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INTERVIEWER: Have you always had the creative impulse? Can you remember the first time you began to fashion things of your own, whether objects, characters, or anything else?
GOD: Not with any great certainty. Suffice to say that as soon as I could make things I began to do so and, with a few interruptions, continued in that vein until, more or less, the present moment. Of course, your question was not directed at the fatuous matter of when I first learnt to grasp the creating stick and make marks but rather, when I began to make art ‘seriously’. That was what you meant wasn’t it?
GOD: Which is a reasonable question. But if the intention behind it was to provoke an exchange about the artistic vocation or ‘career’, as it might be termed to impress serious-minded people, with designs on approaching the source of a particular urge or compulsion, then I must protest that your question will lead us somewhat downriver. With your permission I should like to haul you and your esteemed readership back a little way. I take it I have your permission.
INTERVIEWER: You do.
GOD: Good. Because I think it’s important to point out that I was able to create, according to my mother – whose memory of my early life is at least as vivid as the present – from an extremely, indeed preternaturally early age, likely in the order of a year, year and a half, before even the most sure-footed of my peers…
INTERVIEWER: Then you acknowledge the existence of peers?
GOD: In the chronological sense, oh, certainly I would.
INTERVIEWER: And you’re also content to describe your own existence as occurring, in some sense, within time?
GOD: Oh yes, but without the unhelpful ramifications of being bounded by or in some way subject to time as I think your question implies. It’s simply the case that being time, it’s possible to have an existence that floats along quite capably on both temporal and non-temporal currents. Just as if you were given a video recording to look at, of…well, look, it doesn’t matter what, but let’s say, for the sake of contrast with your own world, this is slowed-down footage we’re talking about. And…okay…say this is footage of an artist, and anyway this artist has filmed herself going about an apparently mundane set of activities but in a house that’s completely dilapidated, no roof, no furniture, you know, nothing. One minute she’s brushing her teeth with no water coming out of the taps, inspecting herself in the mirror that’s just a wall, and another she’s engaged in an evidently hilarious conversation with fictional dinner-guests in an empty room. Well, they may or not be fictional, but at any rate, we can’t see them. Anyway, it’s all tremendously affecting and throws up lots of rather fun and stimulating questions as art, even art of questionable merit, tends to. Is it her house, and if not, whose is it? What has happened to the woman? What is she feeling? Is it grief over the recent past, or a fantasy of the distant future? Is it grief over the distant past or…you know, you get the idea. Is she mad, or are we? Does she divine our presence, somehow? But how? And who is holding the camera, if not us? Through which derelict structures do we walk? Who’s watching us? Who’s watching us. Are we an invention of the woman or the apparently fictional dinner-guests? You know, all of that. Anyway, when it’s all over there’s a test. Now. How much did you notice? Not just what was on the tape but what was going on in the room around you, while you were watching the tape, or supposed to be? In all probability, your answers won’t be perfect, but they won’t be totally deficient either. Well, what does that mean? You were ‘inhabiting’ one time, which is to say, your own room, but you could move through the other quite capably; enter the house, follow the woman. So it’s not quite right to say that you were ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ time, nor that you were somehow stretching time; rather, you were stretching your own self, with time as a tool. And if the self is stretched with the correct force…
INTERVIEWER: It becomes thinner.
GOD: Thinner, yes, like the skin of certain famous artists. But also enlarged, that’s the crucial thing. Capable of reaching new surfaces, receiving many more rich stimuli than before. Thinner, yes, but also thicker, stronger, all things considered. A version of this soul-stretching took place just now, within you, as I was telling you that story about the woman in the deserted house.
INTERVIEWER: I entered the house, followed the woman.
GOD: Precisely. And you also stayed in your own time, here talking to me, whilst imagining yourself watching this video in slow-motion whilst imagining the woman, not as a character, but as the artist herself, acting out the whole at normal speed in a different time, and all the while remaining aware of what was going on in that room, that imaginary room, you happened to be or not be in. And many other things besides. Your readers will have a similar experience, with the added frisson of imagining the conversation that does or does not take place between us. And, while we’re at it, I was able to glimpse myself while you and perhaps they were doing all that. I hear people say sometimes, you know, ‘why are we here?’ and the simple answer is ‘for the pleasure of being seen’; for a glimpse of that little glittering stream of my own self that exists in you.
INTERVIEWER: Even your most devoted readers may find this, a little…
GOD: Well, perhaps. I mean, if you’re right and that is the case, then, of course, that’s a great shame. But I really couldn’t –. You know, that is an extremely simplified description of what it’s like to exist as I do, and perhaps you’ll, well, I hope you’ll appreciate that all this spreading myself around time is key – the key – to understanding my oeuvre. One thing that does particularly frustrate me in the critical response to my work is this idea that my style has been essentially static since the beginning of time.
INTERVIEWER: It’s meant as a compliment, of course. The…
GOD: Well, yes of course it is. But I’m afraid it’s also a serious mischaracterisation. My style is something I’ve worked extremely hard on. Continue to work on as a matter of fact. I have taken plenty of risks, and made certain wrong-turns of course, all of which I’m proud of, yes, and, yes, perhaps, now I am nearing the pinnacle of a style that is what you or your readers might in their infinite, you know, whatever, refer to as ‘honed’. ‘Golden’, you know, ‘sublime’, whatever you wish to call it. That’s good all around, yes. But, you know, that also doesn’t mean I’ll never change it again. It’s much truer when people say, you know, ‘the universe is expanding.’ Meaning me, that is. Yes, I think, whenever I hear that, that’s absolutely right. Expanding, always expanding. I am an artist – I have projects.
