Tag Archives: literature

Happy Halloween from legendary horror author Ramsey Campbell and me on AEWCH 168!

27 Oct

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FRIENDS:Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Buy Ramsey’s books and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 168 on bookshop.org! The site sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

Happy Halloween. I don’t really need to introduce legendary horror author Ramsey Campbell, but I will just say it was an honor to have him on the show. Very few people have done as much as Ramsey to deepen horror narratives, and very few have shown – with dozens of books penned – such a commitment to the genre.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Ramsey, go to his website. Some books not available on bookshop.org, but that are Ramsey Campbell essentials include The Darkest Part of the Woods, The Doll Who Ate Its Mother, The Searching Dead, his excellent story collection Strange Things and Stranger Places, and my favorite, The Face That Must Die. Also, here’s Ramsey’s essay collection (which includes the essay we mention on the episode, “Granted by Granta”), Certainly. Here’s another good (short) interview with Ramsey.

• Early on, Ramsey mentions the 1944 1953 sci fi/horror movie The Lady and the Monster and a later incarnation of a similar theme in Donovan’s Brain.

• Here’s that scene from War of the Worlds where the priest gets disintegrated.

• Other horror-themed episodes of AEWCH include:

  • AEWCH 166 with Phil Ford and JF Martel of Weird Studies.
  • AEWCH 158 with Paul Tremblay
  • AEWCH 93 with Sara Maria Griffin (and also, I was on Sara’s podcast, Juvenalia, talking about Clive Barker)
  • AEWCH 61 with mystery and horror author Sara Gran
  • AEWCH 58 on horror films with screenwriter (of The Invitation and Destroyer, among other things) Phil Hay
  • AEWCH 40 about horror and poetry with Zachary Schomburg
  • AEWCH 44 on the vampire as a theory with Kelly Link and Jordy Rosenberg
  • AEWCH 23 on postmodern horror with Brian Evenson

• Here’s HP Lovecraft’s “vampire” story, “The Shunned House” (I also think that “The Picture in the House” is a sort of vampire story!)

T.E.D. Klein’s list of 25 most popular horror themes is in The Book of Lists: Horror

• “I’d rather have an enigma than an explanation…they last longer.” – Ramsey Campbell

• Have you seen Last Year in Marienbad yet?

• The calm moments in David Lynch films are the half smile on the government agent’s face thing I mention brought to you by Jon Ronson, who I spoke with on AEWCH 163.

• Here’s a bit on when horror comics were banned in Britain by the communist party, or if you want to really go deeper into the story, read Martin Barker’s A Haunt of Fears: The Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign.

• Watch the trailer for Dario Argento’s horror classic, Deep Red + Roy Ward Baker’s Quartemass and the Pit + And watch Fritz Lang’s Cloak and Dagger.

Until next time, friends,
CH 

The weird foundations of everything. WEIRD STUDIES PODCAST meets AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB on AEWCH 166!

6 Oct

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FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Buy the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 166 on bookshop.org! The site sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

 Friends,

One thing that’s come up many times on AEWCH is my dislike for the phony “radical” statement that “everything is political.” It’s enlightening I suppose, to people who have no political conscience or consciousness, of course. Yes, there’s a political dimension to the everyday, to entertainment, to design if we seek it out.

But the statement also relegates us to being subjects of the political sphere. As David Wengrow and AEWCH 99 guest David Graeber (RIP) point out in their latest book,The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, it’s not a coincidence that the word for politics shares its roots with the word for “police” and “politeness.” These are words of subjection and subjugation and submission. They are words of the polis, the location where governmental and religious decisions were/are made, a seat of authority.If everything is political, everything is extending, in a very real sense, from our subjugation to the political – it’s an infecting being, and one that does not deserve to determine the ground of being.

