On: – Anne Carson

These things come and go so quickly—the ephemerality of our ephemera increases—you have to dig now for this quirky profile of Anne Carson at the NY Times, on the occasion of her new book Red Doc>. I walked down a hallway in conversation with her once, and she is quite a creature—as evinced by these excerpts from her email exchange with critic Sam Anderson—but you know that already because you have read her books.

On writing: “we’re talking about the struggle to drag a thought over from the mush of the unconscious into some kind of grammar, syntax, human sense; every attempt means starting over with language. starting over with accuracy. i mean, every thought starts over, so every expression of a thought has to do the same. every accuracy has to be invented. . . . i feel i am blundering in concepts too fine for me.”

On ice bats: “I made up ice bats, there is no such thing.”

On teaching: “when i began to be published, people got the idea that i should ‘teach writing,’ which i have no idea how to do and don’t really believe in. so now and then i find myself engaged by a ‘writing program’ (as at nyu, stanford) and have to bend my wits to deflect the official purpose.”

On contradiction: “i realize all this sounds both chaotic and dishonest and probably that is the case. contradiction is the test of reality, as Simone Weil says.”

On insects: “i admire the parsimony of ladybugs.” (Admittedly, I baited her into this one with a description of my daughter’s plastic ladybug biodome, in which the whole colony survives for weeks at a time on two water-soaked raisins. But still, that was Carson’s response.)