Wednesday 23 February 2011

Dancing With Myself: PABLO D'STAIR interviews PABLO D'STAIR

Pablo D’Stair: Your supposed appreciation, even love, for the typographical error is a put on (begins coughing) Excuse me. (continues coughing)

Pablo D’Stair: Was that a question? I’ll take it to’ve been a question. No, it’s not a put on—or rather, you’re repositioning it to being a “love” or an “appreciation” when it’s actually neither of those things. It’s more banal—I just don’t mind them, they are there and they are meaningless. I detest, however—no, “detest” isn’t even strong enough a word—I…cannot fucking stand, we’ll just say I can’t think of a better word than “detest” at the moment…I cannot fucking stand any person—whatever the quality of their character else—who has any, even the most miniscule, problem with them, regardless of what rhetoric such a person might hide behind. It’s abominable, it’s horrific—it showcases all that is and all that can be wrong with a person-as-a-reader and goes a bit further toward an indicator of such a person’s true core character. The worst of the lot are those who “blame it on their education or jobs” or some such shit—this underhanded way of licking some hoity praise at themselves at the same time they’re putting down on something it’s just sick making. You know the people? “Well, I just spent so many years studying and having to refine papers and have had such a respect for diligence and language and etc etc that now if I see a typo my mind just locks down and I cannot go any further, even if I want to, it’s become an instinctive aesthetic response. Oh blah blah blah. Oh really it’s a sad thing, that I’m just so calibrated that my enjoyment of what I’m sure is a perfectly quaint attempt at writing must be destroyed. Pity me, oh pity me for not being able to lower myself into the realm of flaw that a moment’s caution or a dignified respect for linguistic and typographic cleanliness would have saved us all from.”

PD: Yes. (pause) Yes, fine. (pause) Wow, I have to say that I’m now terrified to actually ask you a question if that’s how you respond to something that wasn’t even a question.

PD: Wasn’t it?

PD: No. No it wasn’t. It was the start of what was going to be a connective series of statements which would have eventually become a question that was interrupted by a momentary bit of coughing—but apparently you’ve just a hair trigger when it comes to finding an opportunity to carry on like an obnoxious twat.

PD: What’s your first question?

PD: Do you have any cigarettes?

PD: (pause) Is that the question your statement I so rudely cut in on would have lead to?

PD: Christ, never mind. (coughs) You aren’t a fan of digital media—or rather, being fair, you don’t spend much time thinking about it and your appreciation for publishing and writing, in general, is primarily artifact based. You’re a physical book man, it’s imbued in your lowest psyche. What do you make of this news that—at least with regards to Amazon—digital books through Kindle or whatever the fuck it’s called for the first time have outnumbered the sales of print books? You must be mortified, yes?

PD: No. Well—Yes I’m mortified, but moreover I don’t care and really—really—in the final analysis it’s quite a good thing. See, I was most put off all the time by the Indie Scene’s insistence on embracing digital media as “their thing”, as The Alternative, the “thing that mainstream isn’t doing, so we’ll own it, force our identity onto it as principle, bloom with it—since they fail to see the value, we’ll nurture it to health and go into the future with it.” Ridiculously short sighted, you know? In fact, I’ve been longing for these digital devices to really take off and when they do to take Hep Publishing and it’s marketplace centered paradigm with them. It was a matter of time, you know? It always was a matter of time. Now the time is come and now what my problem is is that it’s taking Indie’s so long to extricate themselves—in fact mostly Indie’s’re even more than ever diving on board, all hands on deck, thinking it’s some El Dorado of giving them “a real chance to be in there with the big guys”. Fuck, even presses and writers who I’d’ve imagined wanted nothing to do with anything like “being like the big guys” have waddled over into the discussion. Instead of seeing this for what it is. Or better, for what it can be.

PD: What can it be?

PD: You wasted a question, there, because I was just going to barrel along, taking that question totally for granted, you know?

PD: I’m shit as an interviewer and you’re shit as a subject, so in the end it works out to all of our advantage if I burn through the allotted ten questions as quickly and inexpertly as possible. Don’t you think?

PD: Ha ha. Very nice. Are you even keeping track of where we’re at, question number wise?

PD: Are you?

