At 10 am on Saturday, 10 December 2011, author Brian Dillon sat down at Cabinet’s gallery space and began writing a book. By 10 am the next morning, the completed book was at the printers and is now available to readers.
The inaugural volume in Cabinet’s new “24-Hour Book” series, Dillon’s book explores the scenography and architecture of writing itself. Inspired in part by Georges Perec’s short fragment in Species of Spaces on Antonello da Messina’s painting of St. Jerome in his study, Dillon’s text is both a personal reflection on the theatrics of the study, the library, and the office, and a historical consideration of the paraphernalia associated with celebrated writers, from Flaubert’s divan to Proust’s bed, from Leibniz’s card cabinet to Thomas Wolfe’s refrigerator desk.
Dillon, who arrived without any notes or other prepared material, of course also had to remain open to the contingencies of an unfamiliar writing environment, peculiar and perhaps slightly dodgy take-out food, a makeshift bed, and a capricious heating system, not to mention the obvious pressures of working under extreme time constraints. If that were not enough, this particular scene of writing was a public one, with curious onlookers dropping in during the process to watch the author (and his support staff) “at work.”