Intervju za „Parisku reviju“: Toni Morison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

U intervjuu koji je američka nobelovka Toni Morison neposredno po dobijanju Nobelove nagrade dala za Parisku reviju (The Paris Review) možemo čitati o njenim ritualima pred pripremu za pisanje, od kakvog je značaja uloga urednika u životu pisca, zašto je teško pisati o seksu, zašto je oduvek želela da bude čitalac pre nego pisac i zašto je najčešće pisala pre svitanja.


You have said that you begin to write before dawn. Did this habit begin for practical reasons, or was the early morning an especially fruitful time for you?


Writing before dawn began as a necessity—I had small children when I first began to write and I needed to use the time before they said, Mama—and that was always around five in the morning. Many years later, after I stopped working at Random House, I just stayed at home for a couple of years. I discovered things about myself I had never thought about before. At first I didn’t know when I wanted to eat, because I had always eaten when it was lunchtime or dinnertime or breakfast time. Work and the children had driven all of my habits . . . I didn’t know the weekday sounds of my own house; it all made me feel a little giddy.

I was involved in writing Beloved at that time—this was in 1983—and eventually I realized that I was clearer-headed, more confident and generally more intelligent in the morning. The habit of getting up early, which I had formed when the children were young, now became my choice. I am not very bright or very witty or very inventive after the sun goes down.

Recently I was talking to a writer who described something she did whenever she moved to her writing table. I don’t remember exactly what the gesture was—there is something on her desk that she touches before she hits the computer keyboard—but we began to talk about little rituals that one goes through before beginning to write. I, at first, thought I didn’t have a ritual, but then I remembered that I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark—it must be dark—and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come. And she said, Well, that’s a ritual. And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular . . . Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It’s not beingin the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.

I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are their best, creatively. They need to ask themselves, What does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence? Is there chaos outside or is there serenity outside? What do I need in order to release my imagination?


Who was the most instrumental editor you’ve ever worked with?


I had a very good editor, superlative for me—Bob Gottlieb. What made him good for me was a number of things—knowing what not to touch; asking all the questions you probably would have asked yourself had there been the time. Good editors are really the third eye. Cool. Dispassionate. They don’t love you or your work; for me that is what is valuable—not compliments. Sometimes it’s uncanny; the editor puts his or her finger on exactly the place the writer knows is weak but just couldn’t do any better at the time. Or perhaps the writer thought it might fly, but wasn’t sure. Good editors identify that place and sometimes make suggestions. Some suggestions are not useful because you can’t explain everything to an editor about what you are trying to do. I couldn’t possibly explain all of those things to an editor, because what I do has to work on so many levels. But within the relationship if there is some trust, some willingness to listen, remarkable things can happen. I read books all the time that I know would have profited from not a copy editor but somebody just talking through it. And it is important to get a great editor at a certain time, because if you don’t have one in the beginning, you almost can’t have one later. If you work well without an editor, and your books are well received for five or ten years, and then you write another one—which is successful but not very good—why should you then listen to an editor?


Did you know as a child you wanted to be a writer?


No. I wanted to be a reader. I thought everything that needed to be written had already been written or would be. I only wrote the first book because I thought it wasn’t there, and I wanted to read it when I got through. I am a pretty good reader. I love it. It is what I do, really. So, if I can read it, that is the highest compliment I can think of. People say, I write for myself, and it sounds so awful and so narcissistic, but in a sense if you know how to read your own work— that is, with the necessary critical distance—it makes you a better writer and editor. When I teach creative writing, I always speak about how you have to learn how to read your work; I don’t mean enjoy it because you wrote it. I mean, go away from it, and read it as though it is the first time you’ve ever seen it. Critique it that way. Don’t get all involved in your thrilling sentences and all that . . .


You mentioned getting permission to write. Who gave it to you?


No one. What I needed permission to do was to succeed at it. I never signed a contract until the book was finished because I didn’t want it to be homework. A contract meant somebody was waiting for it, that I had to do it, and they could ask me about it. They could get up in my face and I don’t like that. By not signing a contract, I do it, and if I want you to see it, I’ll let you see it. It has to do with self-esteem. I am sure for years you have heard writers constructing illusions of freedom, anything in order to have the illusion that it is all mine and only I can do it. I remember introducing Eudora Welty and saying that nobody could have written those stories but her, meaning that I have a feeling about most books that at some point somebody would have written them anyway. But then there are some writers without whom certain stories would never have been written. I don’t mean the subject matter or the narrative but just the way in which they did it—their slant on it is truly unique.


