Luke writes: What’s the difference between a title and a theme?

Natasha writes: The difference between a punchline and a motif.

Luke writes: A lie and an open secret.

Natasha writes: But ‘G.’ Your thoughts?

The morons have reached chapter 4. That is to say, we are about to begin writing chapter 4 of our novel Diego Garcia, about two morons, writers who feel unable to write anything worth anything. This is an autofiction. We have taken four years to get here. We’d sworn, two chapters previously, to increase / improve our efficiency / productivity, whilst acknowledging that efficiency / productivity and similar objectives of capital are what we seek, in this project, to write against. It is in chapter 4 that our morons will decide to start writing a book together, as an act of resistance, of solidarity, because of the sadness and because of how shit things are and how shit we feel, more or less all of the time. Resistance writing makes harder work of it. Makes demands on the body. Having constantly to push back. And collaboration too is resistance writing, since the other so often resists. ‘Debt,’ our first chapter, took several years to produce (although this was not just a first chapter but an approach to the book). Chapter 2, (‘Individualism,’ originally ‘Insanity’), was done in around 18 months, while chapter 3 (‘Emergency,’ though first ‘Entropy,’ then ‘Energy,’ and latterly, ‘Event’), took a mere 14 months. What wearies us is the knowledge that we are committed to writing 11 chapters in total—one for each letter in the name of the eponymous island. At our current rate we might take another seven years or so to finish this thing. She fears that writing this book will kill her or will make her kill him. And he’s convinced that the friction endemic to our process will eventually erode our friendship, which, he will say means more to him than our book, though she would say that for him this book is our friendship, or an elegy to what that friendship once was, since it has changed now that we live separately, in cities on either side of the Brexit divide, each with a kid and a partner.

(We are still morons btw, but morons in the singular, since we no longer share the sadness.)

We are speeding up in our writing, but we are far from speedy. We do not want to be efficient but nor do we want to celebrate our lack of speed: we are loathe to align ourselves with any kind of ‘slow’ movement, those advocates of the artisanal / fetishisers of craft / obssessors over the handmade. We just want to write our fucking book already. But to fixate on how long it’s taking to write is to overlook the specific difficulty we have in writing it, which is, that we are writing it collaboratively. A work of fiction aspiring to the condition of literature is a fucking anti-social endeavour to begin with (Proust writing about parties, while lying alone in a cork-lined room). The production of literature requires grotesque amounts of hubris, obstinacy, self-obsession and self-delusion just to come up with a title. These qualities do not facilitate collaboration or even good relations between best friends. Writing collaboratively is painful, like trying to squeeze two feet into one shoe. So here we are. Chapter 4. The fourth letter in ‘Diego Garcia.’

Natasha writes: How are you, p?
So any thoughts on ‘G’?? We need to start. But here’s what I think. We drop the idea of editors’ emails prefacing the chapter for now.
I want the struts to show, yes, but there are other ways, and I don’t want to use my emails with G. (the person, not the chapter). They are personal, I mean would we take that stuff out and just leave the ‘business’ stuff—what are our constraints? I dunno. Can we not just put ourselves in. Our conversations about the writing of this. Feels strongly like we need some present. The problem of the future is still unresolved (the morons’ future/our present—not that of the wider world’s, which I feel the military-industrial complex is making huge strides to resolve uh pretty fucking conclusively…).

Am rereading Draupadi. Can’t stop rereading it. It NEEDS to come in. Am gonna try. So for that reason was thinking maybe we could do ‘G’ for Garment (Draupadi’s Cloth, of course but also uniforms...). Am also reading Garments Against Women...so, writing back to this. And what if this is the chapter where she’s in Mauritius, and she’s writing to him from there? The textile industry…

I am in the Royal library. There is a row of lockers here where each is dedicated to a Belgian writer. Amélie Nothomb is permanently taken. The author images, engravings, are obviously based on iconic author photos—lots of bald guys posing with (tobacco) pipes. I cannot find one writer of colour. And occasionally I wonder, Where is Sophie Podolski.

