Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The BBC has a very interesting audio slideshow that presents the work of Eamonn McCabe. McCabe is a photographer who travelled around visiting the writing spaces of various well-known authors. The photographs are a fascinating exercise in contrasts, typically with respect to order and chaos, simplicity and complexity. It is tantalizing to speculate on how these spaces relate to the reading process. As an academic author, I’d always felt that my workspace was a (somewhat muddied) reflection of my mind, and at some points it was more worthwhile to spend an hour or so tidying up my desk rather than continue to write. It used to be the case that while writing a paper I would have reams of relevant notes and articles, scattered around my desk, because I needed them at hand. More recently, however, all of my notes lie on my laptop, and all the papers that populate my desk tend to be of the irrelevant and distracting variety. I imagine that things might be slightly different for writers of fiction (I do not count myself among their company). I also imagine that there are likely some interesting variations in process and the impact that the environment has on this process. A cluttered space, then, might not mean a cluttered mind, necessarily. When looking at these photographs, however, there is a feeling that persists throughout. And this is a feeling of peering into someone’s most intimate space. More intimate than the bathroom medicine cabinet. More intimate than the bedroom. But, like a bedroom, a space for the self stripped naked.