Georges Perec (1936-1982)

30 years ago today, novelist Georges Perec died in Paris.

He was also a crossword compiler, an indexer in a medical laboratory, a writer of extremely long palindromes and a member of the literary group Oulipo.

I’ve written a number of articles about Perec: here, here, here and here.

If you do one thing today in memory of Perec, question your teaspoons.

To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we’re habituated to it. We don’t question it, it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a problem, we live it without thinking, as if it carried within it neither question nor answers, as if it weren’t the bearer of any information. This is not longer even conditioning, it’s anaesthesia. We sleep through our lives in a dreamless sleep. But where is our life? Where is our body? Where is our space?

How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are.

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