I’m writing about time and writing about writing and
I’m googling song lyrics to quote in the piece, maybe the Go-Betweens?
Magic in Here:
I don’t want to change a thing when there’s magic
In here, now the coast is clear
You’ve got no time for fear
Time knocks you down like a rolling ball
In memory hall
Love leaves you clean like a waterfall
Then you hit a wall, hit a wall
Why is this song so familiar? Did I review this once? Google search: Maddy Costa Go-Betweens review. The Guardian, Astoria, London, three stars! Is that all? For all his evident flamboyance, Robert Forster isn’t much of a frontman at least looks the part: greying curls, ill-advised fringe Oscar Wilde so focused, he makes Forster’s foot shimmies and habit of playing a chord as if demonstrating the perfect tennis forehand seem the height of rock’n’roll showmanship. nostalgia, not for the band as they were in the 1980s, but for their own past lives. intimate, tender songs need to be heard in sympathetic surroundings. The Astoria, a soulless black hole, doesn’t suit them at all.
Oh, I forgot to check the comments on the Robert Forster album review. Click link Maddy Costa click link scroll down comments. Sickchip: Listening to the track on the video, he’d be allowed two songs max at the local pub on buskers night. Zabberdast: …and therein lies the problem. True genius is not recognised and rewarded, and undeserving asshats sell out stadia cHeTsUaBo True dat. Here we are four days later and I’m only the third person to comment. The best band of the 80’s? I think so.
I’m supposed to be writing.
I’m writing about time and writing about writing and I’m thinking about Jenny Offill, whose book Last Things I’ve just started reading, and because I like it I’m reading less twitter, so I’m behind on what’s happening there, but it’s fine, because I like the feel of the paper between my fingers and that my eyes don’t sting when I read.
It took 14 years for Jenny Offill to produce a second novel, and I wonder…
Google search: Jenny Offill
Guardian interview, Feb 2015
A Brooklyn writer is having trouble second book also struggles bedbugs small daughter husband younger woman. The plot of Jenny Offill’s second novel, Dept. of Speculation, doesn’t sound promising: “If someone had described this novel to me, I would never have read it.”
a lot of jobs over the years, from waiting tables to wondered if she should primatologist, but “like many writers I’m kind of a one-trick pony – this is the thing I can do”.
Born in 1968, only child of two private-school English teachers. “For so much of my life money was always the thing, I might have had time but I didn’t have money.”
She cites the Swiss writer Robert Walser’s admiration for the way Paul Cézanne had of “placing in the same ‘temple’ things both large and small”. (Walser interesting reference point compressed wit and tiny script mistaken for a code – writing that looks more obscurantist than it really is.)
Right click link: Robert Walser
The Walk and Other Stories, review, Alfred Hickling
To get a flavour opening lines: “Once there was a man and on his shoulders he had, instead of a head, a hollow pumpkin”; “I am delighted to be addressing such a delicate subject as trousers.”
Only Walser could conceive a story in the form of a job application, in which he admits to having no aptitude or abilities whatsoever; but as he attests elsewhere: “Nobody should be afraid of their little bit of weirdness.”
Google search: Robert Walser
The Genius of Robert Walser, JM Coetzee, New York Review of Books
On Christmas Day, 1956, the police of the town of children had stumbled upon the body of a man, frozen to death, in a snowy field. The dead man was easily identified: Robert Walser local mental hospital. Walser books were still in print quarter of a century in mental institutions, however, his own writing had dried up. Long country walks—like the one on which he had died—had been his main recreation.
The police photographs widely (and shamelessly) reproduced sudden interest in Walser became part of the scandal. “I ask myself,” wrote the novelist Elias Canetti in 1973, “whether, among those who build their leisurely, secure, dead regular academic life on that of a writer who had lived in misery and despair, there is one who is ashamed of himself.”
Robert Walser was born in 1878 humiliating failure decided to become—“God willing”—a poet. Berlin serious artistic circles retreated from society four novels own life experience wondrously transmuted.
“One learns very little here,” observes young Jakob von Gunten after his first day at the Benjamenta Institute [wasn’t that a film? Do not Google Benjamenta Institute] an education in humility Jakob is a special case, a pupil for whom the lessons in humility have a deep personal resonance. “How fortunate I am,” he writes, “not to be able to see in myself anything worth respecting and watching! To be small and to stay small.”
In 1913 Walser left Berlin and returned to Switzerland “a ridiculed and unsuccessful author” (his own self-disparaging words). taste among the public for the kind of writing Walser had relied on for an income, writing easily dismissed as whimsical and belletristic, began to wane. It was clear that he could no longer live alone. His family was, in the terminology of the times, tainted: his mother chronic depressive; one brother suicide; another mental hospital. suggested sister should take him in, but she was unwilling. So he allowed himself to be committed to the sanatorium in Waldau. “Markedly depressed and severely inhibited,” ran the initial medical report. “Responded evasively to questions about being sick of life.”
