Thursday, February 7, 2008

Long Interview With Brandon Scott Gorrell

A couple days before ALIENATED AFRAID OF FURNITURE IN BEDROOM went up online, Brandon and I had a long "interview" style discussion about it on Gmail chat. It is very long, though it stays mostly on topic. We talked for about 90 minutes. I think Gmail chat is a good way to interview someone because it's like a conversation but you can take long pauses to think and write what you want to say the way you want to say it but you also don't sit and "compose" an answer. It is an honest and efficient form of interview. In this interview we talk about masturbating. Even if you did not read Brandon's book you are probably interested in masturbating. If you read the whole thing you probably win. Okay good.

BRANDON AND BLAKE GMAIL INTERVIEW FOR FEBRUARY 2008:

4:26 PM me: ok this is the beginning of the interview
Brandon: okay
me: when did you write this book
4:27 PM Brandon: i think i wrote the book like two months ago. at the end of november. but it took a long time to finish because i edited alot. i finished it right before i sent it to you, that was in the middle of january i think.
me: how long do you think you worked on it
hour wise
or how long each day
4:29 PM Brandon: i would say it took me no more than 12 focused hours. the document was usually always open, but i only 'picked at it' for a very long time. i hardly ever sat down and focused on the whole thing. at the end i did. so it was maybe like an hour or two of extreme focus a couple times a week but only on like one sentence or one section, and with distractions, and dispersed over my entire internet day.
4:30 PM me: i like to write like that too. it seems like you get a lot of little bursts of energy
like you keep writing and get up a lot
and so your energy doesn't deplete
Brandon: yeah
me: and you can drink coffee
Brandon: i agree with this
me: and little things happen that influence sentences
4:31 PM Brandon: i think thats how i write all of my things. for the ebook i shitted the bulk of it out in one session but after wards i was just picking at it. if i go to piss or walk to the store i will become influenced and get and idea, like you said. i agree
4:32 PM me: 'i am on the bed and everything feels wrong' is the first sentence in the ebook
Brandon: you are correct
me: how did this sentence occur to you? was it just in your head? did you just think it and start writing?
4:34 PM Brandon: i think it was 'the first thing in my head'. i sat down to write the thing with the image of me 'bludgeoning the king size bed with my claws and reeling fists' and that was the only idea that i had for the thing, and i felt shitty on my bed (i write everything on my bed because i don't have a desk), so i wrote that. it was true i was being honest
4:35 PM me: you sit on the edge of your bed when writing?
Brandon: thats a good idea
4:36 PM me: do you lay down?
Brandon: i never thought of doing that. i sit either cross-legged on my bed and hunched over my computer with horrible posture, against the wall with pillows and the laptop on my lap, or laying on my stomach with my torso supported by my elbows
4:37 PM i also lay on my side but that makes it really hard to type
i lay on my side when i watch youtube videos
me: i think it would be hard for me to write like that
Brandon: now i am at the library because i worry about my posture
me: i tried it once, laying down while writing
and everything turned babbling.
4:38 PM but the sentences here are very clear and precise
if strange
Brandon: hm
i always write on my bed
because i dont want to move
4:39 PM its the only place that i have in my room to sit. my couch is full of clothes and there are blankets on my bed and pillows and everything is comfortable there. i consider myself a 'diverse' writer though, in that i can write in many different positions and locales
body-positions
me: diverse is good
i am the opposite
4:40 PM i wish i could do that
Brandon: i try to switch my body position alot becuase i am afraid of the posture thing
me: but now there is only one room i ever get anything done
Brandon: really?
which room?
me: a room in my parents house, where i lived from age 16-19
i drive 30 minutes to their house to use the room
i wish i could write somewhere else
but i cant
Brandon: that is interesting
4:41 PM what do they say
what do you say to them
me: they are used to my routine now
they talk to me when i come out to get water
Brandon: that seems like a healthy habit
me: it helps to be away from the place i live
it makes me think of it with more rigor
Brandon: yes
me: but it also constricts me
because i have to be there to feel productive
you are lucky to have your bed be your place or work
4:42 PM of work
Brandon: i would like to sit on a sidewalk in the middle of downtown and write
i think i would make something good
i would be afraid of people attacking me though, stealing my laptop or something
me: new positions are worth trying probably
what do you feel looking at the front page of your ebook
4:45 PM Brandon: i really like how it looks. i feel a sense of 'pride' because it looks professional and organized and 'deep' to me. i like seeing my name there and my little picture. i feel a sense of expectation that more people will like my writing. i also feel a sense of, something. i cant articulate it. a feeling of wanting to tell someone, 'we worked on this, and here it is, and i want you to like this.' i also feel a little afraid. i feel interested too. i look at the faces, especially the middle one, and feel a disquiet.
4:46 PM me: we have agreed there is something evil about the book, especially the way it fits together and the photos i inserted
i think the front feels like the start of evil
Brandon: the front is the start of something horrible
4:47 PM i feel like the front is horrible too. i forgot that.
its really, really horrible
me: i agree
i cant place why
Brandon: yes
me: but i feel an evil that begins here and grows as i read through the book
Brandon: i keep thinking 'black hole' and 'enter the fun house'
me: black hole
4:48 PM black lodge
