Sven Birkerts on the Afterlife
In Conversation with Paul Holdengräber
on The Quarantine Tapes
Hosted by Paul Holdengräber, The Quarantine Tapes chronicles shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. Each day, Paul calls a guest for a brief discussion about how they are experiencing the global pandemic.
Paul Holdengräber is joined by Sven Birkerts on Episode 181 of The Quarantine Tapes. Sven is a writer and he talks with Paul today about his recent move. He describes his experience of packing and unpacking his library and they discuss the meditation of looking through old books and seeing your own changing tastes and interests.
Paul asks Sven about his books, The Gutenberg Elegies and Changing the Subject. They discuss how this past year has increased our reliance on technology and Sven’s discomfort with what the world of algorithms demands from us before turning to his upcoming book on Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and his relationship to serendipity.
From the episode:
Sven Birkerts: You realize at a certain point that you’re carrying the thing, it has entered you, it has affected you, and that, in a way, is the afterlife of reading. But in a way it’s the real life of reading. Reading was just getting you ready to have this ongoing experience.
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Sven Birkerts is the author of 11 books of essays and memoir, including The Gutenberg Elegies, The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again. His most recent his book is on SPEAK, MEMORY in Ig Publishing’s Bookmarked series. Currently the co-editor of the journal AGNI, he was for many years the Director of the Bennington Writing Seminars. He recently moved to Amherst, Ma.