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 Saitya Brata Das.


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?

No. What writing is not has never bothered me; but I am always concerned with what is ‘good’ writing and how to write well.


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

I can’t think of being known other than as a writer


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? 

Voyage constitutes for me the very existential sense of my life as a writer: exposure to the unknown and to the perilous, to the incalculable and demonic weather on the sea; the possibility of shipwreck; travelling to the point of extremity with the risk that one never returns to one’s shore; and the impossibility of return to the same. Voyage, then, constitutes the very possibility of the future, un-anticipatable and un-programmable future, inaccessible to knowledge, and above all, the radical transfiguration of self that happens in the voyage: to be what one can never been, to see what has never seen visible, and to be seen by the other who is secret from me, the stranger and the alien.

Writing is not only necessary activity of the writer; writing in itself is voyaging, whether one undertakes voyage physically or not. Writing introduces, in the midst of our dwelling, the suffering of the exodus, but also, in this exodus of writing the promise of what is to come. Therefore, for me, writing is always writing of the desert: the redemption is to arrive from the other shore, and writing incessantly, ever awoke like the vigilant sleep walking, points to, or indicates, what has not yet come, what has not yet been known, but what must come today, any ‘today’: the fullness of time!


Do respond to the following words: “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.

The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” ― Mark Twain

I am indebted to every other, to each other, and they don’t constitute an order of totality called ‘the world’, because each one is the world for me. I am indebted to each of these worlds, infinitely, even though the other owes nothing to me.    


What do you think of Coldnoon?

Great initiative!


Saitya Brata Das

Saitya Brata Das

Dr. Saitya Brata Das teaches philosophy at Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru university. He was awarded the Hermes Fellowship at UFR Philosophie, Université de Marc Bloch, Strasbourg, France, from 2006-2007. His published works include The Political Theology of Schelling (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), The Weight of Violence: Religion, Language, Politics, ed. with Soumyabrata Choudhury, (Oxford & Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015). “The Gift of the World: A Note on Political Theology” in Culture and Religion (London: Taylor & Francis), “The Destinal Question of Language” in Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia, “Of Pain: The Gift of Language and the Promise of Time in Journal for Comparative and Continental Philosophy.