” Why are you looking at me like that ? “: Dialogue between Paul Nizon and Frédéric Pajak


La Fontaine might have drawn a fable from it in which two birds with sharp feathers meet. There, it is just a conversation between two friends, but the moral is very present in the words of these commensals who, sharing a high idea of ​​art and letters, testifies to a higher intellectual requirement. On the first day of spring, Frédéric Pajak goes to Paul Nizon for a chatterbox. Journalist Amaury da Cunha is present as a witness.

Born in 1955 in Suresnes, Frédéric Pajak makes books as a publisher, author and designer. He launched a slew of newspapers and published numerous books, both biographical and autobiographical in essence, including his great work in nine volumes: Uncertain manifesto.

Read also: Frédéric Pajak, under the black sun, exactly

Born in Bern in 1929, Paul Nizon works as an art critic at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. By publishing Singing, Stolz and many other works which, imbued with sadness, seek to give meaning to life, he stands out as one of the founders of autofiction. In 1977, he settled in Paris. Today, he is a Parisian “like Picasso who spoke French poorly”.

Kitchen tables and typewriter

Around a table on which we find bottles of red wine and a 19th century wrought iron corkscrew still active when the others, more modern, more design, have been broken for a long time, the two friends talk at length about Van Gogh, to whom Nizon dedicated his thesis in art history and Pajak the fifth volume of the Manifesto. The two orphans invoke the figure of the father they lost in their childhood and who still haunts them (“The dead father is really a presence that does not disappear with time”) and the tutelary writers, Robert Walser, Cesare Pavese, James Joyce, Nietzsche… They compare their writing rituals: Pajak likes to write on kitchen tables or in the hubbub of bistros; Nizon sits down in front of his typewriter like a pianist in front of his instrument …

Read more: Paul Nizon, writer without compromise

A few poetic and philosophical flashes punctuate the dialogue: “I need to see real trees in order to draw imaginary trees”, concedes Pajak; “Writing, for me, really participates in the creation of the world,” says Nizon. Why are you looking me like that ? is only a hundred pages long. Yet it seems immense. Because in a few words, but intense words, the right words, the two creators touch the essence of art and humanity.


“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Conversation between Paul Nizon and Frédéric Pajak, conducted by Amaury da Cunha
Black on White, 102 p.


Frédéric Pajak meets Elisa Shua Dusapin (Friborg. Théâtre Equilibre, Saturday 2 October, at 1.15 p.m.) and varnishes a exhibition of unpublished Chinese ink drawings (Friborg, Galerie St-Hilaire, 32, rue des Alpes, Saturday October 2, at 5 p.m.). Exhibition until October 16, www.textures.ch


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.