Brandon: also, i kind of keep thinking something about wierd porn, and this old playstation 2 game where you went around and made footage for snuff films
me: those are good thoughts. like moving into a fucked video game
4:49 PM Brandon: where you play out strange and base emotions
me: i like how it is pointed out on page one that the shampoo and conditioner do not move
'not an inch for anything'
that is ominous seeming
Brandon: yes
i put that in at the 'last second'
me: you seem to mix the everyday with the ominous
which is why it's even more scary
because it is real
it is real everyday evil
evil in any house
Brandon: yes i think thats a good point to make about the book
4:50 PM i think it is because it is true, in a way
me: houses and rooms scare me in general
i like to think about houses
and rooms
4:51 PM like placeholders
4:52 PM Brandon: i dont know. i've been umemployed for awhile and i moved up to seattle with no friends almost a year ago, and i still don't have that many friends, so i spend a lot of time in my room, and some things start to feel very bad and bleak and desperate, like the idea of your room, or the image of your bed when you are getting coffee. like you are getting coffee and then all the sudden the image of your bed pops into your head and you feel horrible because you are there so much and there feels like nothing else. maybe that is something that explains the book a little.
me: that's very good
good
4:53 PM everyday things are more scary than monsters
that is why most horror movies fail
they fail to be scary because they can't exist
but rooms and houses are everywhere
Brandon: yeah
4:54 PM me: you wrote this on your bed. that scares me.
fuck
Brandon: i become afraid sometimes, when i am on a plane and descending on a city and can only see suburbs. that frightens me because i think of the people inside sitting on their couches and watching TV and doing this endlessly until they die, with TV dinners, and computers, and trampolines and shit. i dont like that.
yes that idea kind of scares me too now, that you say it
i can understand your fear
4:55 PM it is another component of 'the horror' that is the ebook
me: yes
we talked already about the yellow crap on the chin of the face on the second page
Brandon: yes
the skid mark
me: i dont know why it is there
you have to look very closely at the right angle
4:56 PM Brandon: it was created in a toilet stall in a truckstop in rural kentucky or something
thats how i feel about that
me: i also really like the line about wanting to masturbate but being too tired to move your arms
i feel like that often
why do people want to masturbate when they are too tired
4:57 PM Brandon: yes, i think someone else gave me that idea
4:58 PM im not sure, i have that feeling. wanting to masturbate when too tired. like 90% of the time i will wake myself up enough to do it. i don't really know why. it's a feeling like there is nothing else to do and it will help me get to sleep and it feels really good, which are all good things, and can be done easily, so. it should be done. it is like 5 or 10 free minutes. like you get a prize every day that is 5 or 10 minutes of being relatively not bored.
5:00 PM me: sometimes when i am falling asleep i will be on the edge of sleep, which is hard for me because i have a lot of sleeping trouble, and i will somehow think of masturbating and i will get stuck on the edge of sleep and i will hang there for a while and i cant go forward until i come back out and try to masturbate
but i almost always masturbate in front of my computer
so then i have to get up
and it wakes me up
Brandon: another benefit of computer on bed
me: and i lose interest in masturbating halfway through
and then i am awake and not horny
Brandon: really?
me: and not fulfilled
5:01 PM i'd say about 20% of the time i lose interest while masturbating, if i've woken myself up to do it
i dont know why
Brandon: i have lost interest in masturbating in the middle of the process like .75% of all times i have masturbated
me: i think because i am mad i woke myself up for it
haha
in normal masturbation, yes, i rarely lose interest
5:02 PM but mid-sleep masturbation, i dont know why, it moves up to 20%
Brandon: this is funny
im trying not to laugh because there are people around me
me: laugh
Brandon: sitting like 3 feet away from me
i can't
i did
a little
me: and when they look at you, stop laughing and say 'i was laughing about masturbation'
5:03 PM and then turn away
ok
back to ebook
what do you think of the mask picture on page 3
why do you think it is there
5:06 PM Brandon: i thought you put it there because of what i said later on, about putting the chinese war mask on my wall to quell the green emoticons. but i dont know. i have a lot of thoughts about all the pictures and the corresponding text. i think every picture you put in the ebook corresponds with it's text in an unspeakable way. in a way that i understand emotionally but not 'verbally'. with the mask on page three i always feel very connected to the mask when i read 'and i know my face will stretch into something fantastic' and also when i read the word 'chandelier' and think about looking into a mirror and it reflecting the room at an angle. the mask makes a certain 'sense'
5:07 PM to me
me: it makes sense
rooms
the mask looks sort of like a chandelier
it also looks like it might speak
5:08 PM Brandon: it looks frightening to me
it reminds me of the mask from the film 'the mask' with jim carey
the mask that he found in the water
not the one that his face turns into
me: jim carrey
5:09 PM they showed jimc arrey at the super bowl last night
he looked shrunken
Brandon: really
me: hold on i have to piss
Brandon: i want to see that
ok
a shrunken jim carrey
5:10 PM me: tell me about alienated afraid with no comma
while i am gone
5 minutes
