All I Get Out of Three Cows
“I would like to try to understand them and see how they exist in the world. Their existence is just as important to them, as ours is to us.” Acclaimed writer Lydia Davis has been observing three cows for some years. “I envy them,” she says. Read more …
In this video Lydia Davis presents a piece called ‘The Cows’. “I don’t think I ever tried to take one subject and then exhaust it and say everything I possible can say about it,” Davis says about ‘The Cows’, which appeared in her book ‘Can’t and Won’t’ (2014).
“I am much interested in the simplicity of their lives because across the road from them my life is quite busy running here and there doing this and that.”
“I have studied Zen buddhism quite a bit and I know about the ideal about being able to emptying ones mind and simply be without busy activity, so I suppose that I envy them a little bit that they have achieved that without even trying.”
“I am emptying out every possible perception that I can have about them. I appear to be standing still and just observing them, but since it is written over a certain time, I am only standing still for a moment to observe them, so I haven’t yet achieved what they have achieved.”
“I don’t believe in thinking of lower orders of creatures. Watching the cows makes you more aware of how they should not be treated.”
“The language should suit the subject so I thought the language should be plain, that it reflect my thinking. I noticed in my writing that I corrected my thoughts sometimes, so I am really trying to reflect the act of thinking quite closely as I am in the writing.”
Lydia Davis (b. 1947) is regarded as “the master of form largely of her own invention”. She has written a number of collections of short stories and one novel. When Lydia Davis received the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 the chairman of the judges said her “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations.”
Lydia Davis was interviewed by Christian Lund in connection to her appearance at the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2014 at the Louisiana Museum, Denmark.
Cameras: Klaus Elmer & Nikolaj Jungersen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014
Supported by Nordea-fonden