December 9, 2003


I haven't been interviewed in a while, but this is still interesting:

'"Coetzee did much the same in a collection of essays called Doubling the Point which includes nine "interviews" conducted by mail with an academic collaborator. In one of them Coetzee explains his resistance to being interviewed. "An interview is not just, as you call it, an ?exchange?: it is, nine times out of ten (this is the tenth case, thank God!), an exchange with a complete stranger, yet a stranger permitted by the conventions of the genre to cross the boundaries of what is proper in conversation between strangers. I don?t regard myself as a public figure, a figure in the public domain. I dislike the violation of propriety, to say nothing of the violation of private space, that occurs in the typical interview."

He goes on to say he does not like to surrender control. "Writers are used to being in control of the text and don?t resign it easily." He derides the notion that in an interview a writer can suddenly reveal his innermost secrets. "In the transports of unrehearsed speech, the subject utters truths unknown to his waking self", as he puts it. "To me," writes Coetzee, "truth is related to silence, to reflection, to the practice of writing. Speech is not a fount of truth but a pale and provisional version of writing." '

I should be so lucky as to be asked to be interviewed. But this provokes a thought about the status of the writing on this blog. I'm not a writer, I have no right to call myself one. I do like to write, though. I like the music words make when you string them together. Whether the music I make is barfly karioke or concert quality, who knows? In another life, writing could be a great adventure, as the one of painting is for me now.

But I think that Coetzee is right in comparing speech to writing, and perhaps my writing in this blog is closer to speech than to the activity that Coetzee refers to as writing.

All of this suggests that there is a fiction to the interviewing art (funny, now that I use the term "art", in this case it suggests invention or the necessary bridge between the islands of tangible rationality in life) and there is a truth to writing. I guess this is measured by a correspondance to an author's intention. But in an interview, there are two authors involved, one under the spotlight, another behind the curtain. Maybe these writers are saying: that's not me.

Posted by Dennis at December 9, 2003 10:40 AM

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