To quote Samuel Beckett’s letter to Thomas MacGreevy (25th March 1936), I have been reading wildly all over the place. Time’s Flow Stemmed is a notebook of my wild readings.
As soon as I figured out that letters could be made into words I became an avid reader. Sometimes I annotate my books, at other times use notebooks to record aspects of my reading that I wish to preserve. Times Flow Stemmed is an extension of that phrase-hunting or what Beckett called the demon of note-snatching. This blog is a complement to several full notebooks containing notes taken from the books I am reading.
In fiction I have a proclivity for novels that engage with modernism, often in translation, mostly economical, austere fiction that doesn’t seek resolution. My nonfictional reading covers literary criticism, philosophy, critical theory, and sociology, with an aesthetic compulsion that lures me to artist’s (including photographer’s) monographs. I haunt galleries as though they were second homes, spending hours with the paintings that I love.
There are writers that I read toward completion. My list of favourite authors is recast as I discover new authors and outgrow others.
At the moment, these are my old chestnuts: Dante Alighieri, Samuel Beckett, Jane Bennett, John Berger, Thomas Bernhard, Roberto Calasso, Anne Carson, Hélène Cixous, J.M. Coetzee, Simon Critchley, Roger Deakin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Marguerite Duras, Geoff Dyer, Pierre Hadot, Peter Handke, Homer, Michel Houellebecq, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Søren Kierkegaard, László Krasznahorkai, Clarice Lispector, Friedrich Nietzsche, Atiq Rahimi, Clément Rosset, Michel Serres, William Shakespeare, Susan Sontag, Marina Tsvetaeva, Christa Wolf, Virginia Woolf, Kate Zambreno.
Though this blog is mostly concerned with literature, occasionally writing about other passions such as paintings, film noir, music, and travel is unavoidable. This blog, like all blogs, is a reflection of its creator.
When I began this blog back in 2009 I adopted Wislawa Szymborska’s words as a manifesto of sorts:
At first I thought I’d be writing real reviews, that is, in each case I’d describe the nature of the book in hand, place it in some larger context, then give the reader to understand it was better than some and worse than others. But I soon realized that I couldn’t write reviews and didn’t even want to. That basically I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various looses associations.
The purpose of Time’s Flow Stemmed is to spin out these loose associations based on what I’m reading and to participate in a conversation about literature, philosophy and critical theory. I am always pleased to have the opportunity to converse on Twitter, LibraryThing, but my favourite are your comments here on Time’s Flow Stemmed. I’d be thrilled if you comment on my posts, ask questions, object, carry on the conversation. Or feel free to send me an email at timesflowstemmed AT gmail DOT com.
Contributions on Other Sites
A conversation with David Winters at 3:AM magazine (February 2012): ‘Modernism Then and Now’.
I have accepted a couple of publisher-provided books before and can’t say I like the pressure (admittedly self-imposed) to read and review them. It is rare that I find enough reading time, and I want to be able to drift from book to book as the mood grabs me. I admire any author able to write a whole book and wish them all success.