7/06/2006

Interview with Noah Cicero

Noah Cicero is the author four books and an upcoming zombie screenplay. He’s an editor for 3 AM Magazine and has been published in Identity Theory, Nth Position, Retort, Reflections, The Surface, New Horizon, Brittle Star, Poindexter, AnotheRealm, Ygdrasil, Grundle Ink, Crimson Feet, Newtopia, Subterranean Quarterly, Black Ice, etc.

SK: Reading your blog and in other interviews - I think you have a very realistic and detailed understanding of how the publishing industry works, independent and otherwise. I read where you calculated about McSweeney's books, how even that level of success doesn't pay off too huge

Noah Cicero: I don't think us young writers have a chance like Kerouac or Norman Mailer to become stars like they did. From what I can tell, and I'm not going on level of talent or what professors most often critique, but purely fame and sells. That generation of Kerouac, Mailer, Updike, Bukowski, Burroughs, etc generation, writers who came out in the fifties generation. That kind of fame where a character on a sitcom can make a joke using one of their names and at least half the audience members get it and laugh are gone. I can't really think of any writers that came out after the 70s you could do that with.

Couldn’t imagine a joke about Dave Eggers or David Foster Wallace on Everybody Loves Raymond. Everyone would just stare at the screen wondering what the hell was just said or thinking that a new character was being added to the show.

This whole not famous not making big money writer thing seemed to have started 30 years ago and it just took awhile before people started admitting it to themselves, and then saying it out loud in a public space.

I think maybe it is possible for a writer to get a book published and make some money. But I don't think unless they write a book every year and every second book gets a movie deal they are going to be able to retire off it. But I don't think the way things are going anyone in their twenties and thirties should expect to retire off the job they have right now. I'm 25, if i live 80 years, i'm going to last till 2060. By the time I would reach 80 we are going to run out of oil, have some severe global warming issues, and this outsourcing thing doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. And if another Republican steals another eight years dude there are so many more things to worry about than getting a book published. When gas prices hit ten dollars a gallon, no one is going to be thinking about literature then.

SK: for an author. Why do so many writers think they can live off their writing? They can't. We can't. We're fucked, right?

Noah Cicero: Most authors today have graduated from college. And if you have graduated there is always somewhere you can get a job. If a person with a college education with a major in English shows up at a Denny's. They can apply to be manager and make 30 G a year. If you show up at a factory, work well for six months, and have a college education in Painting, they will make you foremen after six months. Somebody might work harder than that guy, but they got the college education so that person goes up. If you wanna get a loan owning a pizza shop and you have a history major and go to the bank to get a loan. They will throw one at you. You worked in a pizza shop for twenty years, they might not get it. The biggest part to an employer concerning a college degree is that this human has the ability to show up for long periods of time to the same building.

No one writes for longer than 4 hours at a time, you have time to write if you have a job. Jim Chapman works forty hours a week and he has produced a book every two years for the last 15 or 20. I don't mind the idea of writers having jobs, getting a book published, getting a check thrown at them for 1,000 to 5,000 dollars. A lot of people do things like that, people who make furniture after work, people who raise cows and sell the milk to their friends, people who make clothes, i know a person who sells animal urns online, there's a lot of people in Ohio that have small cornfields, they sell corn in the fall.

I think it would be cool if there were a bunch of writers that worked and wrote. Instead of a writer getting millions and sitting around. Not working makes a person go nuts. I went a year without working when i wrote Burning Babies and The Condemned. I went nuts. You lose connection with reality. You end up being 80 writing a book about terrorism. End up in a Calvin Klein ad. End up writing a 3,000 page biography of Flaubert. If they would have been working I don't think they would have done those deranged things. You give someone with an overactive imagination like a writer years to sit around and stare at walls, they gonna go nuts. Writers are like children, we have imagination, what happens when you leave a kid alone to do nothing. They end up sticking their tongue in a light socket.

SK: You have two books available through Amazon (and other places), The Human War from Fugue State Press and The Condemned from Six Gallery Press. There was some trouble with Burning Babies, but it's to be released soon? Harvey Pekar digs Burning Babies. Did you send him a copy? How involved are you in promoting your books as far as press packets and general promotion?

Noah Cicero: Harvey Pekar got a copy through the publisher that didn't publish Burning Babies. It was the only thing he did.

I talked to Pekar on the phone. he was nice. We didn't have a long conversation. he said he liked it.

