January 21st, 2007
snow, the desert and the ideas in my head right now


the snow lies quietly outside in little drifts. temperatures have plummeted here, the cold winds have blown in and we are thrown into the center of a winter that we thought would never come. it now involves down jackets instead of jean jackets which is what i have been wearing for the last few strange months. no more causual draping of the scarf, it requires a certain amount of orchestration and windproofing to ensure that there are no cracks where the cold air can creep in along the neckline. the wind has its own personality now, a trickster character who steals warmth from the unassuming wanderer. he taunts me, and leaves me frustrated, wishing i had purchased better ‘armour’ to fend against him. my husband’s rants about ‘windblocker’ gear echo bitterly in my thoughts as I push forward.
But I do so love the contrast that comes from living in this climate, the separation between outside and in is drastic, the outside being something that must be endured and the inside the reward that comes after. the hot tea is that much sweeter and soothing after a walk in the cold. the discomfort a necessary part of the living.
On the subject of contrast I have also just finished plowing through ‘the sheltering sky’ by Paul Bowles, a shocking, swealtering trip through the sahara desert that I absolutely could not put down. I’m not sure it’s a good read to prepare one for a trip to Morroco as it tends to focus on the worst aspects of traveling there, (illness, theft, danger, death), but i am left mezmerized. more excited than ever to make my way to that part of the world and have experiences that are drastically different than any i’ve had so far in my life.
i think next i’m going on to Hemingway’s ‘death in the afternoon’, which details the bullfights in spain as well as many aspects of the spanish culture as observed by an outsider.
having finished my two big projects i find myself being pulled to the library to play, and explore, and examine. i feel i overflow with excitement there, with regard to new ideas coming in. what is emerging for me right now is the process of research itself being the focal point. documenting my travels through the library. what are the routes that one takes? there are different methods depending on my mood.
method #1 -head off in several directions at once, make connections between them, see if and how they might converge at times. this is how new ideas evolve for me, by connecting two unrelated ideas together and playing in the tension between them (this is in fact how a symbol is created). It may be as simple as opening two books at once. contrast again. yes.
method #2 -start with one idea/book and make all connections from that point. document the journey. literary wandering.
method #3 -implement randomness, set variables beforehand, i.e. fifth shelf in, pick the first green book you see. take notes. repeat in another section. create connections.
the goal is to create new books using these methods, whereby the process becomes the point of the book and the content is secondary. the reader is allowed to partake in your investigaton process. I think this is in part why I am so drawn to journalling. esssentially it is a documenting of process and in my case a kind of map of my investigations over the course of a life.
other questions i am pondering lately:
how to create nothing?
how to capture the sensory experiences of life in a book, in a literal way?
how to make the book itself an experience? (one of my new books already does this, more on this soon.)
how to push the concept of book as much as possible?
how to make a book that is entirely about the reader? (or are they all essentially?)
how to make a book that is itself random?
a book that references the books currently on your shelf for it’s own content.
all of these things excite me to no end.
if you’ll excuse me i have a lot of things to get to.

Jan 21 2007
1:50 pm
miranda writes:

when you’re finished with your travels through literature, will you post a list of your destinations and the books that took you there?
i’d just love to see some kind of reading list of yours.

Jan 21 2007
4:56 pm
Anja writes:

I second that motion :)

Jan 21 2007
6:42 pm
Chalaundrai writes:

Yes…I would also like to see that.

Jan 21 2007
9:24 pm
ArtsyMama writes:

I love these ideas….totally get my head spinning…in a good way! I am a librarian too, so it warms my heart:)

Jan 21 2007
9:36 pm
Alex writes:

I look so forward to your next books, truly and truly again. I’ve also been glad you are posting more often lately as your writing is a grounding force in my days. As for winter, I love the seasons too. I love to feel l ike I have geneuinely EARNED each of my seasons as they come. Growing up in Los Angeles I didn’t even know what a season was until I’d moved to Bulgaria and I feel some sadness for my child self as I know I would’ve really embraced them. Stay warm and enjoy the brave winds!

Jan 22 2007
5:33 am
Friederike! & Sandra writes:

looking forward to your new books! :)

Jan 22 2007
5:33 am
Friederike! & Sandra writes:

looking forward to your new books! :)

Jan 22 2007
5:33 am
Friederike! & Sandra writes:

looking forward to your new books! :)

Jan 22 2007
12:39 pm
pixie writes:

this is such an exciting post! i love method one, and your articulation of your process sheds light on my obsession with all things being connected and symbols. so grateful to read you today. you are a grounding force for me, too. i want to hear more more always more of your ponderings and journeys.

Jan 22 2007
3:46 pm
oden writes:

Thank you for sharing your Methods. They gave me a splendid idea on this very chilly day.
After “Death in the Afternoon,” do read “The Garden of Eden,” published many years after Hemingway’s death. Lots more intrigue.

Jan 22 2007
6:13 pm
Helen writes:

For the ultimate story of writing an infinite book you have to read this one: http://www.amazon.com/Salamander-Thomas-Wharton/dp/0743444159/sr=1-2/qid=1169507436/ref=sr_1_2/105-3478365-7836449?ie=UTF8&s=books my absolute favourite book … though it’s hard to explain why …

Jan 23 2007
10:38 pm
rama writes:

but don’t you long for the hot, hot sun? sometimes?

Jan 23 2007
11:38 pm
littlepurplecow writes:

Oh wow – “how to create nothing?”
My initial thought is… to simply appreciate the creations of others. To immerse yourself in someone or something’s beauty without imposing additions, substractions or alterations. It’s the feeling I get when I study a painting. But even then, how can we help but create an impression? an expression? or a shadow?
I’ll have to toss and turn on this one.

Jan 25 2007
8:48 am
kristin writes:

great post. i’d love to see you
explore how to create nothing. i’m sure
your take on this would be incredibly inspiring.
and the book as an experience is a wonderful
direction too. have fun.

Jan 25 2007
10:54 pm
PJ writes:

speaks to me on many levels. the library methods are very interesting.


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