Destroying Texts: Interview with Emily Lazerwitz

Hi Emily! Here’s the document for the interview. See you on here! I’m just getting a cup of tea, in case you arrive on here and I seem to be gone!

Hello sorry I am late. Internet was down.

No worries!

You have your tea. Should we start?


At art school, Emily Lazerwitz was told that she was “’too smart to be a still-life painter’”. Her cursor flickers for perhaps 30 seconds, and I wait for her to tell me more. I imagine she grins, or perhaps grimaces, at the memory. “So to spite him I first made several oil paintings, but then decided maybe it was time to try something new,” the ‘something new’ being making work with text.

She continues, typing quickly, speedily correcting spelling, apparently preferring to delete a whole word or two using the backspace key than move the cursor to any errors using the mouse. It seemed fitting to carry out our interview via a live Google doc, with the majority of the journal and our collaboration being carried out via Dropbox and Gmail – but I realise that, as with the design process, we will miss each other’s gestures throughout this interview. So, I try to read her cursor, the movement of her words across the page, as you read a face or pointed finger. Continue reading

Out of the mind and onto the page: a critical examination of personal thought in the literary public sphere. 

Private faces in public places
Are wiser and nicer
Than public faces in private places
W.H. Auden
(1932)

I dislike the sound of the title already. Does it make me sound unappealing to the core? Have I become a Creative Writing cliché? I ask myself these questions for I live in an era of extreme self-awareness. The birth of the selfie, the Tinder pandemic, and the superficial allure of counterculture all lead me to realise that today’s society cares so much about the surface. Our stock stereotypes rely on the assumption that our physical appearance represents our internal ideal; businesswomen wear cruel heels and suits because they are sharp, serious, and driven, whereas artists wear smocks and spectacles because they are a diverse band of individuals (ahem). People use their exterior as a way of expressing their interior, but only the interior they desire everybody else to see. I used to find comfort in the idea that words could be free from this culture of shallow scrutiny, as they require a semantic understanding before they can be judged, and had hoped they would therefore survive as the most honest portrait of life. 

Unfortunately, however, I now realise even the sanctity of writing is not immune to social pressure. Continue reading

Notes from Literary Events I attended in First Term

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24.09.2014

Adrian Henri at the Liverpool Biennial

(On the train back to London).

If I had the energy to write, I’d write about Adrian Henri and the Mersey Sound.

I’d write about the sounds of Liverpool and how these sounds and the chiming of Liverpuddlian, can be lyrical, sensual and richly musical.

I’d write about how you can stand in the research centre discovering Adrian Henri for the first time and overhear two Scousers talking about their own adventures with the Liverpool Scene, and about a singular meeting with the round, black-bearded and be-spectacled Henri himself.

Yes, if I had the energy, that’s what I’d write about.

04.10.2014

Alice Oswald- Tithonus

A poetic jig.
A foot tapping.
A fly.
But shouldn’t they have driven us out to some field at dawn?

I will reflect a little more later, I promise.

15.10.2014

Ali Smith: Living Translation

It began with Ali Smith’s ‘Provocation:’ a rolling, breathy work of sound and voice and soft (irresistible) accent.

Smith speaks like a poem. She holds her breath until she reaches the end of her thought-rhythm, before introducing the next etymological haiku. What genius it takes to craft a polemic into a sound poem: a rapid fire, perfectly formed stream of provocation.

Smith says that “translators are more writer than the original writer” for this is “a double layered writing, a twin responsibility, an osmosis of the self.”

Smith says that we should be learning languages when we are so young that “language structures sink into us like butter into toast.”

Smith says “the translator sees what the writer did not write – it takes that level of close reading.”

Smith says “look and all languages display relation.”

That’s all for now, I will write more later.

29.10.2014

Caroline Bergvall- Drift

The tking of the voice, almost the sound of a typewriter or a haptic phone dialling, signals a visual layering of type – a streaming of new letters sounded into illumination.

Understanding is a process of fluctuation.

Letters shrink into illegibility but become small islands of type, shifting land-masses of notation suggesting a map; or are they the lights of the distant city which Bergvall speaks of, the hallucination on the horizon which promises respite yet is not as solid as a land-mass, but is a gathering of sound in words: as material (or immaterial) as the voice which resounds in space until it fades away.

I will write more, later.

10.11.2014

The Joy of Influence: Paul Mason and Anne Enright on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

This is all I wanted to note down from the event last night.

During questions at the end (this is more of a comment than a question), a Scottish man in the audience says: “I sped read the book again on the train down from Holyhead to London with some page notes I made in the 1970s. I finally think I know what the book’s about.”

Francesca Brooks is in the first year of her PhD at King’s College London, her research looks at multilingualism, translation, and aspects of orality in Old English manuscripts and the printed poetry of David Jones. Follow her @Frangipancesca

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland is a tale that has followed me just as Alice follows the White Rabbit. Her pubescent exploration of a confusing topsy-turvy land has stuck to me, appears when I don’t expect it. I realise I return to her rabbit hole regularly even now.

When I research I fall down the rabbit hole. Following what I find curious into darkness: dark corners of libraries, into the dark fathoms within books. Day after day I fall into different rabbit holes, some of which are dead ends, others that thankfully lead to wonderlands. Research is as strange and a mutable as Alice’s Wonderland and the joy of research stems from a curiosity like Alice’s. When I read I float like Alice in her rabbit hole – in a dark unknown, in a time suspended, a time that catches my skirt into a parachute and warps the ticking of the clock I should be following. Curiosity in the library – in the words of Alice – can ‘often lead to trouble’. rabbit hole

When Alice follows the white rabbit with a waistcoat and watch into an inadvisably small hole to fall down into another, more imaginative world that makes little sense, she enacts the experience of researching.

Yet. And yet, Alice in Wonderland shadows me ever further. For in my research I have taken myself to a wonderland much like Alice’s – a place of dreams and nightmares, myth and fantasy, full of strange and marvelous creatures.

The difference is that the wonderland of my research exists – can be traversed, touched, smelt and felt. It is a garden, built in sixteenth-century Italy, a woodland garden, where you will come across two fighting giants 7.7 metres tall, enter a gaping face where sounds resonate from the interior cave, see a sea creature with yawning jaws rise from the earth, and meet mythical Sirens and Harpies. It is a place as topsy-turvy as that land Alice wanders. A place, which I hope will tell us something of place, embodiment, imagination and fantasy in early modern Italy. In Through the Looking Glass, the second book of Lewis Caroll’s Alice tales, the White Queen lives backwards:

“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”

     “– but [said the White Queen] there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.”

My memory only works one way, in the words of Alice I sadly ‘can’t remember things before they happen’. But in my research I remember Alice, her wonderland echoes in mine and it is with her beside me that I fall down rabbit holes.

Thalia Allington-Wood is currently in the first year of her PhD in the History of Art Department of University College London. Her research explores the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo, a sixteenth-century woodland of monsters and marvels carved from stone.