Category Archives: Writing

I always know better, I have a terribly accurate knowledge of people; yet this knowledge does not interest me, anyone who has lived a while could have it. I am interested in what refutes this knowledge, what annuls it. I would like to turn a usurer into a benefactor, a bookkeeper into a poet. I am interested in the leap, the surprising metamorphosis.

  • Canetti (via here)

Get out of my head

Get out of my head, I tell X, no not you, actually yes you, especially you, and all the others too. Get out and let me be. You and all the rest of them. It’s like being circled by eagles and vultures and who knows who’s an eagle and who a vulture. Everywhere I go I have to look up, everywhere I go there’s some stupid danger I have to look out for, I say, never can I be myself, how could I when I always have to look out for you and all the rest of you, guard myself against you, defend myself against you, attack you, get out of my head, I say.

Not what I am

I wanted to do something that I don’t know how to
do, and offer you the experience of watching someone fumble, because I think maybe that’s what art should offer. An opportunity to recognise our common humanity and vulnerability. So rather than being up here pretending I’m an expert in anything, or presenting myself in a way that will reinforce the odd, ritualised lecturer-lecturee model, I’m just telling you off the bat that I don’t know anything. And if there’s one thing that characterises my writing it’s that I always start from that realisation and I do what I can to keep reminding myself of that during the process. I think we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise. I even feel odd calling myself a writer or a screenwriter. I do when I have to – I put it on my income tax form – but I feel like it’s a lie, even though it’s technically true. I write screenplays for a living but it’s not what I am.

Cornered 2

I’m cornered, I tell X, they’ve cornered me, they’ve humiliated me, like an animal, like a criminal, like a refugee. I’m backing up on my hands and feet, but they’ve got me in a corner, they’re killing me, except they’re not, not yet, next time I see them I’ll tell them to their faces, I’ll show them who they really are, I’ll back them up, I’ll corner them and I’ll kill them. Except I won’t, will I, I tell X, because even as I corner them I’ll still be cornered, I’ll be carrying my corner into their corner, even as I kill them they’ll be killing me.

Sisyphus doesn’t work here anymore

It’s a pretty stock tactic: present the young undergraduate students of Philosophy with the myth of Sisyphus, and tell them it’s an allegory for human existence. There’s a way to get their attention. There’s a way to get them thinking. Except it’s not. Because Sisyphus doesn’t work here anymore.

Life Unfurnished

Fulfilling your role

They may know that they’re mortgaging the future of their grandchildren, that in fact everything they own will be destroyed, but they’re caught in a trap of institutional structure. That’s what happens in market systems. The financial crisis is a small example of the same thing. You may know that what you’re doing carries systemic risk, but you can’t calculate that into your transactions or you’re not fulfilling your role and somebody else replaces you.

Noam Chomsky

Time lost

I loved watching my husband and my son walking together to the Temple, and I loved waiting behind to pray before setting out to the Temple alone, not speaking, looking at no one. I loved some of the prayers and the words read from the book aloud to us. I knew them and they came to mean soft comfort to me as I set out to walk home having listened to them. What was strange then was that in those few hours before sundown a sort of quiet battle went on within me between the after-sound of the prayers, the peace of the day, the dull noiseless ease of things, and something dark and disturbed, the sense that each week which passed was time lost that could not be recovered and a sense of something else I could not name that had lurked between the words of the book as though in waiting like hunters, or trappers, or a hand that was ready to wield the scythe at harvest time. The idea that time was moving, the idea that so much of the world remained mysterious, unsettled me. But I accepted it as an inevitable aspect of a day spent looking inward. I was glad nonetheless when the shadows melted into darkness at sundown and we could talk again and I could work in the kitchen and think once more of the others and of the world outside.

– Colm Toibin, The Testament of Mary