5:15 PM Brandon: okay, the title. it's like that because i thought it like that and i originally titled the word document that. i like typing things in caps because it seems belligerent and idiotic and sometimes a little 'ominous' and kind of loud and also i feel it adds sarcasm. there is no comma because i feel like yelling the title. that's all. if i would have thought of a word that meant both alienated and afraid i might have used that. maybe the title is sort of idiotic and feels anxious which makes it go along well with what's actually in the book. it 'fits the theme'. "alienated and afraid of furniture in my bedroom" is too nice and calm. taking some of the words out, making it like it is i think added a feeling of being 'frantic' or 'anxious' or 'miserable' or 'miserably frantic' or 'panic' or 'chainsawed'
5:16 PM 'horribly chainsawed'
me: yes it does have that effect
a lot of the effect of this book is muted like that
and builds slow
which is good
or feels good
5:17 PM a package appears on page 4
and is thrown out the window
Brandon: yes
me: and i dont think it appears again
what is in the package
5:19 PM Brandon: it appears again on the page with the chair picture (one of the 8's). i was afraid of what was in the package. i didn't know what was in the package. i knew kind of what was in it but i knew if i opened, then i would have an obligation. i felt horrible about it. i didn't want that package to exist because it only imposed anxiety on me.
me: it does have anxiety.
5:20 PM you try to destroy the package
Brandon: i wanted to get rid of it
it was a real package in my room, i just barely opened it
it was unopened for like 4 months
me: a real package
where did it come from
5:23 PM Brandon: yes, i mean the package was like a 'real character', it was based on a real character in my life. which was the package that was in my room for awhile. the package had a microphone and two cd's in it. my friend sent it to me because he wanted me to record my voice for him for some of his songs. i said i would and that he could send me the mic, but i misunderstood him a little because i thought he was only going to take one of his old mics and send it to me. later, he sent me an email, saying 'hey, me and my girlfriend paid for it, all you have to do to pay me back is use it,' and i didnt want that, because i was completely anxious about recording for him in the first place, so when i got the package i just avoided it and put it on my couch and it sat there for a very long time
me: avoidance
Brandon: yes
me: couch
5:24 PM Brandon: complete avoidance
me: covering up your furniture
ok good
then there is a woman with cleavage and a lion
in the picture next to the text
Brandon: ;yes you did a very good job
the connection seems very clear
me: take a look at her cleavage
Brandon: it is like a picture-word metaphor
not a word-word metaphor
i looked at the cleavage
5:25 PM me: you can see that she doesn't tan uniformly
Brandon: i enjoy it
yes she has pale boobs
me: she has tan marks on her cleavage
that end high on the breast
as if she doesn't usually expose that much tit
Brandon: i dont know if i can see that
im not sure
me: she is looking at the lion
Brandon: i see a sort of vertical line on the high boob
me: and kind of kissing it and sort of talking to it maybe
Brandon: is that the tan line
yes
me: i think its a tan line
5:26 PM it might be something else
Brandon: the picture is calm
but afraid
me: yeah
conflicting mixture
ok fuck
Brandon: what
is everything ok
5:27 PM me: im just looking at the evil of this book
Brandon: yes
you know
me: the next page is evil
Brandon: i almost typed 'this book is making me feel horrible insane'
me: the sound of the ashtray
Brandon: when you typed that
me: when we were chatting while i put it together i felt really afraid
we did it from about 2 am to about 530 am
5:28 PM we were both frightened
Brandon: yes, i was frightened
can i ask you a question
can we just make this a dual interview
me: ok
yeah
we should
ask
Brandon: this is already long i dont know if people will want to read all of both
me: you're right
long
Brandon: but its good and i am very interested
okay
me: i feel interested so far
5:29 PM Brandon: sometimes when i scroll through the book my internet connection takes a little while for the pictures to load and before the pictures load i see funny things written in the boxes where the pictures are about to appear. i can't remember any of them right now. do you know what i am talking about? can you say what those things are and recall all of them or some of them?
5:30 PM keep typing im going to piss
5:32 PM me: those are the comments that you can input into the html coder so that if for some reason the images dont load there will be text there instead. in some browsers you can see the text by scrolling over the image. in other browsers you can right click on them and it will tell you in the properties box. the reasons for why i put whatever text is there would change. sometimes it had to do with how i found the image.
for instance,
5:33 PM i put in hole
for the image on page 5
5:34 PM but mostly they are just syllables that appeared in my head when i found the image
some of the images i found by writing long sentences into the google image search
i would write long sentence, the first thing i thought of
5:35 PM i think one was 'I DO NOT KNOW WHERE I AM'
and another might have been 'SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING TO HAPPEN SOON'
or sometimes more gibberish related
5:38 PM Brandon: haha, thats funny you write syllables that appeared in your head. that syllable poem thing you did was really funny, that you posted on your blog the other day. i really liked it. you said 'cod eye' and like 'bop beep bip beep' or something. that made me feel 'giddy'. i think we can both ask eachother questions. that it should be mixed from now on. when i was pissing i thought 'blake chose me, blake chose my e-book, that is good, he worked on it a long time, it is not really only me that did the e-book, it is in a sense very collaborative'
5:39 PM me: i liked what you sent me. i felt like i could 'respond' to it. i didnt realize i could influence the feel of it as much as i did until i started working on laying it out
but then i did feel like i was interacting with the text
and it was an electric feeling
Brandon: did you feel frightened when you were reading it in the email i sent you? as just plain text?
or did you start to understand 'the horror' once it was put into the ebook format
me: i didnt quite feel frightened. i did feel a bit displaced