INTERVIEWER: You were speaking a moment ago of a period when art, for you, was the ‘simple pleasure of making marks’, before you had honed your style –
GOD: Indeed, had a style to hone…
INTERVIEWER: And before, perhaps, you had entirely eliminated ‘filler’ and mistakes of your own.
GOD: Oh undoubtedly…
INTERVIEWER: With that in mind, are there parts of…your body of work that –
GOD: That I might wish discreetly to have lopped away? A little cosmetic surgery is always helpful at my age. Oh yes, yes, too many to count – your own place and time – world, as it were – being the most egregious. And, by the way, I’ve no idea of how surprising that might be to people…
INTERVIEWER: It’s certainly been speculated that you were not completely…
GOD: No, I certainly wasn’t. Where would I place it, in the corpus? In fact, it is quite sophisticated, I hope you’d agree? For the most part. I am fond of it, yes definitely, definitely, despite everything. Very very fond. It’s undoubtedly the world in which one aspect of my craft – character – reached its zenith. And as well as that, you know, many of the ideas and images that continue to fascinate me now, the themes that would go on to become ‘my themes’ are there. Sometimes in miniature, sometimes quite uproariously enlarged. You understand? I am pleasantly surprised when I look back at the complexity, the depths, I was able to achieve at a young age. Really and truly. At the same time, my eye is drawn to those aspects I was not able to bring off, and to the not insignificant quantities of extraneous material. It’s just, frankly, rather embarrassing to be praised so extensively, even today, for a piece of work that, in my own view, I have surpassed time and time again. A frankly immature work that has aged badly. And what really needles me is that the other work, mature in conception and assured in execution, jettisoning as it does a quaint, nostalgic ‘psychology’ for a purity of form in and for its own sake, has failed to receive anything like the same kind of interest, aside from, of course, the rather dubious adulation of an ever-shrinking number of would-be specialists.
INTERVIEWER: A certain kind of art is designed to be understood, isn’t it, and another kind, more properly, to be felt. The more purely formalist works you’ve described…what I think some people would say is that…
INTERVIEWER: They are, clearly, much contemplated, debated and…appreciated. But…being art that is…comprehended and, of course…much admired, it cannot, by its own nature, attract passion…adulation…love. It’s, well, perfect, but people miss the filler, I think, the mistakes – the reflection back. Themselves, in short.
GOD: Well, you get philistines in every universe don’t you.
INTERVIEWER: Can you remember when you first began to write?
KKF: Not with any great certainty. Suffice to say that as soon as I could write, I began writing, and, with a few interruptions, continued until the present moment. It’s probably important to say at this point that I was able to write – according to my mother, anyway, whose memory of my early life is at least as vivid as the present – around a year, or a year and a half before the brightest of my contemporaries. Clearly what I was knocking out at that time was not Middlemarch; I was simply dragging around the pen and making marks; simple shapes at first, a long stroke, a not-quite-closed loop that might, charitably, have been judged to be attempts to imitate letters that I had seen or been shown in real life, but which for me lacked symbolic meaning. But this account of my mother, if true, is interesting, and important. It means that a time when things were still slippery and unresolved in me, jellylike and still fusing, when there was no stepping outside the hailshower of impressions, the torrential present of early childhood, a connection was made, between the brain and a certain pinch of the fingers; the brain determining that the fingers would be a serviceable extension of itself – more precisely, the principal agent of a facility that only just begun to operate, prototypically, within itself, the facility for detaching oneself, for stepping outside or inside, whichever you prefer. And so it turned out that by the time the strokes and ovals were no longer miniature paintings of strokes and ovals, but distinct attempts to form letters, which I had by now been shown many times and which could now be found coalescing, still by my own design, with other shapes, also letters of the alphabet, and these were nothing other than words, short and simple no doubt, but which now contained for me the same symbolic value as they did to the adults who had once charitably attempted to decipher these early marks when they were really no more than marks. At the same time, the brain neglected to cultivate any alternative agents – the mouth and vocal cords, for example, as it does in most other people. If I had lived in a neighbourhood with lots of little children of my own age, things might have been different, but, as it was, I did not, and as a result, they were not. Things began to fuse, to harden, to form the structures I would hold on to for the rest of my life. Not only did I think best through the medium and the act of writing, but this was in fact the only medium through which I could conduct thinking of the kind worth having. Then I was a little caveman, mute and friendless, making marks with my making stick, while others climbed trees and held swordfights with real-life sticks.
INTERVIEWER: You climbed no trees yourself?
KKF: I’m certain I did not. I was a small, weak, clumsy child with an overprotective mother who did little to dissuade me of the opinion, slowly forming, that the world was something to be feared; that my journey, whatever direction it might take, had certain limits. I explored the world, climbed trees, seriously and with the correct technique, from my bedroom, hacked through undergrowth and fought off exotic assailants. Things turned out very well for me in those other worlds. Before long, there had ceased to be any serious consideration of return.
INTERVIEWER: And was the fantasy, assuming that’s how you’d describe it, one of other worlds, or other selves?
KKF: That’s a simple question, for which there is a simple answer – other worlds.
INTERVIEWER: You were always yourself?
KKF: Yes, whether royal court, jungle or moonscape. Not always young, but always in this body. Always myself. Myself, myself, myself, myself.
About the Author
KK Fiorrucci is a writer from England. His story ‘The Walk’ was recently published in Pigeon Review – https://www.pigeonreview.com/post/the-walk