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Artwork by Wanda Orme

Björk Guest-Edit: In Conversation with Maggie Nelson

Björk and author Maggie Nelson tackle the ambiguous future of feminism and humanity in this freewheeling email exchange for the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of AnOther Magazine

Lead ImageArtwork by Wanda Orme

For the latest issue of AnOther Magazine, we asked Björk to compile an anthology of texts that have inspired her. Drawing on the research undertaken for her upcoming show at The Shed, Björk’s Cornucopia, which premiers this month, the Icelandic artist gathers together the work of some of the most important post-feminist thinkers of the age and puts her own determinedly maverick and truthful stamp on the anthology. Björk has compiled an agenda for hope and reconnection, accompanied here by a dedicated series of imagery created by artist Wanda Orme

Author and lucid thinker Maggie Nelson navigates an articulate path through the tangled messiness of life, love and art, acknowledging ambiguity and refusing to accept neat binaries or calcified certainties. She has written Bluets, a philosophical reverie on the colour blue; The Red Parts, a haunting account of the 1969 abduction and murder of her aunt; The Art of Cruelty, dazzlingly brilliant essays tackling representations of violence in art; and her genre-defying ninth book, The Argonauts, an excerpt of which we will run later this week. A passionate admirer of her work, Björk asked Nelson to take part in an email conversation. Björk kicked things off, and their messages are published here – they form part of an in-depth, freewheeling exchange posing thoughts and questions that will extend beyond our pages...

dearest maggie

not sure exactly how to start this but
let’s dip this toe in the unknown ……

i cannot say enough how honoured i am
that you are up for this email exchange
.… i adore so fiercely all your books and
they have truly saved
me and the timing of discovering them
was such an immaculate thing!!

well your voice is so so incredibly

by so sooo o many people

i have lived a few months a year for the
last 18 in new york and i soo o sorely
needed this conversation!
i lived up the hudson and in brooklyn,
in a perhaps not so subtle radius
circling on orbit around that ever
complex manhattan
it was during this side of the
millennium, from january 2000
to be precise
and so often i found it tricksy
to find a stance to thrive
9/11, school shootings and then trump

i hope you don’t mind if we talk a little
about your book “the art of cruelty”?
it heroically assembled the moments of
violence in art the last couple
of centuries
i have to congratulate you! just making
that archive is a feat!!
so incredibly informative!!
someone should do a tv series based on
that book …

what was so liberating about it was that
it refused to go extremely black
or white about those subject matters
it was openly inclusive discussing
impulses, wildness and cruelty
but also allowed itself to defend life
and justice when needed and
i surprisingly found myself agreeing
with you like almost every single time
so familiar that curious feeling after
you watch a film and it pushes buttons
and your brain says one thing and the
heart something else
but your angle on it truly gave me faith
that one can trust one’s gut

is it ok if i ask you several questions?

or should we have this more like a chat?

or perhaps i start and we can do
a bit of both?

is that book a conscious attempt
to build a bridge between liberal
intelligentsia in the usa and feminism?
to do some sort of damage control on
the inbred misogyny of the left?

i found myself and i suspect many other
women did too, sometimes mirroring
myself in your angle,
when i have found myself
overcompensating and giving them
liberal left bad boys an alibi
with clairvoyance feeling them out and
like developing a film, giving that dark
side a humanness and vocabulary that
is often lacking?

i wonder if i have been guilty
of vanity in how i have offered
to overturn nihilism?
if so, do you recognise that feeling?
to pride oneself in absorbing the dark
and overturn it?
if so, is it some sort of alchemy?

ha ha ha ha

million questions sorry

my friend felt he complimented
me last year saying that when it comes
to relation and friendships i can host
the unhostable and it made me wonder
if that was something i wanted to be?
or not? it’s an arid terrain
i’m probably the only one who knows
the answers to these questions

but do those feelings ring bells?