PD: (pause) You know? Hmn. (pause) I’m not sure I should really be on your side, here. (pause) I mean, there’s cavalier recklessness that comes off as really clever and then there’s really just wasting questions. (pause) What it could be—returning to what you seem to be disinterested in having me go on about—is a re-imagining of what should be done with the print medium book—the exclusively print medium book—and who should be doing it. The combination of the continuing inexpensiveness of producing print books of increasing physical quality and of these books being available in a marketplace less and less interested in commoditizing the print medium is the perfect stepping off point for a reinvigorated Indie Literature that could make some real headway—non commercially—in increasing its audience simply by not going along with digital publishing’s expansion. The mistake—it’s always been a mistake, but is now a mistake made across the board manifest—of thinking that books made available through inexpensive, electronic medium equates to a rise in potential readership is very, very silly. It’s nothing trading with nothing for nothing with nobody watching. But, in pockets of early resistance among to the swell of digital literature among not-usually-interested-in-the-indie-scene readers there is a huge opportunity to get print books into willing hands—not in the commercial sense, or at least I hope nobody chooses to exploit it in that way as it could be exploited commercially to the further detriment of everyone—and this opportunity is pointed unique, right now, especially as the superficial quality of indie books, the artifacts themselves, are at a point they can so beautifully and inexpensively easily be made—I take the quality of the work for granted, you know? A huge step forward could be made in breaking the ill informed stereotype that “Indie books are lesser quality and you can tell by looking at them”—the chance is just there for the plucking and the fact that there is—though many still don’t think it—an incredibly erudite and eager reading audience who would adore the usual Indie Scene ‘alternatives’ if they would be presented it as an actual alternative—in how they receive it and what is it, what it represents—and these readers would love to “Get into the literary discussion” by discovering that the classic, print medium of books is offering itself in a non-monetized way, seeking earnest discussion and nothing else. That is, even amongst Leisure Books readers, Harlequin readers, Beach Read toss away folks, this more intimate dialogue with literature is still what readers want.

PD: (lights cigarette) I let you get that all out of your system, alright? But now I have to point out that No, it isn’t what readers want. Give-it-away-free or don’t is totally irrelevant, so I won’t touch that pointless rhetorical round and round—but No, no people do not want to discuss books, not like you mean, anyway. They want to tell each other if they liked the books they read, they want to have fun, amongst friends, dissecting the books they read to no consequence—yes—but people who truly want to discourse on them are a selective breed and they have been discussing and dissecting and dialoguing, forever—they have journals for that, hierarchies, it’s a fucking art form and a fucking industry in itself. And neither of those truths are negative. You—tell the truth—just so desperately “want on board with the dissertation lot” because you’ve convinced yourself that’s what you want for your work—you want to be talked about, discussed interviewed, inspected and as you don’t have the wherewithal to but in the miles to get in with the writers who would be worthwhile interview partners for Bill Moyer you are trying to substitute casual readers into their position, trying to prop up someone who doesn’t give a shit about the theoretical or rhetorical abstractions of your personal literary into the façade of someone who really does have a deep investment into the nuance and “purity of art”—don’t you have to admit that?

PD: What do you mean “convinced myself that’s what I want”?

PD: What do you mean what do I mean?

PD: Oh fuck off with that. Just…what do you mean?

PD: When did this shift come about in you, man? When did you all of a sudden want to chit-chat with any stranger about your work—before, all the time before, while no you weren’t about the money, what you were about was just writing and maybe getting it to people. And look, I’m all for your wanting to “only get it to interested people” and your wanting “some way to track if a book is being actually read”—that’s all good and it should be brought a little more to the forefront, maybe, a subjective forefront—but when did it become about your having to personally talk to people? You never wanted that and then—Presto Chango— it’s all you prattle on about, so far to the point you name it as philosophical necessity for Writers capital W, not even just for your personal satisfaction.

