In September-October, 2017, Coldnoon celebrated six years of publishing, and travelling with you. To mark our anniversary, we got together with writers, intellectuals and stalwarts of the art of thinking (and travelling). Here is an interview with Adil Jussawalla.
We believe, in making travel arrangements, we subconsciously tend to eliminate possibilities which we deem unfit to perceived etiquette, or norms or occasions. Our understanding of travel is based on premises that define what travelling is not. Is writing for you a similar activity, where you are conscious of what writing is not? If so, what according to you is not writing?
Yes, writing is a similar activity. To quote Theodore Roethke: ‘You learn by going where you have to go.’ But not complacently, not aimlessly, always hoping to come across someting new, unexpected, round the corner. What writing is not is the usual slog, the dull trudge, step after step of cliche.
Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?
I’m not sure I’d like to be known for anything, leave alone writing. In the short run, may be. In the long, anonymity — ‘Kilroy was here;’ ‘Who’s Kilroy?’ — applies to us all.
In 1794, the French author, Xavier de Maistre, wrote the renowned book, Voyage Around my Room, during a month and a half of solitary confinement, in consequence of a duel. Besides being a satire on the contemporary literary culture of voyages and adventures of colonial sailors to prospective new worlds, the book proved to be a demonstration of how an individual is almost always travelling, but perhaps does not recognize the value of their domestic travels, mobility or even touristic acquisitions. How do you see or understand travelling? Do you think it is a necessary activity for a writer?
Yes, an individual is always travelling. Inward journeys and migrations compliment those that are outward — more of the former now for personal reasons. Whether travelling is a necessary activity for a writer or not, in imagination, in discourses with oneself — what the hell! — it’s always there. Besides, if Sartre is right and ‘Hell is other people,’ getting away from them often makes for the best kind of travel and art.
Writing is both gateway and getaway.
Do respond to the following words:
‘I want to be an honest man and a good writer.’ — James Baldwin
Better let people know how stupid, how foolish you are. That way they’ll let you alone to get on with whatever you want to make of your life.
What do you think of Coldnoon?
Only recently acquainted!