What is it about a voice? In writing, that is. A tone, a freshness, the originality of youth, a need to stick out, the impertinence of the newcomer. You read something and remember that you read it only after you read something like that again. Then you realize, there is a voice. You have to hear it twice, maybe more often, maybe much more often, before you figure that out. It has to become a memory to be discovered, rediscovered. And at the moment that I figured out that Christian’s voice was a voice I liked, he informed me that he had been hired by the Süddeutsche Zeitung where he now writes about music and thinking. I felt a little sad. I was working at Die Zeit at the time, as a literary editor, and I had given Christian some books to review and thought that it might be fun to work together for a while. See where he might be headed. And he just headed off. Did not need any advice I had never actually given him. This is how things go. I don’t remember how I noticed him which is probably unusual or not in that context, I don’t know, it was just that he was there all of a sudden and I liked that. But what is it in a voice, a voice like Christian’s for example? Do you have to recognize yourself to like it? Is there really always narcissism involved? Is it again about one self? Or is it about community? Or confusion? Do you like what you know? Or do you look for what surprises you? The foreign? The strange? The challenging? Is there a conformism of the like-minded? And why would that be a conformism? Is conformism the right word, at all? Writing, so goes the cliché, is self-expression. Which is not true. Who would be that self, anyway? Writing is a long process in which you either define the role better that you want to play, on paper, less so in life. Writing is trial and error and the words are the tools that you use for this experiment and at the same time the words themselves are the experiment. Writing is a way to challenge yourself because you know that you are not alone. The loneliness of the writer is a myth in that sense that he or she realizes always that there is a reader, that there will be a reader. What is the point of solitude then? Well, to think, to get things done. But the aim is understanding. Which comes from: Disagreement. So welcome, Christian, to this dissonant chorus of 60pages.
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