PD: That, by the way, only counts as one question. And to answer: it isn’t “all about me talking to them”, me, or any writer, talking to them as stipulation for getting the book is just the only way to best assure future dialogue starts. I recognize this as something not everyone will dig and that can come off as bullshit—whether or not I say “it isn’t about wanting praise”, that “it’s about wanting to know any and all reactive thought to my work” I know it can boil down in the eyes of anyone to “Yeah, but it’s about you, you want to be the focus, not have the work be the focus.’ But the work is going to go off where it’s going to go off after the initial trading hands—me-to-reader or publisher-to-reader or whatever—the idea is to reset the paradigm, to say, definitively, that what is desired of a readership is not “the purchase of the book” and not even “JUST the reading of the work” (I need to emphasize that ‘just’—quiet, interior, personal reaction that is never shared is equally as valuable, if not more so, than conversation, but that is something that cannot be tracked or ever known so for all intents and purposes is an abstraction and is an abstraction I think it is silly and ill advised to assume is happening often, if ever) but what is desired, as exchange, as marketplace, is “giving life to a secondary expression of the work in a continuing—even sporadically and on other subjects—discussion referencing back to the work”. What literature is to a writer and what literature is to a reader are two wildly different things and always will be—what I think should happen is a kind of concerted effort to build a middle ground, an Esperanto, a place where the work—even if there is some construction, even artifice, to the method of discussion—is approached on equal—and appropriately equal—footing by both parties, author and reader. Reader-to-reader talk is wonderful, writer-to-writer talk is wonderful, but writer-to-reader talk, without some consciously understood admissions of the distance between the two and a concerted effort at a method to allow the interaction to have meaning, is worthless. A writer, when talking about someone else’s work, they are just a reader—it’s reader-to-reader, you know?—but if it’s their work being discussed, they need to find a way to break from looking at it as writer-to-reader discussion, they need to acquiesce that they, at best, are approaching their own work as “equivalently foreigner” as any other random reader and, probably, are impaired in their ability to interface with their work without it being filtered through the unassociated reader’s reactions.

PD: Jesus. (pause) So, the way you make it equal is “the Reader is talking about the writer’s book” but “the Writer is only discussing the reader’s reaction”—the writer admits they are no authority and to further place themselves away from their work they can only discuss, really, the response to the work—not argue with it, but have to take the response as meaningful, as inviolate, just as the reader is expected to take their book. Is that the thing?

PD: (pause) I think so. (pause) Yes. (pause) Yes, I think so. (pause) Why aren’t you saying anything?

PD: Because, come on, it obviously doesn’t even fucking make sense to you. It obviously doesn’t, man. (coughs, lights new cigarette) You used to just write—never published a thing, didn’t even think about it, commercial or otherwise. Remember that? All those novels so passionately written—some by hand even, some partially on a typewriter—and then a final, neat copy printed out and you’d hole punch it and go to the store to get those binder clasps you liked and put it all together and that was that. I admired you, then. I think that’s really admirable and I think that everything you’ve done since then has been a step down a long path of blah and run-of-the-mill, at best, neurotic, anit-art propounding at worst . Don’t you ever wish you’d never published and definitely that you’d never learned of self-publishing and all?

PD: (pause) Yes.

PD: Good. (coughs) Good. And I’ll tell you, I think your shame is apparent in your current work—it isn’t even as disguised as you think it is, you know? You think in your work that you’re disguising elements of yourself that you’re working through etc., but your real disguising is of the shame you feel that you can’t think about “just writing” anymore—it has to be Printed up, even five copies, you know? You have lost touch with the entity of literature, the personal tension between consciousness and unconsciousness you philosophize about so endlessly. You’re reduced to self-consciousness filtering through conscious attempts at self-effacement. (stubs cigarette, lights new cigarette) Remember when you were a writer?

PD: (pause) Yes. (motions for cigarette)

PD: That’s the ten. (lights cigarette, hands it across) Eleven actually. I just wanted to give you opportunity for a somewhat dignified curtain line.


  1. i think this is an post built upon passion and containing flammable materials. i'm really impressed by some of the ideas here and haven't heard these angles before. good luck!

  2. Question (and answer) one grabbed me by the frontal lobes and yelled "Pay attention. This guy detests the exact thing you detest. So he must know what you/he/we're talking about." The rest of the duologue is just a young guy coming to grips with the fact that that he is going to get famouser even if he does loathe those paper chopper grammatically sprained pothook pushers that just don't get it. I think it's the getting famouser part that he's railing against. I'd say get used to it dude. Can't stop it so throw your leg over and just RIDE that thing like a stinky wet mule.