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 Michael Creighton.
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 traveling 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?
Writing, like reading, is an act of thinking. But writing a special kind of thinking, because it assumes the existence of a reader — even if the reader is only ourselves. Because of that, unlike the thinking we may do as we wash dishes or travel home on a crowded metro car, writing has an added responsibility to be interesting — not to everyone, but to someone. So when I write, I want to make it worth reading, and I try to avoid tired, cliched language and boring ideas.
Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?
Most of all, I put my faith in love and solidarity, so I’d like to be known as a good partner, child, sibling, parent, friend, and comrade. There is nothing more important than those things.
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 traveling, but perhaps does not recognize the value of their domestic travels, mobility or even touristic acquisitions. How do you see or understand traveling? Do you think it is a necessary activity for a writer?
I’ve never read M. de Maistre, but it sounds like we’re both skeptical about the need to travel far and wide in order to find something interesting to write about. For my part, I think my daily commute has been more important to my thinking and writing than any long journey I’ve taken. I suspect that’s true for many of us: in our commute we see ourselves and our neighbors — our differences and what we have in common — every day.
If we look at travel metaphorically, it can mean just about anything. But if we look at it as the act of moving from the place we live to new and distant place, then no, I don’t think it is necessary for writers to do that. There is no place or people on earth that is not worthy of good writing; if in doubt, I’d say the best place to write is where you live right now.
Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?
I try not to collect things, including favorite lines. But these are pretty good in the context of this interview:
As through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen (‘Pretty Boy Floyd,’ Woody Guthrie)
Do respond to the following words: Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is (Continental Drift, Russell Banks).
“Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is” (Russell Banks).
Some people are a lot more ambitious than I am. Depending on the person, that can be admirable — or silly.
What do you think of Coldnoon?
I think I should read it more often.