Book Week - Adolfo Aranjuez

For Book Week, we shine a spotlight on Victorian writers like Adolfo Aranjuez. A writer, editor, dancer, poet, public speaker and much, much more, Aranjuez's creativity extends across various mediums.

Author Adolfo Aranjuez

Book Week conversation series

For Book Week 2020, we put the spotlight on five Victorian writers, each with a unique voice and story to tell.

Was there a particular moment you recall when you fell in love with reading and/or books?

"My loved ones’ perennial jibe is that I’m a neurotic overthinker; I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.

Back in my childhood, this proved a little inhibiting because it meant I had trouble forming relationships. I was constantly asking questions, pestering other kids about the motivations behind their actions and possible ways things could be done better, quicker, more meaningfully. Suffice it to say, this led them to exclude me, and made me wonder whether there was, perhaps, something wrong with me." 

"Picking up books, however, I recall Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, which I devoured at the age of nine. In particular, it dawned on me that I was simply making observations and trying to understand. The articulate, sometimes overly detailed ideas contained in published material (not just books, but also science magazines and comics, which I loved as well) sprang from the minds of people who were just as obsessed with thinking as I was, so much so that they ended up doing it for a living. That, to Young-dolfo, was both a revelation and immensely reassuring."

Author Adolfo Aranjuez

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

"Writing, for me, has always been a means through which to grasp what keeps the world ticking, and to figure out - or maybe, better, carve out - my place within it. I don’t doubt that my tendency to (over)analyse is a key element of my writerly calling. While I love throwing myself into life, of course, I also gain a certain kind of joy from standing back or taking stock to unpack what’s going on in real time." 

"That said, the most rewarding part isn’t actually the coaxing of thoughts into position in one’s mind (which can, at times, be terribly isolating). I take very seriously my duty to shine an unconventional light on, or fashion conceptual bridges to, whatever subject I’ve taken on - pop culture, politics, obscure theory, lived experience - and one of my favourite things about putting fingers to keyboard is the prospect that someone else will benefit from my glimmers of insight. When I do, it’s as if I’ve held their hand and asked them to walk with me down a less-trodden path; it makes me feel connected to others, in some way (please don’t ever hesitate to tell authors that you’ve enjoyed their work!)."

What creative work of yours are you most proud of?

"I’m going to pick two. In terms of pure writing, I’m perhaps proudest of Quest and Queerness: Role-Playing Identity , an essay that blends personal reflection and critical theory to unpack both the power and pitfalls of identity labels. This 5500 word behemoth made the cover of Meanjin - a tremendous coup, given that the literary journal is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious - and the response to it, from the LGBTQIA+ community especially, has been so spirited and warm." 

"The other is a piece for The Lifted Brow that epitomises the type of interdisciplinary work I produce: Sitting In The Movement , which interweaves criticism, reportage, memoir and performance as part of an exploration of the links between dance and mental health."

How has the pandemic impacted your work as a creative?

"Building on Laws Of Motion , a MOD. Museum-commissioned essay and dance work from earlier this year (which used a similar question as its provocation), the answer is that I’ve developed an even stronger sense of deliberateness in what I do and how and why I do it. Back in June, when I made that piece, my main concern was combating inertia: ensuring that lockdown did not leave me ‘locked-in’ to set ways of creating and living, or literally immobile and unproductive at home." 

"Since then (especially following my takeaways from author Jenny Odell’s Melbourne Writers Festival keynote ), that has morphed into a turn towards the purposeful: I’m resisting the urge to simply maximise outputs (a tall order for someone whose MO is to overachieve) and, instead, reflecting carefully on how each thing forms part of a ‘bigger’ life’s work that reverberates outwards. Call it ‘legacy’, call it ‘being faced with mortality’, but this moment in human - and our planet’s - history is constantly shoving transience and the threat of societal collapse in my face. I want to have left my mark with what time I do have, hopefully while inciting some much-needed social change and inspiring others along the way."

What has been your favourite piece of writing in 2020?

"I might go a bit rogue for this one: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, a game I started playing over the summer holidays and picked up again during lockdown. I’ve chosen it partly for political reasons: a furore erupted on Twitter some months ago when an industry commentator denounced games as ‘not creative work’, which I found (as a gamer) personally affronting and (as a screen critic) ridiculously small-minded." 

"Games require just as much artistry and ingenuity as books, dance, film, sculpture - albeit with a different set of skills and circumstances, naturally - and skilful writing can separate a piece of fun entertainment and a truly elevating gaming experience. Breath Of The Wild belongs unequivocally in the latter camp. Contributing significantly to this is its format: on top of the usual role-playing and action elements familiar to the franchise, this masterpiece boasts an expansive, open world and encourages exploration - two things that have helped make 2020 bearable for someone unable to leave home. It’s also replete with richly immersive lore, whimsical banter with townsfolk and almost meditative errands (such as picking fruit and riding horses). Oh, and an author accidentally included items from the game in his historical-fiction novel released this year! 2020 is, indeed, wild!"

You can follow Adolfo Aranjuez on Twitter .

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