Clouds! Sand dunes! That interests me.

Yesteday I was enjoying Knausgaard's philosophical asides, and wondering if he knew about semiotics and reader response theory. Today, and after many days and several hundred pages of his fiction over two books, I read this very long sentence and realised that yes, obviously it's likely that he does:

We ate, I went onto the balcony to smoke and drink coffee, Geir joined me, we discussed the relativist attitude we both had to the world, how the world changed when culture changed, yet everything was always such that you couldn't see what was outside, and therefore it didn't exist, whether this view came from the fact that we had gone to university precisely when post-structuralism and post-modernism were at their venith and everyone was reading Faucault and Derrida, or whether it actually was like that, and whether in that case it was the fixed, unchanging and non-relativist point we were denying.

That is: either his worldview has been warped by cultural theory or he simply not the conservative type. If I were having that discussion, as someone probably defined as a 'relativist', I would say a little of both. For me reading theory was like one hundrend epiphanies and one hundred indoctrinations. The essays - Foucault, Derrida, Barthes - require such a deployment of mental resources to understand that I'm certain over a semester of borderline confusion cognitive dissonance kicks in and convinces the reader that yes, the author doesn't exist and there is no such a thing as a fact because words, fundamentaly, don't really exist either. But the relief that comes from appreciating that the text is distinct from the author, that words are not the same as the things they signify, that it is thoroughly impossible to be a master of a single dicipline let alone an encyclopaedic polymath, that pretty much everything we do is culture and communication, these understandings explain so much about day-to-day life that it becomes easy to swallow the whole shebang, and the complexity of it all makes it impossible to disentangle the nonsense from the gold. But I was skeptical of the fixed and unchanging long before 2000, when I first read Borges and took acid, so yes, a little of both.

Geir goes on to say he has permanently fallen out with a friend over a discussion about the real or the absolute. Knausgaard said he was interested in things outside humanity, such as nature. Geir scoffed and said that such things were boring. I love that a writer as powerful as Knausgaard is questioning the impact of theory on his life, and I love that he's defending that which is outside us: 'patterns in plants. Patterns in crystals. Patterns in stones. In rock formations. And in galaxies.'