Alternative Realms and Tangents
(This being our first ever issue of ART, we have decided to devote our first interviews to the purpose of introducing ourselves. Robert and I agreed that each would interview the other, without comparing questions beforehand and this is what we got. In future issues the interviews will be of authors previously appearing in our zine. Enjoy--Stace.)
JSW: So, Robert, how ya doin' today?
Robert: How am I doing what? (Don't you think that was a pretty lame question, especially for the first question? What if I said I was good? What is good to me? What is good to a pessimist? What is good to a man who has just been diagnosed as having genital herpes? What is good to a man suffering from elephantiasis of the testicles?
JSW: Glad to hear it. Bob, I'm probably being my typical delusional self, but it occurred to me that our readers might want to know a little bit about us personally. So, tell the readers, Robert, a little personal history, where ya from? What's your life been like? Etc.?
Robert: I came from a small, warm, dark place. I believe it's known as a womb--specifically my mother's womb. I was born in a small southeastern Georgia town labeled McRae. Want to hear some irony? The doctor who delivered me was also named McRae, Doctor McRae. The next four years I lived in the nearby town of Lumber City. The remainder of my life, with the exception of a few brief travels, I have lived in my present hometown, Hazlehurst, Georgia. Most of that time has been spent hiding in the shadows waiting for that precise moment, know what I mean?
JSW: When did you first realize that you were insane, and how in the world did you become as demented as you obviously are today?
Robert: Well, Stace, I'll be quite honest. Insanity isn't something that just happens overnight. I suppose it had been on the burner for quite some time before I finally realized the hard reality of it. You see, I used to have this notion that every aspect of reality could be rationalized; this is just not true. I believe that things, up stairs, got a little crazy when my environment forced this realization on me. Oh, for years people told me I had problems and some of them were people I held in high regard. I finally realized, with the help of family and many friends, exactly what sanity is. Sanity is to know which things can be done and blamed on irrational thinking and which ones can't. You know they got rules on that shit; rules that they don't teach you at home, or in school, or anywhere that I know of. It's like you're just supposed to know them already. That's the thing I could never grasp. The rules of being irrational. Therefore, I have come to face the fact that I am insane.
JSW: Any birthmarks we should know about? You know, triple 6's on your scalp, stuff like that.
Robert: No, but I do have this festering lump right in the middle of my chest. Actually, it doesn't fester but if you mash it this really funky smelling fluid comes out. Seriously, I do have a strawberry-like birthmark on my side--although I don't think it is has any religious significance. Sometimes, it does give me really bad advice though. I try to keep a deaf ear to it. Speaking of being marked, do you think they want to know how one of my ears has a different design in the folds of cartilage than the other?
JSW: Have you ever noticed that your initials spell RAT, how do you explain this bizarre phenomenon?
Robert: Could it be that my name is Robert Allen Taylor? Or maybe it's something else, something much bigger. Maybe Douglas Adams was right. Maybe mice created the world after all. Maybe I'm their leader, their master. Hmmm…
JSW: Who are your artistic influences? Besides me, of course.
Robert: Marijuana, uh xanax, uh…Oh, wait a minute, you mean literary influences don't you? Poe, Edgar Allen. Hey we have the same middle name. Maybe that means something also. Actually I have many influences I guess, but he's the greatest. I would like to take this opportunity to say one thing though. I would like to express my deep, sincere distaste for one of the literary grates --William Shakespeare (by the way, grates is not an incorrectly used homonym, it is a verb--because that is what his writing does to my spirit.) I'm sorry if I just pissed anyone off, but you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't want to know who I am…now would you?
JSW: What is your ultimate goal with this web-zine?
Robert: This one I have to be real serious about. I wanted a place that I knew would not reject my stories. I also wanted a place that wouldn't reject stories by other people with talent; those bound by tasteless editors looking for all the wrong things. Most of all, I want other 'zines to cringe before me in envy as I print the good stuff--the stuff they're scared of.
JSW: Are you still receiving daily instructions from the Mothership, or have they finally come to their senses and abandoned you here?
Robert: Actually I lost contact with them a few months ago. I thought things were going really well. They had planned colonization in my underwear drawer and were sending in construction engineers. Then, they found out about my infatuation with Linda Carter, makeup ads and pulled out. I just don't understand where things went wrong.
JSW: Are you still master of your domain?
Robert: To be honest, sometimes I still wake up during the night and feel the little people running around all over my body. They will gather in the strangest of places and do all sorts of odd little dances. Sometimes it can be quite seductive. I find, however, that a good punch to my groin will usually alleviate this problem. I guess it intimidates them.
JSW: When and why did you start writing, and what do you see as the most important obstacle to be overcome by beginning / unpublished writers?
Robert: I really can't remember when I took my first stab at writing. I know it was at quite an early age though. I would guess that I was roughly ten years old. I do remember that I did it to create a dimension all my own and make things the way I wanted them. It was generated mostly out of hate. If I didn't like someone, I made a monster especially for him or her, and they were history. The greatest obstacle that I see to be overcome by the beginning writer is self-esteem. Often, people need a reason to go on. With so much rejection and so little chance, it becomes really hard. Now, however, it just got a lot easier. Now people have A.R.T. (probably the easiest zine ever to slide into.)
