Saturday 22 December 2018

Objects in This Mirror, Brian Dillon

Objects in This Mirror by Brian Dillon is a collection of essays in a plump sturdy paperback (Sternberg Press) that has occupied my winter reading ground for a few weeks now. First I read the whole thing then had the book around in my room and read maybe the contents page, or some of an essay, then stared at the fire and let it settle.

What you put into reading is nothing like what you get out; reading is fermentation, not arithmetic.
To substitute metaphor for the concept: to write. [Barthes]
Barthes brought Brian Dillon into his right world. A writer, a teacher, somebody brings you on and you don't look back. For him it was Barthes.
They are eager to learn to really dance.
This is the caption under a soft fifties photograph of two girls in Moscow doing grands jet├ęs, one smiling at the other, both at the height of the leap and aware of each other. Really dancing meant leaping. I have always had a soft spot for the leaping photos of Lartigue, for flying dreams and for a teenager dancing in the living room on her own when everyone had gone out, ballet music on the record player, like an orphan.

As well as essay titles in Objects in This Mirror there are sections: Curiosities, On Land, Pathologies, Image Files, Inaesthetics, Syllabus. The inner shopping list.
The artist Nina Katchadourian once said to me that her job as she sees it is to simply pay closer attention to the world than others do ...
The closer the attention to greater the pain and if you're lucky the pleasure—if the world you attend is complaisant with your vision. To dance, to write, to leap over things at your own speed. There's the nub, or is it rub?

In the introduction Brian Dillon suggests that the reader may as go straight to the essay at the end about Barthes, 'before any of the more contained and probably assured pieces that come before it'. I didn't do that, I read it where it came in the running order, but in the re-reading it was the essay about Barthes I went to first.

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