THE GALIMATIAS INTERVIEW (PART FIVE) – POLITICS, THE NOVEL AND SCI FI

blade-runner

This interview with Paul David Adkin was carried out by the Spanish literary magazine “Galimatias” in March, 2015. We have translated it here into English and have published it in five parts. This is the final part. 

GALIMATIAS: In When Sirens Call, your hero Robert says: “This book is my Trojan horse, sent into the interior of capitalism to burn it down.” Was that meant to be a mirroring statement referring to When Sirens Call itself?

ADKIN: Oh no, not at all. When Sirens Call is a novel. It has no ambitions to bring the system down. Nevertheless, it was a mirroring statement. Robert is referring to his philosophical work which is a mirror of my own philosophical work.

GALIMATIAS: Which has not been published yet.

ADKIN: No, I haven’t found a publisher for it yet.

GALIMATIAS: But you think it will bring down capitalism?

ADKIN: Of course not. Yet it could be considered as one of its objectives.

GALIMATIAS: Getting back to When Sirens Call … it is a novel, but there is also a lot of politics in it. Can’t we see it as a political novel?

ADKIN: Not really … Politics is discussed by the characters, but the book itself takes no obvious political position.

GALIMATIAS: Is Art Wars political?

ADKIN: It’s critical of the system – from the artist’s point of view. It’s cynical. Was Diogenes political?

GALIMATIAS: The one who lived in a barrel?

ADKIN: Yes. Diogenes was a social critic and he would have loved to have been in a less hypocritical place, but he was not a man-of-action.

GALIMATIAS: Placenta in Art Wars does act.

ADKIN: Yes, and she also goes mad. No, I don’t think Art Wars is really a political work either. To be political, I write philosophy … and plays. I, Consul, 1808, and The Queen who could not Rule were political plays. Each one of them used history as a mirror to reflect the current political situation. I, Consul was anti-war and a satire on Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, while 1808 and The Queen were anti-neoliberal plays. But plays can be political in ways that novels can’t be – haven’t I already discussed that.

GALIMATIAS: Yes, but I’m trying to clarify it. Novels have to disguise their statement and so therefore they can’t be political.

ADKIN: Something like that. Although, having said this … at the moment I’m working on a piece of science fiction, which will be a political book – that’s because I think that science fiction is an exception … as would be satire. The best sci fi is deeply philosophical and, because it writes about society from a philosophical perspective it is also very political.

Nevertheless, let me reiterate my main argument here – the literary value of sci fi writing is best achieved when it sublimates the big question as well. Once you set your book in the future, it immediately has its political connotations – whether it’s a Utopian or Dystopian vision we see a social and technological development or regression. In this way every descriptive scene has an innate political weight. The writer can just forget about politics as such – the setting itself will bring it all out for you.

If we think of the film Blade Runner, for example. That has a deeply political narrative embedded in it through the Dystopia it creates via the setting. The story itself is deeply ontological, although the depth comes through quite naturally through the existential predicament of the androids. And the big question .. which runs through all of Ridley Scott’s films … is the Oedipus complex. And that is buried in the subconscious of the film, as it should be.

GALIMATIAS: So you like Sci Fi?

ADKIN: Yes, I do. But I don’t read much of it, because the writing too often disappoints me when I do.

GALIMATIAS: And so your next novel will be a work of science fiction?

ADKIN: Perhaps, but I’ve got four things fairly well developed at the moment, I’ve no idea which will be finished first

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ON THEATRE

WHAT TO DO?

The questions to work with are those whose answers are revelatory. Herein lies your only chance of originality – to shed new light, or to illuminate with a light that is not usually perceived.

WHEN THEATRE IS USEFUL

While there is darkness, or even just greyness, theatre will always be useful.

THE GREYNESS OF TRUTH

There will always be darkness and greyness for we will always be subject to the obscuring laws of relativity and perspective applied to truth.

ARTIST’S FODDER

Relativity and perspective make truth so difficult, if not impossible, to grasp but, at the same time they are forces that nurture work. The irrational in humanity is the artist’s fodder.

ART AND SCIENCE

Art’s relationship to science – with the paradox of science: embrace it with caution; stroke it and rub all its dirt to the surface; remember – “that which goes beyond good and evil is good and evil.”

HAMLET REX

SHORT EXCERPT FROM ACT TWO: SCENE 1

CLAUDIUS:

A life’s work

A life’s agony

This life of the desk has been agony

This constant exploration

this digging

Digging into the abyss

Writing is an abysmal excavation

We go further and further away from the light with each jolt of the spade

with each stroke of the pick

(HE REACHES FOR A CIGARETTE LIGHTER & BURNS THE NOTE IN HIS HAND, DROPPING IT INTO THE WASTE-PAPER BASKET)

A miner in need of a cave-in

(HE POURS HIMSELF ANOTHER DRINK. TAKES A SIP.

HE OPENS THE DRAW AND TAKES OUT A TAPE RECORDER AND A MICROPHONE. HE PLUGS THE MICROPHONE INTO THE RECORDER, TURNS THE RECORDER ON AND TALKS INTO THE MICROPHONE.)

I, Claudius

being of sound mind and body

sounder than I’ve been for a long time and as sound as I’ll ever be

fully conscious of the fact that I am moribund

that within twenty four hours I will be dead

killed by the habitual consumption of foul kippers

day in day out

putrid

rotting

stinking

kippers

This is my last will and testament

my last decree

I

who have never decreed anything

and now

have nothing left to decree

I have destroyed everything

or am in the process of it

By tomorrow

there will be nothing left

Aphorisms (2)

BASIC PRINCIPLE OF CREATIVITY

1) There is always a different way of doing something.
2) You have never looked at any (2)thing until you have turned it around and around.

UNDERSTANDING DECEPTION

The human capacity to judge without justification should always be uppermost in the actor’s critical consciousness. When portraying a character one should always ask: in what way does my character mislead him or herself?
Self-deception is the most human of qualities and the most ubiquitous.

ALIENATION TECHNIQUE AND ANTI-CINEMA

Alienation techniques are more appropriate for the anti-cinema actor. Contradiction is our most potent tool but the ultimate aim is for lucidness. The best that I am showing you is filtered through my own soul, but only so that you can perceive it more clearly because more objectively. The actor shold never forget that theirs is an objectifying role designed to create clarity in the transmission of the original idea.

VOICE AND GESTURE

Voice and gesture should not just demonstrate text but also desire or will. A smile rising out of a depression is not the same as the smile of happiness.

MUSICALITY

The soul of all art lies with its musicality. The writer must hear the music in his phrase and feel the sound of each word, the painter and sculptor, or designer, must hear the music in the forms, the director must understand the symphonic nature of what is being created, the dancer must feel the music in his or her body, the actor must live in the symphony.

APHORISMS (1)

WHAT TO DO?

The questions to work with are those whose answers are revelatory. Herein lies your only chance of originality – to shed new light, or to illuminate with a light that is not usually perceived.

WHEN THEATRE IS USEFUL

While there is darkness, or even just greyness, theatre will always be useful.

THE GREYNESS OF TRUTH

There will always be darkness and greyness for we will always be subject to the obscuring laws of relativity and perspective applied to truth.

ARTIST’S FODDER

Relativity and perspective make truth so difficult, if not impossible, to grasp but, at the same time they are forces that nurture work. The irrational in humanity is the artist’s fodder.

ART AND SCIENCE

Art’s relationship to science – with the paradox of science: embrace it with caution; stroke it and rub all its dirt to the surface; remember – “that which goes beyond good and evil is good and evil.”