Friday, September 25, 2009


Five years ago today I posted the first blog in this space, on John Banville's Shroud. I have no memory of the book and little more sense of the self who wrote it. For this I am grateful. Perhaps this is the one clear advantage of writing about books; or just writing.

In the indeterminate space prompted by this thought, I wonder how closely sleep and forgetting are necessary to the experience of reading and writing; that is, necessary and paradoxical. To live critically in the wake of such sleep, in order to understand it, in order to make worldly use of it, becomes a betrayal; a misunderstanding and a misuse. For this I am not grateful. Yet one can't live any other way.

Two books, one recent, one brand new, may offer some paradoxical help: Harald Weinrich's Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting and Jean-Luc Nancy's The Fall of Sleep (translated by Charlotte Mandell).

Before this blog, I had for another five years written the Splinters blog at Spike. So that's ten years of blogging. The rounded figure suggests a corresponding need to move on to other places, in other forms, to redeem the misunderstandings and misuses. Literary blogging isn't a moving business however; it's forgetful and repetitious, just like its subject. So, on.


  1. Steve, many congratulations on your 10 years of blogging. And, so on. For the record I'm almost up to 2.
    Reading my brain to sleep is a thing I do. Last night, for example, after watching The Tempest in German I re-read the Introduction to Alexander's Complete Works of Shakespeare and then I slept like a cabbage.

  2. Anonymous8:52 pm

    You are right, to be a blogger is to be caught in a repeating present, and always starting over. Always coming to the computer and starting again at the top of the page, as if too lazy to read and revise what you did yesterday. (Meanwhile, how is that secret, longer text you are preparing?)

  3. Anonymous3:53 pm

    When I first started reading this blog, and went through the archives, I found this Banville post, and it was for me one of the most memorable ones. It was an excellent example of a point you've made elsewhere on the blog.

    Regarding sleep and literature, there's also Goldberg: Variations.



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