Burning Babies is coming out through the people that run the valve blog, also through the future of the book project, but printed by parlor press. Scott Eric Kaufman got hit by a car, so it is coming out later than expected, like in the fall I think. It will be released a year later than it was supposed to be. This is life though.

A company in England is looking at my books right now. Maybe they will publish them, maybe they won't. I got into Dazed and Confused in England, and I'm one of the co-editors of 3am. England likes me. my homeland doesn't care if I live or die. I think they want me to die. They would prefer that I was dead. Maud Newton wants my head cut off and stuck on a pike.

I'm promoting my books through blogs, interviews, etc. The publisher makes the press packet. I'm going to ride to northeast ohio and sell books at concerts. I sit at a table, i get a piece of paper and write on it, "FUCK, now that i got your attention would you like to buy a book?" It works sometimes. I sit there and get drunk while doing this. A band plays I don't listen. It is always some emo crap, usually some asshole singing. At least three people come up to me and tell me that they write. That is usually horrifying. Usually I ask them what they read, and they respond, "I don't read, I think it distorts my creative vision." Those people should die. Like be taken out and shot in the street.

SK: You have an e-book coming soon from bear parade Would you tease me about it just a little? Writing it, what it's about, the set-up. What's it called?

Noah Cicero: It is called Transmissions from Noah X to Tao X. It is about how i have lots of friends that I've never met. I speak to Tao all the time. But Tao doesn't really exist to me. It is like he lives on a submarine at the bottom of the ocean. I have conversated with many people over the past three years. but never met any of them except for Jim Chapman. This is the information age. We have friends, but nobody knows what anybody smells like. If my car breaks, I cannot call Tao Lin or Jim Chapman or RIchard Greyson or Lee Rourke to pick me up. I am stranded on the side of the road. I die there, maggots and possums eat me.

SK: Your books are written in "sentegraphs." This is a beautiful word. Did you coin this word?

Noah Cicero: No, I was like we have to call them something to my girlfriend Bernice Mullins one day. I was like, "paratences", and she was like, "No, Sentegraphs." I liked because it sounded like Cenobites from the Hellraiser movies.

SK: Does anyone else write books in sentegraphs?

Noah Cicero: Beckett's plays look like they are in sentegraphs, like you look at a page of Waiting For Godot and it reads like that. Very quick, a lot of panic. I want panic, i feel panic all the time. I want it to be like Whitman, how if you read it out loud, you’re just going faster and faster and faster until you start screaming it and going nuts. I was drinking a beer with this girl once and was reading Whitman out loud for fun in like 01 and by the end of it i caught myself really belting it out. Then i saw a bio show on Whitman and it talked about he based it off of Italian Operas. But I don't know anything about italian operas. If I was trying to imitate any kind of musical sound, it would Jimi Hendrix's Machine Gun.

SK: Your books read very quickly, go down the page like I'm running and someone is behind me running just as fast and punching the back of my skull and it feels good. It's not minimalism, or is it, or is it stripping the language harder than minimalism?

Noah Cicero: I want the reader to feel panic. I feel panic all the time. I think everyone does. The Century of Anxiety didn't end, it just got worst. Maybe this is the Century of Panic. Everyone i meet seems to be in a state of anxiety, everyone is like, "Fuck I don't want to do this. This is horrible, somebody somewhere please make it stop." Nobody wants to live in a world of commercials and marketing, you can't do anything in america without having marketing forced on you. You go into a bathroom, buy a condom, look up some lyrics, buy a TV, go to the movies for twenty minutes they have commercials. You gotta work at some job that doesn't pay shit. You wanna make good money, you gotta work your way and sell your soul for 50 Gs a year. You gotta go to school, you gotta vote, you gotta wear clothes, you gotta wear these clothes, you gotta read these books, watch these movies, believe these ideals, drive this car, have this furniture. People don't have identities anymore, they have marketing niches. That is hell. It is insane what humans tell themselves they have to do to live in this world. People don't understand something about humans. That if nature didn't do it. They did it to themselves. People tell other people to wear this, to think that, to do that, and other people let them be told what to do.

Tao in his new EEEE EEE EEEE writes in it. It can be addicting to write in sentegraphs. It is fun. It is like writing an instant message conversation or actually like talking to someone, telling a story. I think it has economy to it. I like writing where the writer focuses on economy. On never wasting a word. Not filling in what shit looks like, what people look like, like i hate it when a writer is, "He has brown hair, a greek noise, acne scars, and pale blotchy skin tone." I want to the character in the story to be anyone I want. If the character reminds me of my cousin, when i imagine the story the character will be my cousin. I want people to see themselves in the story, to see the people i know. I don't want the story to be outside themselves. I want them in it. I want them to imagine the scenery, their faces, how it is working. The point of a book, is not for you the writer to have fun imagining but for the reader.

