This Terrible Glare

Anne Carson, “The Art of Poetry No. 88,” interview by Will Aitken, The Paris Review 171, Fall 2004″

CARSON

Yes, a glare from behind the set where I’m standing. So if I’m a little actor on stage, there’s this terrible glare coming from behind me. And people feel that. I don’t feel it, but I’m aware of it going past me, and I see dismay on their faces mixed with this other thing. I think that’s why sometimes I am spooky to people. Because this glare is mixed with an infantile charm that disarms. And they have to deal with both.

INTERVIEWER

But what is that glare?

CARSON

I don’t know. It’s just absolute dread. It’s bumping up against the fact that you die alone. You think about that from time to time all through life, and it continues to make no sense against all the little efforts you make to be happy and have friends and pass the time.

The Magic of Fragments

Anne Carson, “The Art of Poetry No. 88,” interview by Will Aitken, The Paris Review 171, Fall 2004″

In Sappho’s poem, her addresses to gods are orderly, perfect poetic products, but the way — and this is the magic of fragments — the way that poem breaks off leads into a thought that can’t ever be apprehended. There is the space where a thought would be, but which you can’t get hold of. I love that space. It’s the reason I like to deal with fragments. Because no matter what the thought would be if it were fully worked out, it wouldn’t be as good as the suggestion of a thought that the space gives you. Nothing fully worked out could be so arresting, so spooky.”

What We Could Play

Lars Iyer, Nietzsche and the Burbs (2020)

Art, turning the amplifiers up. Listen, man, just listen, he says.
A kind of buzzing. A hum, almost sublminal. Hissing and crackling. Popping. The feeling of forces gathering. Of something about to begin …
Doesn’t it sound cool? Art asks. Have you ever heard anything more exciting?
We’re only going to ruin it by actually playing something, I say.
We should play this, Art says, pressing his ear to the speaker cone. Play all this potential … Like, what we could play, rather than anything we actually play.

[See Peter Markus.]

The Imminence of a Revelation That Does Not Occur

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Wall and the Books”

Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belaboured by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.

Into the Zone

Don DeLillo, “The Art of Fiction No. 135,” The Paris Review 128, Fall 1993

INTERVIEWER
Athletes — basketball players, football players — talk about “getting into the zone”. Is there a writer’s zone you get into?

DeLILLO
There’s a zone I aspire to. Finding it is another question. It’s a state of automatic writing, and it represents the paradox that’s at the center of a writer’s consciousness — this writer’s anyway. First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there’s a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, become a carrier or messenger. The best moments involve a loss of control. It’s a kind of rapture, and it can happen with words and phrases fairly often — completely surprising combinations that make a higher kind of sense, that come to you out of nowhere. But rarely for extended periods, for paragraphs and pages — I think poets must have more access to this state than novelists do. In End Zone, a number of characters play a game of touch football in a snowstorm. There’s nothing rapturous or magical about the writing. The writing is simple. But I wrote the passage, maybe five or six pages, in a state of pure momentum, without the slightest pause or deliberation.