How is the centre? Have you found new premises yet?


Luke writes: OK b. Can’t write much am finishing a bike for the project and am sposed to be doing kids group in mo. We found a new place to run it, still on Sundays, in a primary school, it’s lovely. Big hall (and a kitchen) for serving up the lunches and setting up the chess tables and space for the crafts section and best of all we can do the writing workshop in one of the classrooms. We will do a group writing thing for this festival, we’ve agreed. And it will be based on questions. These people have to tell their stories or acceptable versions of it over and over. Why would they want to do that as entertainment or for the benefit of educating others. Fucking questions man. Let the audience do the work.
How is my gurubaba? What new words?
On the way here I nearly came off my bike. Some fucker in a BMW emptied his ashtray on me. Fuck!!!!!
I like Garment an awful lot, and I like the idea of Draupadi and the Boyer too and of her writing to him from Mauritius. But what about Geology, I liked that?



On the metro here this morning I saw a woman and man get on, the woman was tiny and guiding the man by the arm, the man held a white stick in one hand and a tin cup in the other. He had a tremendous wedge of hair. His eyes were closed. He started to sing—a powerful sort of wail or lament. He addressed the carriage, I couldn’t understand him, but he pulled up his eyelids to show whites with no irises, then passed through with his companion, wailing and holding the cup out. I wondered about this demonstration of his apparent sightlessness and how it related to people giving money. Were they only giving money because they thought he was blind and felt sorry for him? If it turned out that the blindness had been faked—a suspicion he’d clearly been trying to allay by showing his eyeballs in the first place—would people really be resentful that this was the case? Would those who’d given money feel cheated? I gave money. I don’t always. I didn’t give it because I thought he was blind, or felt sorry for him exactly, but because of the singing, which was terrible, yet amazing and the whole performance—real or fake.

We are same old same old or same new same new, it is all still new but often feels old. Routine but new routines.
Geology—yes. That’s why I thought in ch. 3 the group at the next table she can hear in the background should be geologists. Then when she’s transcribing the recordings, and starts getting bored of the conversations with Diego, she could be listening to the conversation in the background…

Luke writes: Group!

Natasha writes: Ha! Yes, I guess. Group.

Luke writes: Or Gang…?

Natasha: Better.

Luke writes: Didn’t you start writing a novel called Gang? YEARS ago?

Natasha writes: Yes! Actually, We Are GANG

Luke writes: About a collective? An art collective?

Natasha writes: Yes. It was around the time of BANK…Written in the first person plural.

Luke writes: What happened to that?

Natasha writes: One of those novels that once you have the idea for it, there’s no point in writing it. You know how it will go. It would bore me to write it.

Luke writes: This is many novels. That get written. That bore one to read them. You had a phase of doing this.

Natasha writes: Huh yes my graffiti artist one. Oh—Graffiti …?

Luke writes: Hmm limited.

Natasha writes: Yep. Though it allows us to talk about walls…
The coming up with ideas and there being no point to writing once I’d had the idea—collaboration was my only way around that.

Luke writes: How so?

Natasha writes: With collaboration there is not the same point at which you’d say, ‘There is no point’ as the project does not begin and end with what you alone think. Writing with another, you don’t know in which direction the writing will go. It takes some of the effort out of trying to surprise oneself, which is half the work in writing a novel.

What about just G. No theme. No concept—no Gang, Group, Geology, or whatever. Just G. As an homage. To Berger.

Have you read G?

Luke writes: Ages ago and didn’t dig it much. That’s not to say it’s not good, I guess then I was more interested in (a certain kind of) style and narrative than what G does. I know it’s a portrait of a someone (a man) coming to political awareness. I think him giving half the money away was amazing, a genuinely radical political act, and no one knew how to deal with it. He used the half he kept to fund writing The Seventh Man which examined migrant experience in Europe and is one of my favourite of his books. Nice to think of him giving the £ away in relation to James Kelman’s booker speech. I’m not sure I’d read G now (over other authors I’d like to read and other stuff—essays—by Berger). Tho I remember and dig its revolution scene most of all.

