Siri Hustvedt on Living, Thinking and Looking, an interview with Big Think
“Steady reading seems to feed steady writing.”
“… while I write fiction I am not thinking about my cognitive-motor-sensory-affective abilities. They are there in me, and I use them. What am I drawing on? Without question, I am using subliminal material that has been accumulated over many, many years—the thousands of books, conversations, and experiences which are part of me but are no longer conscious. The well learned becomes unconscious. The undigested and novel remains conscious.”
Read the rest here.
Author photo credit Marian Ettlinger.
Siri Hustvedt On Reading:
I discovered ironies in Middlemarch I had not fully appreciated before, no doubt the product of my advancing age, which has been paralleled by the internal accumulation of more and more books that have altered my thoughts and created a broader context for my reading. The text is the same, but I am not (Pg. 137)
Openness to a book is vital, and openness is simply a willingness to be changed by what we read. (Pg. 138)
Reading is not a purely cognitive act of deciphering signs; it is taking in a dance of meanings that has resonance far beyond the merely intellectual. (Pg. 139)
Reading is creative listening that alters the reader. (Pg. 140)
From Living, Thinking, Looking, by Siri Hustvedt. Picador, p. 133. 2012
This essay was originally published in Columbia; 49 (2011)
The first of five New in Paperback titles from Picador is Siri Hustvedt’s essay collection LIVING, THINKING, LOOKING. Available online and in bookstores near you tomorrow, June 5th.
Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays by Siri Hustvedt
A Picador Paperback Original
“No one writing about art today comes closer than Siri Hustvedt to the elusive strangeness of a great painting.” —Calvin Tomkins
“She brings both knowledge and an artist’s insight to the discussion of memory, language, and personal identity… . It is Hustvedt’s gift to write with exemplary clarity of what is by necessity unclear.” —Hilary Mantel
The internationally acclaimed novelist Siri Hustvedt has also produced a growing body of nonfiction. She has published a book of essays on painting (Mysteries of the Rectangle) as well as an interdisciplinary investigation of a neurological disorder (The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves). She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna. Living, Thinking, Looking brings together thirty-two essays written between 2006 and 2011, in which the author culls insights from philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis, and literature.
The book is divided into three sections: the essays in Living draw directly from Hustvedt’s life; those in Thinking explore memory, emotion, and the imagination; and the pieces in Looking are about visual art. And yet, the same questions recur throughout the collection. How do we see, remember, and feel? How do we interact with other people? What does it mean to sleep, dream, and speak? What is “the self”? Hustvedt’s unique synthesis of knowledge from many fields reinvigorates the much-needed dialogue between the humanities and the sciences as it deepens our understanding of an age-old riddle: What does it mean to be human?
Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the author of five novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as two collections of essays, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She lives in Brooklyn.
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