SK: When did you know you were going to be a writer? Some of your influences?

Noah Cicero: I'm not a writer, I'm a pizza boy. Pizza delivery pays the bills. That's what I am. When I wanted to write books, when i was like 16. I started writing poetry in school.

Beckett and Proust are the main influences for The Human War. I wanted a short terse style that was confessional, but not confessional where i have people feel sorry for me, I wanted to be like Proust where you saw the world through someone else's eyes. There are two kinds of first person writing, you have Knut Hamsun, Kerouac, Proust, Bukowski, Jean Rhys, in which everyone line is a line that comes from the first person character. You have another more academic first person like Glamorama which is, some lines are from the first person, but there are lines that are basic description. I liked the first one. I like reading the mind of someone else. It is a real escape to not only be placed into new scenery, but dropped into someone's brain.

For Burning Babies two short stories influenced me heavily Turkeyneck Morning from Hot Water Music by Bukowski. And Old Man at The Bridge by Hemingway. Those two stories have no magic. They give it to you real. Those two stories are like when you are sitting there and someone comes into the room and says, "Did you hear about Joe, He got drunk at the mall and security had to mace him. (then the details.)" And you sit there real sad after wondering what happened to Joe, what is wrong with this world, and you hope no one gives you anymore news like that for at least a week, because it is just too depressing. I can imagine Hemingway sitting there at a bar, and a soldier comes in, sips his drink and tells Hemingway about the old guy at the bridge. I can imagine Bukowski sitting at the bar and the woman from Turkeyneck Morning comes in, cries, and tells the story to Bukowski.

For The Condemned, the last part Civilization Kathy Acker influenced me on that, but not really, mostly Acker tells a person, "Do what you want, do exactly whatever the fuck you want." Sartre's Marxism influenced me on a lot of the ideas displayed in the story.

Grat Kink was influenced by Junky. Junky was written because of new laws concerning drugs that didn't make any sense. And now there are new laws concerning strip clubs that don't make any sense and the whole republican anti-sex thing, and i want to write and show that weird sex is normal. That the people who have weird or kinky sex are people and not monsters. In the fifties they portrayed drug addicts as evil monsters, something non-human. But Burroughs showed in Junky, they aren't monsters, but people that had generally bad lives who took up drugs. I don't think a lot of people who like kinky sex had generally bad lives, they just have this thing they want to do, and they like to do it. Kinky sex doesn't harm anyone.

For The Warrior, that didn’t really have influences. That story had to be told, that's all about that.

SK: Do you have a routine? For writing? Submissions? What are your cover letters like, all business? Are you submitting now, plans on that? Places in mind?

Noah Cicero: I write a couple times a year. Usually in the spring and the fall. My cover letters depending if I know the person are different. If i write one to someone i don't know than it is professional. If i write one to someone i know, then i will joke around in it.

SK: You write about strippers, pregnant strippers, strip clubs, whores, not in a dramatic way, philosophical maybe, compassionately? Sartre. An understanding of class and society. Could you tell me about the non-affirmed life? These are people you know. How much of your work is autobiography?

Noah Cicero: Strippers are poor people. Servers are poor people. Most factory workers are poor people. Drug dealers are poor people. Cooks are poor people. These are jobs that poor people work. Strippers are like black people. Most people hate them. The republicans hate them, the liberals hate them, upper class women call them hoe bags and white trash. A lot of men of all classes think they are hoe bags and think they are immoral. My girlfriend is a stripper, she goes to college, she says when she was in group talks in college everybody liked her and took her opinion seriously until she announced she was a stripper, then they shunned her. Strippers and whores are shunned by the world. Most strippers date black guys. Black people and bikers are the lovers of strippers mostly. Because black people and bikers are shunned and hated like strippers are. People who have prejudices against strippers usually have never even met one, just like the people who have prejudices against black people. Most strippers, love to be naked, are nymphomaniacs, just love being sexy. They were like that before they were dancers. It is a really good job for someone who loves to be sexy in their twenties.

Concerning whores, I've met some hardcore whores in my life. One woman drives around in a mini-van sucking dick everywhere. The woman seemed built for it. People don’t understand, a pretty woman can make good money dancing, she can work at a club dancing never having to touch a guy, never having to have a guy touch her, the girl chooses where she works. If a female is doing tricks on the street, she has chosen that. There are two types of Youngstown whores: There are the whores that will fuck anybody. Usually they are on hard drugs of some sort.

