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Spaces of encounter: the performative art of reading | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review
"When the ‘counter novel’ Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar was published in 1963 it was celebrated as one of the most innovative experiments in 20th-century literature. The book was written to allow and encourage many different and complementary readings. As the author’s note at the beginning of the novel suggests, it can be read either progressively in the first 56 chapters or by ‘hopscotching’ through the entire set of 155 chapters according to a ‘Table of Instructions’. Cortázar also allows the reader the option of choosing their own unique path through the book. It’s no coincidence that the narrative – from the title of the book to the several overlapping stories that are contained in it – is based on a game often played in small groups in public spaces and playgrounds, in which the player has to hop or jump to retrieve a small object tossed into numbered patterns drawn on the ground. The book’s main structure has strong allusions to the notions of ‘space’ and the way we navigate through it, with its three main sections entitled ‘From the Other Side’, ‘From this Side’, and ‘From Diverse Sides’.

[image: "Since 2010, the ‘book bloc’ has been a visible feature of protests"]

Similarly, but from a different perspective, one of the first things the reader notes when flipping through Fantasies of the Library edited by Anne-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin and published in 2016 by MIT Press, is that the book itself can be understood as a kind of public space. In effect, it presents a brilliant dérive through books, book collections and the physical spaces of libraries from a curatorial perspective, going from private collections and the way their shelves are organised, to more ad hoc and temporary infrastructures, such as the People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street in New York, or the Biblioburro, a travelling library in Colombia that distributes books from the backs of two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Various configurations and layouts have been designed in response to these narratives. They include essays, photos and interviews, setting up different kinds of encounters between authors, editors, readers, photographers and illustrators. Once you have the book in your hands, you gradually start to apprehend that the four conversations are printed only on left-hand pages, interspersed with other essays on right-hand ones. So it is only when you start reading voraciously and are interrupted by the ‘non-sense’ of these jumps, when the understanding of the dynamics imposed by the layout manifests itself, that you become aware you are already ‘hopscotching’ from page to page. The chapter ‘Reading Rooms Reading Machines’ is not only a visual essay about the power of books to create spaces around them and gather a community, it is also a curated, annotated and provocative history of these spaces as a conceptual continuation between the book and the city, ‘two environments in conjunction’, as Springer writes.

In some ways, it resembles the encounters you have in the streets of your neighbourhood. Some people you only glance at, others you smile at, there are a few with whom you talk and if you’re lucky, you might meet a friend. Within the texts, you can hop back and forth, approving, underlining, or absorbing in more detail. From individual object to the container known as the library, the idea of the book as a territory is explored in depth. Different kinds and sizes of spaces and the interactions that happen in and between them emerge. Springer describes the library as ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ – a place where the book is not a static object but a space in which the reader is an active agent, coming and going from the outside; outside the pages and outside the library. It recalls Ray Bradbury’s assertion that: ‘Books are in themselves already more than mere containers of information; they are also modes of connectivity and interrelation, making the library a meta-book containing illimitable intertextual elements.’

[image: "Improvised book blocs on the street" from source: Interference Archive]

In moving from the ‘hopscotching’ suggested by Cortázar to the idea of the ‘library as map’ as discussed by Springer and Turpin, it is clear that the inextricable relationship between books and space forms the basis of our understanding of books as spaces of encounter, and the importance of heterogeneous books – whether fiction, poetry or critical theory – as spaces of encounter for architectural discourse. In that sense, books can be perceived as new kinds of spaces, where empathy, alterity and otherness are stronger than ideologies. Catalysing dissent and open dialogue, they can be one of the most effective tools of resistance in times of censorship, fake news and post-truth. Social anthropologist Athena Athanasiou explains how books have been used in public space as part of political struggles. ‘People have taken to the streets to fight for critical thinking and public education, turning books into banners and shields against educational cuts and neoliberal regimes of university governance’, she writes. This activism emphasises the strong symbolic power of the relationship between books and architectural spaces, ‘where the books were not only at the barricades, they were the barricades’. Such agency can transgress almost any kind of limit or boundary, and can happen in any sort of space – from your mobile device to the library or the street. But it is in the public sphere where the book’s agency can have the ‘power to affect’, becoming ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ beyond the confines of the library.

Books can be ‘performed’ in many ways, especially when critical writing and the act of reading create spaces of encounter in the city. In June 2013, after plans were unveiled to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park, artist Erdem Gunduz initiated his Standing Man protest while he stood motionless in Taksim Square for eight hours. This thoughtful form of resistance inspired a group of ‘silent readers’ who successfully transformed a space of fighting and friction into a meaningful space of encounter by simply standing still and reading books. It became known as the Tak sim Square Book Club, paradoxically one of the most dynamic demonstrations in recent years. The strength and energy contained in the bodies of each reader, but also in every book and the endless stories and narratives between covers, transformed Taksim Square into a highly politicised space. Instead of being compromised by conflict between government and citizens, it became a space of encounter that gave agency to each silent reader and to the wider collectivity they brought into being.