Maybe we can say something a little more definitive and truer and more interesting: that everything is weird. And that everything is weird defies the political. Why? Because if things are weird – and they are weird – then they can’t be contained just by politics. They are baffling, intense, unknowable, imaginative, uncanny. The weird is a question that gives us an individual vantage point. Everything unfurls from the infinite, from the plenipotentiary.

I talked about this a bit on AEWCH 148 with anthropologist Stuart MacLean; the way the imagination and what we call the real meet and inform each other. Go listen to it if you haven’t, but also consider the fundamental weirdness of reality. Everything, everything, is weird, especially the everyday, since it denies its weirdness. Just take a second: The space between things and the space between the atoms that make up things. The way literature works. The fact that different cultures experience things differently. Not being able to see your own face. And on and on.So this is where Weird Studies and its hosts, Phil Ford and JF Martel , come in. Each week Phil and JF explore the reality of the weird and weird reality. It could be the way Glenn Gould thinks or plays the piano, it could be the movies of John Carpenter, or the I Ching. Or it could be the episode we just did together: I was just on Weird Studies talking about Joy Williams’s bizarre novel, Breaking And Entering.

Phil and JF show us that the weird is everywhere, and may even be the groundswell of being.

I’m so excited to share this episode with you.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on the guys, go to Phil’s website and JF’s website. We talk a bit about Weird Studies 67, which features the documentary Hellier, featuring AEWCH 46 guests, the paranormal investigators Greg & Dana Newkirk, and here’s their episode on the work of John Carpenter. Be sure to support their patreon.

• If you haven’t yet watched Twin Peaks Season 3 (or Heaven forbid Twin Peaks at all), watch it. • JF mentions the Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, which you can find here.

• Here’s the video for Bjork’s “hyperballad

• I don’t know too much about occult/magic writer Ramsey Dukes‘s work, but the guys have definitely gotten me interested.

• Here’s AEWCH 79 with Billy Bragg, all about a “socialism of the heart,” and AEWCH 162 about forgiving violent offenders with Dr. Gwen Adshead. And I talk about the nature of evil on AEWCH 165.

• “The hope is that (art) saves us in reality by damming us in art.” – JF Martel

• “The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I use the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.”from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Until next time friends, stay weird.
CH

On whales, water, and transformation with writer Philip Hoare on AEWCH 164!

22 Sep

LISTEN HERE VIA SOUNDCLOUD OR ON Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreaker Anchor

FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon! Thank you so, so much.

Buy the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 164 on bookshop.org! Bookshop.org sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

I’m so happy I got to talk about animals at length on the show, given their importance in my life. And one of the best people to have a conversation about animals with is undoubtably Philip Hoare , an interdisciplinary writer and artist, whose books include his moving and almost unclassifiable memoir/nature writing/philosophy book, Risingtidefallingstar: In Search of the Soul of the Sea, his recent book about the evolution of art and how we think of animal, Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World, and what is probably his most famous book, The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea , which weaves together beautiful passages on cetaceans and images of whales in popular culture, particularly in the work of Herman Melville.

This was a beautiful and moving discussion for me, I hope it will be for you, too.

X
C

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Phil, visit his website. Here’s a short video of director John Waters praising Phil’s book, The Sea Inside. He curated (along with artist Angela Cockayne) The Moby Dick Big Read – where actors (including Tilda Swinton!) and other artists read Moby Dick chapter by chapter. And here’s Philip’s short film about poet Wilfred Owen, I Was A Dark Star Always.

• I wrote about the new rhythms of lockdown – including the new rhythms that the animals are experiencing – for the Irish Times.

• And AEWCH 155 is all about extinction, from an occult perspective.

The Natural History Museum in Dublin (AKA “the dead zoo”) is a great and morbid and wonderful place.

• Here’s a short article with a nice little video about Dublin’s Forty Foot – where you jump off the rocks into the green-blue water. And below is a photo of Irish writer Brendan Behan getting out of that same water.

• Here’s a bit on selkies – seal fairies that shed their skin to walk around in human form.

