I’m still waiting for Red Doc>. While waiting I kill time reading about it …
(Oh, well, I have to admit; this is not a 100% correct description of my situation, I mean – killing time is not exactly a habit of mine, but it sounded good, didn’t? And it is true that I’m looking forward to receiving Red Doc>)
A more precise description of my waiting time would be to say that I’m filling it (some of it) with stuff by and on Beckett. Which also Carson must have done, once – reading Beckett that is:
Q Red Doc>’s epigraph comes from Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Do you consider Autobiography of Red a failure? Is failure an essential part of your creative process?
A Yes, in several senses. On the macro-level, every work turns out a failure, in so many ways it would be tedious to enumerate. By failure I mean the final thing is distant and different from the vision in my head before I started. On the micro-level, most of my learning about language and its infinitude has come from errors, cracks, misuse, breakdowns, moments of being wrong. What is a metaphor after all? Aristotle says metaphor allows the mind to experience itself in the act of making a mistake.
- Carson on teaching: “when i began to be published, people got the idea that i should ‘teach writing,’ which i have no idea how to do and don’t really believe in. so now and then i find myself engaged by a ‘writing program’ (as at nyu, stanford) and have to bend my wits to deflect the official purpose.”
- Even committed Carson-heads might find Red Doc> rough going at first. Most of it is printed in a narrow column running in a continuous line down the center of each page. The effect is of being in free fall—uncomfortable but apt, since all the characters are in some form of fall as well: psychological, physiological, sometimes literal.
Who would not enjoy waiting for a peace of uncomfortable literature?! And why not kill the waiting time with more uncomforting hopelessness?