DIALOGUE: On not Writing a Book

 Posted by at 10:16 pm  Atelier
Sep 262012

But it refuses to go quietly. Here are the traces of the track BARTLEBY & CO has left behind; the footnotes as the author describes them, “commenting on a text that is invisible”, in a series of numbered sections -

1. Considers the life of Robert Walser, and his piece ‘The Chamber of Writing for Unoccupied Persons’.

2. On Felipe Alfonse (1928). I consider adding Roberto Bolano as a footnote of my own at this point but the author says, “He would prefer not to.”

3. On Rimbaud.

4. On Musil and Hofmannsthall who “almost mythologises the idea”.

5. Considers madness (eg Walser and Holderlin), and other illnesses.

6. On non-existence (Pepin Bello).

7. On Bobi Balzen from Trieste who is a “a kind of black Sun”.

8. On the dialectic that it is also better to write, for example Primo Levi.

9. … But forgetting to (eg Clement Cadou and George Perec ‘A portrait of the artist as a piece of fiction’).

10. Marcello (the crooked narrator) fails to go to his office.

11. On Robert Derain. WHO?

12. First mention of Marcel Duchamp.

13/14/15/16. More questioning about not writing, including Roland Barthes “Where to begin”.

17. On Beckett.

18/19 On Kafka, and his short story The Hunger Artist whi is asked the question “Why don’t you write?”

16. Marcello (the crooked narrator) composes an imaginary letter to himself from Robert Derain. “Include Marcel Duchamp in your book”, he writes,

21. Considers tricksters, and Melville’s The Confidence Man (1857).

22/23. On W’m Hazlitt “A Farewell to Essay Writing”.

24. Back to Kafka’s Diaries; about Scapolo (the bachelor) Marcello writes ”Scapolo is frightening, because he walks straight through a terrible zone, a zone of shadows which is also where the most radical of denials has its home and where the blast of coldness, in short, is a blast of destruction” (P 65).

25. On de Quincy.

26. Considers suicides. (and rejects the same as a strategy for those ‘who would prefer not to’).

27/28/29. On John Salinger.

30/31. Marcello (the crooked narrator) tells a story, ”I saw Salinger on a bus in New York”.

32. On Borges (25 Dec 1936) piece in El Hogan Magazine: Enrique Banch celebrates 25 Years of a Marriage to Silence.

33. On one of Pessoa’s heteronyms.

34. On Hofmannsthall’s ‘Letter’: the founding text for those who say, “I would prefer not to”.

35. Considers denial, refusal and autism, and Paul Celan.

36. “Derain has written to me, he really has”, Marcello (the crooked narrator) claims.

37-42. Considers matters arising from Derain’s letter: Keats, Rimbaud (“Adieu” In a Season of Hell), Broch (Death of Virgil), and George Perec – “For a long time I went to bed in writing”.

43. Considers rejections.

44-48. Considers Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Wakefield and Herman Melville’s, Bartleby the Scrivener (1985):

- Wakefield: the husband who suddenly abandons his wife

- Melville: leaving of writing because one has failed following Bartleby

“Bartleby defines a genre” writes Borges.

49. Quotes Richard Ellmann’s biography of James Joyce describing the meetings between Joyce and Beckett where both are “addicted to silence”.

50/51/52/53. On Henry Roth (born 1906) Galicia. I ask if any relation to Joseph? There is no reply to this question.

54/55. Considers mutism, and Kafka’s laugh which is reported to be like “the rustle of fallen leaves”.

56. On Michelangelo Antonioni’s film The Eclipse. I attempt to mention Anne Carson’s essay on Antonioni in Decreation at this point, but am unable to do so. I transcribe the text from Antonioni’s diary while in Florence: “The sun has gone, suddenly ice. A silence different from other silences. And a light distinct from other light, After that darkness. Black sun of our culture. Complete immobility. All I can manage to think is that during the eclipse feeling will probably dry up as well.”

57/58.On Don Quixote’s GOODBYE.

59. On Borges’ (other) TIGER.

60. Considers a fictional paranoid writer who believes the Nobel prize-winning writer Saramaga was ” always one step ahead and it was really rather strange”.

61. Considers melancholy.

62. Marcello (the crooked narrator) is sacked.

63. Considers Wittgenstein.

64. An interlude: DIALOGUE between NO and YES.

65/66/67. “Derain has written to me”, says the crooked narrator.

When I reach the lower half of page 147, the last sentences read: “I live like an explorer. The more I advance in the search for the labyrinth’s centre, the further I am away from it”.

And it is at this point that the reader breaks off, abandoning the footnotes (notes without a text), prefering to remain a bachelor (or a Sleeping Beauty waiting and waiting and waiting) who from now on must discover the remaining footnotes for him or herself, living with his remorse and shame at the destruction of this harmless copy of the book.

“A writer who does not write”, the author quotes from Kafka diaries, “is a monster who invites madness”.

This is the new technology which he or she has discovered and unravels the labyrinth of the last of the text which awaits him or her to be completed.

A reader may become the happy sorcerer of his own text.