Jenny Odell: How to Do Nothing

how to do nothing

101 Words – 005

Somewhat like making a drawing, these texts have my attention while I’m working on them. I do however often have an idea of what the text will be about, a seed before I sit down to actually write. That’s not the case today. I’ve started writing without knowing where the letters will lead. There are a number of things I could write about, but I’m not up for any opinions, connections, or insights today.

The whitespace of a Cezanne canvas, blank and at the same time not.
Through the window the sound of a conversation and distant traffic on the tarmac.

101 Words – 003

Carrying thoughts around for extended periods of time can fill a lot of mental space. At a certain point it becomes unbearable. One just wants to get the thing done. At the same time going the distance sometimes leads to insights that make it all worth it.

Stravinsky apparently only thought about his compositions while he was in his workroom, something I’ve never been able to achieve with music. It is only when making drawings that my attention is fully occupied with what I have in front of me as long as I’m doing it and ends as the activity does.