Cleaning

I’ve suddenly realised what are some short pieces doing in my manuscript. They’ve been there from the very beginning, and I couldn’t understand why. I’ve only known they should be in but I couldn’t see the purpose. They are strange elements, capable of standing on their own, but I’ve sensed that was not the intended purpose, and that I shouldn’t be rushing with conclusions.
And last night I had a sudden revelation. They stood there to remind me of the clean, original idea which‚ in the meantime, had been burried under the avalanche of small, forking ideas. From all that jungle, the book now goes to the beginning and only two things remain: death and return.

Whatwhere

Some of the memories have been separated in my mind into images and sounds. I see faces talking, but don’t hear the words, and I have some floating words that can’t find the faces.
The fact that the meanings of sentences and the signs in the facial expressions do not help put one with the other—says something about what was spoken.
!–more–

Before what?

Room panorama

For a few years already the environmentalists have been polishing the PS in their email messages. It all boiled down to, “Don’t print, because you’ll be wasting your paper, and then more trees will be chopped, and my message is not at all that important, and am I not so fashionably cute with this self-deprecating attitude?”

Currently, that PS addition is at “Please consider the environment before printing”.

But I’m thinking: How about you considering my environment before sending?

A Million Shakespeares Banging on a Keyboard

My new collection of short stories, Little Red Transistor Radio from Trieste, comes from a place somewhat different from the others on my writing map. It is a secretive place, where people sometimes meet themselves while crossing to the other universe. Occasionally, it’s a funny area in which your own doubles slap you, or where naked doctors throw scalpels at each other. Bodies become irrelevant, and brains—disgusted—leave them while they can.Why did I travel there?

If a million monkeys hitting keys at random on typewriter keyboards for an infinite amount of time would type the complete works of William Shakespeare, would a million Shakespeares, in the same period, type the whole works of a monkey? (And how would that monkey react to that infringement of his copyright?)

We have seen the destruction of the traditional writing coming—and now it is here, with us, and its signs are, among others, crowdsourced texts, death of a bookstore, books written on/for smartphones. One way to look at it is to feel it as a touch of the ultimate freedom. I don’t have to belong, as a writer, to anything in particular—not to the nation, not to any school of thought or any literary movement, AND I can be in all of that.

I don’t know how to call it, except literary post-cubism. How do you see all dimensions at once? Can you?

So: take everything in, leave everything out—that is one way to acquire personal artistic space. Another source of my freedom is language. As anyone can surely feel from anything I’ve ever written in English (and even more from my speech pattern), it is not my primary means of expression. I refuse to think of English as of my second lingua—languages fly freely and you never know which is which; which was the strain of your first flu? Serbian, which is what my parents spoke, has nothing in common with English, except mouth (most of the time, not even brain: thinking patterns change with cultures). In this case, my mouth, which I am free to treat as a machine skilled in spitting some serious series of shoddy statements.Did you just see that? There must be a name for what I have.

Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris

And what if a million Shakespeares typed all the time?

As you read this, now, there are two completely opposing notions coexisting peacefully in the Universe, each of them capable of shattering your worldview. One is a child of the quantum theory and it says that everything that can happen will happen, in one of the parallel universes. In short, it is possible to be and not to be at the same time.

The other notion is, I’m pleased to say, mine, and its central thesis is that nothing has to happen.

Nothing. Your birth or your life, your STD or your paycheque, your success or your failure, your trip to Venice, your diarrhoea—none of that has to be. We take our lives for granted and think that we can only stand in there and it will all come our way. Nope. If the Universe was less eager to please the physicists, it wouldn’t have to end at all. Quantum theory is wrong, wrong, wrong. (Proof? Brian Cox says it is a-maaa-zing. Would you really believe in something that Brian Cox was telling you?)

But, instead of me trying to define my writing—which is as logical as trying to have a Big Bang only on Fridays—here is a quote from a Wikipedia article titled “Infinite monkey theorem”:

“In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes Crested Macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website.

Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages consisting largely of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it.”

That’s it, really, a spitting image. I’m now off to Wikipedia, to secretly edit the article about me and move that excerpt there.

The river of ideas

Recently, I’ve visited Musee du quai Branly in Paris. It is a fascinating place. A stone throw from one of the most faded symbols of Paris—the Eiffel Tower (it is very difficult to take a picture of the Tower without it looking kitschy)—it offers a great piece of architecture and a great collection of artefacts related to native cultures around the world. The whole idea of this museum is to try and establish virtual communication between various cultures in different ages and places.

On the long and winding ramp leading from the entrance to the upper floors, where the permanent exhibition is located, an installation is positioned so it follows the flow. That piece, made by Charles Sandison and titled The River (2010), is an example of an excellent collaboration between architecture and visual arts. The river is made of words and the flow is perfectly in sync with the curves and the flow. One feels as if following the flow of ideas, not visual elements dancing on the floor.