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 Kaushik Barua.
We believe making travel arrangements, we subconsciously tend to eliminate those possibilities which we deem unfit to perceived etiquettes, 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?
Eating a bowl of pasta is not writing. Writing about it is. Understanding that one experience could feed the other is.
Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?
I do not currently harbour ambitions to be known for much. I would like to contribute to the best of my abilities to a more humane world through the rural development projects I manage during my day-job. I doubt I will ever be known for the work.
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?
No, physical travel is not necessary for writing. The most bewildering journeys could be undertaken without moving an inch.
(I’ve just realized that the previous line sounds a bit too precious, but I hope my point is clear.)
Your favourite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?
I discard or switch favourites very frequently. My current favourites are the lines below, or something similar, that I read in a Basho collection.
Year by year
the monkey’s mask
reveals the monkey.
Do respond to the following words:
“If you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.” — Kingsley Amis.
There is little point in writing anyway. But it’s still worth the effort. Especially if you must write.
(This is probably true of most pursuits, though writers privilege their service to the written word over other passions, unsurprisingly.)
What do you think of Coldnoon?
I have enjoyed almost all the writing I have read on Coldnoon. I have also been regularly surprised or intrigued by the themes or places covered.