Excerpts from an interview with David Thomas, talking about his new book ‘The Book of Hieroglyphs…
David Thomas> It’s not my job to summarize or explain. That’s your job. You chose it. Get on with it. My job is to keep moving, to keep pushing. To take the things I learn and apply them at the edge of a new frontier. I hate words. That’s not hyperbole or a melodramatic stance. I hate words. So I’m gonna write a book. So I figure out how to write a book with as few words as possible. Two things I learned about writing. One was from Hemingway: brevity, violent brevity. The reader connects the dots. That’s their problem. The other was from Shakespeare: there are no dots. Whichever was that humpback king – Richard or Henry, can’t remember – who evidently didn’t actually have a humpback – he makes that famous speech in the first scene during which, over the course of one long paragraph, his mindset goes through a 180-degree switchback. “Motivation” is a con in literature. It’s a carny huckster’s game of spot-the-ball. The rubes always lose. That’s what I learned from Shakespeare. So, to summarize the book: it’s your problem to connect the dots; there are no dots. All there is, is Meaning. Got it?
DT> Fine. Then I just invented poetry. I am the Henry Ford of poetry. You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.
DT> There are ghosts all over the world. There are ghost towns galore. It’s a growth industry. America gets everywhere first so it’s more apparent in the geography. Also I think you should consider whose values you are superimposing here. I am quite sympathetic to ghosts and ghost towns in the book, I believe – or at least neutral. Are ghosts a “bad” thing? I don’t believe I encourage that conclusion. Ghosts are people who are pulled or pull themselves out of the stream of time. What if you don’t want to go where that stream is going?
DT> More excerpts will appear if I continue to write books. The Geography of Sound is the Great White Whale. It’s everything I know. It will never be finished – maybe on my death-bed with my last breath to a stenographer. I am auditioning secretaries to hire one to follow me around and write down the things I say. It used to be that one of the band had to do this but they do other things in their lives and I find this unsatisfactory. I intend to pay minimum wage and drop scraps from my table onto the floor for her to eat. She’ll have to be quick though. My whippet is a sharpish fellow. The eventual memoir of ‘Life With Mr Thomas’ will be sufficient recompense when I’m gone.
David Thomas will be previewing ‘The Book of Hieroglyphs’ in Brighton on the 27th July, before it’s official launch in London September 15th (details at ubuprojex.net).