INTERVIEW WITH JORDAN CASTRO AND RICHARD WEHRENBERG JR.

Posted by @ 10:49 pm on November 23rd, 2009

Jordan Castro and Richard Wehrenberg Jr. have just released a split chapbook of their poetry, called THINK TANK FOR HUMAN BEINGS IN GENERAL.  They answered some questions and here they are.  I did them in split format as tribute to the chapbook’s structure.  Interview after break.

HTMLGIANT:  Do you ever write out in public areas or does that make you constantly look at someone else and try to guess what they are thinking about you.

JORDAN:  i write in the library sometimes.  last time i was there, there was a man with an enormous chin walking around like it is acceptable to just walk around with an enormous chin in a library.  ‘wtf’.  i was going to kick his ass but then i decided not to (so as to not scuff my brand new ‘simple’ brand shoes).  i closed my laptop, checked out two cd’s, and left.  if i remember correctly i was also drinking warm kombucha.  i think being in public while writing is generally weird for me, most times.

HTMLGIANT: Have you ever hit your foot or knee or shin on something without meaning to, and have you then considered your own eventual death.

JORDAN:  i used to be obsessed with the idea of death in 9th grade after i read ‘the stranger’ for the first time.  i think i don’t care about death.  “bring it, gayboy”

HTMLGIANT:  Do you see your writing as having a goal and then acomplishing that goal or is it something that just happens.

JORDAN:  i think that i don’t cognitively think like, “i am writing a poem about destroying hierarchies so i can accomplish the task of persuading other people to think like me,” or something.  i think i just like writing.  like i want to be able to write something, then delete it and feel the same as i would if i had submitted it somewhere.

HTMLGIANT:  Can you elaborate the origin of the title.

JORDAN: richard wrote a poem called “think tank for human beings in general” and i liked the title.  seems like a really sweet title.

HTMLGIANT: What motivated you to make the chabook a split.

JORDAN:  i like richard’s poetry / we are friends.  also it was a good way to maintain consistent interest in the project, ‘become closer to one another’, increase self-confidence levels re: the poems, get helpful tips, etc.  seemed like an obvious, natural choice to do something like this together, i feel.

HTMLGIANT:  What is a typical reaction you have, mentally or physically, when reading an old piece of writing you no longer like

JORDAN:  i don’t think i assess my writing in terms of “good” or “bad”.  i think i just ask myself if it is a close enough representation of how i am thinking / feeling at that moment.  that being said; i think that each moment is it’s own moment, seperate from all other moments (while at the same time, being ‘results’ of all previous moments, ever).  i also think that my thoughts / feelings are constantly changing with every new moment.  therefore, everything i write seems obviously different than other things i have written in the past, but i don’t really know if i ever feel “good” / “bad” about ‘old’ writing, i just accept it in the same way one might accept a historical fact; it happened.  however, if i find that the thoughts / feelings articulated in any given piece of writing still seem relevant to me, i will more than likely feel more positive about this piece of writing than one that seems ‘obsolete’ to me.

i also think i view every piece of writing as a “vestigial structure”.  i feel like any action done by anyone anywhere is a “vestigial structure” in that it serves the purpose of ‘leading up to’ every future moment that follows, everywhere, for everyone, until eventually, we no longer need it because it is so far behind the current time that it is rendered irrelevant.  like everything i write is a ‘stepping stone’ to my next writing.  to me, this doesn’t denote “good” or “bad” or anything subjective, really, it just denotes motion.

i also think that ‘my’ writing is not my writing, if that makes sense.  what people would call “jordan castro and richard wehrenberg’s chapbook” is really “everything ever’s chapbook” because we are ‘simply’ ‘results’ of everything ever, expressed in ‘jordan castro and richard wehrenberg’s chapbook’ form”.  this is why i do not feel that ‘dismissing’ any writing as “ripped off of tao lin” or “copying off of [someone]” is accurate, philosophically.  [anyone’s] writing is simply a result of everything that that person has experienced sensually, ever.  writing is a result of a result of a result of a result.  writing (and people) are like tofu.  they ‘simply’ ‘taste like’ whatever they have been ‘dunked into’.

HTMLGIANT:  What is your perception of htmlgiant, both as a person who reads shit on the internet to pass time and as a person working within the divine field of human letters.

JORDAN:  htmlgiant seems pretty cool.  once told someone i thought it was the “punknews” of internet literature.  read some of “mean week” and i thought it was funny.  i heard that everyone who ‘works for’ htmlgiant is gay and hates black people.  pretty sure this is true, from research i have done on the internet.  almost 100% sure that htmlgiant was originally a “pro-cancer, anti-black” literary site, but they changed because of financial reasons.  sortof wish they stuck to their roots.

HTMLGIANT:  Can you describe an event in your life that occurred between you and another person that began a friendship.

JORDAN:  Richard and i met at “the soggy dog house” in lakewood, ohio.  it is a house that does shows and what not.  i was on the porch and he was on the porch and i said, “does anybody want some chips” and he said “what is in them” and i said “are you vegan” and he said “yes [something] [something]”.  i was very excited to meet another vegan.  took off from there.

HTMLGIANT:  If you lived for millenia and millenia, what evolutionary trait could be discerned in your future self.

JORDAN:  Extreme calmness / neutrality.  like i would be able to sit down, doing nothing, for days on end, alone.  i would have trained my thoughts to percieve things objectively, so i would feel how one would feel while constantly percieving things in an objective manner.

