Jeffrey Eugenides: My old teacher, Gilbert Sorrentino, used to use these things he called "generative devices," which were ways of writing, taking away any kind of intention of what you were going to write. I guess it goes back to surrealism, in that he's trying to tap his unconscious. And write stories, write fiction without having any plan in mind, because he thought that a plan would inevitably end up as something tired. Does that strike a chord with you? I mean, I don't write that way at all, I get an idea and I plan it, and then I change the plan. I let things change all the time, but I never proceed in complete darkness.
Tacita Dean: I have definitely worked in that way. I tend to think that the work by other artists that I am attracted to works because you seem to imagine that they had no real sense of their destination when they started. And I think a lot of pre-imagined work can be quite inert.
JE: There's a great poem by Frank O'Hara, of course I don't remember it (laughter) but, he's trying to write about a fish, I think. And when he's finished, the poem has nothing to do with this fish, except the title remains "The Fish," because that's where his thought process began. So as O'Hara wrote the poem, it became something else, and finally had nothing to do with is original impulse. The title is the only sign. I find that quite true with writing. I'll have an idea and as I work on it, the idea changes until there's nothing left of the original idea. Nevertheless, while I'm writing, I'm aware of my basic narrative intentions. I don't give up my rationality, having so little, really, to spare. I proceed in a logical manner, but it always takes me to illogical conclusions.
TD: And I proceed illogically. (laughter) But I'm very formal strangely enough. The final manifestation isn't chaotic, although the process is, I think.