Notes On Attention Paid

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Life, A User’s Manual, Georges Perec

… a very curious book describing in minute detail characters that the world might generally pass by, but who are exceptional and deeply contoured in their own obscure ways… it reminds me of the realm of true outsider artists, not the posers, but the people who make art just to make… that there might be a market for their creations in the art world is not of consequence to them… they just make… this seems a great deal like the characters in Perec’s novel… they come and go… they contribute what they contribute which is ignored by most of the world…

… in this passage Perec anticipates the ability to tag items digitally, which came with the age of personal computing:

What he would have liked would be to link each label to the next, but each time in respect of something else: for example, they could have some detail in common, a mountain, or volcano, an illuminated bay, some particular flower, the same red and gold edging, the beaming face of a groom, or the same dimensions, or the same typeface or similar slogans (“Pearl oof the Ocean”, “Diamond of the Coast”), or a relationship based not on similarity but on opposition or a fragile, almost arbitrary association: a minute village bay an Italian lake followed by the skyscrapers of Manhattan, skiers followed by swimmers, fireworks by candlelit dinner, railway by aeroplane, baccarat table by chemin de fer, etc. It’s not just hard, Winckler added, above all it’s useless: if you leave the labels unsorted and take two at random, you can be sure they’ll have at least three things in common.1

… and here i consider the extensive tagging system that i am developing for my journal…


  1. Perec, Georges, Life, a Users’s Manual [return]