frequently asked questions
by Rob Kovitz
Volumes I + II
frequently asked questions
Volumes i + II
What am I going to say now? I’m going to ask myself, I’m going to ask questions: that’s a good stop-gap. (Not that I’m in any danger of stopping. Then why all this fuss?) That’s right, questions: I know millions, I must know millions.
Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
There are so many people asking questions
There is the bloody blindman, and the angry one, and the
and the wretch, the thorn tree,
the bandit with envy on his back.
Pablo Neruda, Ode to Federic Garcia Lorca (Residence on Earth)
I was questioned several times immediately after my arrest. But they were all formal examinations, as to my identity and so forth. At the first of these, which took place at the police station, nobody seemed to have much interest in the case. However, when I was brought before the examining magistrate a week later, I noticed that he eyed me with distinct curiosity.
Albert Camus, The Stranger
Rob Kovitz’s forthcoming eagerly awaited supercut extravaganza, Frequently Asked Questions, is an epistemological-ontological-metaphysical-montage-appropriation-detective-spy-mystery-thriller-courtroom procedure caper, in which every text selection includes the word question, but much funnier than that sounds (though not any shorter). In two volumes.
“The question at stake,” said Epictetus, “is no common one; it is this:—Are we in our senses, or are we not?”
Epictetus, The Golden Sayings of Epictetus
My lords, the judges find a difficulty to give a distinct answer to the question thus proposed by your lordships, either in the affirmative or the negative, inasmuch as we are not aware that there is in the courts below any established practice which we can state to your lordships as distinctly referring to such a question propounded by counsel on cross-examination as is here contained, that is, whether the counsel cross-examining are entitled to ask the witness whether he has made such representation, for it is not in the recollection of any one of us that such a question in those words, namely, whether a witness has made such and such representation, has at any time been asked of a witness; questions however of a similar nature are frequently asked at Nisi Prius, referring rather to contracts and agreements, or to supposed contracts and agreements, than to declarations of the witness; as for instance, a witness is often asked whether there is an agreement for a certain price for a certain article, an agreement for a certain definite time, a warranty, or other matter of that kind, being a matter of contract; and when a question of that kind has been asked at Nisi Prius, the ordinary course has been for the counsel on the other side not to object to the question as a question that could not properly be put, but to interpose on his own behalf another intermediate question, namely, to ask the witness whether the agreement referred to in the question originally proposed by the counsel on the other side, was or was not in writing; and if the witness answers that it was in writing, then the inquiry is stopped, because the writing must be itself produced.
T. C. Hansard, Parliamentary Debates: Official Report of the Session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, June 27–September 7, 1820
The reason why I knew you had not read it is the reason why I call it “my” book. For the last ten or twelve years I have been recommending it. Usually I speak about it at my first meeting with a stranger. It is my opening remark, just as yours is something futile about the weather. If I don’t get it in at the beginning, I squeeze it in at the end. The stranger has got to have it some time. Should I ever find myself in the dock, and one never knows, my answer to the question whether I had anything to say would be, “Well, my lord, if I might just recommend a book to the jury before leaving.”
A. A. Milne, Not That It Matters