i adore one of the phrases you had
compiled which is so so so maggie,
never ever polarising always always
(“the point of art is to show people
that life is worth living by showing that
it isn’t” fanny howe)

you then say: “luce irigaray has gone so
far as to call matricide ‘the blind spot
of western patriarchal civilisation’;
scholar amber jacobs has described it
as the ‘death that will not deliver’,
a ‘non-concept’ long denied any
structural generativity by classical
psychoanalytic thought”

this might be boring subject matter
but sometimes the obvious is best …
i guess in a conversation between
me and you right after me reading
a book about cruelty in art
it is kinda unavoidable to at least
mention my collaboration with lars
von trier (sorry guys you are probably
yawning at this point) but when i read
the above sentence it made me think
of my instinct with him when i refused
to be a victim. i remember him saying
something along the lines of that
he was surprised i didn’t just want him
to destroy me completely because
i would then go through a
transformative birth and be reborn. in
the lunacy of his world it would have
been easier. but every cell in my body
screamed that i didn’t want to repeat
the mythology of joan of arc or
maria callas, it wasn’t that i was too
scared or i couldn’t, it was more that all
the work of my mom’s generation
of feminists would have gone to waste
if i repeated that tale, it felt boring
and predictable to me.
you also write: “mary daly, melanie klein,
julia kristeva have noted that it is a
hallmark of patriarchal religion, culture
and psychology to have a repressed
symbolic matricide at its root
– a matricide cast as necessary for the
human subject to leave the mess
of nature and bodily dependency behind
and to become a full participant in
subjectivity, language and culture
(all of which in phallocentric discourse
are identified with the male). as kristeva
famously puts it ‘for a man and for
a woman the loss of mother is a biological
and physical necessity, the first step
on the way to becoming autonomous.
matricide is our vital necessity, the sine
qua non of our individuation.’ note
that the subject here imagined doesn’t
simply outgrow or separate from the
mother. it murders her.”

maggie, i am craving so hard other
narratives for us, is it just laziness or lack
of imagination?

that is why when i read your
masterpiece “the argonauts” i absolutely
beamed with hope.

can we also in this chat discuss hope?
and where we are heading now?

you address it in that book so bravely,
forming a family of the future across
gender across all borders.

one of the most romantic and life
affirming books i have read like ever. 

can we all please invent a continuity?

perhaps i can offer some suggestion
hidden in the icelander’s relationship with
nature … would that interest you?
i feel sometimes the western
civilisation’s narrative, of that gigantic
titanic going down slowly slo-mo for the
last century or so, so one-sided, full
of self importance, self pity and vanity
in a way. like it is asking everybody else
to hold their breaths and watch them
dying, kinda narcissistic? ….. instead of
acting environmentally it feels paralysed
with guilt ......... perhaps there is more
optimism in second world countries who
missed the industrial revolution like for
example some south american countries
and south east asian ... ?

i for example read about Tasmanian
gothic literature and how it differed from
eurogoth: not urban but nature, sounds
kinda familiar to me ….

for me sometimes the female
surrealists like leonora carrington (her
“hearing trumpet” is divine!!) remedios
varo, méret Oppenheim also offer hope.
i felt they took over the often over-
conceptual ideological surrealism of the
twenties and in the next generation gave
it flesh, nature, mythology, emotions.

have you come across the
apocalyptics? i found this in a book about
welsh painter ithell colquhoun:

“morphology: where species mix
the new apocalypse’s starting point was
a belief in the wholeness of man. this
longstanding romantic idea had been
affirmed most recently by DH Lawrence
in apocalypse, the book that suggested
the movement’s name.
in it he emphasised the importance
of harmony with nature.