• I’ve been working on utopia with my friend Una Mullally, who appeared on AEWCH 151 and AEWCH 87.

• I’m still so taken by Phil’s statement in this interview: “I could list all those things (that hurt me most about the way we treat the ocean) here but I’d rather anyone reading this went out to their nearest water and prayed.”

Until next time, friends,
CH

PS: Here’s Phil looking through a whale’s eye.

Bestselling horror author Paul Tremblay joins me on AEWCH 158!

3 Aug

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FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it!
This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!
Thank you so, so much.

Buy Paul’s books, and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 158 on bookshop.org. Bookshop.org sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

I’m so excited to share this episode about horror, free will, and compassion with novelist Paul Tremblay

Paul is the author of multiple bestselling horror novels – including The Cabin at the End of the World and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock which are my two favorites – two hardboiled detective novels, and a whole lot of short stories.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • Horror as a balance between free will and determinism
  • Horror as the withdrawal of love
  • The dreaded return to sociability
  • Kitchen table horror versus Irish Midlands horror
  • Slasher vs supernatural horror
  • Books that stand on the precipice of the supernatural
  • Does Paul believe in ghosts?
  • “What if there’s a God/Reader/Writer and he’s an asshole?”
  • The book you write has to be beyond you
  • The unreality of facts
  • Respecting violence in fiction and why bad art is worse than the content it portrays

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Paul, go to his website. Here’s a good interview with Paul at Gridmark Magazine, and another one in legendary horror magazine Cemetery Dance.

• One of my favorite episode of the show is AEWCH 93 with Sara Maria Griffin (and also, I was on Sara’s podcast, Juvenalia, talking about Clive Barker). And here are a few other horror-themed episodes of AEWCH: AEWCH 23 on postmodern horror with Brian Evenson, AEWCH 40 about horror and poetry with Zachary Schomburg, AEWCH 44 on the vampire as a theory with Kelly Link and Jordy Rosenberg, and AEWCH 58 on horror films with screenwriter (of The Invitation and Destroyer, among other things) Phil Hay.

• Paul and I both love Sara Gran’s absolutely scary novel of possession, Come Closer. And Sara was on AEWCH 61, talking Lacan and detective novels. It’s one of my favorite episodes.

• Paul mentions using George Saunders’s book on writing, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. That said, the best writing book out there, I think, is a bit of a best-kept-secret thing. It’s Stuart Spencer’s The Playwright’s Guidebook.

• The (fun!) cellphone horror novel is Ghoster by Jason Arnopp.

• Weird Studies is one of the best podcasts around. Listen to it. The great quote from the cohost, JF Martel, is “The hope is that (art) saves us in reality by damming us in art.”

• “The Eighth Episode of Twin Peaks: The Return Is Horrifyingly Beautiful

Lake Mungo is a great horror movie. Here’s the trailer.

Until next time friends, hold each other close in the dark,
CH

(oh, and stop tormenting Grover)

New (free!) event! ULYSSES FOR THE REST OF US – read James Joyce’s Ulysses with Conner from June to September for free. Hosted by MoLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland!

3 Jun

Friends,
I’m so excited to share with you the new free event series featuring me guiding you through James Joyce’s Ulysses, hosted by MoLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland here in Dublin.

SIGN UP HERE 

Here’s the description:

Always wanted to read Ulysses but were too afraid to start? Ulysses may be one of the most famous and influential novels ever published, but how many have actually read it? Ulysses – for the Rest of Us! is a new free public book club at MoLI that will demystify this extraordinary 100 year-old novel, and offer fresh and easy routes into James Joyce’s vast, elaborate and often hilarious masterpiece for every reader. This summer, join your guide –author, activist and podcast host Conner Habib – as he unlocks Ulysses, episode by episode, from Stephen Dedalus’s breakfast in Sandycove through to Molly Bloom’s famous closing monologue.

