Working to avoid working
One of my favourite authors is Tove Jansson. Outside Scandinavia she’s best known as the author of the Moomin books for children. But she also wrote for adults, and this extract is from her novel Fair Play, which concerns the everyday life of Mari, who is a writer and illustrator, and her partner Jonna, who is an artist.
At this stage of the story, Jonna has done no painting for several months and is trying to get going again–maybe.
“Finally Jonna got busy. She built up her great unassailable barricade against work, against the agony of work. With small, polished tools she began shaping exquisite small objects of wood, tinier and tinier, more and more beautiful. She visited the islands to the west looking for juniper; she walked the shoreline gathering unusual kinds of driftwood, odd shapes that might give her an idea. She arranged it all on her workbench in symmetrical piles, smaller ones, larger ones, and every piece of sea-polished wood had its own special potential to keep her from making pictures.”
Tove Jansson, Tr. Thomas Teal, Fair Play, Sort Of Books, 2007, pp.39-40
I love the way the last sentence ends, and it’s typical of her writing–at least as translated into English. If anyone’s read the Swedish original (Rent Spel) I’d be interested to hear about it.
To anyone who’s got round to building a procrastinarium: put it up on the wall! And if you can’t work out what I mean by a procrastinarium, then you probably shouldn’t be reading the quote. 😉