For the phenomenologist Max van Manen, the term textorium refers to a “virtual space that the words open up […] The physical space of reading or writing allows me to pass through it into the world opened up by the words, the space of the text”.1 Struck by van Manen's account of the textorium that opens for the writer-reader, we wondered if our own experimental practices could generate insights into the experiential textorium encountered through reading: What happens when we start reading collectively; when different voices make up a sonic we – whatever this might be?
During Reading on Reading we were reading out loud and silently into and against each other. And while we were doing this we were weaving the textorium. Sometimes we could almost see or grasp it: “Now I am going into a soft building, now it is hard and now it is cold. Now I get lost.“
We were speaking against surfaces, doors and windows. The textorium met with a physical space, and with a social environment. Sometimes the surrounding was with us, at other times it made us feel odd, exposed. Then again it felt liberating to use a simple practise like that to create a shared mental space amidst another space.
We walked around, stood or squatted holding the text in our hands. We were in the time-space of the text, modulating it in alternating speeds, intensities and tones. The textorium became animated, alive. When our voices coincided, mingled or sometimes bumped into each other, we grasped the textures of that text, its different threads and possibilities: “Ah she is there now! She’s ahead of me, in the future.“ Or: “She has already walked past.“ This there, this then was the text and our making of the text, we summoned a terrain. We related to one another and in the text. The textorium kept changing through our aesthetic exercises, through different kinds of readings.
For most practises in Reading on Reading we used George Perec's text [see right]2 The following notes inbetween and on his lines echo the experience of being in this textorium. Place the cursor on the underlined parts to access commentaries and sounds.
1. Max van Manen, Phenomenology of Practice, (New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 358.
2. Georges Perec, “Reading: A Socio-Physiological Outline”, in: Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, edited and translated by John Sturrock.(London: Penguin Books, 2008) pp. 174-185.