This is the year that you finish Ulysses!
Starting with an online interview with Conner at 1PM (Dublin time) this Bloomsday, 16 June, Ulysses for the Rest of Us will continue fortnightly on Thursday evenings over Zoom until September. In addition to Conner Habib’s fun and accessible introductions to each episode, book club members will be able to discuss the book whilst having access to a wealth of additional resources and recommended reading lists. Sign up for free now!”

Obviously, it’s a dream to be hosting a Ulysses event in Ireland. But more than that, this is the event for Ulysses in Ireland this year. It’s being promoted by the Irish tourism board, featuring great Irish guests, and on offer to the entire nation.

You can watch the little preview video here, and sign up! It’s free for everyone!
XO
CH

Desires, dark and light. Carmen Maria Machado on AEWCH 149!

21 Apr

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FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon Thank you so, so much.
Buy Carmen’s books and the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 149 on Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

The French psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan once said, “there is no other good than the one that can pay the price of the access to desire.”

There’s a lot about this statement, which is, like a lot of what Lacan said, a riddle – but one thing in it – paying the price of access – so our desires are not accessible? So we must lose something, give something to meet them? To see them? To talk about them?

To discuss all of this, I spoke with Carmen Maria Machado, author of the memoir In The Dream House, the collection of strange tales Her Body And Other Parties, and the graphic novel The Low, Low Woods.

I think what’s really interesting to both of us, and this comes up quite a bit – is how desire functions, how it is somehow always ahead of us, appearing and disappearing like a friend or an enemy on the path in a fairy tale. Sometimes it gives something to us that is useful later on. A key, a sacred object, a weapon. Sometimes it gives us a gift that leads us to being stuck. Like the fairy market where someone accepts the gift of an apple from the goblin, eats it, and wakes up 100 years later, if they wake up at all. Sometimes it has a strange shape, it frightens us.

Why should desires be like this? How do they know us, in a way, before we know ourselves?

This is a conversation that finds proximity to creation, to danger, to repetition, to the abuse that Carmen writes about in her memoir In The Dream House,and to the abuse I wrote about in my essay ,”If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love“.

How do we talk about the desire and the horror in abusive relationships while still holding the abuser accountable. How do we make the necessary move of accountability while not reducing the complicatedness of the encounter and the relationship?

Again and again, Carmen and I touch on desires and on storytelling – almost like we’re knocking on wood to allow ourselves to go forward in difficult conversation.

What do we sacrifice to know our desires?
What are the prices of following our desires
Of not giving way to them?
Of not giving ground to them?

If all that sounds dark and complex, well, it is. but this is also such a warm and friendly episode. With lots of laughter and curiosity and affinity. 

I’m so happy to share this episode with you.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way desire  knows itself before you know what it is
  • Why is the fox from Robin Hood so hot
  • Evading the temptation of metaphor when we read
  • The response to the subconscious is determines the genre of writing
  • Horror as spiritual narrative
  • H.P. Lovecraft’s mission of mercy
  • Sexuality as a genre
  • The imagination of the abusive partner after you’ve left them
  • The missing language of understanding for the person who has been abused
  • Why we need to talk about resilience 
  • The importance of meta-devices and melodrama
  • The Law & Order SVU-niverse

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Carmen go to her website (which has a badass picture of her in a chair). Here’s an interview with Carmen that goes horrifically wrong on Electric Lit. Here’s Carmen talking about haunted houses and horror movies on the American Hysteria podcast. And if you’d like to read one of her stories, here’s the early version one we reference the most, “The Husband Stitch“.

• My essay from 2010 “Looking at Men” describes the clouded shower glass incident.

• McArthur Award-winning writer Kelly Link comes up a lot on this episode. Have you listened to AEWCH 44 with Kelly, Jordy Rosenberg, and me? It’s awesome. Also, here’s Kelly’s essay about the “silent partner.

• Here’s an interview with the great Argentine writer, César Aira.

• It looks like Grant Morrison’s Seaguy is not available on bookshop.org, so here it is from that, uh, other place. 

