The Most Interesting Thing I Read Today

“I’m really trying to make people’s minds move, you know, which is not something they’re naturally inclined to do,” she told me. “We have a kind of inertia, sitting and listening. But it’s really important to get somehow into the mind and make it move somewhere it has never moved before. That happens partly because the material is mysterious or unknown but mostly because of the way you push the material around from word to word in a sentence. And it’s that that I’m more interested in doing, generally, than mystifying by having unexpected content or bizarre forms. It’s more like: Given whatever material we’re going to talk about, and we all know what it is, how can we move within it in a way we’ve never moved before, mentally? That seems like the most exciting thing to do with your head. I think it’s a weakness to fall back into merely mystifying the audience, which anybody can do. You know, throw in a bit of Hegel. Who knows what that means? But to actually take a piece of Hegel and move it around in a way that shows you something about Hegel is a satisfying challenge.”
– from “The Inscrutable Brilliance of Anne Carson,” by Sam Anderson , New York Times Magazine, March 17, 2013

2 thoughts on “The Most Interesting Thing I Read Today

  1. Steve Gilzow

    I also read this piece in the NYT. Carson’s public reading (red shoes!), along with my self-conscious “Hello” to her as she emerged, dripping, at the Walloon Lake beach, are among my more vivid memories of the Bear River conference a few years ago. Everything she said and did seemed to come from a place two sandbars and one ice shelf beyond the rest of us.

    1. Jerry Dennis Post author

      Steve — I remember watching her swimming in Walloon and thinking that she was about to transform into a form of water herself. And I too felt her distance. Keith Taylor and I gave her a ride into Petoskey and back the evening of her reading and I tried my best to get her to laugh by telling stories of growing up in northern Michigan with my wild-ass friends, but didn’t succeed. Her books are brilliant. And inscrutable…


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