March 27, 2012

Earlier today, I gave a talk at The Space Between Us, the conference of the National Association of Literature Development.

And I was talking about things I’d done in the past, and the interesting things technology does to literature, that they do to each other, and various examples of things that I felt were new and good and worked, that were connected to literature somehow—not always obviously—things that I liked, that I had made, or that I was just interested in.

And all the way through, probably because I was talking to an audience of professionals in this sort of thing, all the way through the talk I was trying to say: this bit is about writing, and this bit is about reading.

And it didn’t make sense, at least to me, it didn’t make sense, because reading and writing, for me, are not separate activities. It’s all way-finding, orienteering through literature, and sometimes someone else has beaten down the path and sometimes you have to make it for yourself.

Nathan Jones of Mercy said this thing in his talk about “language at the point of infestation”: there’s just so much of it, is it our responsibility to produce more of it, or to carve our way through it?

I started trying to write a book last year, for various reasons, and I kept getting derailed by the sheer pointlessness of the format for what I was trying to do. The only point I could identify in writing it as-a-book was to make a saleable thing, which is fine but the whole point of this not-book was/is to talk about what is not that.

Network Realism is about yoinking as much of the network as you need into the text. Something something the whole network i.e. reading and writing, flow, process.

I do keep coming back to David Shields’ Reality Hunger for the brilliant way it argues for a new mapping between fiction and non-fiction, and makes its argument with hundreds of extracts from other works, taking quotation to the level of collage. And an absence of quotation marks makes it difficult for the reader to always be sure when it is Shields speaking, and when it is one of his influences. This is what read/writing feels like.

The Ship Adrift is stuck somewhere in a depression over the Aral Sea right now, it’s gone a bit quiet. I guess this is where my talk about “collaboration” comes in, but I’m almost scared to touch it; I have made a thing that produces language (from the fragments of other languages) but it is a thing, it has a voice, it does not deserve to be bracketed in quotation marks either. It is read/writing.

More Nathan: “the seo-isation of language” / “textual abundance” / “a literature that is not inevitable” / “the internet is a eulogy for all languages”.

That, for now.

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