Natasha writes: But no more white cishet-men right now please.
With Garment and Draupadi we can also use the translator’s note. Gyatri!
And you know we get two G’s? Chapter 6 will be G too.

Luke writes: Some other G suggestions: Gender, Ghost (detainees…), Gossip, Guards…

Starship readers: if you have any suggestions for a title / theme for ‘G’ we would like to hear them!

Please email us at diegogarcianovel@gmail.com.

You can read chapters 1 and 2 here: http://diegogarciabook.tumblr.com.

Chapter 3 is finished and will be published shortly, see tumblr for more details.

Starship 16: Cover Klara Liden
  1. Cover print Klara Liden
  2. Editorial 16 Starship, Henrik Olesen, Nikola Dietrich, Martin Ebner, Gerry Bibby, Ariane Müller
  3. In this issue Starship
  4. Interview with Leo Bersani, Berkeley, Oct. 1995 Katja Diefenbach, Leo Bersani
  5. Untitled (Flat finish) Michael Krebber
  6. Man sagte mir, dass das Leben schmerzhaft sei ... Cornelia Herfurtner, David Iselin-Ricketts, John Allan MacLean
  7. Karl Holmqvist Starship 16 Karl Holmqvist
  8. Auf der Flucht vor der neuen Dringlichkeit Hans-Christian Dany
  9. Nilpferdkönig Tenzing Barshee
  10. Animal Farm Karl Holmqvist
  11. I started this column a million times Eric D. Clark
  12. Score for Possible Performance (Alonesome and Twosome for Two or Four Players) Michèle Graf, Selina Grüter
  13. Those ornamentals and these accidentals never they will meet Francesca Drechsler
  14. Access cont'd John Beeson
  15. Cut you down to size Robert Meijer
  16. Things Mercedes Bunz
  17. Die Welt geht unter Amelie von Wulffen
  18. Way Beyond The Pale— (An) Itinerant(’s) Meanderings Scott Cameron Weaver
  19. Mongiardino Christopher Müller
  20. Why the military should be the first client of art Robert McKenzie, Peter Fend
  21. Giraffe Birth Leidy Churchman
  22. Photos: Heinz Peter Knes – Words: Sokol Ferizi Heinz Peter Knes, Sokol Ferizi
  23. Nach dem Referendum / Over Time Pt. 2 Florian Zeyfang
  24. La femme nouvelle Nadira Husain
  25. Being invisible is the new cool? Stephanie Fezer, Vera Tollmann
  26. Octavia E. Butler Octavia E. Butler
  27. A.E.R.I.P. Mark von Schlegell
  28. BOandI Monika Kalinauskaitė
  29. Bonnie Camplin Bonnie Camplin
  30. No Gerry Bibby
  31. U.I. Matthew Billings
  32. G. Luke Williams, Natasha Soobramanien
  33. Refound Poetry Evelyn Taocheng Wang
  34. Ein Auswandererroman Ariane Müller
  35. Comedy of Reading Katrin Trüstedt
  36. Mr. Palomar's Vacation Jakob Kolding, Søren Andreasen
  37. The Scrapbooks of Teruo Nishiyama Jay Chung, Q Takeki Maeda
  38. Reality Workshop David Bussel
  39. Queer Crit Potluck Kaucyila Brooke, Louis Coy, Boz David, Jennifer Green, Blake Jacobsen, Tyler Lumm, Giselle Morgan, Ace Shi, Vickie Aravindhan, AJ Strout, Josh Winklholfer
  40. – Xorri, didn’t get the memo # Hey Majorca! Julian Göthe
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