5:40 PM Brandon: displaced
?
me: yes, like removed from myself
i dont know how else to explain it
Brandon: hm.
me: alienated
but in line with the alienation
because the title tells you that
5:41 PM so i felt displaced from my normal self but in line with somethign else
if that makes any sense
5:42 PM Brandon: i think it makes a kind of sense. i want to ask you another question now. i used a weird tense in the book. it is like past perfect continuous or present perfect continuous or something. during editing i changed the tense of the entire things like 5 times and one time it was more of a narrative. what do you think of the tense?
5:44 PM me: yes the tense is strange. in a way it is absorbing because it brings you into the action like first person normally does but then it puts you even more so into the text by switching from saying 'i am sitting' and then 'i have opened.' it's like someone is dictating their actions to you from a remote location in the immediate present rather than telling you a story
5:45 PM which definitely enables the evil
Brandon: yes, i just thought that. it is an 'evil enabler'
me: why did you switch the tense so much
what made you want to
5:48 PM Brandon: i originally had it in the tense that it is, right now, in the book. but sometimes for me it sounded very awkward. i felt conflicted. i also changed the format a lot. first every page was a paragraph with no line breaks. then i was thinking about submitting it to 3AM because chris killen edits fiction for them and i think he would have accepted it, but i felt that for 3:AM it should be a little more 'traditional' or something (there is no value judgment on 3:AM in that sentence) so i changed it to some other tense, maybe just past tense, and put it in paragraphs with some dialogue and indented beginning of paragraphs and shit. i sent you a 'preview' that was like that. then i felt bad about that and broke it up into different lines and changed the tense again and it felt alot better
5:49 PM me: the sections are important
why did you number the sections the way you did
1,2,3,4,5,8,8,4000 and so on
5:50 PM i mean 1,2,3,4,5,8,4000,8
5:51 PM Brandon: because i felt very sarcastic about numbering sections. i have read things that were numbered and didn't really understand why they were numbered. but i like numbering. it is easy. it's like a more important 'blank space' in your writing. so after a couple sections i just started typing the same number and 'this sucks' becuase i felt stupid about numbering but also wanted to number. i didn't mean for it to confuse the person reading. i only realized it might when i first saw it in the ebook. what did you think about the numbering when you first saw it in the email? were you amused? i was amused by it but also a little afraid it was stupid
5:53 PM me: yeah i was a little amused and a little like 'this is silly' but more amused and then when i began setting up the book i started to really like it because it was confusing, but in a way that went along with the text. i imagine it will confused people reading through it online. it confused me a lot when i was trying to set up one page after another
it also adds to the disorientation of the story somehow
there are lots of minor things about the book that add to it without direct reasons why
particularly in the formatting
5:54 PM Brandon: yes i think the numbering feels very good, it goes along with the text. yeah, that is a good thing to say. i want to ask you another question.
5:55 PM on your blog you solicited people to submit for lamination colony for author parodies and maybe, 'bad writing' and i think, the sense i got, was that you wanted to see different formats. how does this e-book coincide with what you were soliciting for? i was afraid it didn't, after i read your post. why not another issue of LC?
6:00 PM me: i wanted to make an issue that had a whole ton of stuff that other places would not do. i like the idea of the ebook being another part of the issue, but i also like the issue to stand alone. i am now beginning to lay out the issue and at first i had the ebook in the 'table of contents' area at the top of everything else, but now i have moved it to be separate but still on the same page. i think too many magazine have defined their borders as in 'we can print fiction and we can print poetry and we can get crazy and print nonfiction'. i want to provide something different. this issue will have your ebook and the parodies and a gmail chat and a letter someone found written from their cousin to their mom and a thing i think was meant as spam but reads as writing and an essay with a bibliography and a very violent except from a text that is not finished.
i want the issues to continue to get more fucked
i want people to send me naked pictures
i want people to send me things i cant figure out how to format
i want people to send me stuff written by their 5 year old brother
or pictures they drew in their sleep
etc etc etc
Brandon: haha
6:01 PM i laughed a little and no one noticed me
hm
i like your idea for lamination colony
it feels more 'artistic' in a way
but also like a circus
me: yes a circus
Brandon: i think the idea goes along with how you like david lynch so much
6:02 PM me: yes. your book reminds me of lynch a lot also
it has a lot of the same resonances as twin peaks or inland empire
lynch combines camp with bizarre with mystery with nudity with commonplace with surreal
6:03 PM a little taste of everything, and in a way that doesn't quite resolve
Brandon: i really like him
do you know what day the new issue of LC will come out?
me: i just laid out the 'table of contents' area today.
6:04 PM it is full and has a ton of stuff
i want to put more but it would be crowded
so as soon as i can lay it out, it will go up
hopefully in the next 2 weeks
but your book will go up first, on ash wednesday
which also seems evil
Brandon: ash wednesday
yes
me: fuck
Brandon: i am glad that ash wednesday is the day it will be published, i like that
me: i just saw the line about the package sitting on the floor
the package reappears
that is fucked
6:05 PM you are fucked
good

