Notes on Writing

I’m rereading a book called Critical Intellectuals on Writing (Olson and Worsham), which compiles interviews with established scholars; the conversations orbit around writing and its many functions. Might try from time-to-time to transcribe little bits and then offer some thoughts alongside. I’m not the kind of person who decides to initiate new habits and then sticks to them, so I may do this just once…right now…when doing it sounds like a good idea.

Here’s Donna Haraway when asked if she considers herself a writer:

“The particular tissue of writing became more and more interesting as a part of my work. I have friends for whom the injunction to be clear remains right at the top of their moral, epistemological, and political commitments. It’s always struck me that the injunction to be clear is a very strange goal because it assumes a kind of physical transparency, that if you could just clean up your act somehow the materiality of writing would disappear. This is a psychological problem, as opposed to exactly what’s interesting about working in that medium.” (109)

Something about these words appearing on a screen in a clean design, neatly tucked into an automated format, seems to push against the very idea that H. is driving at. The materiality does disappear. You can’t see, and I’m not going to recreate, the strikethroughs and edits, the pauses and interruptions (G. just called to say he’ll get some scallops for dinner), the conditions of the writing scene, the kind of computer I’m using, the labor and economic conditions that made this computer possible, the home I sit in and the literacy time-line that made it possible for me to be sitting here doing this, encountering this text of all texts, and on it goes. Instead of all that, what’s left are the marks on the screen that both clarify and obscure what writing is. What is interesting about working in this medium?

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