HMLGIANT:  Blah blah blah, do you agree.

JORDAN:  yes.  no.  i don’t care.  keep thinking, “blah-job” at a really high frequency.

Richard’s answers:

HTMLGIANT:  Do you ever write out in public areas or does that make you constantly look at someone else and try to guess what they are thinking about you.

RICHARD:  I write on the bus sometimes. I write while driving sometimes. I don’t view writing as public as something that warrants thinking about what people are thinking of you. If I see someone writing at all I feel excited. I actually can’t remember seeing someone randomly writing in public. No one talks to me, really.

HTMLGIANT:  Have you ever hit your foot or knee or shin on something without meaning to, and have you then considered your own eventual death?

RICHARD: One time I fell down some stairs unintentionally and hit my tailbone really hard on the steps and thought about how my grandmother died falling down stairs and I felt really mortal when I stood up. The room was spinning.

HTMLTGIANT:  Do you see your writing as having a goal and then accomplishing that goal or is it something that just happens.

RICHARD:  I don’t write to fulfill a goal per say, but I like writing assignments. I like having something to try and fulfill, and sometimes I set goals for myself in writing, but other times it just happens. When it “just happens” it is usually written on a spare piece of paper or a notebook I keep in my back pocket and it is usually just an image or a feeling and not a complete writing. Everything varies.

HTMLGIANT:  Can you elaborate the origin of the title.

RICHARD: I was thinking of writing a poem using the term “think tank”. I always felt think tanks were this weird phenomena, very removed from myself or people in general, but oh, jeez, look: here they were now, thinking for us, influencing public policy. Think tanks always felt weird to me. So I had to make my own. I have always wanted to explain things in terms of “human beings in general”, but have found it very difficult: subjectivity, etc. I hope that some of the poems in the chapbook at least touch on general human concerns, maybe as some quasi-deconstruction of what we “need” versus what we “want”. I don’t know, I just want to be able to relate and inspire “human beings in general”.

HTMLGIANT:  What motivated you to make the chapbook a split.

RICHARD: Jordan and I have been friends for a couple years and have exchanged poetry and writing for at least half of that time. For one, it just seemed like a natural thing to do. For two, the process involved us sending potential poems, the drafts of the poems in the chapbook, to each other and offering our critiques of the poems. This process of writing was something new for me, and made me understand Jordan’s “jordan-ness” to a more complex extent. Everyone should write a split chapbook. There might also be influence from making split records with bands. It’s a nice way to release a creation with someone you can identify with and also maybe I felt a little less afraid of making something to share with people. It’s true, sending each other poems kept us motivated to finish something.

HTMLGIANT:  What is a typical reaction you have, mentally or physically, when reading an old piece of writing you no longer like.

RICHARD:  I usually view it just as something that had to happen. That writing happened, there can be no negation of that, and that I don’t relate to it anymore doesn’t mean it is “bad”, but rather, I have become “someone else”. Someone else might like it. People are at different points in their lives. I look at my old writings in a similar way in which a grandfather looks at a picture of himself in a faded photograph with some old friends, some old habits, and some places he has moved beyond.

HTMLGIANT:  What is your perception of htmlgiant, both as a person who reads shit on the internet to pass time and as a person working within the divine field of human letters.

RICHARD: It seems really good I think. I have browsed a little bit on this web site and felt like I learned something or found something “worth” reading every time. As a person passing time, I feel good in that way. As a person who works in “the divine field of human letters” I feel like it has superb potential to keep being a nice meeting point for writers who use the internet. It is a great resource and info-spot in that respect. I will bark in support and gratitude for this site: HOOHOOHOOHOOHOO. That sounds like an excited owl, I know, but in Cleveland that is how you bark. I apologize…forever.

HTMLGIANT: Can you describe an event in your life that occurred between you and another person that began a friendship.

RICHARD: It’s hard to think of a single moment, but I can recall two moments that made me closer to a person named Noah Learned. One night at my house we talked for about ~two or three hours about what the presence of “real dolls” in the world meant. We then fell asleep and woke up and started cooking donated/dumpstered food for a Food Not Bombs serving in Kent. It was a Saturday in June and we were serving downtown at the gazebo, feeding the few lower income persons of the Kent community and poorer college kids and he climbed this tree in his yellow-brown scarf and tight-ass pants. I was eating maybe a vegan “sloppy joe” or “slider” of chopped and cooked garlic mushrooms and I looked up at him and he yelled out “Life is an absurd and meaningless journey” and then he climbed down and we went and hung out by the cuyahoga river. I just looked at him and I felt like what he said was completely true, in regard to everything we were doing.

HTMLGIANT:  If you lived for millenia and millenia, what evolutionary trait could be discerned in your future self.
RICHARD: Hmmmm, I would hope my body could have chlorophyll built into it and I would be extremely self-sufficient. And maybe if the sun has burned out by then, I would be able to imagine complex machines or identify the space where a wormhole is going to manifest so I could transport all living things to a new universe with 400 suns and calm, grateful life and as little oppression as possible. But maybe I would only finally have perfect eyesight. Who knows.
HTMLGIANT:  Blah blah blah, do you agree.

RICHARD: Seems okay.

Jordan had also just released an e-book of short fiction on PBP.

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