… for books have a way of influencing each other …

In “A Room of One’s Own” Virginia Woolf is saying:

Fiction will be much the better for standing cheek by jowl with poetry and philosophy  … For books have a way of influencing each other.

All of Woolf’s writing (according to Hermione Lee) goes in for this mixing and merging of genres: fiction, history, biography, essays, elegy, poetry, drama, are always criss-crossing and influencing each other in her work.

This is, as I see it, why Woolf’s texts are such magnificent models and ideals for one who wants to write. She is extremely inventive and free in her texts, she uses the world, arts and history in her own ways, creating new meanings, which is really something to strive for

Vanessa Bell: The Schoolroom (1937)

Lithograph on paper. In many ways this is both quintessential Bloomsbury and closely representative of Vanessa Bell’s work: the colours are strong, the patterns bold, the décor of a type Bell might herself have designed for the Omega Workshops.

Carol Becker on A Room of One’s Own

For women to do serious creative work they must have a room of their own – a room to hide in, parameters to protect them from external interference and from psychic interference. Women must protect themselves from their inability to keep out input of others, to say no to the needs of others, the fears, the wants, and desires of others that inevitable pull them away from themselves.

Carol Becker 

The above quoted is from Carol Becker’s Zones of Contention: Essays on art, institutions, gender, and anxiety, it is a book I have yet to read. As for now I only know cultural critic Carol Becker as a great lecturer, you can listen to her here

just like breathing

I read this beautiful post on A Piece of Monologue today. It made me think of the quality of books as tangible, factual objects. Because there is a kind of magic in books made of paper, which e-books are not (yet) to match – I’m talking about handmade scribbling and comments. I know that I can easily make notes in my i-Pad, but it will not be looking like this:

David F. Wallace's notes on Don DeLillo

David F. Wallace's notes on Borges
To me these pages are a pictures of pure beauty – the kind of beauty that comes into existence when thinking souls meet.
Reading – Internalizing

Writing – Externalizing

just like breathing

This is how new thoughts are made, this is the way our common culture develop, this is why we are all dependent on one another -


In addition to my self-chosen writers & themes, my reading at all times does also consist of those new novels I read for reviews.

Today I received a copy of Helle Helle’s most recent novel: This should be written in the present.

Helle Helle was born in Denmark in 1965. She published her first book in 1993. She has been translated into several languages.

portrait of books & music

A few books from my Woolf collection. I will be systematic in reading Woolf this year, but unsystematic in which of her texts I read when. Much of the time I will go back en forth, combining her original work with texts on her work. I will also focus on her non-fiction with the same interest as I have for the fictional work.

These books were laying on my desk this morning. Some are new, some are old ones that I keep reading all the time. The big, fat green one at the bottom is a book on how to become a better writer. Some of Dillard’s books are always around. De Waal’s book is a gift from a good friend of mine – I haven’t got the chance to read it yet – have you?

I dont listen to music when I read or write, but when I’m sorting out my desk (or my brain – which in a way seems to be very similar processes) I love listening to music. Most often it will be Bach. Lately I have also spent some fantastic hours with Bela Bartok. Anyways: all music becomes great in the hands of Richter, and today I’m enjoying his Beethoven recording.


Eva Hesse & ‘the total absurdity of life’

Guardian critic Jonathan Jones has written an interesting piece called: Art criticism and the pleasure principle. His text made me think about art that I really love (beyond intellectualism…?)
Today I will present you for one of my absolute favorite artists:
Don’t ask what it means or what it refers to. Don’t ask what the work is. Rather, see what the work does
Eva Hesse: Right After (1969)

Eva Hesse was born in Hamburg in 1936 into a Jewish family. She was sent with her sister on a Kindertransport to Holland to flee the Nazis in 1938. Their parents joined them and they moved first to London, and then to New York in 1939. When Eva was nine, her parents separated and her father remarried. A few months later her mother, who had a history of depression, committed suicide by throwing herself from a window.

In her last and very productive years Hesse experimented with materials such as latex and fibreglass, which were fairly new to the art scene. Her feel for them and her command of composition were breathtaking. Several of these works have either disintegrated or are so fragile that extended display would damage them irreparably.

Hesse readily absorbed the influences of Surrealism, Conceptualism and Minimalism, always filtering them though her own distinctive sensibility to produce a unique and highly individualistic body of work.

Lucy Lippard: Hesse took exactly what she needed from the art around her, transformed it, and gave it back to the art world

Hesse’s art evokes the tension between opposites: the geometric and the organic, the serial and the unique, chaos and order. And yet her work consistently challenges the very idea of contraries. Her early ink drawings involve wash after wash, transposing the layering process from painting to drawing. The later sculptural works often hang like paintings, and the layers of material evoke both the methods and the touch of the painter.

Of course we can theorize about Hesse, but it also possible to meet her work in a pure sensual way. All you have to do is let yourself float into her magical world -

Eva Hesse: No Title (1969)

A timeless present

As advised by Kathryn, I have started reading Jeanette Winterson’s book: Art Objects. In her book Winterson writes about Woolf, and Kathryn thought I might find it interesting. And I certainly do! But at the moment I’m not only reading Woolf, I’m also reading Gadamer in preparation for some lectures I will be giving. Of course I  did not expect any correlations between Gadamer and Winterson – but see what I found:

In the introduction to her essay Winterson has written

If truth is that which lasts, then art has proved truer than any other human endeavour. What is certain is that pictures and poetry and music are not only marks in time but mark through time, of their own time and ours, not antique or historical, but living as they ever did, exuberantly, untired.

This statement seemed very similar to something I had just read somewhere else. So I went to Mr Gadamer, and here it was:

The creator of a work of art may intend the public of his own time, but the real being of his work is what it is able to say, and this being reaches fundamentally beyond any historical confinement

In this sense, the work of art occupies a timeless present

Hans-Georg Gadamer: “Aesthetics and Hermeneutics”

Unbelievable really, how seemingly very different works can intertwine … and how these unintended connections suddenly become very meaningful.

I am so happy to have a reason to introduce my students not only for hermeneutics, but also for Wintersons beautiful text!