the apocalyptics rejected the
centralisation, authoritarianism and
dehumanising tendencies of modern
society in favour of the small, the local
and the individual. they also objected
to surrealist unreason championing the
right to exercise conscious control
over mental and social processes […]
by opposing the privileging of the
unconscious, they saw themselves as
offering a development of surrealism.
they were accordingly suspicious
of automatism as a denial of free will and
because it bypassed technical skill
and aesthetic sensibility […] in a letter
of late 1941 to the artist conroy maddox
in which she described her painting,
she wrote that she was undertaking
morphological research, investigating
‘the relationship between human
forms and those of rocks, trees and
sometimes architecture’ this fits with the
apocalyptics’ concern with wholeness,
although they might have balked at
the mystical interpretation of unity
and wholeness, at least to the extent
that she later expressed in her essay
‘the night side of nature’”

i am sorry for my clumsy beginning and
if you want to offer other subject matters

i am all in

or another format
or another angle to start from …..

consider this simply a suggestion
of where to start




Dear Björk,

First of all, I want to say that the honour of this conversation is all mine. If you had told me, back when I was 13 and listening to Kukl, that I would someday be conversing with you, or, even more implausibly, that I would someday write books that you would read and care about, I would never, EVER have believed it. And yet, here we are. Suffice to say it’s so meaningful to me that you thought of me for this conversation. Thank you.

I’m so glad you liked The Art of Cruelty and want to talk about it. One of the best things about people reading The Argonauts is that its visibility re-summoned interest in earlier books of mine, like the cruelty book, which otherwise didn’t travel as far and wide as I might have hoped at the time. It’s really funny what you say about there being a TV show based on the book – I have a curator friend who told me the other day that she is thinking about basing an exhibition on the book, which seems like a totally exciting and also challenging idea, since so much of the work in question seems to me best experienced in smaller doses – I can easily see how putting all of it in one place might overwhelm, or paralyse critical or perceptual capacity. BUT, given how important the notions of violence and darkness and shock and cruelty have been in art (forever, of course, but in my book’s purview, for the past 100 years or so), it also seems that the show could be worthwhile ... we’ll see.

Your reading of the book seems absolutely spot-on to me – in fact, eerily so, which maybe shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is certainly a satisfaction. Especially your comments about “giving them liberal left boys an alibi” and “giving that dark side a humanness and vocabulary which is often lacking.” I do think that I, perhaps like you, started off my intellectual and artistic life somewhat enthralled by the “bad boys” (Bataille, Artaud, the Marquis de Sade, and so on), perhaps because they were sold to me as representing transgression itself. As I grew up into a more overtly feminist sensibility, the question of how, why, and if my appreciation of a lot of that work would hold – not to mention the journey of finding out what else was out there – became sometimes acute. I became fascinated by what forms of cruelty or darkness seemed to merit or even increase my curiosity, and what forms made me say, Fuck you, I’m out of here. The book was very much a feminist exercise, but I decided early on that it wouldn’t announce itself or structure itself as such – rather, it would weave in this perspective along with the rest, so that conversations about female aggression or matricide or what have you weren’t posed as a corrective, or as second tier art history.

I am glad you say that your instincts often aligned with mine as you read the book! The book is a lot about instinct, or visceral response, what it means, what to do with it. I think one thing you realise over time in looking at art / reading certain writers is that how far one is willing to go with them has a lot to do with how much you trust their sensibility – maybe not totally dissimilarly to the way you’d trust someone (or not) in a back alley. Often that trust has something to do with gender, even if not everything.

Maybe I am saying all this to back into the von Trier question, which is totally fascinating to me, if only because talking with you about it directly gives me a profound – if surreal, and folded-in-time – sense of a circle coming closed, at long last. Because I think very likely that my experience of seeing Dancer in the Dark may have planted the seeds for the entire Art of Cruelty project. I don’t know if you know a book of mine called The Red Parts, from 2007, but I wrote it in the years directly prior to writing The Art of Cruelty – it has to do with the 1969 murder of my mother’s sister Jane, and tells the story of my mother and me attending the trial for a new suspect in 2005 (he was in fact convicted, 36 years after the fact). The Red Parts contains this paragraph in it, which comes while my family is awaiting the verdict: 

