“In some sense, the city runs on envy, on thwarted desire, on the fear that someone else somewhere near us is living some slightly better version of our life, on our need some mornings to see someone fall from a great, or even a sort of middling and unexciting height. (I would think you would have to be pretty bitter and disenfranchised to revel in the downfall of a semi-successful working journalist like me, but there is such a thing as a slow news day …) ”—“Gawker Is Big Immature Baby: Why can’t Gawker do nastiness the right way?,” Katie Roiphe. (Oct. 2011)
“We were that generation called ‘silent,’ but we were silent neither, as some thought, because we shared the period’s official optimism nor, as others thought, because we feared its official repression. We were silent because the exhilaration of social action seemed to many of us just one more way of escaping the personal, of masking for a while that dread of the meaningless which was man’s fate.”—Joan Didion, The White Album, “On the Morning After the Sixties” 1970
Hari Kunzru: With Anatomy of a Disappearance, what came first? Are you the kind of writer who will be very programmatic and sit down and say, “What I want is to do is to write a bizarre, tense love triangle between a fourteen-year-old boy, his father and stepmother,” or is it something else that happens?
Hisham Matar: I start with very little. The weaker the thread, the more excited I get. So if I start with a gesture, or in this case I started with a feeling, for Nuri. I mean if Nuri were to walk in here I probably wouldn’t recognize him.
Hari Kunzru: Physically, you mean.
Hisham Matar: Meaning I don’t know how he looks. I know that he’s tall and dark but I don’t know much beyond that. But I had this deep feeling for him. I knew what it would be like to be sitting next to him. You walk, you rush to a concert, at the last moment you find your seat, the lights go down, you didn’t see the person next to you and you feel it’s too rude to sort of look at them. But you have a sense of how the music is affecting them, or sometimes they might hum or they might sigh at a certain moment and you think, Ah, I didn’t expect you to be affected by that particular phrase in the music. So that’s sort of what I felt for him, and I carried this around for a year.
“I found very many islands, inhabited by numberless people, all of which I took possession without opposition in the name of our most fortunate king by making formal proclamation and raising standards.”
Aboard the Nadir, just as ringingly foretold in the brochure’s climactic p. 23, I get to do (in gold): ‘…something you haven’t done in a long, long time: Absolutely nothing.’
How long has it been since you did absolutely nothing? I know exactly how long it’s been for me. I know how long it’s been since I had every need met choicelessly from someplace outside me, without my having to ask or even acknowledge that I needed. And that time I was floating, too, and the fluid was salty, and warm but not too-, and if I was conscious at all I’m sure I felt dreadless, and was having a really good time, and would have sent postcards to everyone wishing they were here.
“Dylan’s studio. I think it was Dylan’s studio. I’m still not sure. It didn’t look like any artist’s studio I’d ever been in. It was on the second floor and was around five hundred square feet and furnished with furniture that looked like it had been found on the street. There was a small Casio keyboard on a keyboard stand. There was a store-bought easel and a carton of art supplies on the floor. The carton was one of those plastic containers the USPS holds mail in. I’m not sure what was on the wall. I think there was a gold record or a plaque that said something about a record industry milestone. There was a small balcony with a couple of wrought-iron chairs and a table. It was a mismatched set. Except for the art supplies, there wasn’t a single thing in this room that would tell someone, “Art is made here.” It was kind of astounding. It was like Dylan was painting in a witness protection program.”—"Bob Dylan’s Fugitive Art" - Richard Prince, New York Review of Books (Oct. 5th, 2011