[image: "Readers in Istanbul’s Taksim Square transform the space through peaceful activism"]

The moment when writing, often carried out in solitude, is published, circulated and made accessible to everyone is the moment of generating public space, argues the French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman. This was demonstrated in the ‘Parasitic Reading Room’, a nomadic, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces staged during the opening days of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. Initially consisting of a series of out-loud readings of texts at selected venues, it then expanded to become an urban dérive across the streets of the city in the company of a mobile radio broadcasting the live readings. In that moment, the ‘walking reading room’ became a space of exchange, knowledge and collaboration. Different points of view coexisted, enriching each other, forming knowledge assemblages. It reminds us that reading together, whether silently or aloud, forces us to interact, to respect the times and rhythms of others, to learn new words and their sounds and to think new thoughts. In doing so, we rediscover new territories of empathy that become visible when visiting these spaces of encounter, where we learn that we can host otherness as part of the self. Where comradeship is a means instead of an end. Books create the spaces in which to play hopscotch together again."
ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  books  reading  howweread  howwewrite  rayuela  2019  neilgaiman  fiction  space  performance  etienneturpin  derive  collections  libraries  raybradbury  connectivity  interrelation  hypertext  athenaathanasiou  architecture  protest  biblioburro  nomads  nomadism  nomadic  ows  occupywallstreet  conversation  neighborhoods  urban  urbanism  cities  istanbul  geziprk  erdemgunduz  taksimsquare  georgesdidi-huberman  comradeship  solidarity  empathy  writing  visibility  hopscotch  juliocortázar  anna-sophiespringer  dérive 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Best Fabulist Books – Flavorwire
"Fabulism, it seems, is having a moment — although whether it’s truly a trend is up for debate. Some might say it’s been right there, purring along all this time, while others might blink and wonder what you’re talking about. Such is always the case with magic. But whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, there are always new corners of the fantastic to discover.

Before we begin, take note: I say fabulism, but there’s really no single term that works for all of these books, or even for more than a few of them. There’s Robert Scholes’s fabulation, Todorov’s fantastic, there’s plain old fairy tale or fantasy, there’s the much-discussed magical realism, but none of these really work as blanket terms, at least not for what we think of when we consider contemporary literary works with, er, unrealistic elements. And maybe that’s a good thing — maybe that’d tether these books too close to earth, keep them too cemented in our imaginations.

So, here you’ll find 50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the supernatural, which have no unironic dragons, very few (if any) self-serious necromancers, but lots of delightful, magical, humane, real-as-all-get-out storytelling. Better get started, and if any of your own favorites are missing here, add them to the list in the comments."
via:anne  books  booklists  toread  srg  harukimurakami  italocalvino  borges  isabelallende  gabrielgarcíamárquez  georgesaunders  kafka  aimeebender  alissanutting  ameliagray  angelacarter  benmarcus  chinamieville  césararia  donaldantrim  donaldbarthelme  eowynivey  etgarkeret  heidijulavits  helenoyeyemi  jeffvandermeer  johnbarth  joywilliams  karenjoyfowler  karenrussell  katebernheimer  kathryndavis  kellylink  kevinbrockmeier  koboabe  lauravandenberg  lucycorin  marie-helenebertino  mattbell  mikhailbulgakov  nalohopkinson  neilgaiman  normanlock  philiproth  porochistakhakpour  ramonaausubel  salmanrushdie  sarahsun-lienbynum  shanejones  stephenmillhauser  tobybarlow 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming | Books | theguardian.com
"Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.



And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.



Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.



They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.



Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open."
books  libraries  fiction  literature  2013  neilgaiman  literacy  writing  empathy  invention  creativity  learning  freedom  access  discontent  change  agency  progress 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 | The University of the Arts
"The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police."



"People get hired because, somehow, they get hired."



"To all today's graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules."

[On Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI ]
neilgaiman  luck  howwework  freelancing  art  making  glvo  2012  commencementspeeches  life  living  worrying  rules  breakingrules  creativity  uncertainty  freedom  mistakes  failure  success  commencementaddresses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Making smart on Env
"Smart people can take something complex and express it faithfully in different, especially simpler, terms. They can interpret and reinterpret. If you want to make something smart, it’s tempting to do smartness to your topic until you’ve condensed it into some admirably lucid interpretation, then hand that to the audience and wait for the applause. Sometimes this is what’s needed. But it isn’t how to make smart things. A smart thing is something for a smart person. However many interpretations you put in it, however fertile they are, you leave room for more.

