Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Red Things Interview

The following interview, which Bleak graciously granted to that august journal of received opinion, Tremor of Intent, will appear in twelve parts in the self-absorbed quarterly; portions of the first part are reprinted below, as I thought they might be of overwhelming interest to those who think "The Red Things" epic merely a continuing joke tending to wear thin.

Q. For the benefit of our highly literate, deeply committed readership, can you first explain what a "blog" is?

A. Oh, for God's sake, I don't know. It's some computer thing. It's a sort of a cross between between an adolescent diary and daytime television. There are electrons involved.

Q. I see. I understand some of these "blogs" have hundreds and thousands of readers. Do you think that they represent a trivial mass phenomena or reflect a deepening sociopolitical unrest?

A. Deeper. That last part. Definitely deep. Hundreds? Really?

Q. Yes, I've got some figures here--

A. Yes, yes. Would you like a drink, miss?

Q. What is this?

A. Just a green liqueur. You'll like it.

Q. Oh. Thank you. Sort of like creme to menthe?

A. Sort of. Now about your figures, I'm sure they're endlessly fascinating, but I'm not your accountant, so can we talk about something interesting? Or would that shock your editors?

Q. Ha, ha. You've quite the sense of humor, Mr Bleak or Mr Mouse or--

A. "Brulu" will be fine for today.

Q. Well, Brulu, your "Red Things" illustrated sequential narrative has made quite the splash, if I may be allowed my own little jest. Does the finely-tuned ambiguity of the narrative voice reflect larger issues?

A. Absolutely. Large as they come. If the Nobel Committee were impressed with Pinter, they should fall off their chairs when they read this. The serious author must have his issues, speak truth to power, be transgressive, all that.

Q. This drink is rather odd-tasting, but I think I'm beginning to like it. Am I wrong in reading into this a bold statement concerning the futility of war?

A. Bold, that's the ticket. Yes, war is a terrible thing, I hope you'll agree. And ultimately futile, because the red things are always going to win in the end, despite the fact that they're slow and stupid and disgusting, and that's because war is futile. We send off our most virile young adventurers, and you see what happens to them. Splat! Highly unpleasant, but I'm not one to shy away from the unpleasant.

Q. That's clear. Am I wrong in detecting a strong sexual subtext in your compelling use of symbolism?

A. Not hardly, ma'am. I mean, squishy little red things that explode when they get in a lather. Really. Could anything be more plain to the overeducated mind? Though naturally I did not wish to be exploitative of the deepest flaws of the unjust society your people resent so energetically. So I've steered clear of the nudity thing, though the reproductive theme, and the flaws of the political system that produces reproduction, are strongly insinuated, and I'd expect my more sophisticated readers to find this both exciting and compelling.

Q. Indeed. Have you felt any pressures from the so-called religious community?

A. Hey, I live in Massachusetts. What religious community?

Q. I feel rather strangely...

A. That's none of my concern. Would you like another drink?

Q. I don't know.

A. Clearly. Perhaps you'd like to continue tomorrow. Bartleby will show you out. You might wish to take your clothes with you.

Q. Yes. That's brilliant. Say, is that the famous Slidesmuir painting?

A. No, that's your leg. The painting is in the gallery.

Q. Ha, ha. Thought you'd fooled me there, didn't you?

Voice. Sir?

A. Bartleby, deposit this baggage somewhere. Give her a red balloon or something.

Q. I don't know, either. It's weird. I never thought of it that way.

Voice. Please come with me quietly.

A. Thanks so much for your interest, Miss -- didn't catch your name.

Q. Exactly what I was thinking. You're amazing.

A. Yes, I am. Bartleby? Please be quick about this.