the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Archive for September, 2015

Posted by rigorousm on September 30, 2015

The café can, if we’re good observers of ourselves, teach us not only that perfect attention is impossible (something office work already teaches us; indeed, offices teach us that distraction is a form of resistance against the ridiculous demand that we sit there) — the café can teach us that distraction isn’t the enemy of attention but rather its constant companion. To banish distraction would cost us the very productivity that many wish to maximize.

The café could never make me into a writer on its own…. On reflection, I might have found ways to be worried, fretful, ambitious, delighted, and lazy in the library almost as easily. But cafés are more open to intention. To write in them, to embrace the play of attention and distraction, is to travel at modernity’s pace while making very few physical movements, and to contemplate a quintessentially modern struggle over the meaning of our time, our experience. It means hoping that attention, either toward our writing, toward our neighbors, or toward ourselves, might thicken time and slow it for us. And it means contemplating all this not alone, not in silence, but in a social space full of constrained chaos, full of all kinds of desires, including the desire to write our days.

– Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, “Writing in Cafes: a personal history” at LARB (here)


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Posted by rigorousm on September 30, 2015

ALS … For me, it’s really important to think in terms of multiplicity, but not to become attached.

MN What kind of attachment do you mean?

ALS Where one stands in relation to the story that one is telling. The goal is to tell it not only through the personal body, but through a multiplicity of voices. So if you make a proposition, to then become attached to it feels detrimental to the proposition. For instance, you write, “I don’t want to represent anything. […] I have also never been less interested in arguing for the rightness, much less the righteousness, of any particular position or orientation.”

– Maggie Nelson in conversation with A. L. Steiner at BOMB Magazine (here)

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Posted by rigorousm on September 29, 2015

When you trap a rat in a spring trap, do you feel triumphant or bad? Have you ever knelt down and said to the rat, aloud or not, “It was a mistake, I regret what I have done to you, I wish you could now go on about your business, it’s just that your eating my shit was at the time pissing me off, but now I see that you just had to do it, and what really kills me is how clean and innocent you look”?

— Padgett Powell, The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? Reviewed by Julie Cline at Connotation Press (here)

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