Posts Tagged ‘samuel beckett’


In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 6:41 am


Reading as Publishing: Samuel Beckett on Holiday


In the week after READING FOR READING’S SAKE I came across a number of quotations that developed and nuanced the space of “reading as activity” opened up by that event. 

(1) “the artist, the work of art, and its viewers are connected through an intricate web of correspondences, and if one if really inside of that relation, everything corresponds. And one cannot really deal with a work of art without dealing with its correspondences, including one’s own life and its relation to others. It is a simple truth, but one that is so regularly obscured in practice that it has become a kind of mystery to us. ”  

David Levi Strauss, From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual (Oxford University Press, 2010), 165.  Read in Gordon Square WC1London, 12 April, 2010, instantaneously applying quotation to a networked “everything corresponds” model of reading. 

(2)”There is something about the way you put together – compose – your sentences, a deliberate effort to create moments of silence, of stillness, full stops, as though there would be rest marks in a musical score, or an end of bar that forces the reader to go back and start from the beginning.”

Joan Richardson, question to Stanley Cavell, “The Transcendental Strain: Stanley Cavell Talks with Bookforum”, Bookforum, April-May 2010, 5-6. Read on 15.55 train from Leeds to London, 11 April, 2010. 

Thinking here about the musical spaces between books, also how books could resist a linear read-through and consumption, shifting attention into a broader engagement with all levels of their material architecture. 

(3) “Surrealism is an honest, beautiful resilient tonic fermented into a delicately volatile mixture of liberty, sensuous play, psychic automatism, chance, humor and a biting critique of corrupt power in all its manifestations, from bourgeois miserablism to fascism.”

Jesse Gentes, quote from “Impossible Emancipation” (2009), cited in Patricide: Issue One: Documentary Surrealism , purchased and read at Cornerhouse, Manchester, 9th May 2010. 

Patricide posits continued presence of surrealism as grass roots, non-institutional praxis. Issue Two will be on “seaside surrealism.”

I made some notes for a possible contribution, but they lacked the sense of project I remembered from Paul Nash’s writings on the subject (first published in the 1938 issue of Architectural Review).   PROJECT: read widely in surrealist literature, but without concept of unconscious. 

 (4)”Reading is a favorite activity, and I often ponder its phenomenology. As I write this essay, the reading I do for it is a mitigated pleasure. Sometimes it feels like a literal ingestion, a bulimic gobbling up of words as thought they were fast food. At other times I read and take notes in a desultory, halting, profoundly unsatisfying way. And my eyes hurt.” 

Moyra Davey, Long Life Cool White: Photographs and Essays by Moyra Davey, (Yale University Press, 2008), 85. At home, evening, Whitechapel, London 12 April 2010. 

Photo: Moyra Davey


Davey talks of the flanerie of reading – a concept which captures the entwining intention between reading as WORK and as indulgence, and what circumstances determine the readers self-positioning on this spectrum of value.

For Davey herself the (w)readerly result is an associative, diaristic, unfolding essaying, and a photograph practice where a formal materiality of reading (and other activities – see image below) acquires its own (irr-)resonant psychology. 

Photo: Moyra Davey


SAMUEL BECKETT ON HOLIDAY: Walking into the Cornerhouse bookshop on 9th May 2010 I immediately noticed the photo of Samuel Beckett. It’s from Beckett: Photographs by François-Marie Baniera , including several, like those here,  of SB on holiday in Tangiers. I liked how this liberated Beckett’s texts from the moody black and white images that often appear on his books. 

In the context of “reading as publishing” I also liked how this photo appeared to published the emotion of my own experience of reading Beckett, finding a certain reassuring joy in the certain ontological ground (or non-ontological non-ground ground) that Beckett seemed to write. 

The photo also loosens up the relationship between Beckett’s life and work, suggesting a possibly more paradoxical and tangential relationship than the black and white icons which attempt to map Beckett’s physical image onto his writings and vice versa, like some primitive neo-Victorian science of physiognomy.

Thinking of the materiality of a book and its reading, that’s what I don’t want “reading as publishing” to be.