Cafe Observation According To Perec

What are the goals:

  • To learn about observation practices and note-taking
  • To practice writing 'flatly' about what is seen and experienced, as George Perec would say, the “infraordinary”,the humdrum, the nonevent, the everyday, “what happens, when nothing happens.”

Social matrix:

  • Individual work (writing), with group contributions and listening.


40-60 mins writing.


  • Make small pieces of paper for each person in the group

Introduction (5 mins)

Activity (60 mins minimum)

  1. Each person writes down a name & location on a piece of paper a cafe/bistro which they like or know in the same town/city they live within, which has a potential for an outside view.
  2. Fold and mix up the suggestions, where each person chooses one.
  3. Go to the place and write down simply. "flatly" what you can see there. Note: "flatly" is suggested as avoiding as much as possible adjectival (modifying noun) and adverbial (modifying verb) excesses.
  4. Arrange to spend 1 hour at least at the cafe/bistro location alone.
  5. Write first line "date, month, year, time (approximate or exact depending on preference)
  6. Start by writing where you are sitting
  7. Continue until you have been writing for 30-40 minutes.

Discussion (15 mins)

When the group meets up again, read out several examples

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