And there are whores that are strippers that have a couple of men they do privates for. They have selected the men based on personality, kindness, and how much money they have.

This all causes for weirdness in strip joints. i think people let themselves go in a strip joint. In the youngstown area the strip clubs are where you can a white trash dude with a mullet sitting next a big black guy with cornroles have a conversation. You are both there to enjoy the girls, they have a unity, they learn that they are similar, that they aren't THE OTHER.

Last night at Club Pink where my girl works. A really muscular black guy got up on the stage when the night was over, stripped down into his briefs and did poll tricks. Everybody was laughing, the girls were laughing, i was laughing, it was a good time. One the dancers ran up and helped him dance, she was going nuts, some goofy white girl.

There is an older bartender that works there on the weekends, she was a dancer for 20 years and has been working strip clubs for around 25. For a tip after she gives me a drink, I show her my ass. She laughs, i laugh, it is all good.

Strip clubs are fun, strip clubs are about sex. People love sex, they love sex because it is dumb. It is like Led Zepplin, Led Zepplin is pointless, it is fun, the lyrics mean absolutely nothing, the riffs rule. That is what strip clubs are like, they are freedom from the complexities of life. There is nothing complex about a woman standing there in front of you naked. That is the marketing, that is the show, a stripper can't have Lebron james stand next to her and advertise. You don't have to think, "Should I look this up on stripperhistory.com.

Depressing things happen in strip clubs though, like pregnant strippers on coke, yesterday a stripper was found dead on the side of the street of a drug overdose. A stripper is on crack. Dancers go to the pen. But these are poor people things. There is always a pregnant woman working at a fast food restaurant way after the time a white collar woman would have left her job. Servers always get beat up by their boyfriends. Cooks and servers always do drugs. I was a pizza boy at Papa John's, three of the guys that worked there had been to jail and the pen.

My writing is not totally autobiographical. It is always based in personal experience, or if they story is told about someone else. I saw it personally. I think most people have very eventful lives. And if they write about it intelligently and with some thought about it, it can make a good story. There are colorful people everywhere, weird shit happens to us all the time, we do weird shit all the time. You don't need to write about world war 2. There are enough books written about world war 2 from people that lived through it. There doesn't need to be anymore.