Why do writers have such a hard time writing about sex?


Sex is difficult to write about because it’s just not sexy enough. The only way to write about it is not to write much. Let the reader bring his own sexuality into the text. A writer I usually admire has written about sex in the most off-putting way. There is just too much information. If you start saying “the curve of . . .” you soon sound like a gynecologist. Only Joyce could get away with that. He said all those forbidden words. He said cunt, and that was shocking. The forbidden word can be provocative. But after a while it becomes monotonous rather than arousing. Less is always better. Some writers think that if they use dirty words they’ve done it. It can work for a short period and for a very young imagination, but after a while it doesn’t deliver. When Sethe and Paul D. first see each other, in about half a page they get the sex out of the way, which isn’t any good anyway—it’s fast and they’re embarrassed about it—and then they’re lying there trying to pretend they’re not in that bed, that they haven’t met, and then they begin to think different thoughts, which begin to merge so you can’t tell who’s thinking what. That merging to me is more tactically sensual than if I had tried to describe body parts.

Full Interview

Сликарство Жан-Мишела Баскијата

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait

Жан-Мишел Баскијат, Аутопортрет, 1982.

Жан-Мишел Баскијат рођен је 1960. године у Њујорку где се испрва афирмисао као улични уметник (street artist) потписујући своје графите са „САМО“ (Same old Shit). Ево како Пол Веб (Paul Webb) opisuje njegove stvaralačke početke:

He earned a living by selling painted postcards and T-shirts, and at this time was making assemblages from scrap metal. He soon caught the attention of the New York art scene. Basquiat met Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, both of whom had found their inspiration in the graffiti scene.

Већ почетком осамдесетих година, захваљујући чланку „The Radiant Child“ критичара Ренеа Рикарда, Баскијат скреће пажњу јавности на себе, која додатно бива наглашена познанством са Ворхолом (које је трајало све до Ворхолове смрти, 1987. године). Већ 1988. Баскијат умире од хероинског овердоуза. У међувремену уметник је излагао заједно са многим чувеним уметницима нашег времена, у неким од најзначајнијих њујоршких галерија.

In late 1981 he joined the „Annina Nosei“ gallery in SoHo, Manhattan. By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly, and alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, and was involved with the Neo-expressionist movement. He was represented in Los Angeles by the „Gagosian Gallery“, and throughout Europe by Bruno Bischofberger.

У контексту ове теме вреди цитирати шта је у интервјуу за „Париску ревију“ амeричка нобеловка Тони Морисон рекла о боји. Њен се одговор имплицитно може повезати са једном од основних одлика Баскијатовог сликарства. Боја, нападна и у комбинацији са другим бојама потпуно некомплементарна, једна је од основних одлика његовог сликарства. Како Баскијат није био само графити уметник, већ је поетику графита пренео на платна, боја на тој подлози добила је сасвим другачији интезитет. Боја доминира. После ње ту је јединствен потез руке, линија која је међу најособенијим у савременом сликарству. Америчка књижевница Тони Морисон подвлачи разлику између доживљаја и афирмације боје у делима белих и црних аутора, али и у свакодневном животу. На новинарево питање „Зашто се већина људи плаши боје?“, америчка списатељица даје следећи одговор:

They just are. In this culture quiet colors are considered elegant. Civilized Western people wouldn’t buy bloodred sheets or dishes. There may be something more to it than what I am suggesting. But the slave population had no access even to what color there was, because they wore slave clothes. For them a colored dress would be luxurious; it wouldn’t matter whether it was rich or poor cloth… just to have a red or a yellow dress. I stripped Beloved of color so that there are only the small moments when Sethe runs amok buying ribbons and bows, enjoying herself the way children enjoy that kind of color. These were people marked because of their skin color, as well as other features. So color is a signifying mark. Baby Suggs dreams of color and says: „Bring me a little lavender“. It is a kind of luxury. We are so inundated with color and visuals. I just wanted to pull it back so that one could feel that hunger and that delight. *

Боја на Баскијатовим платнима нема као код немачких експресионистичких сликара узнемиријуће дејство, нити као код Марка Ротка симболички потенцијал. Она не превазилази границе речи, црвена је на његовим платнима само црвена. Баскијатов визуелни колаж резултат је употреба различитих техника, али и традиција које су га обликовале: урбаног окружења, али и афричког и карипског визуелног и колористичког наслеђа.

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