Imaginary Work

Steven Connor, Dream Machines, 2017

‘Imaginary work’ makes us work at imagining the work of imagining. The imagining work gets to be imagined (needs to be), along with what it imagines.


Don’t Just Do Something: Sit There

Will Self, “Will Self on the Literary Novel’s Demise, and Why Naomi Klein Won’t Fix the World” by Nick Doherty. Maclean’s, 16 January 2018

It’s hugely unpopular in our overcharged, hollowed-out humanist democracies, to be quietistic: to think in terms of doing less harm rather than doing more good. People experience that as a counsel of despair, but they’re profoundly wrong to. Indeed, I would argue that if you think about the problems the world is facing, a quietistic movement is the best possible response. Don’t just do something; sit there. Don’t fly Naomi Klein to another country to talk your arse off, which is really about commodifying your own career. Nothing she has done in the past 25 years has led to any reduction in corporate activities, global warming—so what’s she f—–g for? Nothing [laughs]. If she’d spent her time telling people to do less, we might have a more pacific, less febrile world.

The Great Internal Rumination

Will Self, “Will Self on the Literary Novel’s Demise, and Why Naomi Klein Won’t Fix the World” by Nick Doherty. Maclean’s, 16 January 2018

Years ago, I said [novel-writing] would become a conservatoire form, like easel painting or the symphony, but I didn’t quite understand how all of these kids in creative writing programs, and their constant focus-grouping, would create a new form that’s halfway between hobbyism and literature. It’s an occupation for wealthy Western youth who are marking time. Because there are more writers than readers now, it’s decoupled from any conversation. It’s like a great internal rumination.

Without the Book Before You

Virginia Woolf, “How Should One Read a Book?”, The Second Common Reader

To continue reading without the book before you…

Kate Briggs, This Little Art, 2017

‘Has it never happened, as you were reading a book,’ asks Barthes, in an essay from 1970, which I quote in Howard’s translation, ‘that you kept stopping as you read, not because you weren’t interested, but because you were: because of a flow of ideas, stimuli, associations? In a word, haven’t you ever happened to read while looking up from your book?’

To Suspend Even Further

Kate Briggs, This Little Art

To suspend, or to suspend even further, my disbelief. This can’t really have been what he said (Barthes spoke in French; he claimed to barely speak English at all); nevertheless, I’ll go with it. In this sense, there’s something from the outset speculative and, I would say, of the novelistic about the translator’s project, whatever the genre of writing she is writing in.