I’m not sure it qualifies as a distraction, since the series of interviews done by The Believer are writers talking to writers, usually about writing. Reading this stuff is necessary to be a writer. Meh. In any case, this morning I read “Vendala Vida talks with Shirley Hazzard.” Hazzard is a voracious – and vicious, if you believe Graham Greene – writer, and she had some of the better stuff to say in this series of interviews. The one that left me stunned was, “one wouldn’t dare put into a novel the amount of coincidence that occurs in life itself.” (100) What stuns me about this is how true it is. My life has been ful of coincidence and my biggest complaint with stories is how full of coincidence they are. I should probably temper my ‘bullshit’ threshold. As long as the line between coincidence and deus ex machina remains solid.
I have also been catching up on The Office. Netflix streams it, so the cost is sunk if I watch it or not. Some episodes bore me, but some are great. The best portion of the show is Michael’s hatred of Toby because Toby is the one person that constantly calls Michael on his silly inappropriateness. Which brings me to a thought about politeness. Slavoj Zizek:
Are not all good manners based on the fact that “what is said is not what is meant”? When, at a table, I ask my colleague “Can you please pass the salt?” I do not say what I mean. I ask him if he can do it, but what I really mean is that he simply should do it.” (13-14)
It’s not the most persuasive of examples, but it does get at what he is trying to claim.
Hazzard, Shirley. (2003). Vendela Vida talks with Shirley Hazzard. In V. Vida, ed. (2007). The Believer book of writers talking to writers (97-109). San Francisco: Believer Books.
Zizek, Slavoj. (2010). Living in the end times. London: Verso Books.