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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Wayne Koestenbaum. His new essay collection, Figure It Out, is available from Soft Skull Press.

 
Koestenbaum has published nineteen books, including Camp Marmalade, Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation,and Jackie Under My Skin. His essays and poems have been widely published in periodicals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, The Best American Essays, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, London Review of Books, The Believer, The Iowa Review, Cabinet, and Artforum. Formerly an Associate Professor of English at Yale and a Visiting Professor in the Yale School of Art’s painting department, he is a Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

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This self- interview is answered by voices from the anthology Life is Short—Art is Shorter by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman.

 

How would you describe the brief selections in this book?

“ …ticks engorged like grapes” (Amy Hempel, “Weekend”)

 

What were you thinking about when you put this collection together?

“I was thinking about my body’s small, precise, limited, hungry movement forward…” (Wayne Koestenbaum, “My 1980s”)

 

You have said that Brevity personified came to you in a dream many years ago?

“His hands moved in spasms of mathematical complexity at invisible speed.” (Leonard Michaels, “In the Fifties”)

 

Koestenbaum, Wayne in 1985 - (c) Louisa CampbellWhat are you wearing right now?

Pink shorts, a prussian blue t-shirt, and red underwear.

 

Why would a reader care about what you are wearing?

Because a reader is also wearing something, I presume, and a reader might wish to be encouraged to take seriously what he or she is wearing, or at least to note its details.

 

How do you begin writing an essay?

By noticing what is in my mind at this exact moment.

my 1980sWhy Art Is Always Emotional

Does philosophical rumination— whether it takes the meandering form of recitative, or the straitened form of aphorism— qualify as emotional? Think of Nietzsche’s rants and highs, or Wittgenstein’s hesitant, antiseptic propositions, which sometimes, at their edges, break into moods of exaltation, curiosity, and depression.