Tan Lin on ” the book as dispersed ambient textuality”
February 18, 2011 - Uncategorized
I am interested in your ideas about boredom, especially considering your work in an ambient avant-garde that goes against shock aesthetic. In your interview with Chris Alexander, Kristen Gallagher, and Gordon Tapper you discuss your interest in middle-brow reading, especially material like an index and a forward, both of which appear as appropriations from other books in your book. Do you see boredom as a byproduct of reproducibility, as a vacuum space created by cultural institutions, a frame of mind that enables pleasure and creativity, a combination of these, or something different altogether?
I thought of SCV as the slightly bored mood of reading distractedly, while cooking, waiting for a subway, or watching TV. I am supposed to be a very close reader of texts because I am a professor, but I mostly skim books and read synopses of important articles. I focus on forewords, appendixes (they are like pictures), and footnotes (they tell me the things I actually have to go out and read). Thus the title’s citation of 2004 in the near but not too distant past and where the book was published six rather relaxed years later, as you note, on April 1. So SCV is blogged writing, too, where the writing is additive and incremental but not necessarily in any teleological way. Blogging is sideways dilatory writing and the organization of SCV is similar. There is a lot of fetishism attached to the book as object , so I was interested in the book as dispersed ambient textuality, meta-data, or maybe just the allusiveness of the bibliographic that is referenced by a title, which I suppose is the book itself and its ecosystems of reading. So I was interested in non-print forms of reading: architecture, paintings, strip malls, potted plants, spoken words, the back stitching on a Margiela blouse, traffic lights, WD50, reality TV.
Reading is a system of highly commodified moods, but like individual blog sites, these are variable. I do a lot of reading while doing other things, like cooking or watching Olympic alpine skiing or the Weather Channel or whatever. So SCV emulates the ambient textuality or generalized medium (the term is Niklas Luhmann’s) of reading as it is structurally coupled to other things. I’m interested in the formats and micro-formats of reading, and their coupling to other things in the world, like restaurants, yoga mats, poems, former boyfriends or girlfriends, wives and husbands (and their photographs), and of course other books (and their photographs and the photographs they contain within them). So I would say boredom is a very loose medium in which the heterogeneity of the world can be gathered without coalescing into something meaningful—like a book. What do the stories “mean” in SCV? Not very much. Are they boring? Well, yes, sort of. Do they limit meanings? Of course. Do they prevent violence from being registered? Yes, and this is particularly true of the last section, which describes the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.