First there were litblogs like Bookslut and ReadySteadyBook, largely dedicated to literary news and gossip. Then came “critblogs” like The Reading Experience and The Existence Machine, more interested in generating a substantive and sustained conversation about particular literary matters. In these pages, I too want to engage in literary discussion, but I want to engage in a different sort of discussion to what appears on both litblogs and critblogs.
I wouldn’t go so far as to make a statement of intention for this blog, but I will venture a statement of interest: I’m interested in exploring not only the literary experience as a subject of critical discourse, but also as precisely what it is: an experience. I’m interested in the quotidian aspects of reading and writing, the haphazard progression from text to text, the scattershot and fragmentary nature of the daily encounter with literature.
Often, I read something and I am struck by it, but I am not struck so strongly that I feel moved to discuss it; I simply want to repeat it and share it. Often, too, I return to literature that I first read years ago and I find my memories of the text challenged in the course of re-reading, and I feel moved to account for the difference between the literature as it is and as I believed it to be. Then there are times when I stumble upon an in-progress argument about the nature of reading — particularly the nature of reading fiction — and how and why to go about it; and, always searching for and being eager to venture new answers to old questions, I just can’t help but dive in and get my hands dirty. And there are also times when, by chance, I simply read something worth sharing — something whose impact deserves explication and evaluation — and other times when I find myself, in my professional life, sharing a work of literature with others and discovering in it a certain value that I had previously never noticed.
Infinite Patience will accumulate notes on all of these elements of the literary experience. No overarching theory of literature, no underlying system for the selection of reading material. Just words in response to other words, as and when they fall before my eyes.