John Shirley's Bio | DE '97 GoHs

Death Equinox '97 GoH Questionnaires: John Shirley

Q: What are your perceptions of Death Equinox; what do you expect to do and experience?

John: A paradoxical convergence of alternate viewpoints. Black leather.

Q: Do you consider literature to be solely meant for escapism, or should it also be used as a means for exposing the darker aspects of society that people tend to want to avoid?

John: If it's solely meant for escapism, it's probably not literature. Some could argue that Shakespeare was escapism, and yes it was, but it was not solely meant for escapism. Even the best hardboiled detective fiction, which can approach art in the control of its form and its evocation of its particular view on its odd little macho fantasy world, is only literature when it gives us insight. And the best of it does. To me insight into the existential condition, from the human condition to the cosmic condition, is the raison d'etre of literature, and the bozos in postmodern theory who ululate like logorheic hyenas about meaninglessness and subconscious agendas are lost in the naked veldt of their own spiritual isolation. The darker aspects of society? Yes, this must be brought to light. I've always felt compelled to tell the stories that would otherwise be overlooked; as for example in my story in the anthology Forbidden Acts, two hustlers kidnap and murder a trick and what happens *then*... and why they're everyone...

Q: With fictional characters, do you think they should be portrayed as good and evil or should they fall more to the grey sides of conflicting purpose as people do in actual life (though individual motivations may seem evil to any given person)?

John: People are evil in accordance with the relative point of view from which they are subjectively viewed. The truth is, as you suggest, always more complex. Many things are true and untrue at once.

Q: Does writing hold a form of spiritual catharsis for you?

John: Do the words spiritual and catharsis really go together?

No. But writing is cathartic at times. Especially when I write music.

Q: What do you personally consider to be the most important form of "awareness"?

John: Not sure what you mean by this - do you mean it in a sociologial way or a spiritual way? Sociologically environmental awareness has the most longterm importance. Spiritually the quality of intelligent mindfulness is the key to the key to the key.

Q: Do you write to change the world, change yourself, or make a quick buck?

John: Probably a lot of people will answer "none of the above" and "all of the above". I could easily say all of the above but I chiefly write because I must. As someone famously remarked, you should only try to be a writer if you *must* be a writer. I feel compelled to write. I don't go with all the things i feel compelled to do, of course.

Everyone has a gift; it is their lever, or their fulcrum, that rolls away the boulder.

Q: What fills you with hope?

John: With respect to this life, organizations like Amnesty International; the Sierra Club; and individual people who seem to do things out of unconditional love.

Also, if things really get bad, I live in America where I can get a whole lot of guns and ammo really easily. I'm not a bad shot.

Spiritually, people like the great Zen masters; Ramakrishna, GI Gurdjieff, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Jacob Needleman, the dalai Lama; Krishnamurti.

Most important the fact that if you do Certain Things, connecting your inner world to the outer world, a particular Certainty arises in you, a Certainty that has a particular taste, and which opens certain doors, and admits certain energies, which are the key to open other doors, and which provide something beyond hope.

Death gives me hope.

John Shirley's Bio | DE '97 GoHs