by bl pawelek
(an FMC original)
In ten words (no more, no less), describe “We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough.”
MY: Lonely astronaut face-to-face feelings that flip language pancakes by flashlight.
Five Questions Here
1. Within the Theory of Radical Alterity, what is the first truth?
MY: This comes form the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, who says philosophy should be more about the knowledge of love and less the love of knowledge (which is the literal translation of the word). “Radical alterity” means the irreducible, at-the-root Otherness of the Other (“alterity” means otherness). In other words, one of our deep-seated duhs is that other people are fundamentally not knowable and cannot be made into objects of the self. We can’t live inside someone else’s feelings. But we can have face-to-face encounters with them, which is pretty terrific, and we can start dialogue from this point, accepting the Other’s mystery/unknowability/whatever you want to call it, and going from there. Martin Buber influenced a lot of Levinas’s thinking, and Buber talks about how we don’t even really exist except in relationships, in meetings. All of this is pretty heady stuff, but gets translated in the book into half-nelsons and sheet forts.
2. Take a second. You don’t know what is going to happen next, but who is going to be there?
MY: The poem that’s from, “You Can Know That Wait Means Stay,” was written for Carolyn Z, who is a human carrot cake. But I guess I like to vainly think it’s portable, not for me to use with somebody else, but for elses to use elsewise and ever. One of the best parts of being in love is a certain kind of knowing who you’re with and giving up the knowing of everything else, and I think it’s interesting to recognize that feeling with the person you’re in love with and with everybody who might be recognizing their own love.
3. At what port does the U.S.S. Bitchface reside?
MY: Probably the port where I eat burnt chili by myself at some hour that seems the furthest from any sun.
4. On the cover, what is the single arm dripping?
MY: Glitter, pop rocks, multi-colored candy corn. Maybe when you go around life collecting all your receipts and movie stubs and Post-Its, and then you accidentally leave a bunch of crayons in your pocket, and all your spare useless paper is ruined, so you chop it into confetti and use it to salt your radishes.
5. What will you never do, but lie about?
You can say and mean and truly mean and still know you don’t. Mean, I mean. Which sometimes makes it kind of terrifying to say anything.
Five Questions There
6. Is The Missionary your favorite positron?
MY: What I like are mirror neurons. Let’s go watch football and wince. Last week I got into an argument, kind of, about mirror neurons as the basis via cognitive science for empathy, but I think we just believed in competing mysticisms we didn’t want to tell the truth about. All I know is I ate a burger and she gave me a business card.
7. “Gift Economy” – why do you not believe in it?
MY: I think I do, now. I think I am just worried about the seething niceties of gifthood, the thank-you notes and so forth.
8. What is the one thing that can tell you about love?
MY: Love is a recursive function.
9. What was the last secret you told when you kissed a neck?
MY: When you tell someone a really good secret, it is like finding a colony of bats inside your chest and rooting them out. In other words, there is surprise and a black mass.
10. “There will be things you save to tell someone that you’ll never get to tell at all.” Here’s a chance for you, fire away.
MY: Maybe what that line means is more about the someone than the saving. There are visions and versions of people we wait for that we decide are the only people that fit certain parts of who we are. This is probably not true, but that doesn’t stop anybody, I don’t think. In other news, the dude across the way from me right now has a Q-Bert tattoo and a mason jar full of mozzarella balls. His friend just said “I think you imagine it as a like a disturbance in water. Or, like, a thickness.”
In ten words (no more, no less), describe your next project.
MY: A letter of YouTube account cancellation that bleeds and frets.
Mike Young, We Are Good If They Try Hard Enough, 2010. Publishing Genius
bl pawelek, Ten Everywhere