while waiting for Red Doc>

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.

National Post

Anne Carson (c) Jeff Brown for The New York Times

The Inscrutable Brilliance of Anne Carson – NYT

  • 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.”

Schulz on Anne Carson’s Time-Traveling

  • 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?

Samuel Beckett. Pictured leaving the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, via the stage door, after rehearsals of Happy Days starring Billie Whitelaw, as part of the Beckett season to celebrate his 70th birthday. April 1976
Samuel Beckett (c) Jane Brown

7 Comments Add yours

  1. KM Huber says:

    Who would not and why not, indeed? Looking forward to more.

  2. Gotta love that photo of Anne Carson. Can’t wait to read Red Doc.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Agree – its a really cool image, to me she looks just like a Film Noir heroine.

  3. I saw her read at Associated Writing Programs conference in Boston just last week. She was amazing. I will try to explain what she read, and it will sound uninteresting. But I assure you, it was compelling and curious and funny and insightful. (She did not read Red Doc >, and I got there too late to get a copy–all sold out!) 😦

    She read a piece that consisted of 59 “paragraphs” associated with Proust’s “The Captive” (the Albertine section of Remembrance of Time Past). I read Proust when I was 19 years old and re-read large sections of it about 20 years ago…so it is not exactly fresh in my mind. However, I found Carson’s “paragraphs” (some were just sentences, or fragments) evocative and engaging, thought-provoking, and often hilarious…in an intellectual way.

    The paragraphs were critical, some of them; others biographical (about Proust, about his “crush,” a driver named Albert–who died in a stunt plane crash); others were interpretive; others, observations about a passage or sentence; some dealt with translation; some with the fin de siècle era; others only marginally related to the topic. Together, these brief encapsulations spun together to create a complex re-imagining of a very well-known (and perhaps, these days, not-much-read) novel…underlining the strains of memoir and fiction in the work, opening a new set of questions (and who knew there could still be new questions about Proust?).

    Plus, it was very listenable. She has a quiet and articulate delivery, full of space but not “pregnant pauses”…nothing so ordinary as that.

    The NYT magazine profile was fascinating. I imagine she was not the most cooperative or forthcoming interviewee.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you – thank you – thank you!
      This Proust-piece, is it published?

      There is some discussion here in Norway on Proust right now because his “På sporet av den tapte tid” (À la recherche du temps perdu) is being re-issued in a revised translation (jubilee-edition).

      À la recherche du temps perdu was published in France between 1913 and 1927, so this year would be a good year to start re-reading him –

  4. The 59 paragraphs “essay” is a new piece. Not published (yet). Carson explained that the 59 paragraphs are written in the voice of G. (see: Red and Red Doc >).

    We can hope that with such a groundswell of interest in Carson and in Proust, the paragraphs may soon see publication.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Absolutely hope so, thank you!

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