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 Sebastien Doubinsky.


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?

I think there are various ways to answer your question. The first, of course, is that not writing is precisely “not writing” — that is to say doing all other activities except writing as the act of writing. The there is a more general “not writing” which includes all the activities linked with the act of writing which are not the act itself: thinking, musing, discussing, reading. So “not writing” here would imply a position that is entirely outside of writing. To me, these two positions are very different. the first one is a situation, a passage of time or in time, a hiatus. It is located either before or after the act of writing. The second is a change of being, a change of nature so radical it can only come from a conscious decision, which is to reject the act of writing as a personal choice. It would be, of course, the same with “not travelling.”


Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?

Being a good man. That would make me very happy.


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, I do believe that travelling is essential for a writer, but that travelling is not necessarily linked with movement. Like Xavier de Maistre, one can definitely evade the daily familiar world by escaping mentally — through reading, watching TV, listening to music or what not. But, as you said, what is most important is not the travel itself, but what you chose to bring back — or not. There is a whole part of the traveling experience that remains in the visited place that is at least as important as what is brought back — a place, an experience, a desire, etc. “Nothing is complete unless it’s broken”, as my good friend the Danish poet Ole Wesenberg said. I completely subscribe to that.


Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?

“Towers, open fire.” by William Burroughs.


Do respond to the following words:

“The human face has limited space. If you fill it with laughter there will be no room for crying.”— Rohinton Mistry.

If will allow me, I strongly disagree with this sentence. On the contrary, the human face is an infinite playground, where all emotions can collide, mingle or fight at the same time. The complexity of the human face is what gave us fiction, poetry and theater.


What do you think of Coldnoon?

I think Coldnoon is an essential cultural magazine, precsiely because of its topic and openness. It is about travelling and literature, two things that both can symbolize the transient nature of culture.


Sébastien Doubinsky

Sébastien Doubinsky is a bilingual French writer and academic, born in Paris in 1963. He is an established writer in France, where he has published 14 novels, and also writes fiction in English. His last three novels, The Song of Synth, White City and Omega Gray were published in the United States, respectively by Talos/Skyhorse and Bizarro Pulp Fiction/JournalStone and his poetry collections, Mothballs, Spontaneous Combustions, Zen and the Art of Poetry Maintenance and This Little Poem came out through Leaky Boot Press, in the UK. He currently lives in Denmark, where he teaches French literature, culture and history at the French department of the university of Aarhus.