Literature │The Life of an Author
(publihed in “Avrupa”)
I want to know what it is about them that enables them to produce the greatest pieces of time, and wonder if I could possibly attain a slice of what they have. I’m not interested in what they had for breakfast or what side of the bed they sleep on, I am interested in how they decode the world around them, and how their mind ticks, but most of all, it is to our greatest pleasure when one finds out that they are in fact one of us, therefore, at this point, maybe I am slightly intrigued in what they had for dinner. From Volume 1 of Virginia Woolf’s diary, I have learnt a number of things, the first is about how humorous Woolf can be, and what a strong spirit she had, especially in the time of war where she discusses what a nuisance it was having to keep returning to the kitchen while the bombs went off throughout the night, but everything gets rounded off with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Such a moment would only sound like a half-truth upon some biographer’s tongue, and we deserve to receive the full-life of words and experiences.
There have been great moments of realisation when reading such diaries as these writers turn real life people into characters in their books and the smallest observations into pinnacle moments within the text, it is as though everything becomes recycled as Barthes wrote in his essay “The Death of the Author” (1977) “The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. [. . .T]he writer can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them.” But is life not like this? Are we not constantly interpreting everything we see and experience? Of course others have done this also, however, each experience is an individual one and does not deserve to be thrown away and dismissed as a mere copy and lacking any originality.
Claude Levi-Strauss once said, “I don’t have the feeling that I write my books, I have the feeling that my books get written through me…I never had…the perception of feeling my personal identity. I appear to myself as the place where something is going on, but there is no “I”, no “me” This image of writing taking a hold of the author is a very supernatural one, it makes it almost seem easy, a little too easy in fact, and that is what I hunt for when reading the diaries and biographies of my favourite artists, I am looking for that trick that they have up their sleeve, but most importantly, I am looking for that link that can form a bridge from their world to mine.