In later evaluations Walser’s doctors urge him to try living outside again. However, the bedrock of institutional routine would appear to have become indispensable to him. He remained in full possession of his faculties; he continued to read newspapers and popular magazines; but, after 1932, he did not write. “I’m not here to write, I’m here to be mad,” he told a visitor. Besides the time for litterateurs was over.
I’m supposed to be writing.
Google search: Go-Betweens time lyrics
Cattle and Cane:
I recall a bigger brighter world
A world of books
And silent times in thought
And then the railroad
The railroad takes him home
Through fields of cattle
Through fields of cane
From time to time
The waste memory wastes
I am writing. I am thinking. I am reading about Jenny Offill.
She is drawn to visual artists who “take an everyday thing and somehow make it, by accumulation, into something much bigger”. She mentions Tehching Hsieh’s durational art, which includes a piece for which he punched a timeclock every hour for a year. The idea of passing “through boredom into fascination” (as Diane Arbus put it) is a familiar one; some form of it can be found in everything from Gertrude Stein to David Foster Wallace’s unfinished The Pale King, though it still feels a little unusual to apply it to domestic life.
Google search: David Foster Wallace
Where is it? Where is it? There:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop…
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life – then you will never have enough. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
Lost some infinite thing.
I’m supposed to be writing.
Writing about time. Writing about writing.
I turn back to Jenny Offill: herself had depression since she was 18 and “when I’m medicated, which I’m doing now … I have to work a little harder to get up to high speed”. alongside her anxiety over more years of booklessness, she felt liberated – “thrilled, relieved” – because this wasn’t the novel she’d hoped to write. “My dirty little secret is that when I gave up on it I wrote poetry for a year,” she says. “I had to get my sea legs back.” Writing poetry freed her from worrying about narrative the central problem of combining motherhood and creative work is drawn from life. “an art monster”, someone ruthless, who would never let family ties get in the way of her writing. Offill used to pore in vain over Paris Review interviews; she didn’t find enough female art monsters to console her, though in a way women are the only real ones – when it’s a man “they just call it being an artist”. do my best writing if I’m just left alone for weeks at a time which isn’t very compatible with parenthood. ferocious experiences, parental love and trying to make really serious art, the intensity required for both is very high. In a sense Offill sees mothering and writing as similar: requiring total attention, alertness.
I shouldn’t be on the internet: I’m supposed to be writing.
But I wonder…
Google search: Rebecca Solnit time
Orion Magazine | Finding Time
Since someone makes money every time you buy a car or fill it up, there’s a whole …
Rebecca Solnit · Diary: In the Day of the Postman · LRB 29 …
In or around June … Time passed in fairly large units, or at least not in milliseconds and constant updates. A few hours wasn’t ..
Rebecca Solnit · Diary: Google Invades · LRB 7 February 2013
My brother says that the first time he saw one unload its riders he thought they were German tourists – neatly dressed, uncool …
Diary: In the Day of the Postman
In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago.
Letters morphed into emails, and for a long time emails had all the depth and complexity of letters. They were a beautiful new form that spliced together the intimacy of what you might write from the heart with the speed of telegraphs. Then emails deteriorated into something more like text messages. Soon phone calls were made mostly on mobile phones, whose sound quality is mediocre and prone to failure. Communication between two people often turned into group chatter: you told all your Facebook friends or Twitter followers how you felt, and followed the popularity of your post or tweet. Your life had ratings.
Our lives are a constant swirl of information, of emails that can be checked on phones, and phones that are checked in theatres and bedrooms, for texts and news that stream in constantly. There is so much information that our ability to focus on any piece of it is interrupted by other information, so that we bathe in information but hardly absorb or analyse it.
Nearly everyone I know feels that some quality of concentration they once possessed has been destroyed. Reading books has become hard; the mind keeps wanting to shift from whatever it is paying attention to to pay attention to something else. A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once. It’s an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind.
The older people I know are less affected because they don’t partake so much of new media, or because their habits of mind and time are entrenched. The really young swim like fish through the new media and hardly seem to know that life was ever different. But those of us in the middle feel a sense of loss. I think it is for a quality of time we no longer have, and that is hard to name and harder to imagine reclaiming. My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too – it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up.
Copy paste the link to remember when I’m writing.
I’m supposed to be writing.
But I haven’t been writing and now I’ve run out of time. School is almost finished and the children will be waiting. I will be late, again. I will read in the playground instead of playing with them, attempting to make up lost time. Attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over. A quality of time we no longer have. A sense of loss.