I Am Sitting in a Room & Reception Rooms
At 10 am on Saturday, 10 December 2011, author Brian Dillon sat down at Cabinet’s event space in Brooklyn and began writing a book. By 10 am the next morning, the completed book was being uploaded for printing.
The inaugural volume in Cabinet’s new “24-Hour Book” series, Dillon’s book explores the scenography and architecture of writing itself. Inspired in part by Georges Perec's short fragment in Species of Spaces on Antonello da Messina's painting of St. Jerome in his study, Dillon’s text is both a personal reflection on the theatrics of the study, the library, and the office, and a historical
consideration of such writerly paraphernalia as Proust’s bed, Nabokov’s index
cards, and Philip Roth’s moustache.
At the precise moment Dillon’s tome was completed on Sunday morning, it was sent to a fearless cohort of nearly fifty professors and graduate students, convened by Princeton University's Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM), who had volunteered to read and respond under similar constraints. Over the next twenty-four hours, the experiment continued as the respondents labored over their essays, which were collected by 10 am on Monday.
The resulting book, Reception Rooms: An Anthology of Recent Responses to Brian Dillon's I Am Sitting in a Room, was then presented at a symposium organized by IHUM that very afternoon to consider the past, present, and future of such experiments in the radical compression of culture. The discussion took up many of the same questions as the book itself does, including what it means to write, under such constraints, a “good book”; what else there is to write (the threat of failure, and its possible forms); and the families of constraint (from the journalist’s deadline to Oulipian rules to deathbed exigency).
About Cabinet’s “24-Hour Book” series
About Brian Dillon
Cabinet is a non-profit organization supported by the Lambent Foundation, the Orphiflamme Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Katchadourian Family Foundation, and many generous individuals. All our events are free, the entire content of our many sold-out issues are on our site for free, and we offer our magazine and books at prices that are considerably below cost. Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation by visiting here.
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