I have some sort of social anxiety disorder. I want to announce that in this interview. I have social anxiety disorder. I'm having anxiety right now. I write long blog posts, then delete them. I can't talk in person to anyone unless i'm drunk. My girlfriend has social anxiety disorder too, we loath ourselves together. We sit all night and say, "Do you like me?" The other goes, "Yes, I love you." Then three minutes the one that said i love you goes, "Do you like me, I'm poop. I know I'm poop, no one could like me." This goes on for hours, it has gone on for years, we started long before we met each other. We are never convinced anyone actually likes us. We never say, "Do you love me?" No, it is like. "Do you like me." "I want to know, do you still like me." There is no cause for the sentence, it is pure psychosis. It has nothing to do with the other. I think that is what I write about. People interacting with other, but what they are doing to the other person, has nothing to do with them. Humans are motivated mostly by what the learned before they were ten. Sartre's biography The Words only goes until he was ten. He was saying, 'That is enough, every reaction or revolution i do for now, begins there. Life is like a restaurant menu. You get one when you're by the time you're 12. It could be Denny's, Olive Garden, Spago. but is a menu. A menu has like twenty choices on it. You have to pick in the confine of those choices. You must pick. Sometimes people try to get new menus, my brother he grew up working class like me, mother factory worker, daddy butcher. He works at private member country club as caddy for ten years, thinks he can become rich, thinks like Babbitt. Thinks the big boys will let him in. They don't, he ends up making 40 G a year hating Mexicans voting for Bush. I don't speak to him, I don't speak to my family. That wasn't in the menu. People deny their natures in this culture. I don't believe in a genetic nature, like you are born to be an asshole, or vote this way or that, or steal, or drink, or fuck a certain gender, I don't believe in that. But I do believe that after ten people usually have some sort of concrete nature. My brother is a republican, a republican is someone that is fucked, but they are still a nazi and should be fought. But here is my point, Erskine Caldwell showed this in This Very Earth with Chism. My brother's nature is ride motorcycles, drink beer, and own sweet V8 Cameros. That is what he was like before he finished college and this whole Bush business. He was a nice guy. he was normal. There was nothing wrong with him. But now he is caught up with hating Mexicans and liberals, and all kinds of deranged shit. His mind is full of these ideas about Chinese take-overs and Iran. A lot of republicans and racists are like that. They live their lives, they walk around, have favorite likes and dislikes, enjoy four wheelers, shooting beer cans and pumpkins with shot guns, smoking weed. But now, they all nuts. I think that is what fascism is, the government and media working together trying to get a normal bunch of people living their lives to think about deranged shit like Mexicans, homosexuals, and Iran. Like seriously, what does some hick in Ohio or Nebraska who spends their days riding motorcycles, fixing their cameros have to do with Iran? Nothing. Fascism convinces people that when they are fishing together on a boat in the middle of a peaceful lake that they should be talking about Iran. Fascism is not murder to me, murder comes way after. Fascism is spending millions of dollars to manipulate some poor hard working four wheeler loving human being that they should care about hating some other person. I said i didn't think homosexuality was genetic. I don't. I'm an existentialist, existence precedes essence. I think it is a choice made so early in childhood that it isn't really a choice. I think gay men are made by bad fathers, children don't know what sex they are until they are about 6 or 7. From every homosexual man I've ever met the same situation took place, the father beat them before they were 6, and after the beating, the mother would hold them and take of them. That created a oneness with the mother. They thought they were female. Or the female prototype. I don't believe in a female or male, that is stupid, it is just prototypes. People who say men and women are different are stupid. I've never seen a woman do a behavior a man didn't, and visa versa. When a man or woman says, "I don't understand the other gender." That is dumb, most people unless they are insane, work like clockwork. Humans are predictable, if humans weren't predictable you couldn't have the DSM-IV, detective shows, character development, and car salesmen. I want to keep talking about homosexuality. I don't think anyone is really straight or gay either. There are men i'm attracted to, I would fuck a good amount of men. Nowadays a lot of men if they aren't an asshole will admit that. Go up to any man and say it like this, "If you were in prison, and you had your choice of one cell mate, who would you pick?" It never fails, they always pick somebody. I would fuck ryan phillippe. A young Al Pacino, i could get on that shit. A lot of poor men have sex with other men, but not like the father thing i stated above, usually because of incest and prison. There is a lot of incest in America. A lot more than people think or want to admit. This whole culture is very complex to me, with all this four wheelers, homosexuality, incest, fishing, and Iran. I want to talk about human nature though. Like my brother and other people. People get married nowadays, why do they do that? For thousands of years people got married because the parents were exchanging property, called a Dowry. Marriage is based off of property. There was no marriage or pairing-relationships until the advent of private property. Actually humans beings didn't realize that women got pregnant by sex until the advent of agriculture.

People just used to fuck anybody they wanted. tribes still today unfucked with by civilization, their holidays are sex orgies. Also homosexuality is common in the tribes. Or to say it so it makes sense, getting it on with your gender for some fun goes on. Before private property nobody got married. Then they figured out that babies came from sex. So men got married to women, to make sure their property would go with their blood line. That is the origins of marriage. Then parents started trading goods and using their children to get shit. That lasted to like the 1800s. Then people started getting married to have sex when parents stopped trading goats for their children. Now people can have sex before marriage. Then why get married? Nobody knows. Where is Ryan Phillippe i need some cock.

SK: Me too. Do you rewrite?

Noah Cicero: I go through it a couple of times, deleting a little, adding a little.

SK: The sentegraphs are paced maybe like cinematic cuts? Timing. Do you edit much, or does it happen naturally?

Noah Cicero: Yeah, i talk like that. I didn't learn to talk until i was 5. My parents never spoke to me. The government put me in speech lessons. The school thought I was retarded when they first encountered me. They held me back in kindergarten. They gave me an IQ, found out i was normal, i had no brain problems. It was just that my parents never went near me. So they sent me to a speech therapist, and had me work with a tutor for years for an hour a day at the school. Then i had to go to a learning center when i was in third through fifth grade. Two strange things happen concerning reading and writing when i was little. When i was in kindergarten the class was reading together, some simple dumb kid's book. The teacher makes the class stop and says, "Noah, stop trying to read, you're messing up the class." I remember that very vividly. I think all this writing i still do today, is trying to prove to that class i can read. That i am so good at reading i can get books published. Also another thing happened: I finally did learn how to write and read a little and I wrote this Dinosaur poem with my tutor. It was good she thought so she had me read it to the class and the other kids said, "Noah, you were so dumb three years ago, but that was a pretty good poem." They said it like that too. Everyone called me stupid and dumb constantly. i spent large sections of my childhood crying. I think that was the only thing i got positive reinforcement for when i was little, was writing. It is part of my menu, writing implies positive reinforcement. Chapman said that the english language does not come naturally to me. It almost seems like English is a second language. My father who basically raised me, my mother was at work and too high off of pain killers to ever speak. my father is a second generation italian/sicilian. He talks like English is a second language, he grew up with people speaking italian all around him, and italian speaking people trying to talk English. So between not learning how to talk until i was 5 and my dad's fucked version of English it came out weird. Another thing that added to it is the italian-american's way of communicating. An Italian American uses their hands a lot. Predicates become hand motions. Like i feel very at home when speaking to another italian american in person. I can just say, "It was like (hand motion)." or, "She was like (hand motion). or, "This is going (hand motion).

