"What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we go downstairs, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed on order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why? Describe your street. Describe another. Compare."
French writer George Perec has flown under the mainstream of the literary world for some time. He lived an incredible life, born in France during the tense years leading up to World War II, he went on to form a collective of avant-garde writers with figures such as Italo Calvino, and famously wrote an entire novel without the letter “e” in it (“A Void,” 1969). Both of George’s parents perished in World Word II, and in writing a novel without the letter “e” he made it impossible to write the words “père” (father) or mère (mother) or even famille (family), which became a work about the loss we experienced in World War II. He wrote “Life A User’s Manual” in 1978 which features over 50 pages of indexed references, so when he mentions a film, a building, or a Greek philosopher, you can turn to the index to find out the exact reference. It’s reminiscent of how a Wikipedia article works, or it could be said, the entire Internet in that there is always another link, to another resource available to learn more. Keep in mind this was written well before our daily dependence on the world wide web. In the above quote, from the pages of his seminal work, “Life A User’s Manual,” Perec talks about the importance of questioning what we have come to find as routine or banal.