• If you haven’t read Susan Sontag’s essay, “Against Interpretation,” read it, friends. And if you have read it, read it again. Same goes for H.P. Lovecraft’s essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature“.

• And the Lovecraft quote is, ““The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

• Here’s my essay “If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love” about the boyfriend who beat me up, which is mentioned at the end of Carmen’s memoir (and through which Carmen and I first communicated).

• I love author Sara Maria Griffin’s appearance on AEWCH 93. It remains one of my very favorite episodes.

• I have not yet read Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl but I definitely will now. I also (forgive me, Father!) have not yet seen Fleabag. I will, I will, I will!

• Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s movie The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kantis one of the best films ever made. And also watch Lars Von Trier’s Dogville for another sort of disorientation.

Until next time friends, follow your desires!
XO
CH

There are ghosts.

19 Jan

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercast

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Edward’s books, and other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 138 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
Why are we drawn to ghosts but frightened of them? Why do we feel compelled to take them seriously on some level, but on the other hand dismiss them? And why do some places just feel haunted?

In a time of the dead, in a time when dying is so present for so many, what new attitudes towards death and its spectres will arise?

I had a great time traversing this spooky territory with Edward Parnell, author of the haunted and excellent nonfiction travelogue-meets-literary-criticism-meets-memoir Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, and the gothic novel The Listeners.

To give you a little indication of his style, I asked Edward to start the episode with a very brief reading from Ghostland, then we’re into the conversation.And I start with two ghost stories of my own to indicate different ways that ghosts can lead us down strange and mysterious paths both as individuals and culturally.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • What is the aesthetic of the ghost story?
  • The way the Satanic panic severed the connection to ghost stories in the US vs in the UK.
  • How the transparency of history creates the resonance of ghosts.
  • New horror stories reflecting the way spirituality permeates culture.
  • The many ways which we dismiss the existence of ghosts.
  • The presence of fairies in Ireland vs the ghost of ghosts in the UK.
  • The middle class resistance to ghosts.
  • Imperialism vs ghosts.
  • Why do we turn away from grief?
  • The creeping fear of UK short ghost/weird fiction.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Ed, go to his website (where you can find, among other things, his essay on the fear of falling). And here he is talking about Stephen King’s Pet Semetary on The Constant Reader Podcast. And here’s a short interview with him on the Folk Horror Revival website.

• The PSA announcement “Lonely Water” is…no joke…pretty scary! You can watch it here. And here’s the main figure in it. Watch out kids, if you don’t drown, you’ll live in fear of drowning your entire life.

• Here’s a great list of all the “video nasties” Edward mentioned, including The Driller Killer.• There’s a great book on what was going on in philosophy around the same time as many of the writers mentioned in Ghostland, by Wolfram Eilenberger entitled Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy.

“Babes in the Woods” by Mary Black is kind of an eerie song!

• We mention Roger Clarke’s thesis about class and ghosts, which you can find in longer form in his book, Ghosts: A Natural History.

• Would you like to learn more about the bone crypt at Holy Trinity Church? Why of course you would.• For another AEWCH episode about changing attitudes towards the spiritual, check out AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters on which we talk all about witchcraft (it’s one of my favorites).

• Finally, check out Ed’s photo of the rocking horse in author Lucy Boston‘s house. Why are rocking horses this scary? 

My novel, Hawk Mountain, out in 2021 from W.W. Norton in the US, and Penguin/Doubleday in Ireland and the UK.

17 Apr

Friends, some good news.
My (very dark) novel, Hawk Mountain, will be published by W.W. Norton in the US and Penguin/Doubleday in Ireland and the UK in summer of 2021.
I can barely believe it.
My whole life I’ve wanted to be a novelist.
I’m beaming, friends.
Hi.
Can’t wait to share my book with you.

