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 Sharanya Manivannan.
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?
Nothing is “not writing” to me. The longing for it is writing. The ache without it is writing.
Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?
Kindness. And the people who know it need not even know about my writing.
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?
Travelling requires certain privileges, for the myth of hashtag wanderlust is perpetuated by people who have never stood before an immigration counter hiding their shaking hands in their pockets, never been challenged on what they believe is a personal prerogative to see or be seen, never worried that the funds may never be made back, never worried that they themselves may not make it back. So I am absolutely certain that travel is not a necessary activity for a writer. To speak of the only place you know may give that place the only record it has had. Let the words travel, that they must.
Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?
How can I possibly choose? I cannot.
Do respond to the following words:
“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” ― Oscar Wilde
I first opened this file late at night, lingering – as I do too often – before bed. And so I misread the quote. I thought it said “I am so happy that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying” – and I pondered that for a moment. I suppose joy brought on by intoxication is like that; although more accurately, it’s like that to the observer. I was very happy earlier that day (although not through intoxication) and I couldn’t have cared less in that state about perfect articulation.
But the original quote strikes me, in the absence of context, as being sarcasm best employed on another.
What do you think of Coldnoon?
Sometime in mid-2016, sometime at around 3 am, I woke gasping from a dream so powerful that not only were its sentiments and visceral sensations still vivid, but a poem started to pour out of me right away. It was a new moon night, and my skin and heart both felt newly touched. I had travelled in that dream, to another country, and to an abyss of old love. I fell back asleep after scribbling the first few lines I received. When I woke again, I completed the poem and there was only one place I wanted to send it to, and that was Coldnoon. That should tell you everything about what I think of you.