Perfection is less interesting

Χειρόγραφο της ποιήτριας Αν Κάρσον, δημοσιευμένο το φθινόπωρο του 2004 στο Paris Review – από τη συνέντευξή της στο ίδιο τεύχος:

I was wondering about your preference for things that are old and battered, flawed and tattered.

In surfaces, perfection is less interesting. For instance, a page with a poem on it is less attractive than a page with a poem on it and some tea stains. Because the tea stains add a bit of history. It’s a historical attitude. After all, texts of ancient Greeks come to us in wreckage and I admire that, the combination of layers of time that you have when looking at a papyrus that was produced in the third century BC and then copied and then wrapped around a mummy for a couple hundred years and then discovered and put in a museum and pieced together by nine different gentlemen and put back in the museum and brought out again and photographed and put in a book. All those layers add up to more and more life. You can approximate that in your own life. Stains on clothing.

In Michael’s book, you also used only the backgrounds of family photos. [1]

In most cases that’s true. I found that the front of most of our family photos look completely banal, but the backgrounds were dreadful, terrifying, and full of content. So I cut out the backgrounds, especially the parts where shadows from the people in the front fell into the background in mysterious ways. The backgrounds are full of truth.

Did it help you to understand your brother?

No. I don’t think it had any effect whatsoever on my understanding. Another failure of the personal, I guess. I finally decided that understanding isn’t what grief is about. Or laments. They’re just about making something beautiful out of the ugly chaos you’re left with when someone dies. You want to make that good. And for me, making it good means making it into an object that’s exciting and beautiful to look at.

[Portrait of Anne Carson by Graeme Mitchell]

[1] Το βιβλίο του Μάικλ που αναφέρει η Κάρσον τελικά εκδόθηκε ως ΝOX (το σχετικό κείμενό μου με φωτογραφίες από την υπέροχη έκδοση εδώ).


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