[scarabic] Tonight we are interviewing Brian Hodge who is, among other things, the author of the novels Dark Advent, Oasis, Night Life, Death Grip, Darker Saints, and Prototype, plus collections such as Shrines & Desecrations, The Convulsion Factory, and Falling Idols. Hardback rights for his upcoming novel, Wild Horses (previously Miles to Go Before I Weep), were auctioned to William Morrow earlier this year. Aside from fiction, he is also a prolific music (and written word, for that matter) reviewer with impeccable taste. Brian was the Horrific Literatist GoH at Death Equinox '97, and is a veteran GoH at DE '98.
(SNIP through introductory commentary.)
[scarabic] Might's well tell a bit about Falling Idols then.
[Brian] Just like The Convulsion Factory was themed around urban blight... this one's themed around religion, outre spirituality, like that. Actually, its main anchor I have you to thank for, in part, Jasmine.
[scarabic] Eek, what did I do?
[Brian] I drew from a conversation we had once about angels/demons. So in this 24,000 word novella, As Above, So Below, I sort of erased the dichotomy between the two and turned it on its head.
[scarabic] How much do your personal interests in spiritualism tend to fall into your work?
[Brian] For something like this, it's almost total absorption. All the stories in it, although they're fewer in number than in Factory, they're mostly longer, are all pretty personal to one degree or another. Usually born out of something I wanted to explore or just get out of my system. And in As Above, So Below, it was actually an ongoing chronicle of some changes I was going through at the time. Not that it was intended that way, it just happened. The writing of that turned into an honest-to-the-gods act of magick. It really did seem to open a doorway for a time.
[scarabic] In what ways did it become an act of magick?
[Brian] That's the sort of thing that's hard to qualify but, like I'd said before, it opened a doorway. That's the best way I can describe it. Of course, it would make a hell of a lot more sense to you had you been able to read it. But when you do, you'll probably see what I mean. Most people seem to have caught onto the fact that there's something in there, living between the words. Even if they can't quite put their finger on it, they can sense something there.
[scarabic] Do stories have a way for letting you know when you need to write them, for any reason from needing to process certain emotions to contacting various parts of your mind... ? (Gosh, what a nonsensical question!)
[Brian] Hey, it's better than "Where do you get yer ideas?" Yeah, absolutely, sometimes they really do assert themselves. It becomes a psychological itch and getting it down on paper is the only way to scratch. Either that, or climb the tower with the rifle. Actually, that's the way this one story I read at the reading yesterday ends. It's called Sensible Violence. It's from the new collection. You don't really know if this guy's just nuts or if he really is a pawn in some quasi undivine hands but he's got it in his head that it's Ragnarok time. I'd just heard the phrase "senseless violence" one too many times and wondered, well, what if there's an underlying causality? That and the fact that when I wrote it was an extremely misanthropic time, early last spring.
[scarabic] Do you think the human race, as a whole, is trying to head in self-destructive directions?
[Brian] I think it always has, it's just that the coverage is better and so are the weapons now.
[scarabic] Simply can't transcend the beast within?
[Brian] I think we're always at war within... maybe war being too strong a word for it, but you get the idea... Anyway, there's always a conflict between dual natures. Between the flesh and the spirit, the impulse for revenge versus the more "enlightened" teaching of forgiveness, between the love of building and the love of destruction. Sometimes the 2 go hand-in-glove, with new growth arising from the ashes. Like, say, east meeting west during the Crusades and everything that the West learned when we figured out, hey, these guys aren't just a bunch of savages. There was intellectual and technological growth to come from that. And it probably as a whole advanced civilization. But the problem today is we've got the earth mapped and we know who's where, with no more room for surprises like that, but we've still got these same old behavioral patterns pushing us toward picking up the big guns.
[MrFrosty] What do you think is the solution between this dual nature, and will man ever reconcile both aspects of his nature?
[Brian] If I knew that, it'd be a ticket to fortune and guruhood. Really, it's an unrealistic expectation because it would take a level of tolerance for differences and land rights that has heretofore been unseen. There's no way to realistically expect that to happen. Of course, from what I hear about the new movie, all it takes is a big comet on collision course to help us straighten our priorities.
(SNIP through disaster movies and Road Warrior.)
[cygnus-x1] Brian, don't you think that the type of dualistic thinking you were referring to is more prevalent in "western" culture?
[Brian] Probably so but, considering that's where I've been immersed, that's the perspective I tend to default to. Even so... while "eastern" cultures have a more unified outlook, the animal drives versus the transcendent longings I still suspect is a global human condition. Think of the atrocities committed during the Boxer Rebellion, or by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. These are eastern peoples, but it's stunningly savage.
[cygnus-x1] It is savage to us from our perspective, but we lack the cultural frame of reference.
[Brian] I would argue that such behavior is also savage to an eastern perspective or else why would you have, say, Japanese who are deeply apologetic about the medical experiments and other atrocities committed during WW II? Why would you have Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who survived the Khmer Rouge, becoming an outspoken proponent of human rights?
[cygnus-x1] I guess I am unclear on how these specific incidents are connected to dualistic thought.
[Brian] I think if you go back earlier you'll see that we're not talking about dualistic thought per se, which implies one's view of the cosmos, and good and evil, rather, we were talking about human behavior. The way we treat each other in spite of which side of the world we're on, or the culture it occurs in. At the fundamental human root, regardless of the upbringing. That to me was the essence.
(SNIP through further discussion of innate natures.)
[cygnus-x1] I think that part of the problem lies in our idea that we need to transcend the "animal" nature. I see that as part of the cultural heritage of the west and the far east, I'm not sure that aboriginal people see things this way.
[Brian] Fair enough. But we're talking about civilization, too, and the role of the human animal in civilization. And sad as it is, as much as we may mourn it, the aboriginal people of the world, those with the most fundamental connection to the earth as part of it, have about been bulldozed into extinction. I have to say I've been really enjoying this part. This kicks the titties off the Omni interview I did in January.
(SNIP through chatter and bestial nature outro.)
[scarabic] Anyway... Since this is the DE series I have to ask the obligatory question: What was your overall impression of DE '97?
[Brian] Well, I for one think we didn't slaughter enough people. Tremendous ideas all the way around and programming the likes of which I've never heard of at any con... just needs more bodies there. Warm or otherwise.
(SNIP through Latex and the rack.)
[scarabic] Some of the most fun I've had was on that rack at DE '97... What were some of the things in particular that you liked there?
[Brian] Little Fyodor and Babushka, most definitely! And the people; those I knew just a little and got to know better, and the ones I'd never met before at all. Loved the Tribal Rhythmic Entrainment. The piercing demos. Rob Hardin's reading/music playing just blew me away, how he divides his brain to do both at the same time and do them almost flawlessly. Jesus was that impressive. I'm right now reading Distorture so it's interesting to read it now, knowing the emphasis he puts on word rhythm.
[scarabic] That can appear pretty flat on the page, by itself, unfortunately.
[Brian] Well... it's a supplement, really. Fortunately that's not all that's going on so if you happen to hear that voice sort of lift off the page it's a definite bonus. Question: Will Fyodor and co. be back this year?
[Brian] There's an article on him in the new Westword. Heard him a couple times on the radio lately, too. Some song, Monkey Versus Robot I think. Which halfway feeds into the earlier train of thoughts.
(SNIP through absinthe, Spain, the Simpsons, and the outro.)
Back to the DE IRC Interview index.