“Beyond murder mind, the worst thing I can imagine is walking to your execution. Movies which contain these scenes upset me more than all other kinds of movie violence combined. After Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, which ends with Björk singing and dancing her way to her death on the gallows, I literally could not leave the theatre. I thought I might have to be carried out by an usher. This has something to do with my deep moral and political opposition to capital punishment, but clearly it goes beyond that. I simply can’t bear the idea of walking toward your death knowing you might not be ready for it. Your bowels letting loose, your legs gone to rubber. Perhaps this is another way of saying that I can’t bear the human condition. Life is like getting into a boat that’s just about to sail out to sea and sink, the Buddhists say. And so it is. Tibetan Buddhists talk about death as a moment of ‘potent opportunity’, but one you have to practise for in order to know what to do with it. You have to practise so that even if you were, say, suddenly shot in the head at closerange, or even if, say, your heart exploded in the middle of the night, you’d be instantaneously ready to go, to pass through the bardo. I know that I’m not ready, and I’m terrified that I won’t learn in time. How can I learn if I’m not even trying?” 

As I say in that passage, I myself broke down in the theatre after Dancer in the Dark, to the point of not being able to move, my own legs turned to rubber. But in retrospect, it wasn’t just due to the movie’s melodrama or the mortality concerns as described above. It also had to do with my having been a huge fan of yours for my entire life, from age 13 onwards and then, all these years later, I was sitting in the dark by myself in a NYC movie theatre feeling the director’s desire to destroy you completely, as you put it, and it made me soul sick, soul sickened. And angry. At any rate, something about the whole affair made it feel of interest to me to analyse when and how I think shock and cruelty feels worthwhile and when it feels dead-end. Thus, The Art of Cruelty.

As far as “priding oneself on the dark and overturning it” – I think this was an abiding preoccupation of mine for many, many years, all of which kind of crested with the publication of my three books on violence, Jane: A Murder, The Red Parts, and then The Art of Cruelty. Since the first two of those books had to do with a sexualised murder of a family member, a lot of this inquiry was mixed up for me in questions of sexual violence and, to a certain extent, gender relations more broadly. As a kid, I wanted to be able to talk Sade and Bataille with the dirtiest punks and geeks, in writing about my aunt, I kind of wanted to show that I could look at what had been done to her life and body straight up – I wanted to show that I was strong enough to face down the effects of sexual violence instead of being intimidated by them.

BUT, of course, there’s facing something hard down in service of confronting injustice, and then there’s immersing oneself in hard things for more complicated reasons, such as the fact that one may feel oneself home to unhostable things; one may be looking for mirroring, identification, communion, alchemy, or just company in others who seem likely to understand them. Because men don’t own darkness, they don’t own aggression, they don’t own destruction or self-destruction. It’s hard, I think, for women to know what share of that darkness is ours because we too are human animals, and what share is a result of having to live in a world sick unto death with the destructive forces of misogyny and male aggression. I think I used to think I might be able to, like, figure this out, unravel the knot; chapters like Everything Is Nice in The Art of Cruelty tried to grapple with such questions head-on. 

Now I’m likely more inclined to think we’re all so contaminated and imbricated with one another, it’s something of a fool’s errand to try and tease it all apart (not to mention the fact that gender itself flickers in and out of seeming a useful category). And yet, sometimes it’s not a fool’s errand, and simple things still need to be said. (You said some of them to Pitchfork a few years back, which was great.)

In any event: I’m so glad you had the instincts you had vis-à-vis von Trier, and that you honoured them. Of course you weren’t scared – you just knew better!!