SK: Hypothetically, you're teaching a creative writing class. We're sitting in our desks, well-groomed and tanned, and you come into the class. What happens? How would you teach? What would you tell us to try and not try, read and avoid?

Noah Cicero: Hmm, I don't know. i would ask them what their philosophical agenda was. That if they believed in anything. I assume most would say something stupid, just recite the latest issue of Harper's. I would tell them to leave. Two people would be left. I would drive them around town to seedy places, and make them write stories about it. I would have them read selected parts of Being and Nothingness, The Second Sex, Pimp by Iceberg Slim, The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, Waiting for Godot, Revolutionary Road and watch the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

SK: You're working on a script for a zombie film? What are some films you like a lot? Zombie and otherwise?

Noah Cicero: I tried writing a zombie film. I failed. I cannot write a movie. I've tried twice, i always put in too much dialogue. A movie shouldn't have much dialogue. A movie should tell it's story in images and like seven thousand scenes. I've never been good at making up seven thousand scenes involving characters. I'm not good at plots, I think that's why I work so hard on the style of the language, to compensate for my lack of plot structure.

I wrote it as a small book though. When it is done being line-edited I'm going to post it on a blog and let everyone read it for free. I had a lot of fun writing it. It is short, only 50 pages long, so if anyone wants to read it they can.

I like The Devil's Rejects: It is a total attack on the manichean way of thinking. It has a lot of great shots, great images, funny scenes, great dialogue. It is just a great ride.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: An existential masterpiece. I like that movie so much. It has these sad existential characters living, dying, shooting each other, dealing with their family members underneath these huge skies. At the end with The Contest Leone shows the theory of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason, the essence of capitalism into one scene. Instead of sharing the gold, they decide to kill other.

SK: What do you think about adult swim?

Noah Cicero: I like Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Total 50s European Absurdism. Total Beckett, Ionesco, and Genet. The job of Absurdist writing is to show how absurd and irrational a culture's behavior is. Aqua Teen Hunger Force does it great. I like that it makes humans into fast food products, kind of saying, "Look you americans aren't even human anymore, all you are is products." It is the personification of capitalism, man becomes commodity. You have three commodities running around doing stupid shit. It is great show.

I think that Ben Stiller Vince Vaughn clique thinks they are doing Absurdism, but they aren't. They do have irrational characters doing stupid shit. But their characters are just parodies, they aren't even satirical. When Will Farrel runs down the street naked, there is nothing satirical about that, nothing absurd. It is just a dumb fart joke. I like a good fart joke now and then, but fart jokes for two hours straight gets on my nerves. I don't know how anyone can stand to watch that shit.

I think the Becketts and Ionesco's of today are working for Adult Swim. The type of person that wants to show the irrational absurd behaviors of a culture, have chosen the medium of cartoon.

Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou are both Absurdist. That scene when Pagoda stabs Royal was awesome.

America is entering its Absurdist Stage of Art. In the fifties you had imitators like Albee. But this is American. This came about naturally.

The fact that Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Wes Anderson movies exist in America and came about naturally, proves that America is in a state of insanity. That Our Way of Life doesn't make sense. Without statistics, harper's, and a Noam Chomsky book, one can watch those shows and think, "Something is kind of wrong."

SK: How are we killing John Updike today?

Noah Cicero: I've read one story by John Updike. It was stupid and pointless. It was the A & P, "By the time I got her feathers smoothed and her goodies into a bag " That is such a bad line. "Feathers smoothed", fuck that is dumb. "on these long white prima donna legs", wow, maybe you should add more useless adjectives. He spends the whole thing describing what they are wearing. Could someone tell me what they story could possibly be about.

