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 Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee.
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?
Personally speaking, I do not know what is not writing. What I am aware of is rather, what I do not want to, or desire to, write. It is a conscious process to eliminate what one doesn’t want to write. There are all sorts of writings one judges to be good, bad, mediocre, but I am not aware of what may be considered not writing. If it is meant to be writing that should not be written, it is a normative I don’t cater to. All kinds of writing needs to, (politically) has the right to, exist. Everything one writes is writing, including those I later realise were not as or not at all as good as I thought it to be while (or immediately after) writing it. One writes and slowly realises how one writes, but perhaps can never understand it.
Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?
Besides writing, I would like to be known as a cook, who fed his friends the choicest cuisines of fish and meat, with pleasure.
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?
Writers travel when they are travelling around the globe, but also travel sitting at home, at their desk, the way Kafka did. If memory is a train, writers are constant travellers, carrying within themselves the invisible maps of memory. To travel with real luggage however, one is often lost, soaking experiences, and later, recollecting episodes and images back into consciousness and on paper. One often makes notes as one travels, but they too have to be rewritten. All writing, in a euphemistic sense, is travel writing, a rewriting of the travails of memory.
Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?
“If you don’t believe in god, at least be superstitious”: Gabriel García Márquez, in an interview to Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza.
Do respond to the following words:
“If there is one person I do despise more than another, it is the man who does not think exactly the same on all topics as I do…” ― Jerome K. Jerome.
Rather, I most despise those who think others have no right to think differently from themselves. I only despise fascists who do not allow, or want others, to think freely and critically. Those who do not think like I do, help me think like I do. Without the awareness of that difference, there is no pleasure in thinking at all.
What do you think of Coldnoon?
Coldnoon has had a warm journey, for what else is warmth but the cozy nest of names who have contributed to the journal. As a journal that began with modest ambitions, or at least with an ambition hidden inside its modesty, Coldnoon has come a long way.