So, when you ask if the notion of hosting the unhostable rings any bells, quite obviously the answer is YES – in fact, I would say, it rings a symphony!!! Probably I thought – with, as you say, some measure of vanity – that that was my job precisely for some time, both emotionally and artistically. I am less sure that I ever had as much alchemical propensity as you seem to have – it seems to me that you likely have more transformational skills, more alchemical ability, than I ever managed. Often I’ve felt that all I had to offer in this arena is a certain re-rendering of the unhostable with added clarity. Maybe clarity performs its own version of alchemy, I’m not sure. But here is where words seem very paltry in the face of music and sound – you can create whole soundscapes which add infinite texture to simple sentences, whereas I’m just stuck with the simple sentences, in all their flat reverb. My task is to figure out how to get words to be more than their parts. I still don’t really know how to do this, or how to TRY to do this; I only know how to try to get clearer.

Sometimes this clarity shimmers into something lyrical or pretty, but while I’m writing I find I have to give up going for that, and live with what feel like hopelessly flat words, sentences, even ideas. I often feel very, very stupid while I’m writing, as if what I’m saying is obvious to everyone in the world except me, and I’m the slow-witted person at the party still stuck on the basics. (This is why I love Wittgenstein and others who reiterate that thinking and saying often means feeling or seeming utterly stupid, even to the point of insanity – I love the passage in On Certainty where Wittgenstein says, “I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again ‘I know that that’s a tree,’ pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: ‘This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.’”) After writing those three books however, I kind of retired from this job. Even as I say all this, however, I realise that, in what I’ve been writing lately (which is a book that tries to do for the word “freedom” or “liberation” what I once did with the word “cruelty” – ie rotate the concept around in a bunch of different lights, to see what shades and angles might be newly found), it strikes me as entirely possible that I am still trying to do the work of alchemy and hosting, in this case around PRECISELY the issues you name, re: hope, ecology, not giving into the narcissistic spectacle of the slo-mo Titanic going down.

I had the pleasure of reading your letters with Timothy Morton and I find much in there of urgent interest and sustenance. I have enjoyed teaching Dark Ecology as of late – I really like the idea of theory taking someone on a journey, in a Tibetan Book of the Dead kind of a way – and I like the idea that this journey (ie that of Dark Ecology) is essentially a willingness to feel all sorts of hard feelings, from the uncanny to the dark-sweet to the vertiginously terrifying and so on. This is another means of hosting the unhostable, but instead of hosting, like, aggression, it’s about hosting grief – grief for the human species, for so many other species, for the earth as we’ve known it, and so on – not to mention fear for the instability we justly worry will intensify and spread in the future. But, in the end, perhaps these are not such different emotional tasks, as this grief brings us back to the matricide thing – not to get all 1970s ecofeminist, but part of what we’re grieving, it seems to me, is the large-scale effects of killing “mother earth” ... all that individuation and dominance reaching its apotheosis in a suicidal / geocidal madness –

AND YET you’re absolutely right, that narrative is so boring, even if in some ways it’s an accurate read on what’s going on. So I guess what I’m trying to do in my writing / feeling life these days is figure out the affective space for something different – not, like, by means of making arguments per se (I’m not actually very good at making arguments, which is why I’m not, like, a crack critic; I can’t get compelled by “standing behind” anything, I guess because I like shifting sands too much), but more like – how do I combine the aesthetic problem of making individual, flat words add up to something that feels bigger than their individual parts, with the political / ethical problem of, how do we make our moods matter (even in a literal sense); how does making affective / aesthetic shifts create new worlds, new ways of being, or coexisting?

I care about all that a lot. But I don’t mean to suggest that the criterion for interesting art should be, does it make the world a better place? I’ve never been literal minded like that; it’s not how I think art works. At the same time, I think my issue with von Trier or anyone else whose work seems to be hitting a senselessly boring gong is that it’s not making new things feel possible, it’s not “redistributing the sensible,” as Rancière would put it. Because when something truly redistributes the sensible, then the laziness, the lack of imagination, which you rightly decry, begins to de-solidify. A space is cleared; a new sound begins to grow. Your work has always done that, which is partly why it’s so hugely important to me and so many others.

