Interview The Suspect

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on February 17, 2016





Recently, Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society published an interview with Tao Lin, a traditional author. In the post Beyoncé-gate malaise, any excuse for writing will do. Here are the questions given to Mr. Lin. PG will answer them. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer? Do nuns and penguins really exist? I guess nuns do, because I have know people who went to Catholic school, and were traumatized for life. I don’t know about penguins, and probably don’t care. … Ok, so this terrible threesome approaches me in a bar. I am a retired drunk, and only go to bars to participate in jokes. I would tell them that I write musicals about the joy of abortion. I understand that should be popular on the south pole.

Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work? The rainbow font, pictures of dogs, and the true confession stories about women who go shopping wearing hair curlers.

What led you to write about drugs and alcohol in the first place? The division of drugs and alcohol is silly. Alcohol is a drug. The only reason that duality is implicit is the legalization of alcohol. If alcohol were illegal like the other drugs, and not endorsed by politicians, media freaks, football wankers, not to mention nuns that go to bars with penguins, there would be more people in jail for alcohol use. Whether or not this is a good thing we cannot say.

How would you describe the way that drugs function in your work, whether in terms of thematic concerns or the choices you make about how to craft a narrative? Do you think there are things that you wouldn’t be able to explore as successfully if drugs weren’t in your writing arsenal? Drugs and function are two opposed concepts. The reason people take drugs is not to function, unless you are trying to get an unwilling person to have sex, in which case it is different. As for the second question, the fecal impact of Donald Trump on the body politics cannot be adequately explained without use of ibogaine, which only the late Hunter S. Thompson knows how to procure.

What do you personally find most interesting about how drugs work in your writing, and where do you see that interest leading you in future projects? Since I don’t take drugs myself, I have to vicariously function through the drug use of others. Last night, I listened to a RISK show. It was about a black man… and he said he was black about a dozen times… who had shit shame. He was ashamed of his feces, and only took two craps a week. This man went to an ayahuasca ritual, shit in his pants, and is now regular. What goes around comes around.

This led to a three part tweet to the perpetrator of RISK. @TheKevinAllison 1-finished all 3 stories turned off shit-myself-story twice but came back to finish black stereotypes in 1st 2 tales @TheKevinAllison 2-then a possible reason for this shaky behavior in 3rd tale race is a tough subject for me talk about shitting himself @TheKevinAllison 3- during ritual is less obnoxious than repeated “I am black” chest thumping it was not funny, but i did finish show

BONUS QUESTION: Let’s hope that one of your novels or other work gets made into a major motion picture. If you have your choice, which is it, and what song do you fantasize about hearing as the credits roll? Disco Duck.






2 Responses

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  1. along said, on February 17, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Hi. I appreciate that you credited us and that you linked to Tao’s interview. If you’re interested in seeing more Fiction Points interviews and perhaps in gaining a better understanding of the myriad ways in which contemporary literature engages with drugs, you can read all existing Fiction Points interviews here I’m also glad that you found our questions interesting enough to use in conducting an interview with yourself.

    I just want to correct three things:

    The division between alcohol and drugs is not us saying, “Alcohol is not a drug.” We are fully aware that alcohol is a drug. This is our field of study. Many of us our advanced in our fields, and most of our contributors are PhDs. Some are clinicians. One of us writes literary nonfiction (me). But 1) while alcohol history and drug history do overlap, they also constitute their own academic fields to some extent, so it’s helpful to our primarily-academic audience; 2) the differences in legal status are exactly what makes the division useful; and 3) some writers who have participated in Fiction Points write only about alcohol, and some never write about alcohol, so the “alcohol and drugs” question phrasing works best for them as well as for our audience. Of course alcohol is a drug. But it occupies such a different place in culture than, say, marijuana or crack that considering them separately, at least sometimes, remains useful. I also think you’re being deliberately obtuse. No one says, “I’m doing drugs” and means “I’m drinking alcohol.” It’s a colloquial usage. I think you are intelligent enough to understand that.

    Second, actually, drugs often help people function. For example, many pain patients (myself included) can’t function without opioids or muscle relaxers or various prescription drugs. People take antidepressants (which fall under the “drug” umbrella) and drugs such as Xanax or Ativan in order to function in the face of depression and/or generalized and social anxiety. Your narrow definition of “drug” (you intend to say, “illicit drugs,” I suppose) has led you to pathologize a group of people who generally face a lot of stigma anyway, and there are also plenty of people who are high-functioning heroin addicts or alcoholics. That “drugs” and “functioning” appear oxymoronic to you results from your relationship to them, not to their actual, well, function in society at large.

    Third, you should check out the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (–I also interviewed Rick Doblin, MAPS’ founder and executive director, for Points; in the interview, he mentions the organization’s work with ibogaine). They know how to get a hold of ibogaine, and they are not Hunter S. Thompson.

    I’m also unsure as to what you mean by “In the post Beyoncé-gate malaise, any excuse for writing will do.” I’m not sure if you’re casting aspersions on Tao Lin’s writing with that statement, but if you think Lin’s work is a “[poor] excuse for writing,” you clearly haven’t read it. Lin is, in this writer’s opinion, a master of the craft. You may not like his writing (or you might, and yours might lack clarity), but you can’t deny that Lin is a powerful, original, and earnest voice in contemporary literature. If you meant that, in the post-Beyonce malaise, you personally need excuses to write, I’m sorry that I’ve misread you.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the interview (or at least that you apparently enjoyed answering the interview questions), but I would caution you against using other people’s content without asking them if they’re okay with it. I would have told you that I was, had you asked, and I’m not asking you to take down this post; it may bring traffic to our blog, and I’m a proponent of the free exchange of ideas and information. However, I wrote these questions. They’ve constituted the Fiction Points interview questions since the series’ inception. It makes me a little uncomfortable to see them on another site. I’m only uncomfortable and not angry because you gave us credit and linked to our site. Had you not, I would have asked you to take down this post or to credit us. I appreciate that you’ve engaged with our work. I really do. But other people may not appreciate you taking their content and placing it on your site.

    Contributing Editor, Media Liaison, and Fiction Points Curator
    Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society

    • chamblee54 said, on February 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
      My post was not serious. I was looking to give nonsense answers to serious questions.
      I do thank you for the questions, and for allowing me to use them.
      As for Tao Lin, I have never read his work. I listened to a “Bookworm” episode, where he appeared with Mira Gonzales. Mr. Lin is a much more serious writer than myself.
      As I said, I am a retired drunk and pothead. I have done my share of psychedelics. Most other uppers, downers, hypnotics, opioids, and cocaine related substances were not to my liking thirty years ago, when I was playing the game. I have many thoughts on the subject, and might be interested in a further dialog.
      It is not often when someone spends this much time, and thought, into a reply to my writing. I am flattered.

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