George Saunders on writing

We often discuss art this way: the artist had something he “wanted to express”, and then he just, you know … expressed it. We buy into some version of the intentional fallacy: the notion that art is about having a clear-cut intention and then confidently executing same.

The actual process, in my experience, is much more mysterious and more of a pain in the ass to discuss truthfully…

An artist works outside the realm of strict logic. Simply knowing one’s intention and then executing it does not make good art. Artists know this. According to Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.” Gerald Stern put it this way: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking – then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.” Einstein, always the smarty-pants, outdid them both: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”

Full article here.


AL Kennedy on Anthony Burgess

And part of his later use of essays, articles and appearances combined his writer’s vocation with that of a teacher. He’d met many types of people and was didactic in the widest possible sense – here is this joke, keep up before it’s gone; here is this word, you can learn it; here is my work, it exists and is part of culture, you can read it and also you might like to know that it is work, takes effort and that, for example: “When I hear a journalist like Malcolm Muggeridge praising God because he has mastered the craft of writing, I feel a powerful nausea. It is not a thing to be said. Mastery never comes and one serves a lifelong apprenticeship. The writer cannot retire from the battle, he dies fighting.” That’s art as a feet-on-the ground craft. And it’s writing as a way of being in the world – you get knowledge, you get skill, you get dignity, you get – if not righteousness, then some measure of contentment. Burgess saw the age of instantaneous fame coming, the toxic emptiness of much culture. It’s not at all an accident that another gentle ghost echoing through Earthly Powers is Tom, the music hall comic, the man who is praised towards the end of the book for practising a “comedy of kindness”. Burgess’s own humour could be less than kind – it was based on sharp observation, often of defects and stupidities, given that we’re only human – but he has Toomey describe Tom as a saint. In a book where there is a genuine miracle performed with terrible consequences, the spotlit clown is left the angel’s part. To see everything and still be kind – that is saintly. And educational. And entertaining. And a precious part of any healthy culture.

Full article here:


Anna Simson wins ACU commission

anna-copyMA Ceramics student, Anna Simson, has won a BSU commission to produce gifts for international students attending the Association of Commonwealth Universities Summer School.

The theme of the Summer School is ‘Creating greener narratives through the environmental arts and humanities’.

Anna was selected by a panel of BSU academics, led by Kate Rigby, Professor of Environmental Humanities and Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities.

Anna will be producing approximately 70 hand-made ‘seed pods’, pit-fired with recycled materials. The school will support her to produce the objects, a process video and information card.

Ideas 4 [Variations on Sol le Witt]

Sol le Witt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art

Variations on Sol le Witt [Con’s Paraceptual Art Graphon]

The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

The idea becomes an art that makes the machine.

The machine becomes an art that makes the idea.

The art becomes a machine that makes the idea.

The making becomes an idea that machines the art.

The making becomes a machine that ideas the art.

The making becomes an art that machines the idea.


Conor Wilson 2015-16