“But I never liked doing things systematically. Not even my Ph.D. research was done systematically. It was done in a random, haphazard fashion. The more I got on, the more I felt that, really, one can find something only in that way—in the same way in which, say, a dog runs through a field. If you look at a dog following the advice of his nose, he traverses a patch of land in a completely unplottable manner. And he invariably finds what he is looking for. I think that, as I’ve always had dogs, I’ve learned from them how to do this. So you then have a small amount of material and you accumulate things, and it grows, and one thing takes you to another, and you make something out of these haphazardly assembled
W.G Sebald interviewed by Joe Cuomo, 2001
We worked with this text once before and we identified the dog as a kind of frenetic flaneur, a wanderer (see Pat’s recent post, Dérive).
Now, watching my own puppy Lois, I can identify with this text differently. There is a really interesting paradox in her search, one that I think I share…
Lois is searching for what is known, a ball or a rubber chicken but this search is almost constantly interrupted by noticing and being distracted by other unknown or unexpected things: chicken bones, poos, other dogs. This gives rise to what seems to be an almost sadistic confusion of progression and diversion. By the advice of her nose, she is simultaneously excited and frustrated by the stream of information. And added to that, because she’s a pup who is learning the rules, she is intermittently looking back to me to check that she’s doing ok.
The pace might be different but this seems so like being in the studio, so like planning the summer school, so like learning:
Searching Noticing Checking