Saturday, 6 September 2008
From Sebald Conference at UEA
Just catching an odd 20 minutes before my own reading with Lavinia Greenlaw and Matthew Hollis. Plenty of rich food for thought, keynotes from Will Self, Dame Gillian Beer and Adam Phillips, a lot of other presentations in between. Like a good boy - a good enthusiastic boy - I have attended everything so far and being very tired, have in fact re(tired) to my UEA office, making my own cup of tea and consuming my own 900 year old biscuits.
The biscuits have a Sebaldian look and taste to them: melancholy, I would say, but with a certain humorous, gently humane core, though one cannot quite forget the tragic forces in history that have driven them to the obscurity and darkness of my desk drawer, leaving them a little like Derek Mahon's mushrooms, reaching, as it were, for light, crowding to a non-existent keyhole, reminiscent of the lost people of Treblinka or, indeed, Pompeii, in a Sebaldian state of being, between two or more conditions, that is to say fresh and stale, but approximating closer to the latter, the third, most hypothetical, of the conditions existing on a somewhat metaphysical level that Thomas Browne describes in his Urne-Buriall or Hydrotaphia, a work composed even as barges from Cathay, laden with silk, muslin, cotton, rayon, denim, PVC and teflon drifted silently down the Wensum and Yare, a fact I myself contemplated with a certain nostalgia while in the act of disinterring and setting my teeth to the biscuits (McVitie's Rich Tea manufactured by Seebohm and Co, Dusseldorf), vaguely aware of the approach of an acute headache that like the vibrations of a distant train could be felt, distinctly, through the soles of my feet, beneath which...