You do this because you respect what you are interpreting and you do it because you respect your audience. It’s a lot like being considerate. And that’s how you make smart things."
making  writing  subjectivities  balance  interpretation  dryness  comments  audience  clever  cleverness  criticism  superiority  disdain  milankundera  kitsch  storytelling  airs  malcolmgladwell  ted  smartness  authenticity  entertainment  art  nervio  thomaskincade  beauty  humor  neilgaiman  2012  consideration  smarts  smart  charlieloyd 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman quotes
“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.”
neilgaiman  schools  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  quotes  life  death  love 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman - Wikipedia
"For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. He later recalled that "I admired his use of parenthetical statements to the reader, where he would just talk to you...I'd think, 'Oh, my gosh, that is so cool! I want to do that! When I become an author, I want to be able to do things in parentheses.' I liked the power of putting things in brackets.""
writing  classideas  dialogue  narration  storytelling  via:lukeneff  neilgaiman  literature  books  cslewis  chroniclesofnarnia  parentheticalstatements  brackets  thewaywespeak  thewaywewrite  howwethink  mimicry  copying  voice  dialog  parenthesis  parentheses 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Vulture Transcript: Neil Gaiman on Comics, Twilight, Twitter Etiquette, Killing Batman, and Sharing Porn With His Son -- Vulture [via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/1347702944/things-with-stories-became-incredibly]
"Things with stories became incredibly unfashionable for kids. There was a point in the eighties and nineties when young-adult literature was being driven by the opinions of some teachers and some librarians, who were of the opinion that young-adult literature should be wholesome and informative and nutritious, like stone-ground wheat or whatever. I was in England back then and you’d get these books for review, and they’re all about this 15-year-old boy who lived in this tower block in London, and his older brother was using drugs, probably heroin. But there was a teacher who believed in him, and even though things weren’t going very well, it was kind of bleak and miserable, but because the teacher believed in him, maybe by the end he was going to be okay, we sort of hoped … And if I read that book once, I must have read it 30 times, and I didn’t like it any better any of those times. But that was the book, and it wasn’t a story. It didn’t keep you turning the pages…"
neilgaiman  education  books  storytelling  stories  trends  yaliterature  children  literature 
october 2010 by robertogreco
List of fictional books - Wikipedia
"A fictional book is a non-existent book created specifically for (i.e. within) a work of fiction. This is not a list of works of fiction (i.e., actual novels, mysteries, etc), but rather imaginary books that do not actually exist.

Uses: Such a book may (1) provide the basis of the novel's plot, (2) add verisimilitude by supplying plausible background, or (3) act as a common thread in a series of books or the works of a particular writer or canon of work. A fictional book may also (4) be used as a conceit to illustrate a story within a story, or (5) be essentially a joke title, thus helping to establish the humorous or satirical tone of the work. (Fictional books used as hoaxes or as purported support for actual research are usually referred to as false documents.)"
borges  umbertoeco  michaelchabon  italocalvino  neilgaiman  philipkdick  aldoushuxley  johnirving  kafka  georgeorwell  orhanpamuk  thomaspynchon  vonnegut  wikipedia  writing  fiction  lists  literature  books  meta  invention  verisimilitude  kurtvonnegut 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Gaiman, Morrison, and the strange substratum « Snarkmarket
"But this is the impor­tant part: I think if you look on any writer’s shelf in TV or Hol­ly­wood, you’ll find Mor­ri­son. That’s def­i­nitely true of writ­ers of shows like Bat­tlestar Galac­tica and LOST. Yes—in fact, LOST is basi­cally a TV series writ­ten by Grant Mor­ri­son. It’s his techno-occultism, his rain­bow sophis­ti­ca­tion. Comic-book adven­ture meets quan­tum foam meets Rider-Waite. I really believe the writ­ing staff at LOST would cop to it."
snarkmarket  robinsloan  grantmorrison  neilgaiman  lost  writing  comics  toread  battlestargalactica  adventure 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Ask the Author Live: Dana Goodyear with Neil Gaiman: Ask the Author : The New Yorker
"Authors like Michael Chabon have been cru­sad­ing for awhile to break down the bar­ri­ers between so-called ‘lit­er­ary fic­tion’ and ‘genre fic­tion’. Do you have any idea why lit­er­a­ture remains so com­part­men­tal­ized? Is there any end in sight?
neilgaiman  writing  interviews  michaelchabon  confluence  comics  lowbrow  glvo  cv  literature  fiction  barriers  compartmentalization  art  culture 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Game Version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline Coming | Game | Life from Wired.com
"It may not be based on his groundbreaking Sandman comic series, but a Neil Gaiman property is finally getting turned into a game."
neilgaiman  books  children  film  games  gaming  videogames  coraline  nintendo  nintendods  ds 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Journal: Changing planes.
"Cory is one of the Explainers. The people who see what's going on, or what they perceive to be going on, and then turn around and tell everyone else, and once you've heard it their way you can't ever see it the old way again."
corydoctorow  fiction  sciencefiction  scifi  books  neilgaiman  liberty  freedom  writing  reviews  malcolmgladwell  music  williamgibson  brucesterling  douglasadams 
december 2007 by robertogreco

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