HM

The Publishers Market entry

The kind of death we want to read about: Conner & crime writer Liz Nugent on the latest AEWCH

31 Mar


L
ISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud • Patreon

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can. Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH104TitleCardFriends,

The last podcast I recorded in person before the worldwide coronavirus pandemic began was still about death. But it’s a sort of death we like to engage with – death in crime and mystery narratives. Interestingly, these sorts of deaths, and our vantage point on them, has become more valuable than ever; because it gives us an opportunity to think about death without the attachment of panic and fear.

And what a great person to talk to about death with: international best-selling crime writer, Liz Nugent!

Liz is the author of four crime novels. I read Lying In Wait, first. It’s a tense and tragic thriller. It evokes Patricia Highsmith and the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but with a gesture and style all its own. Then I consumed the other three as quickly as I could; I wanted to inhale them, including her latest, Our Little Cruelties.

That book was released just as the pandemic began. And in fact, today (March 31), was set to be her book release party. Since her party was canceled, I hope this serves as a smaller, audio celebration. If you need the company of a page-turned in this moment, you’d be hard pressed to find a better set of novels than Liz’s for that.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How much we’re supposed to care about death
  • How Liz is about to meet a murderer and see if they have souls or not
  • Dreams of murder and being murdered
  • Jeffrey Dahmer and unhappy childhoods
  • The way we think of bad guys, and who gets away with what
  • Our early thoughts on coronavirus (they hold up okay!)
  • How Liz’s writing is and is not like Patricia Highsmith
  • The tendency to attached tragedy and foreboding to joy and pleasure
  • Career dysmorphia
  • The difficulties of bodies, living and dead
  • What characters are and how we relate to them as writes
  • The uses of shattered narratives
  • Why, when we read novels, we want horrible characters to succeed

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Liz: Read her books! Start with Lying In Wait and move on to Skin Deep, which is interspersed with brilliant stories of Irish island mythology. The best way to get Our Little Cruelties in the US right now is on audiobook (until it’s out in November as a book with the alternate title, Little Cruelties). You can also get Lying In Wait and Unraveling Oliver on audiobook, too! Also, go to Liz’s website. And here’s Liz talking about disabilities on the Rósín Meets… podcast.

• The other mystery writer I’ve had on the show is Sara Gran, who appeared on AEWCH 61. It serves as a good companion to this show; two incredible authors with two completely different approaches to genre.

• I read and appreciated My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel by one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood friends, Derf Backderf. (The movie is okay too, but the graphic novel is far superior.)

• Who doesn’t love Alice Munroe? My favorite by her, if you need a place to start, is The Love Of A Good Woman.

• Liz mentions The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. I haven’t yet read it, or her debut novel, The Flamethrowers, but I will! They both look great. And I mention From A Low And Quiet Sea, by Donal Ryan, which I have read, and enjoyed very much!

Martha by Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of the cruelest movies ever made, but it’sMartha also excellent. Watch it. Watch all his movies.

• And read Cal by Bernard MacLaverty, it’s such a wonderful and dark and rich book, even though it’s very short.

• Here’s the intense Nina Simone concert Liz mentioned, which inspired Our Little Cruelties. Wow.

• And here’s AEWCH 86 with the amazing Irish writer, Kevin Barry.

• Okay, I’m being a little unfair about Pay It Forward. If you need a heartening read, read it!

• When I was photographed for the photo below, I thought I was fat and disgusting (seriously!). Body dysmorphia is an intense thing, folks.

• Liz got guidance on
Our Little Cruelties from writer and fashion social editor, Bethany Rutter.

• Watch Anthony Jeselnik’s comedy specials: he refers to them as horror. I think he’s right!

Until next week, friends!
XO
CH

showers copy

“Reverb-ing all of human existence.” A conversation with author Maggie Nelson on AEWCH 95!