JSW: In your opinion, how long did God wait before creating everything, and what did He do during that duration of time?
Robert: Well, first of all I don't believe in time. Time is supposed to be a measurement. It is the only measurement though, at least that I know of, that works in circles. If every number in time is a positive integer, then you explain to me how is it possible that 1:00 is greater than 12:00. It's not, yet it is the very next hourly increment on the clock. How many round rulers have you ever seen? None. Why? Cause it don't work man! Oh, I'm getting off the subject aren't I? Supposing I did believe in time, I would have to say that he did not wait at all. This is what I think. He could have waited forever before he created the Earth. Then, he would have looked back and thought, "Man, all that time waiting was a big, boring, waste." So, he would have just grabbed the hands on the old Holy Clock and set it all the way back to whenever he wanted, thus saving all that time.
JSW: What is the absolute most bizarre and disgusting thing that you would do for a million dollars?
Robert: I would sit down, with bucket and Alka-Seltzer in hand, and read every work ever published by William Shakespeare, back to back.
JSW: If you had a time machine and could only make one trip round-way, when and where would you go and what would you do while you were there?
Robert: I would go back to the day before my conception, find my father and give him a good, hard kick square in the nads.
JSW: What's the funniest, weirdest, or most disgusting thing you've ever been personally witness to or involved in?
Robert: It would without a doubt have to be the night I saw the u.f.o. attacking that bus-load of handicapped children. Oh, it wasn't what you'd think. No fancy lasers, plasma guns or de-materializers. No sir, these aliens gave no regard to humanity. You should have seen the way they danced around the bus beating on its sides with those green, prosthetic legs, tossing snide innuendoes and spitting in the windows. It was so degrading. And all I could do was stand there like a zombie and watch. I told Norman time and time again--you have to watch what kind of brew you're mixing up in them flimsy, plastic hotel ice buckets.
JSW: Can you give us an idea of what you're currently working on, writing wise, not including this zine? What are your plans for the future?
Robert: Yes. I presently have two things that I'm very excited about. The first is a novel about a writer who is very talented in his trade. So talented, that his work seems to hypnotize its readers, altering their realities like a bad opium trip and, in the words of F.G., that's all I got to say about that. Second, is a short story that will, comically, attempt to explain why almost all tabloid reports of alien sightings, are by backwoods, redneck types. My primary plan for the future is to see ART through its purpose--to rape, burn and pillage its way through the literary battlefield and to eventually take its seat as the zine that all others are judged by (and shadowed by.)
JSW: If you could spend one day with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Robert: Edgar Allen Poe--hands down. I realize that he's dead, but that's okay. I'd really like a chance to go through his pockets. I understand that in his day, opium was legal and everybody had some. Besides, I'd enjoy being able to run some ideas past him and discuss modern literature. I'm sure he's one person--considering his disposition--which wouldn't give me any negative feedback.
JSW: What's your favorite musical album of all time? Why?
Robert: That's a hard one. If I had to make a choice at this time, I would have to say Alice in Chains--the unplugged album. Why? I'm not sure. I just like it. I can relate. Maybe it's because Jerry Cantrell's writing and Layne Staley's voice remind me of Poe's literature--morbid.
JSW: If you were traveling in your car at the speed of light and you turned on your headlights would anything happen?
Robert: Would that be a foreign car or domestic? Actually, yes. Your battery would short out and your car would stop. You see, because you are traveling the speed of light, the light from your headlights (damn that's a bunch of occurrences of the word light) would not be able to travel outward. This would cause an overload in your car's electrical system due to the headlights inability to transfer energy, thus creating a short circuit in the battery. At that point, the car's entire ignition system, including coil, sparkplugs, etc., would fail and the vehicle would stall. So, as you can clearly see, it is impossible to drive at the speed of light unless you intend to do so during the day--in which case you would outrun the sunlight and probably have a wreck in the dark.
JSW: Okay. Well, old friend, it's been nice interviewing you, now it's time for us to kind of take a back seat, so to speak, and focus on our upcoming editorial duties. But, before I let you go, let me ask you one final question…
What is the meaning of life?
Robert: The meaning of life is easy. Life simply means existence. I propose a harder question. What is the meaning of living? And, because living is something experienced by all of us in quite different ways, to answer the question would require a very vague, multi-faceted answer. Basically, I believe that within every human being, symbolically speaking, there is a hole. This hole can only be filled with elements that the individual craves and searches out. Therefore, to me, the meaning of living is hunger. Hunger is what keeps us groping for hope when it is sometimes so easy to give up. Hunger is also what forces us to eat when we are hungry. Hunger is sometimes what makes us sick when we forget that we aren't hungry anymore and keep eating anyway. Sometimes, hunger kills us if we don't eat soon enough. But what am I saying? Hunger is living? That would mean that if we give ourselves up to living, we would surely die, for hunger, if left unchecked would kill us. And maybe that is what life means after all. Death. After all, it's the one part of life that no one can escape. Maybe we only live so that we can die. Man, that's really morbid. So in closing, I am left with this conclusion: The meaning of living is having the chance to starve to death.