Naked in youth again

And then my eyes seek Nora, who snores lightly on her back. I watch her face, her wrinkled skin, her crooked lips, and I can’t help but think that she is pretty, still. A man ought to be able to undress his wife from all the years until she lies before him naked in youth again.

Μιροσλάβ Πένκοφ, “Makedonija” (East of the West)

A region of empty space

It’s hard to have a relationship in this world. Other people are not the same from day to day. I might wake up next to a woman three days in a row, or three hundred, but I never know if she’ll be there the next morning, or the next hour, or if the world will change completely while I’m not looking. She might even change into another person altogether. I might recognize something in her eyes, or she might not be a woman at all. She might turn into a man. Or a mailbox. Or a region of empty space. Or a feeling. Or a song. I might only recognize her as one recognizes someone in a dream, as in the way something is actually someone, and that someone is actually someone else.

Τσαρς Γιου, “Inventory” (Sorry Please Thank You)

Από συνέντευξη του συγγραφέα (ολόκληρη εδώ):

How do you write your first drafts? With outlines and a pre-planned structure, or by writing free form and letting the story materialize as you type?

It is mostly writing free form. I don’t outline in general. I’ll just type a bunch of words or write a bunch of words long hand, and after a while they start to gain a critical mass, if I’m lucky, and some of the [parts] aggregate into sentences. And then those sentences, if they’re interesting, will just persist. It’s almost like a laboratory environment where I’m growing live cultures, and day after day I’ll go back to the same story and help it grow. And when they grow big enough, they just stick.

A lot of the times, something I thought was going somewhere will just die. And I’ll kind of watch it die because day after day it will just die out. In my mind, what I’m doing with all of these words that eventually combine with others, is like planting a bunch of seeds and seeing which ones will grow and prosper, and hope that they’ll tangle with each other and eventually form some sort of bush.

[“Standard Loneliness Package” | “Hero Abjorbs Major Damage” | πλέιλιστ | πρίβιουσλι: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe]

Who begat whom begat whom begat whom begat whom begat whom

With little or nothing to guide you, you take it for granted that you are the product of vast, prehistoric migrations, of conquests, rapes, and abductions, that the long and circuitous intersections of your ancestral horde have extended over many territories and kingdoms, for you are not the only person who has traveled, after all, tribes of human beings have been moving around the earth for tens of thousands of years, and who knows who begat whom begat whom begat whom begat whom begat whom to end up with your two parents begetting you in 1947?

Πολ Όστερ, Winter Journal

Από συνέντευξη με αφορμή την κυκλοφορία του βιβλίου (ολόκληρη εδώ):

You’d always had a sense about the randomness and instability of life, because at 14, you’re standing next to a friend who is struck and killed by lightning.

Yes, I think that’s probably the most important thing that happened to me as a young person. I think it changed my opinion about the world more radically than any other event that I ever lived through. And at the time of course you don’t really think about it but it’s something I keep dwelling on; I go back to it in my mind again and again, all the ramifications.

Chance and coincidence are two themes that you often come back to in your work. Could some of that have been born in that moment?

It’s possible. Listen, chance is an element of life. What I try to do is study what I call the mechanics of reality as carefully as I can. I have no ax to grind with it. I’m not sure I even have a position about it. I’m just saying, listen, what does the world look like? Well, chance is clearly a big element in everyone’s life. It’s not the only element. We have free will, we can decide what we want to do, we can make choices, we can have ambitions and goals and strive to get from A to B to C to D and know that we’re going to have to study eight years to become a doctor and it’s a lot of hard work

But then often as you’re on your road, whichever road you pick, something happens. You’re walking around and a tree falls in the road and you have to go into the woods to get around the tree. And you meet someone in the woods — or something else happens in the woods — that changes your course and you never quite get back on that road again. This is how I see life happening for people. And so I try to incorporate all these things and this way of thinking in the books that I write, but not insisting on it. Physically these things happen. You see, I think one of the problems with so-called realist fiction, which is the dominant aesthetic especially in America for a long time, in those books, the eccentricities of life are often eliminated for a kind of typological portrait of human beings. The weird and uncanny don’t play a part in it. And I think when people object to other kinds of writing, it’s because they’ve read so many of those books and they’re not looking at the world — because the world is a crazy place.

Sure, it’s realist writing that actually gives only the appearance of reality.

Yeah, you know, one day you wake up and planes are going into the World Trade Center. Not to speak of the very word “accident,” which has a philosophical meaning, too. You know, accident means “that which is not necessary to contingent fact,” and yet accidents sort of rule the world, don’t they? You fall down the stairs and break your leg and you can never walk well again. One second of your attention. I follow baseball and sports — but particularly baseball — and I’ve seen brilliant careers ruined by fluke injuries. Pete Reiser smashing into the wall in the mid-’40s, the most brilliant player of his generation.

[Αναγκαία σημείωση: Μεταξύ The Invention of Solitude και Winter Journal, επιλέξτε οπωσδήποτε το πρώτο.

Αναγκαία σημείωση #2: Κάπου πήρε το μάτι μου γραμμένο ότι το Winter Journal είναι μόλις το δεύτερο αυτοβιογραφικό βιβλίο του Όστερ μετά το Invention of Solitude, κάτι που δεν ισχύει. Υπάρχει ακόμα το Hand to Mouth, και φυσικά ένα μεγάλο μέρος των κειμένων που απαρτίζουν το Red Notebook είναι αυτοβιογραφικά.

Αναγκαία σημείωση #3: Κάποιος πρέπει να εκμεταλλευτεί τον κατάλογο όλων των προηγούμενων διευθύνσεων του Όστερ που υπάρχει στο βιβλίο και να κάνει ένα εικαστικό πρότζεκτ αλά Σοφί Καλ, ένι τέικερς;]


I know this doesn’t make me sound macho but so be it. Everywhere I looked I saw the cartoon sounds for violence: Wham!, for instance, or Kapow! It sometimes scared me. Because you might want justice, or you might also more want peacefulness. But then again, maybe you can’t have true peacefulness if you also don’t have justice. All of which might mean, I was simply thinking, that it might not be obvious how revolutionary you wanted yourself to be. You might not know where a revolution began. Or if you did, then where it ended.

Άνταμ Θίργουελ, Kapow!