On 22 February 2013 I was interviewed by Christopher Lilly about YOU HAVE TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE, my recent exhibition at The China Shop. An extract from the transcript is opposite; details of the exhibition are here.
TN You could say the words in the exhibition are native to one other and native to language; whereas the objects are not native to language but to the room. Words and objects are different species, or rather different orders of reality. They can act upon one another—perhaps the words can describe the things—but they can’t touch.
CL During the talk you said: “I’m trying to make language and non-language meet and dance at the pinpoint between the two.” And you also described the “choreography” of the tip of the pen [in Keeping Time]. I wanted to press you on this connection between dance and being at the tip of something: is it fair to say you’re at this tip because you’re trying to get to some space between language and non-language?
TN Yes, it’s as though language and non-language can only meet at these slim points of coincidence—moments of superficial formal similarity…
CL You mentioned an example during your talk: you said “when you lick the pen”…
TN That’s right. I was describing a moment during the O- text, in which the author is trying to maintain some kind of physical contact with the protagonist despite their belonging to these different orders of reality. The surface of the page comes to stand in for the membrane between the world of the protagonist and the world of the author, and as the author writes, she tries to line up the writing of the fiction with some kind of inscription of touch upon the skin of her protagonist. As you can imagine it’s a repeatedly failed connection for a number of practical reasons. For one thing, when you lick the nib of the pen it loses its ink for a while. It can’t write.
Read the full transcript here.