I was listening to a radio adaptation of The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Latham, in one of his essays Micropsia and What Remains of My Plan. He says
the writers, who, if they are honest have nothing to add to, but every possibility of accidentally subtracting from whatever it was they managed to put across.
I reflected on all those interviews and question and answer sessions with authors, which although interesting, didn’t add to the experience. How often has the author thrown in something completely unexpected that you then find distracting or, as he says, subtracts from your experience of the book. Commonly answering questions with “I don’t know why” which is preferable to making up some pretentious meaning and also the “Oh I suppose you’re right, I hadn’t thought of that” which is refreshing. Perhaps authors should write and then cast out their works like throwing a paper aeroplane off a cliff instead of handing out flyers or study guides just watch it glide off to who knows where. Then us readers could find the abandoned planes on the ground and wonder at their ability to fly, bringing our own expectations and experiences into the reading journey. It can still fly even if we don’t know who made it or how.
I was thinking this as I was running home from work. I run and listen to radio plays as I run. Which sometimes means I am laughing out loud when running (An Englishman Aboard – Charles Timony a recent example) or crying (Man in Snow). I don’t think this is doing much to encourage observers of exercise to take it up themselves.