Well, I think I’ve gone on for long enough – I can tell, because the sun has moved a full arc across my room. Thanks again for taking the time to talk, and warmth back to you.


dearest maggie

i have to say receiving your letter was the
way starstruckethest i’ve been …. what a
joy!!! ha ha ha when that universal voice
in your books shapeshifted into a personal
voice to me: it was humbling ….




i did reread your “the argonauts” again
though and it was such a heightened
curious feeling, i understand why so many
people online say that they keep rereading
it. the text is so beautifully edited down,
streamlined, distilled and condensed
that each time it reads differently and one
can probably mirror one’s life in it
and a completely new book appears like
every single time?

i so adore what you say there “… i am
more of a serial minimalist – an employee
however productive, of the condensery.
rather than a philosopher or a pluraliser
i may be more of an empiricist insofar
as my aim is not to rediscover the eternal
or the universal, but to find the conditions
under which something new is produced”
and you mention that this is the source
of creativeness and i so soo o oo agree
with you. you have no idea how much
i adore your clarity and need it, it feels
like the biggest vitamin deficiency like
every gets cured, a life force scurvy-cure
in print! and i have to disagree with
you, just like music words surely reach
parts where nothing else comes even
close. and perhaps the absolute joy
of reading your books comes from your
refusal of stating the obvious or swaying
too much left or right but just staying
in that  b e a m without frills or décor
and just saying it like it is
and on the subject of flattery

… hmmm …

i felt very flattered how you wrote
in your letter about my transformational
skills, perhaps in some ways i deserve
these compliments but i have to
emphasise, MOSTLY i try like tons and
most often i fail. perhaps in the songs
i make i try to offer some sort of relief
or solutions so perhaps unintentionally
that comes across as me always having
an amazing day and never short
of solutions but the truth is that i only
write like one song a month or even every
other month and often that moment
happens to be when finally some clarity
appears …. so i probably unknowingly
set myself up as a little-miss-know-it-all,
sorry about that

i hope i am not trespassing into the banal
if i compare the journey you took in:
bluets / art of cruelty / the argonauts
to my vulnicura / utopia –
the way it went from heartbreak and
disappointment to rebirth and optimism
offering a new personal manifesto.
or just to quote you “if one does one’s
solitude right, this is the prize”
but perhaps i missed out on the trial and
cleanse of “art of cruelty”, went straight
from “bluets” to “argonauts”
ha ha ha and therefore craved “art of
cruelty” really bad and loved it so hard.
perhaps. (oh, that gentle
(non)confrontation .... how i admire it .... )
or so i quote you again: (or were you
quoting relationship self-help books,
not sure?) “do you want to be right or
do you want to connect?”
as you so magnificently do, see-sawing
on polarity and refusing to take a side
you knew: the peace is found
in uniting

the books on jane and “red parts” are
books of yours i haven’t read yet
actually … and i wasn’t aware of you
writing in it about “dancer in the dark”.
so i am relieved to hear you say that
it triggered some good stuff. i think the
biggest grief i felt during it was perhaps
knowing that as much as i would recover
as a person and be fine in a few months,
the real destruction was more symbolical:
he took one of the most public
scandinavian women at the time and
humiliated her, punished her. it was
a male dane forcing a female icelander
on her knees. it’s a little boring but
as you probably know Iceland used
to be denmark’s colony for 600 years.
we only recently got independent. i have
comforted myself at times that
in some way i took one for the team there.
as much as i did not understand at
the time “what” it was
(the whole thing felt so wrapped,
a force of impulsion veiled in mystery)
but i still somehow felt confident that
even though i had perhaps lost a battle
i had won some type of a war

and what a big unexplainable
humongous war it is maggie!

i said at the time somewhere that the
director does not provide soul
to his movies and he knows it. he needs
a female to provide it and he envies them
and hates them for it. so he has
to destroy them during the filming and
hide the evidence. it is curious that in
his last film he has a protagonist that
is male and apparently represents him.
so i guess there has been some evolution
there … in some ways he is owning it?