I think what John Updike is pissed about most is that no young writers are talking about him. Writers survive because younger writers bring them up and site them as influences. Young writers are still talking about Kerouac, Bukowski, Mailer, Rhys, etc. The beatniks talks about Rimbaud, Whitman, Proust, Basho, etc. The experimentalists mention Lawence Stern and Acker. We found out about dead writers by reading interviews from living ones, and if they mention them in their book. No one is citing Updike as an influence. Nobody young looks at Updike as a hero. Updike comes from a generation of great writers, Kerouac, Bukowski, Thompson, Yates, Heller, Salinger, Plath, Genet, Beckett, Sartre, De Beauvoir, a lot of great writers came out of the fifties and sixties. But he bullshit compared to them. I can't think of anyone who sites him, can you? John Updike is Pete Townsend, Pete Townsend you could tell grew up thinking he was going to be the best guitarist there ever was. Then Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughn took a shit on his head. He's a pop writer, not a literary writer. You know that voice in movies, when a character in a movie writes, and some of it gets read in the movie. It sounds like Updike. He writes in that silly literary voice. Where you describe stupid shit and have four million adjectives and adverbs, and say things like, "it was like a boxer after a hard fought battle." That voice in wonder boys the movie, when they start reading that kid's shit. It sounds like Updike. As they read it, I thought, "Wow, that kid is a bad writer." To me bad writing is when a writer needs to use a thousand words when they only need a 100 to get the point across. The point of language is to communicate. And if it takes you a 1000 words to communicate what could be said in a 100, then you don't know how to communicate. And if you don't how to communicate then you shouldn't be a writer.

I just looked at his bio, this quote is on it, "The heart prefers to move against the grain of circumstance; perversity is the soul's very life."

What does that even mean? That doesn't make any sense. The grain of circumstance, what the fuck is that? Perversity is what, The soul's very life? Sit down John Updike, be quiet, hope you die quickly before your books go out of print. Which will happen a week after anyway.

Things like homosexuality, female male prototypes, strip clubs, marriage as we know it today, etc. These institutions are all because of Christianity and private-ownership. Before private-ownership and religion humans didn't need marriage, assigned sexual roles, prototypes and strip clubs. Humans just fucked each other and lived. You got your job in the tribe depending upon your size and skill, not on your gender. Like in a strip club, a girl makes 20 dollars off one lap dance, off of 4 minutes of time she makes 20 dollars. Now, that doesn't make sense. An uneducated person who is doing basically nothing gets a lot of money. So you have to ask why, and when something doesn't make sense it always has to do with the mystical. She gets paid that much because in America nakedness is taboo. What is taboo, mystic crap. If it were not for their taboo of nakedness and sex, there would be no strippers, of course there would be no religion also. But our economic system is run off of mysticism. Back in the day the level of importance in the tribe came from how magic you could do. Back in the day before private-ownership we had a matriarchy, where woman controlled the tribes. Women were the main producers of magic, they turned animal skin and animals into food. While the men just hit animals with objects to make them not move anymore. And there is the shaman or witch doctor who knows how to make plants heal people. It works the same way today, Bernice noticed this while we were eating at Chili's. The minor who gets the paid the least, then the trucker gets paid a little more, the factory worker gets paid a little more than that, then the engineer who turns whatever was mined into something gets paid the most. I won't mention the owner of the business in this because ownership on that grand of a scale is pure absurd mysticism. I understand ownership in terms of, those are my socks because they don't fit anyone else in the house. Or this is my bar because no one else felt like putting a sport's bar on this street. But for a single human to own a mass enterprise with 1000s of employees and they are reaping profits just because they own the machines and the building is absurd.

Christianity has two main things they try to capitalize on, sex and death. They don't want anybody fucking, and they don’t want anybody dying into nothingness. Religion tries to control them so much because sex and death cannot be owned. You cannot not own a sex act like a cup or a shoe, you cannot own death like a cup or a shoe. Religion is the fear of non-ownership. Religion is about ownership, God owns men, men own women, women own children, all humans own the earth and animals. Some asshole might go, "What about Jesus?" jesus said cut your eye if you look at another person and get horny besides your wife. That is ownership, that is fear of freedom.

