The 24-Hour Book

Amid a panoply of other academic tasks this week, I’m planning to write a response essay (300 words or less!) as part of the 24-Hour Book Project.

Brian Dillon hard at work on his 24-hour book

In short, a man named Brian Dillon has been closeted away at the Brooklyn offices of Cabinet magazine for the last 24-hours, producing a novelette he has titled “I Am Sitting in a Room.”  He started at 10AM yesterday and finished just a few minutes ago.  The manuscript zipped off to the printers and also to a few enterprising volunteer grad students from various disciplines here at Princeton.  We have 24 hours of our own to read, digest and respond — artistically, critically, banaly — to the work.

I’m interested to see if Dillon’s writing exhibits coherence in this short time-frame.  I’m interested to see what reaction it provokes in me, tossed and turned and sullied by the articles on Jewish mysticism, Islamic exegesis, and Christian gnosis I’m currently reading for my coursework.

Whether I produce something worthy of this cultural pearl or something more fit to toss to swine, it is an interesting and fun experiment in the narrowing of time and history, the mechanisms at our disposal for communication, and the speed of production and consumption in our present-day half-mad world.

It’s a project filled to the brim with Not Quite Right.

UPDATE #1 (1433hours, Sunday 11DEC2011):  After finishing three articles on the Merkavah and the approach to God in Jewish mysticism, I tore through a first reading of “I Am Sitting in a Room.”  Enjoyed it.  Found it more relevant to academia and less a ‘fiction’ than expected.  Will now let it take the air for a few hours while attending a Sunday evening lecture and dinner.

UPDATE #2:  (2302hours, Sunday 11DEC2011):  Returned from excellent dinner and lecture.  Reviewed materials for courses tomorrow.  Starting 60-minute essay on 24-hour book.

UPDATE #3:  (0043hours, Monday 12DEC2011):  Finished essay, submitted to IHUM, the Princeton program coordinating the book ‘release’ event.

UPDATE #4:  (1425hours, Monday 12DEC2011):  Editors of 24-hour book project notify me of my essay’s inclusion in the commentary volume that will be associated with the project.  Invited to speak as panelist at book event circa 1630hours but unfortunately — due to car maintenance issues — decline.


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