The scriptor and his beloved

One of my fellow scriptores startled me this morning by asking why I do what I do. I first thought he meant the tasks my master sets me, but that is what we all do: obey our masters' commands — no other reason need be asked. As he continued to look at me, however, I could see that he meant something else, and immediately feared that he had somehow discovered my secret work here in the archives. I responded by looking puzzled, at which he replied, "No, of course we all perform the work our masters command, but you seem to *enjoy* your labors. What pleasure can you get out of all that copying, notating, linking? It's intolerably boring; worse, it's trivial. Who will ever read any of it? And our masters themselves are slaves to the same pointless donkey work. All we learn from them is how to waste our lives!"

We all laughed at the truth of this, but also because the fellow in question is newly in love, and therefore belittles any exertion that keeps him from his beloved. The rest began to tease him on this account, which he endured as best he could.

But the question made me think: not why do I do what I do, but what am I really doing? What is it about the unquestionable drudgery of my work that yet gives me such joy in it?

The answer, I came to see, lies in the devotion that impels both me and my amorous colleague to bear, even to treasure, our longsuffering for the sake of what we love — or rather, *whom* we love. I know not what humble gifts my friend fashions for the object of his devotion, but in my case, every word I copy or passage I notate or link to its distant cousin in another Writing is a gift I prepare for *my* beloved, the reader who someday may pick up this text and become absorbed in it. I want that person, unknown to me in every other way, to share my excitement; I want to *give* that person the liveliest pleasure — to learn something new: to be ravished by something bright and right and beautiful for the first time.