On 27 September 2019, I am giving an invited lecture entitled Being in the Midst: Writing With and Through at the School of Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark. Reflecting on ideas around ‘not knowing’ in relation to the practice of writing, I ask: How can we attend to writing’s emergence, where content is not already known or pre-determined in advance, but rather emerges live or synchronous to the situation that it seeks to articulate or give expression to.
“Writing is the delicate, difficult and dangerous means of succeeding in avowing the unvowable. Are we capable of it […] We go toward the best known unknown thing, where knowing and not knowing touch, where we hope we will know what is unknown. The thing that is both known and unknown, the most unknown and the best unknown, this is what we are looking for when we write. We go toward the best known unknown thing, where knowing and not knowing touch, where we hope we will know what is unknown […] Where we hope we will not be afraid of understanding the incomprehensible, facing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, thinking the unthinkable, which is of course: thinking. Thinking is trying to think the unthinkable: thinking the thinkable is not worth the effort … writing is writing what you cannot know before you have written: it is preknowing and not knowing, blindly, with words.”
Hélène Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Trans. Sarah Cornell and Susan Sellers. The Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory, 1990. New York, p.53