Justin Isis lacks abdominal definition
For me, literature should be as exciting and energising as pop music. I am now 37 years of age, and of a generation for whom pop music was both a personal journey of discovery and something that has always been there. I suppose that for those younger than me, at least the 'has always been there' part of this description must hold, if not all of it. It has been a source of puzzlement to me, therefore, that the sensibility of pop music – all that is best about it in spontaneity, daring and role-play – somehow has not managed to permeate the world of literature. I don't mean this in any superficial sense, that authors should all start wearing shades and writing in American hipster slang (by golly!). No, literature need not relinquish any intellectual depth by learning from pop music – it can even gain some.
Because, for me, interests in literature and pop music were equivalent and intertwined, when I first started having work published, I thought about the entire project through a pop music sensibility. My first collection, The Nightmare Exhibition, was a 'concept album', in which the title story provided a meta-narrative for the other stories. This, for me, was only the start, or so I thought, until I found that my 'concept albums' were being broken up by publishers who would reject and accept stories with no regard for the song-cycles to which they belonged, who did not care for my pretentious collection titles and who gave me little or no control over artistic presentation.
I had thought that any artistic path should resemble that described by David Bowie in the song Star:
I could play a wild mutation as a rock'n'roll star.
However, some years of the oblivious plodding attitudes prevalent in the world of publishing made me despair of such a thing. There was no David Bowie of literature.
This could be a long story, but I'll cut it short. Justin Isis got in touch with me over the Internet, after reading an online interview of mine, and my faith in literature has become invigorated, precisely because he is a writer who understands the lack of vision in literature as it currently exists. He is also a writer quite capable of the wild mutations that make pop music, at its best, so vital and exciting.
Not long ago, an e-mail from Justin Isis to myself contained the following:
I feel like writing is at least twenty or thirty years behind music... Music seems to have reached a total point of convergence, where genre doesn't really matter anymore. Writing still seems very genre stratified. I also feel like writing is really lagging behind in using technology. I don't mean stupid shit like the Kindle or e-books or whatever, but I mean actual programs for generating text or producing fiction, or database-programs that could be used for combining or mashing up texts based on common words or phrases. If you Google literary mashups, there is like nothing serious that comes up. I really can't believe that I may be the only person that gives a
shit about this.
I really feel like writing now has the potential to be a thousand times better than writing has been in the past. It should be, but no one seems to be doing anything about it. I feel like Susuki is properly "of its time" in that it feels to me like where writing should realistically be now, rather than everyone who is writing like it was still fifty years ago.
It was after reading this that I decided that I must interview Justin Isis, and put that interview out there (on here). And that is what I have done. I hope you find the results exciting and arousing.
-Quentin S. Crisp