Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sometimes all it takes is a fragment

Sometimes all it takes is a fragment to lift your mood, your day, your thoughts out of the morass they've been buried in for the last few hours.

" I like people, no love people, who take looking and being looked at this seriously."

I don't even bother to read the rest of it, though everything Subashini writes must be read. (Yes, must. Directive. Il faut).


Writing is practice. I forget how often I need to remind myself. Begin, and the words move past sense to flow. They become well-exercised muscle, a desirable end in itself.

The writers at the IWP this year have, of their own accord, wanted to meet to discuss things, in larger or smaller groups, that interest them or occupy their thoughts. Monday was the first of what is somewhat cheeky-pretentiously called our Salon gatherings.

Shandana Minhas began with a kick-ass presentation about Pakistan. Mark Angeles spoke about samizdat poetry in the Philippines. Patricia Portella wanted to talk about Deleuze and ghost literature (the idea that our 'reality', such as it is, is a fiction in and of itself, constructed of several ghost-written narratives. Personally, I'm nost sure - being unversed in theory - what Deleuze had to do with it, but that's a deficiency in my own reading).

Me, I have spent the last three weeks being on a high of conversation with the writers. But I may have reached a point when I have to ask myself: who do I talk to and about what?

That is to say, do I at any point step out of my conversation comfort zone? Can I talk to people who are not like me, who don't already share certain views and ideas about literature in general and writing in particular?

I suspect not. This is not to say that I don't, or don't want to try. But it's hard. It's hard, even in such a small group, when conversations can take place in ones and twos, to comprehend what place any given writer occupies and what makes them write, and what common ground we share or how to arrive at an understanding of what we don't have in common.

It would take a lifetime.

Maybe this is why I sat with Subashini's words this morning after my coffee, in a room into which the cold is beginning to seep, and thought about what looking seriously at my fellow writers would mean. Not metaphorically, even.

Except in the first couple of days, when we'reactually looking at people and assessing them while trying not to be looked at, we don't look at anyone anymore, once we think we know who they are. Most of the time, when we say we know who people are, we mean we can put a face to a name.

I can't say I've looked at anyone recently. Not seriously. Complacence is superbly easy; unlike writing, it is never unexercised.


Subashini said...

It's a great line but I do have to clarify that it's not mine! It's Masha Tupitsyn's, from the thought-provoking Love Dog. I wish it was my line. :)

"I can't say I've looked at anyone recently. Not seriously." You know, that's what it feels like for me, too. Losing the ability to look is losing something essential. "We don't look at anyone anymore, once we think we know who they are." YES. Gonna have to agree with Duras that looking would leave one vulnerable, not comfortable ...

Space Bar said...

Suba: Eee. Reading off the feedreader, I assumed it was you! The Duras...someone borrowed my copy of The Lover years ago and never returned it. Have been trying to find one ever since. Need to re-read.