but enough of ancient wars
or sedgwick’s “that’s enough,
you can stop now”:

i am so incredibly excited about your new
book about freedom, my friend alejandro
(arca) gave me “the fear
of freedom” by erich fromm for christmas
and what a vital topic nowadays!
just started reading it. and there he goes
writing in 1941 on page two: “another
common illusion, perhaps the most
dangerous of all, was that men like hitler

had gained power over the vast apparatus
of the state through nothing but cunning
and trickery, that they and their
satellites ruled merely by sheer force;
that the whole population was only the
will-less object of betrayal and terror”
sounds familiar …. the voters know
what they are doing … is the freedom
theirs and they don’t want it? if so,
that’s the scary part … can’t wait to finish
that book

i find myself in my worklife
reinventing freedom and then losing
it nonstop ha ha ha ha, i try to change
my work environment randomly to keep
me on my toes. go from home studio
to cabin to island and back. i also feel
my main field of freedom fighting prob-
ably happens within my body,
i guess when that is your main
instrument, you can have dramatic effect
on your work with what you eat and what
not. then i hike a lot and swim and bike
and probably have an intense magnifying
lens reading every muscle and cell like
all the time ha ha ha ha

you should be a fly on the wall when
singers meet, the talk of nutrition and
exercise goes to intense levels.
but i am immensely grateful for it too,
it carries all my discipline and restriction
but also all of my freedom as well.

but this is probably getting too long
the sun has fully risen here
in my over christmas-decorated house
i should move on, i have my first project
of the year
heading to my cabin to meet some work
collaborators for a three day improv

before i leave i would like to thank you
for unknowingly holding my hand the
last few years
you dare to step into the future like
no one else atm
no philosopher is doing what you
are doing (if so can you please tell me
their names!) perhaps in the future
we don’t need them like we did, rather
we need someone like you who collects
the writings of our species, merges it
and distils it into a human form adding
diaries and emotional responsibility?
i just read somewhere that the difference
between someone who has anxiety
or someone who is narcissistic is simply
the level of emotional responsibility,
the ones with anxiety have too much,
the ones with narcissism too little.
perhaps books written in the latter
manner have no relevance anymore.
is the 20th century guitar solo of
nietzsche and warhol’s heroes over?

and in this age where immediate
environmental action is needed,
or as you say:
“ … all that individuation and dominance
reaching its apotheosis in a suicidal
/ geocidal madness – ” … the way to
overturn it is perhaps similar to how you
write books, not with dry philosophy
but you act as if there was an emergency,
it needs to be functional, ready to apply
to your life like now, like outdoor gear
shop style literature, survivalism …. you
pack your bags, the human race’s
biggest wisdom, leave the past behind
and take only what is absolutely
essential and march on.

and obvs most importantly: humour!

perhaps being a serial minimalist,
condensery-ist and empiricist is
the way to go?

(i am not sure if you are aware of my
dear friend oddný eir’s books. she is
an icelandic philosopher that studied
under derrida and has written a lot
about hannah arendt. her books are very
different from yours but you share this
thing of generously wrapping the reader
with education, you are nourished with
the archives (one of her books
for example was about archaeology and
homebuilding of icelandic farms and
roots) and then she mixes it with her own
life and fantasy. and something you both
share in bulk: delicious dark humour.)

i have to go

let’s turn this

you say:
“let’s make new things feel possible
it’s not ‘redistributing
the sensible,’ as Rancière would put it.
Because when something truly
redistributes the sensible, then the
laziness, the lack of imagination,
which you
rightly decry, begins to de-solidify.
A space is cleared; a new sound begins
to grow. Your work has always done that,
which is partly why it’s so hugely
important to me and so many others.”

that means a lot to me especially coming
from you

thank you maggie, that gives me hope

let’s imagine a continuity …..



This story originally featured in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of AnOther Magazine which is on sale internationally now.