J. P. Donleavy is, arguably, the funniest living American novelist, but the circumstances of his life and work require a person making that argument to qualify and amplify and clarify certain facts. For instance, J. P. Donleavy is not dead. At 87, he lives a bit like a genial hermit, a bit like a gentleman farmer. He looks a lot like a stately imp, in his red bucket hat and green flannel shirt, as he sits with his back to a fireplace spilling ages of ashes into the kitchen of his stone manor-house at Levington Park, a rambling estate 50-odd miles west of Dublin. Out on the acreage, four dozen cows graze beneath the gray bowl of the sky.
This is it, in a nutshell: how writing works. The scattering, the loss; the charge coming from somewhere else, some point forever beyond reach or even designation, across a space of longing; the surge; coherence that’s only made possible by incoherence; the receiving which is replay, repetition—backward, forward, inside out or upside down, it doesn’t matter. The twentieth century’s best novelist understood this perfectly. That’s why Ulysses’s Stephen Dedalus—a writer in a gestational state of permanent becoming—paces the beach at Sandymount mutating, through their modulating repetition, air- and wave-borne phrases he’s picked up from elsewhere, his own cheeks and jaw transformed into a rubbery receiver …
~ Tom McCarthy, Transmission and the Individual Remix
My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died. The cut will be a three-and-a-half-meters-wide excavation. It slices from the top of the headland at the Sørbråten site, to below the water line and extends to each side. This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.
Hermits once enjoyed a hundred years of fashion in the garden, drawing to a close in the 1830s. The dramatist Tom Stoppard then brought them back into the limelight of London’s West End. In 1993 his admired play, Arcadia, included the proposal that a hermitage should be built in the gardens of fictional Sidley Hall in Derbyshire. The landscape designer, Mr Noakes, suggests that a candidate could be found by advertising in the newspaper. “But surely,” his patroness Lady Croom replies, “a hermit who takes a newspaper is not a hermit in whom one can have complete confidence.”@ FT.com
My article about Richard Hamilton at the Tate, and especially his political paintings, is published today by Studio International… Read it here: http://studiointernational.com/index.php/richard-hamilton-at-tate-modern-london
Her characters sleepwalk to their certain fates through artificial pocket universes, each one seemingly constructed to satisfy the curiosity of an inhumane, omniscient narrator. Few writers have been so consistently and brilliantly unkind.On Muriel Spark’s The Bachelors. (via millionsmillions)
How did the computer change your writing?
There are two things in play here. One is that the work becomes easier. I used to retype entire pages even if I had made just one or two corrections - so that I could see the whole thing as it would then look in the book. It is almost as if the computer were invented for the way I work. I write very quickly because of an inner anxiety that barely allows any interruption while writing, no matter how brief. And then I often write down any old nonsense, which I delete again later. It is actually a mechanical process, but one that takes no effort. I need that - for it to be so easy. I rewrite the whole thing, and the computer is of course very accommodating to this way of working. You can let something disappear without a trace and put something else there in its stead. You feel like a god who can create something and then sweep it away in one and the same gesture. I do this until I know that I can let it stand as is. Then I grab it and hold it tight. There’s a point when it can’t get better than it is, and it stays like that, in spite of there being a thousand other possibilities. I don’t know if that’s ideal for every way of working, but it is for me.
Tom Gidley, Between You and Me, 2009
For the human mind is capable of being excited without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this, and who does not further know, that one being is elevated above another, in proportion as he possesses this capability. It has therefore appeared to me, that to endeavour to produce or enlarge this capability is one of the best services in which, at any period, a Writer can be engaged; but this service, excellent at all times, is especially so at the present day. For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great national events which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies. To this tendency of life and manners the literature and theatrical exhibitions of the country have conformed themselves.
~ Wordsworth, preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800)