7 comments:

KEN BAUMANN said...

I read half of this and liked it.

chris killen said...

i missed out a part in the middle. i will come back tomorrow and read the part in the middle. i liked this (and the e-book) a lot. good interview.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

glad someone tried to make it. thank you ken and chris.

Maya said...

i read it. you guys are like tao. is it the tao generation. i did like the ebook and pictures also.

xtx said...

i printed this out at the place where i work on the day it was posted because sometimes when i read too much on the internet my eyes start to vibrate and it scares me a little.

i read it yesterday while sitting in a chair, low to the ground, with the sun hot on my face and grass under my shoes behind a hairless albino man who was yelling at children.

It made me appreciate the e-book more and your efforts to make sure it was 'composed' correctly with the pictures and what not.

i was also fascinated by the masturbation talk. as a female, i sometimes get tired while masturbating even though my hands/arms probably don't have to move up and down so vigorously as my movements are more concentrated in my hand/wrist/fingers. but on the nights when i feel 'i have to' masturbate so i can fall asleep and have no urgent sex fantasy accompaniment, it takes me longer and i want to give up, but then i think i've come so far already (nopunintended) that i keep at it until i have a not very satisfactory orgasm and then my fingers are frozen in sort of a muscle-spasm claw shape and i hate myself a little.

brandon scott gorrell has a lot to offer. i think his mind makes me scared. i will go re-read his ebook again.

nice work you two.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

that was a nice comment xtx. i am glad you read the whole thing. thank you. i am also a fan of 10 man cum slam VI.

xtx said...

wow...great. i just thought 10 Man Cum Slam IV and V just didn't bring enough to the table. 10MCS VI really represented (I thought) with not only the 'in your face' (literal and figurative!) thematic elements but with the underlying battle between men and their own mortality.

I haven't checked out VII-X yet, so I can't speak for those.

I think I will leave well enough alone.