Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When The Madman Speaks his Mind...

INTERVIEWED by Michael James for Trick with a Knife, "magazine-blog on artistic sphere” (April 2010)

[1] I know you travel much and perform voraciously-- is this more important/equally important to the books and poems poets publish? Can you 'do more' this way'?

First of all, I grew up—or started writing poetry—around a culture that has a rich, flowing oral tradition. Poetry was performed or delivered right in the village right here right now. Even up to now, graphic novels (“komiks-magasin”), fiesta pageantry, and formulaic/melodramatic movies are the main entertainment escape route of most people in Philippine countrysides…
In the context of publishing, we know it’s a ruthless jungle out there. Getting published these days is tough. But why do desire to get published, anyway? Money, fame? These are acceptable pursuits, but as I grow older, I tend to gravitate back to my roots: Why do I write? I just want to reach out, share my story, make people happy even for few hours at time. I’d rather be in front of people—very intimate, very personal—than have my books rot in a Barnes & Noble shelf. That feeds the ego, but then… should I stop writing/reading just because I am not published? No. I love this (performing) gig and I will do this gig till I die.

[2] You're from the Philippines and write for THE PHILIPPINE NEWS-- do you find your country under represented on the global scene?

I used to write for Philippines News, the oldest Filipino-American newspaper in mainland US, and distributed nationwide and in Canada… I handled the largest bureau, the Southern California bureau where majority of the 4.5 million Filipinos in the US work and live. I did my best… The Philippines should be amply represented (in the US or the global community), could be. But most Filipino publishers in the US don’t see it that way… Before Philippine News, I edited another Fil-Am paper in New York City, and then I came out with my own, The Independent. You must ask me, why am I in a predominantly white community in North Carolina and opted to publish (and mingle) here. Says a lot, indeed. Filipino journalism is back home in the Philippines… that’s where flesh and blood happen, not here. Filipino publishers here have different motives…

[3] How do we integrate? I don't mean hybridization, where we lose culture and homogenize. I mean more like your TRAVELING BONFIRES FOR PEACE project --- how do we unite under choiceful peace without yielding to a totalitarian superpower?

We just’ve to break barriers and bridge bridges. We just have to get out of our comfort zones and hang out with all ethnicities out there. The Traveling Bonfires is trying to serve that quixotix vision-mission… I know it’s hard. But the fun that comes with sharing stuff and things supercede the difficulties. I am rockin’ and I don’t think I’ll ever tire mixing myself up with other cultures… We can’t hybrid or homogenize, but we can hang out and chill. I don’t want to dream like it’s nirvana, I want to dream and enjoy little bits of reality, you know…

[4] There's this statistical idea that I recently encountered in ADBUSTERS, talking about how computerized interaction has increased depression. That your time spent interfacing with this electrical/digital conduit leaves you way more vulnerable to depressive states. And yet this medium is essential for communication with "those unseen". And since the internet, a large aspect of computerized interface, is by nature a literature rich environment. We as artists use it to spread our message... still, there is a large portion of the world without internet access. There is no true question here, but I'd like to hear your reaction to this information.....

Well, moderate. Moderation is the key… I am not addicted to anything so I think I am fine… I will be more depressed if I don’t go online. This is my “office” (I work online to feed myself) and this is where I connect with family (who are thousands of miles away). I can’t give this up… but I can give up a PBR or strawberry cake or sex anytime, man… Besides, I don’t have a (cultural) translation to depression. But I know what sadness is, it’s a human truth. Human truths happen and our emotional/mental chemistry as human beings don’t say, we are “depressed” all our lives.

[5] I remember from our time performing and hanging out, you love to cook and eat. What is your favorite food to make?

Actually, I eat anything… Back in the islands, we eat all of a chicken anatomy. I cook based on what my friends want me to cook. I have been to many cultures and savored food and spices and herbs and all kinds of ingredients—that I am confident I can whip out a cool dish anytime. I can make the “Bizarre Foods” dude a run for his money.

[6] They say 95 percent of Serotonin is in the stomach, so how much do you think hunger informs creativity as a pleasurable act?

I don’t know… When I write or do some creative act, I just do it. I know what hunger is but it didn’t stop me from creating.

[7] Here's a cheesy question, but I'll still ask: Can art save? Do you find TRAVELING BONFIRES changing things through the fact you are taking initiative to spread the message, the concept itself, or is it the art that induces change?

Yes, I do. I believe art liberates and frees the spirit; art instigates and fosters change. Art is powerful. Artists could be a gargantuan force as a movement… The one giant arch-enemy that deters this is profit, big business. Independent art—I mean, those devoid of corporate encroachment—could rise up and be one and fight the giant machine, you know what I’m saying? We artists just have to believe that we can overcome.

[8] Where you're not writing or reading poetry, what types of literature seem to invigorate your mind?

I like work that is written instinctively and randomly. I like literature that doesn’t abide with physical form… because literature and art are human expressions. You don’t scream out of anger, cry out of sorrow, or laugh out of joy, and say, “This is the way to do it properly…”

[9] What about life, period, catches your attention?

Fun, fun is cool… I like to be smiling and laughing as I breathe my last breath of life.

[10] You've pioneered your own litmag/news pub THE WANDERER--- how is this a different way of sending out a message than your personal writing?

The Traveling Bonfires and all the publications and projects that I conceived, I hope—should not reflect the way I am as an individual. There are stuff and things that I want to pursue in life that I find it hard to pursue because my personal demons get in the way… My personal writings or work is me, the private me. But my community projects aren’t necessarily me. I published another paper in Asheville called “Blue Sky Asheville” where minds and thoughts from all sorts of spiritual/religious/cultural mores met. Just like The Bonfires—I like it that there are no doors, no windows, it’s all open… come one, come all.

--Pasckie Pascua
Asheville, North Carolina


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