jackson, and Henri 'Papillon' Charrière, and Jean Genet. Men who wrote from within their prison cells, or about them, in the hopes of one day knowing freedom. Or Antonio Gramsci, who kept his meticulous prison journals knowing that he would certainly die behind bars.
Kody Scott's back on the LAPD's Ten Most Wanted list, for a carjacking, or for pissing off William Bratton, depending on who you ask. Last time he was arrested, for parole violations, he said he wouldn't mind heading back to prison, because it would give him some time to write. The tough part, for Scott, for all of us, is when the writing's done.