Jason's Sort of Dark & Creepy...
...in an appealing sort of a way, as Gracie finds out in this interview with author Jason Miller.
Animal Rights & Pornography was 'dark' to say the least. Do you consider your work 'dark'?
Dark works for me as for as generalities go. Once upon a time, Iíd resist the classification, but Iíve noticed over the years that everything I write, even a letter, has a sort of heaviness to it, that while not always dark is at least consistently gray. You might say, I might even say, that my work as a whole, like my outlook in the long run, though not minute to minute pessimistic, is ultimately fatalistic, even nihilistic. And yet in some pieces I offer up my own vision of jagged hope, not that the nature of the world can be changedóand Iíve been at odds for some long time with that natureóbut that we can make small and positive changes. Doctors talk about saving lives whereas I just see them postponing death. Still, that doesnít mean itís not a good thing.
I see from your blog that you are a father... are you married? If so, what is your wife's reactions to such dark works? And how do you propose the conversations with your son will 'go' one day, when he finds your books...
I canít afford to think about my son reading my works
As for my ex wife, my first one, most of it appalled her. There was a sort of fascination and even pride in the idea that someone she was close to could produce the work as a general sort of thing, but it up close, and the part of me most responsible for itís creation, that was a more difficult endeavor.
Why can't you "afford to think about" your son?
For one reason, it is just not conducive to strong writing if you are that audience-aware. Audience awareness in general can be dangerous, but when you really start fretting over how it, the writing, will affect one of your loved ones, then youíre in trouble. More specifically as it relates to him: I just donít want to think of him outside the Garden. He is a child and mostly innocent and I donít want to think of him ever having to know the things about the world itís sort of awful to know.
And have you remarried? If so, is she comfortable with your works?
Remarried and redivorced. She was, in fact, comfortable with my work. Our comfort levels beyond that obviously needed some work.
As I reviewer I am always interested in the author's opinion ~ 'did I get it right'... Reminds me of the old college 'artistic response' lessons, only here, instead of some dead artist whose thoughts are supposedly encapulated in the instrucor's mind (sorry Professor Miller), I have the chance to hear from you. So what grade do I get as a reviewer? How do you feel about reviews/reviewers?
What I appreciated best about your review is that you recognized this work not as one of activism. Iím a vegan, and Iím always in my way trying to push people to think differently about the way they treat animals, or at least that they are complacently supporting animals being treated, but that is not activism. And writing, at least not this kind of writing, isnít either. Real activism is a different sport all together, and one much more admirable.
Your review suggested that as a whole and in parts, the collection offers up no easy answer, which is exactly where I stand on the subject. I can go vegan, but do I wear a little Buddhist mask to keep myself from sucking in and digesting to death microscopic bugs? No. In what ways then are we all hypocrites. Do you kill something dying to end itís pain and suffering? And isnít everything in some sort of pain, headed, at least, toward some sort of suffering? So where do you stop?
In short, I felt youíd given the collection a better read than most of the other reviews Iíd readówhich isnít to say a more positive one, because that is neither here nor there, but one which understood the work, and thus me, better.
And specifically, how did this line work for you: "If the author intended to put sexuality, relationships, human & other animal rights ~ our very society itself ~ on trial, then the readers themselves become judge, jury & defendant."
As with most of my work, I feel like it is me first and foremost on trial. I tell beginning students that the urge to justify and glorify oneself is usually where writing begins, but that what we as critics and other sorts of audience consider good writing comes from the authorís desire to honestly tear him or herself down. What I know of the weakness and cruelty and baseness of the human spirit I know mostly through my own.
In your blog profile you wrote "Incidentally, none of this is real. This is an exercise in creative writing. Even the me that writes it is imagined." Is this how you view all your works, or just the blog? Please explain more about this 'split.'
Professionally speakingóIím a professoróand also, to some degree, emotionally speaking, a bit of coyness is required when one writes personally. We go around stripping our clothes off and asking everybody to look, sometimes at the very least of flattering positions, and the urge to disclaim what weíre doing is a weakness to which weíre often given. Or at least I am.
Currently, Jason is working on "Venereal, a Story of Love" and "Decomposition" ~ both of which I am sure will be 'dark,' and show the author naked & in a less than flattering position. And I, for one, look forward to it.