Secret Sharer or Buried Life For Jon and Elaine Glover
Secret Sharer or Buried Life*
For Jon and Elaine Glover
I love inventories. I am empowered by inventories. List-making, for me, is a defence against chaos. The love of inventory drew me slowly but surely to writers like Roland Barthes and Georges Perec. Affinity then morphed into influence. In return, with any luck, a writer who has been influenced contributes to the Benjaminian aura of the masters and exerts, pro rata, influence of his own, as Borges well understood. Yes, I love inventories.
So, when I was asked to talk about my ‘experiences as writer, translator, publisher, reader, editor, from whatever angle you wish’, I was at risk of taking the invitation at face value, and delivering ‘phantoms of chronologies’ in the phrase of Wallace Stevens, or an inventory of narcissistic anecdotes replete with large reflected glories as well as small unreflected ones; I was at risk of disgracing myself by boring an audience which is educated and intelligent enough to see through the persona to the mask underneath, that of a secret sharer who cannot or does not want to gain, let alone display, complete access to his buried life. For one’s own truth, as Levinas says somewhere, runs the risk of holding one hostage. Yes, I am conscious of and self-conscious about the risks. I believe that we are all double agents, with things to hide as well as reveal, in the sense that there is an ineluctable disjunction between inner and outer projections of the self.(Let me, in parenthesis, name The ...
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