“One writes for the disadjusted”

November 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

I was just now reading this really quite good interview with Lars Iyer, wherein I was reminded of a quote from his delightful novel Spurious. I mentioned it in passing in the comments of a review I wrote elsewhere. Pasting it here seems too appropriate to avoid. One of Iyer’s characters is here citing Dionys Mascolo, of whose work I remain otherwise fully ignorant. Denuded of context and elaboration, however, Mascolo’s is a powerful thought that speaks to the times (and perhaps to a few counting the hours along the way).

One writes neither for the true proletarian, occupied elsewhere, and very well occupied, nor for the true bourgeois starved of goods, and who have not the ears. One writes for the disadjusted, neither proletarian nor bourgeois; that is to say, for one’s friends, and less for the friends one has than for the innumerable unknown people who have the same life as us, who roughly and crudely understand the same things, are able to accept or must refuse the same, and who are in the same state of powerlessness and official silence. (Le Communisme)

Not entirely unrelated to the sentiment expressed above,  the sympathetic reader may also be interested in Iyer’s “Literary Manifesto After the End of Literature and Manifestos.

§ 4 Responses to “One writes for the disadjusted”

  • tom clark says:


    The whole concept of “audience relations” has always rendered this sporadic thinker even more bewildered than had been the case before the attempt to consider it.

    And sometimes, too, impatient; even, dare one say it, angry.

    But this is about as useful a formulation of the idea of a “healthy” attitude on the subject as could be imagined.

    The “rub”, as it used to be called, comes with this: “…the innumerable unknown people who have the same life as us, who roughly and crudely understand the same things…”

    When the life and the understanding become a bit TOO specific and particular, and the “innumerable” dwindles inexorably in the direction of “none”… uh-oh.


  • Brad Johnson says:

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I participated in an academic conference last week. Mostly, it was an occasion to see old friends, but I also had to hawk a book & riff on an essay I’d written. By the time of the Scottish universities wine social, I was, shall we say, “in a bad way.” I felt utterly incapable of talking to people, even friends, about those things it was assumed (by us all) w/ whom I “roughly & crudely understand the same things.” Somewhere along the way leading away from the academy, I lost both my taste for argumentative blood (to hell with getting it right and rigor!) & the certain grammar that makes conversation at all possible. Which results in precisely what you describe. As this is a somewhat natural, default state in my non-academic life, with my inability to write clearly or in deference to the patience of others, I should have been less disappointed. And yet, my, that wine social was a heavy silence. I will not blame my inability to write on the blog the past couple of weeks on this. Though perhaps I should. For now, I am casting devilish eyes on laziness.

    • tom clark says:

      I think you write with extreme clarity, and assume that you do it when the time is right for you. As is fitting.

      Also I do not believe you are lazy. Not saying anything until you have something to say is simply proper.

      If only this form of “laziness” were contagious!

  • Brad Johnson says:

    What’s interesting, Tom, is that I rarely feel *inspired* to write before actually doing so. The Muse, of which I described on your blog as purely accidental, is very much so, in that I did not realize the effects until I was well into the process of writing. Rare are the moments where I feel a burning “I must write this!” Those things I’ve written that I’ve most liked have tended to be the creations of happenstance — emails begun while bored, even, or doodles while waiting for the check. I suspect I’m not peculiar in this respect, but I tend to not talk “craft” all that often with people, so I’m not at all sure.

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