7 Jan

LISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud 
This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. One thing to bring forward in 2020? Associative economics. Support the artists you like and let’s do as much as possible to cut out corporate sponsorship. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH95TitleCard

Friends,
What a way to start the year, with author, teacher, and intellectual, Maggie Nelson. Maggie Nelson is the author of so many deep and potent books, including The Argonauts, about art and politics and the body, including her partner Harry Dodge’s experiences of gender and culture. She is also the author of two books about her aunt’s murder, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial and Jane: A Murder, as well an incredible book about violence in art, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning. She was awarded a MacArthur in 2016 and is one of the most important  intellectuals of our time (though perhaps she’d reject that label!). 
This is an extremely wide ranging episode, as I’d expect from a conversation with Maggie, whose books move in and out of hundreds of different thinkers and artists, translating her encounters with them into a new kind of light. I love her writing.
I’m so proud to share this conversation with you.
We talk about (among other things):
  • Passion as an affirmation against materialism
  • Escorting as permission for desire
  • Why frustrated desire might be worse than death
  • The value of losing your self
  • Why a shrug against danger matters
  • Thoreau, Emerson, and being a good artist or a bad prism
  • The shapes and lives of art
  • The uses of occult perspectives
  • The ruse of the anti-social
  • Wittgenstein and the music of the spheres
  • The uses, rituals, and boundaries of seeing violence 
  • Why porn literacy is dumb
  • Bodhisattva vows

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Maggie, you can read some of her poetry here. Here’s a video featuring panel of people (including Maggie) talking about Maggie’s book, The Argonauts. And here is a great conversation between Maggie and her friend (and AEWCH 44 co-guest with Kelly Link!) Jordy Rosenberg in Out Magazine.
• Maggie mentions her partner Harry’s forthcoming book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. You can preorder it now, and it looks great.
• Maggie and I were both provoked and interested in Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era by Paul Preciado (a dream guest for the show!)
• My essay on having sex at rest areas, “Rest Stop Confidential” feels a bit outdated now, but it’s still good, I think.
• John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, is one of the most beautiful books ever written.
EKS• Please look into the work of the amazing critical theorist, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who Maggie studied with. A good place to start is Epistemology of the Closet or Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
• The Rudolf Steiner verse, which you can try reciting inwardly, too, to see how it feels:
More radiant than the Sun
Purer than the snow
Subtler than the ether
Is the Self
The spirit within my heart
I am that Self.
That Self am I.
• The Emerson quote is: “It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
• Helen Keller’s mysticism informed her politics and her work in the world. You can read about in in her book Light In My Darkness.
• Maggie’s quote, “I think I give in the writing, mostly, but also as a teacher, and just by being. I don’t think of it as “giving back” per se. And mentoring doesn’t always mean holding someone’s hand. It’s often just by example… We can be for each other beacons of possibility. Often that’s the most important thing.” set me to thinking so much about being a beacon that I spoke about it at length on Rune Soup 195 with Gordon White. I also talk about speaking poetically on there, as well as on AEWCH 93, with Sara Maria Griffin.
• I haven’t yet read the book Maggie mentioned, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, by Stefano Harney and Frank Moten, but I am going to, now. It sounds so good.
• The dead spiritual teacher I prayed to for guidance after being exposed to violence on the guy’s phone, Daskalos, who I talk about at length with his student (a spiritual teacheDr in his own right), Daniel Joseph, on AEWCH 67.
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy is one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. Read it.
• A good quote on violence from Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta: “(Violence), by its very nature, to suffocate the best sentiments of man, and to develop all the antisocial qualities, ferocity, hatred, revenge, the spirit of domination and tyranny, contempt of the weak, servility towards the strong.”
• You can look at some of Tala Madani‘s work on the 303 Gallery website, including an excerpt of “The Audience” which Maggie talks about at some length.
• I loved talking with Franco “Bifo” Berardi on AEWCH 83 about the challenge of white noise.
• Maggie brings up the amazing British artist Sara Lucas. You can watch a conversation between the two of them here.
That’s it, folks, but it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Until next time!
XO
CH

TM

“Light Table” by Tala Madani