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You don’t like talking about yourself

a self interview
Jackson Nieuwland


Is it wrong, when asked to interview a writer for a publication, to interview yourself?



Then why are you doing it?

I’m not. You are.


Okay, fine. Why am I doing it?

After you began your first interview for the publication, you were asked if you’d like to contribute a second one, in addition. You’ve always been interested in the idea of interviewing yourself. This seemed like a good excuse to go ahead with it.


Why do I like interviewing people so much, anyway?

You don’t like talking about yourself in general. Even in regular conversation your strategy is to ask a lot of questions in order to keep the other person talking so that you don’t have to. Interviews are a natural extension of that. Plus, they’re a form of writing that most people don’t seem to consider as a form of writing. You like to experiment with the form in ways you don’t see other people doing.


So, essentially, it’s a way of getting attention while simultaneously directing attention away from myself?

I guess so. It’s also just fun. Sometimes you sit and think up questions you would ask people if I were interviewing them.


Why do you think I both desire and dread attention?

You have low self-esteem. You want attention because you hope validation will come along with it. You avoid attention because you don’t want to risk people seeing you as you see yourself. Ideally, you’d like to receive large amounts of praise that don’t necessarily require a response from you, like from reviews or social media posts, while spending most of your time either alone or with friends in situations where you’re not the centre of attention.


Do you think this presents itself in our writing?

Well we’re writing this, so …


But our other writing?

Well, every character we write is a version or element of us, so it probably presents itself through them, though not particularly directly. Not much of our writing actually deals very deeply with human interaction. Some of our poetry is essentially non-fiction about our feelings, so maybe some of our insecurities come out there. It would be really interesting to read a close reading/analysis of our work by someone else.


But does it really matter what anyone else thinks?

Since we live in a world where other people exist, I’m gonna say yes. It would be hugely egotistical to say that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I’m not a dictator.


Not even in your art?

Oh god no, there are so many voices to listen to. Too many! Family, friends, heroes, ghosts, gods, past versions of me, birds, books, films, songs, cities, screensavers, teachers, students, bodies, holograms, ideas, dreams, shapes, colours, collaborators, Carolyn, future versions of me, future versions of everyone else, haters, strangers, fictional characters, clouds, planets, whispers, voids, echoes, memories, machines, patterns, plants. They all need to have their say.


So you’re saying the things we make are just us filtering these voices through us?

No. I don’t know what I’m saying. Do you? ‘I don’t know’ is probably the phrase I’ve said most in my life. Either that or ‘I’m tired’.

I have ideas; I write them down as best I can. Usually I don’t think about what they mean. Often I don’t think in words. You know when you close your eyes and see lights and colours moving in the darkness? That’s what my thoughts are like. I like making things more than I like telling stories. It’s all just assemblages of words.


Does that mean we’re not interested in meaning?

I’m interested in meaning. I don’t know about you. But meaning is complicated. If you show something to a bunch of people, they’ll each take a different meaning from it. Most of the time I don’t care what something means as long as it has meaning. I don’t like things you can look at and know the meaning of immediately. In Snowpiercer there’s a scene where a bunch of guys dip the blades of their axes into a dead fish. I have no idea what the fuck it means but I love it.

I do care if the meaning of something is harmful, for instance: fuck Passengers. But that’s not up to the creator to decide. The audience tells you what the things you make mean to them. It could be entirely different from what they mean to you but that’s not the audience’s problem.


Who do you think your audience is?

Mostly me, to be honest. I spend a whole lot more time with my writing than anyone else does. I keep turning it over in my head like an engine or a new leaf. Dentist tests and black boxes. Fake pain and broken fire. Blood drying into skin. The many ways in which ghosts float. A green skull drifting down Cabinet Street at 3:08 in the morning. My body held together by snot and sugar. Wise words have never been spoken. The human condition can be defined as etcetera.


What are you talking about?

It is still 2016. The Earth’s atmosphere is a giant ghost, holding all of us inside of it. All bones are skulls. I am a piece of glue in a casket of skin. No one ever told me how to get to Sesame Street. Soon all my fingers will be robotic. I hate parties and sparkling water. The weather is deteriorating like skin. It is always possible to be more naked.


I don’t really know what’s going on.

I’m trying to write down everything I remember. The green rainbow holds up the sky. The red rainbow is held up by clouds. A pavilion of blue light invaded the square. The blue crown is not the true crown.


Thanks for answering my questions.

Why doesn’t Starbucks serve blood? Would you worry about there being bugs in your shoes if your shoes were bugs? Where is the trapdoor? Do I need to poop? Has anyone ever pooped while lying face down? How is the human body supposed to cope with the human experience? Does anyone have any tips? Should I start a mailing list? Am I bad or am I evil? Am I even a room at all?


The interview is over now.

I want my last words to be famous last words. Someone please give me a job.


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