After what I just said, someone could call me a Marxist. I'm fine with that. This is what I believe. A government should be a kind of Maintenance Coordinator. A government should be like a janitor of the people. The government should make sure we have good roads, stop signs, stop lights, schools, police, etc. But a government should be the people, not separate from the people. Our government is separate from the people, our government is not a government but corporations buying things they want. If our government was of the people, just an extension of the population, we would have national health care, because that would benefit all the people. I'm not a utopian, i don't believe that humans are ever going to be that nice to each other in a modern world, I don't think humans were meant to be trapped in a concrete, digital, working 40 hour a week world. Humans spent the majority of their history on this planet walking around in fields eating berries, it seems like a fluke that civilization even occurred when you compare that humans have been 120,000 years and they didn't start a civilization until 5,000 years ago. it seems like it was a fluke that a human figured out that plants could be grown in rows and harvested. It doesn't seem like it should have happened. That a silly wild animal, a bipedal that lived for over 100,000 years doing nothing but fucking and eating berries and drinking out of streams was meant to live like this. I don't think the human will ever fully adapt to civilization, but if we want to have billions of humans on the earth, we are going to have to live like this.

So I think that a government, since it is supposed to be of the people, should take of its people or the phrase should be 'taking care of each other', not allow mass equality, not allow if it can afford it some to get sick and get bad treatment, while others get good treatment. There are things everyone needs that is basically one brand, water, heat, fire trucks, health care, ambulance rides, police, shelter, electricity, and I'm adding microsoft windows. Everybody needs these things, they should be owned by the people, they should be cheap, if not free, and no single human should be getting rich off something everyone needs. Getting rich off of something that a person needs or they will die is sick to me. A heart surgeon that makes 100s of thousands dollars a year is sick to me. That is like bribery. "So you pay me 80,000 dollars or die, ha ha ha." Bill Gates says to businesses, "Either you buy my program or you can't compete, you die ha ha ha." Or Bill Gates says to a school, "You buy my program or your students can't compete ha ha ha." Do you get what i'm saying now. If our government was of the people by the people for the people it would not operate like it does. I don't care if someone owns a sock factory or some fast food restaurants, but there should be a percentage rate to how people are paid. That the owners of a business must pay their employees a percent of profits, not by the hour. Say you have a Papa Johns and a pizza hut. Both places are paying their employees 5.15 an hour. They both have about the same amount of employees, pizza hut makes 3,000 more dollars a month. But both employees are still getting paid the same, that is absurd. another thing that is absurd, is NASA, our government spends billions, we shouldn't be looking at stars if there is even one person that is even remotely having a bad day in America.

Tao Lin is right when talks about abstractions. Marriage is an abstraction, ownership is an abstraction, homosexuality is an abstraction. You can't point at marriage, you can point at people getting married but you can't point at marriage. You can point at two men fucking, but you can't point at homosexuality. You can't bind people together in an abstraction. You can't make people work their lives away for a millionaire they will never meet for an abstraction. But we do, and the only way we can do is through manipulation. And i suppose that is what it really is. A human being is really only a collection of manipulations, they get something from the outside, decide if they want to be manipulated by it or not, then if they do, they replicate the behavior. They manipulate themselves, and attempt to manipulate others, and work endlessly trying to maintain and fortify the walls of their manipulations. This sounds strange The Confederacy of Dunces is a good novel showing how humans manipulate and get manipulated. Everyone in that novel manipulates and gets manipulated, you can see why Toole killed himself.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Tao Lin said...

i read it

noah give me a hug

6.7.06  
Blogger chapman said...

that interview is fantastic.

noah you are a great man.

7.7.06  
Blogger Mike Young said...

I like the things you say about sexuality. It doesn't make any sense that you're supposed to hug half the world but shake hands with the rest.

If you went into a college writing workshop in a small American town and asked about "philosophy," most people would not cite the latest Harper's. They would say something vaguely "Buddhist" or vaguely "Christian" or maybe Kant or even messed-up Derrida or something. But probably not. Probably Star Trek? Most people in the writing classes of small American colleges love themselves more than writing.

I don't know about richer colleges.

I talk with a person who drank with Bukowski in L.A, and sometimes he says things about "college" or "the academic ivory tower" -- which are sometimes true and sometimes not, I guess.

I grew up poor and go to college because I got scholarships. My parents can't and don't pay for anything. My most fufilling job has been as a tutor. A teacher. Manipulation, I guess. The absolute opposite of that would be no one never talking ever, maybe. I'm small and fast, so I guess my job would be as a hounddog or something like that.

I like the thing about the menu. Most of my life is spent realizing things I've already heard or read.

Thank you, Noah and Sean, for the interview. It has things in it I will definitely remember.

7.7.06  

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