Very Good Paragraphs

From Sam Anderson’s email profile of Anne Carson in the Times:

I was e-mailing with Carson on the occasion of the publication of her new book, “Red Doc >” (that angle-bracket is, yes, a part of the title: “Red Doc >” was the default name Carson’s word-processing program gave to the file, and she stuck with it). “Red Doc >,” too, is arguably not poetry. Most of the text runs like a racing stripe down the center of the page, with a couple of inches of empty space on either side. This form was also a result of an accident with the computer. Carson hit a wrong button, and it made the margins go crazy. She found this instantly liberating. The sentences, with one click, went from prosaic to strange, and finally Carson understood — after years of frustration — how her book was actually supposed to work.

I just like how this suggests that maybe Carson’s chief gift is being really bad at her computer.

2 thoughts on “Very Good Paragraphs”

  1. Bonus sentences, from later: “N.Y.U. originally asked Carson to conduct a ‘public conversation’ about [her book] ‘Antigonick’ with Judith Butler, the superstar academic gender theorist. Carson said there was nothing in the world she would enjoy less.”

  2. Oh and it keeps coming. Carson on what she’s trying to do with her writing: “[I]t’s really important to get somehow into the mind and make it move somewhere it has never moved before. That happens partly because the material is mysterious or unknown but mostly because of the way you push the material around from word to word in a sentence. And it’s that that I’m more interested in doing, generally, than mystifying by having unexpected content or bizarre forms. It’s more like: Given whatever material we’re going to talk about, and we all know what it is, how can we move within it in a way we’ve never moved before, mentally? That seems like the most exciting thing to do with your head. I think it’s a weakness to fall back into merely mystifying the audience, which anybody can do. You know, throw in a bit of Hegel. Who knows what that means? But to actually take a piece of Hegel and move it around in a way that shows you something about Hegel is a satisfying challenge.”

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