5 Questions–No Not That Five Questions

(Soundtrack: Team Dresch– Personal Best…kind of obsessed with this album lately, especially “Screwing Your Courage” and “Hate the Christian Right”–incredibly invigorating stuff…Ditkoesque in its capacity to induce “self-fission” with inscrutable simplicity, you know?)

Here’s an exercise that I’ve seen before, but never participated in… That’s right, the ol’ “ask me five questions and I’ll tell ya no lies” has broken to new memery over at John Commonplacebook’s site… John has obliged me with an interesting set of queries, and I’ll be glad to pass the interrogative love along to anyone who invites me to, down there in the comments section!

(Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for thoughts on Mark Gruenwald, you don’t need me anymore! Scott Tipton is doing yeoman work on this topic–this week the focus is on an apocalyptic issue of What If?, the Hawkeye miniseries–which Gruenwald also pencilled, and quite innovatively too!–; and “Captain America no more!”)

Okay, onward with John’s questions!

1. How did you come to be interested in American literature, history, etc.? (I’m very interested generally in how academics who focus on one country/culture chose that culture…I have a very short attention span and generally flit around too much for one scholarly/critical focus, though I suppose I am generally more interested in British culture than any other. But then this is your question and not mine so I’ll shut the hell up and let you answer!)

Gotta blame Charles Schulz and Studio Age Hollywood–especially Capra–(via Burlington, VT’s PBS station’s nightly late shows) for this… American culture (not what America is, but what “it” thinks it should be) has fascinated me since as far back as I can remember. The idea that the self (like the state) is never a finished project just leapt out at me from these works before I hit double digits, and long before I acquired the vocabulary with which to begin thinking about the wonderfully mixed sense of exhilaration/malaise they afforded me… That didn’t happen until I met Hawthorne, Melville, and, especially Emerson–all of which, of course, happened long before I decided to stop splitting my time between the temp agency and the welfare office and go to university at 23… Naturally, American History/Lit was the only way to go!

2. You talk a lot about the romance tradition and post-Reformation culture, so I’m curious as to your favorite pre-modern books?

I have to admit, the pre-modern world of stable hierarchies, communitarian values/standards, and the peace of mind that comes with the sense that “there’s nothing to be done” makes me sick! If Foucault makes the mistake of romanticizing the “honest brutality” of the Middle Ages, I guess you could say that I go just as far off the rails in the opposite direction… The ever-present threat of insanity/fragmentation that has accompanied the “construction of the subject” is like the breath of life to me! Whatever people were doing before the Reformation, they weren’t living, as far as I’m concerned…

However–obviously, they did write some interesting stuff! Lucretius is awesome. Ditto Augustine. I won’t say the Bible, ’cause I’m only familiar with the KJ, and that’s the Reformation text par excellence, but of course I’d love to be able to read the New Testament in Greek! Plato is evil, but I can’t honestly say that I don’t get a certain thrill out of reading the Dialogues, especially the early, “more Socratic” ones…

3. Who would play you in The David Fiore Story?

Hmm… You mean the film adaptation of Darkling I Listen, in which the protagonist disappears from his own life story for most of the last reel? I can’t honestly say I’ve thought about who would play Mike Borden… I know who should play Dawn (Hope Davis–she’s a bit too old now, I guess, but that’s a Hollywood tradition!), Tina (Anna Paquin), Paula (Kate Winslet would be good), Heidi (Jennifer Jason Leigh, also too old, but ideal), and Eric (a slimmed-down Jack Black would be perfect)… but, me? Maybe Mark Ruffalo?

4. Name some places you’d love to visit.

You know–I hate the idea of going anywhere! I’m thirty, and I have yet to tire of any aspect of my life. Fate dropped me in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and my dream is to go back there as soon as possible and put in another forty years attempting to fathom the mysteries of that particular place!

5. Describe your ideal house.

Hmm…I like a house with heat in winter and an actual floor in the bathroom (there have been times when I have not had these things, you understand!) Beyond that, well, ideally, it would be well-ventilated, sparsely decorated, and feature no primary colours whatsoever! Most importantly, I want to share it with Christine + as many animals as possible!

Good Night Friends!



  1. I’m game too. Dave, five questions for you.

    1. Why Hawthorne? You’ve got strong inclination towards his work, if I recall correctly.

    2. What books do you find overrated?

    3. What books do you find underrated?

    4. What would be your absolute dream job?

    5. How do you feel about reading works in translation?

  2. Thanks Ed, I’ll answer these tonight!

    Okay, now for Mr. Allison’s questions (did you want questions too Ed?):

    1. You loved Punch-Drunk Love. That is correct. But why? (you see how helpful this meme is in bringing wayward bloggers back into the fold!?)

    2. Post-graduate education–how do you feel about it? (as an option for youself, I mean)

    3. Do you see any aesthetic/philosophical commonalities between Grant Morrison and Daniel Clowes? ( I only ask because it has often served me well–or at least entertained me–to think of two artists I particularly like in juxtaposition)

    4. How do you feel about the Jacobites?

    5. What are your favourite breakfast foods?


    time for me to get ready to teach my class!

  3. Great questions Dave — I’m busy tonight and tomorrow (it’s one of my best friends wedding!), but I’ll definitely answer them on Saturday!

    So glad you asked about Punch-Drunk Love, by the way — between that and the post I owe Rose about David Boring, I’ve been feeling a tad guilty recently. It’s like I’m being haunted by posts that I’ve not yet written or something…

  4. Okay Matt–let’s see…

    1. What has been the most gratifying thing to result from the publication of Things That Never Were?

    2. Do you listen to music while you write? And, if so, what, for instance? (I ran this one by Ed too–maybe I should just conduct a poll?)

    3. Dr. Doom and Kang–compare and contrast!

    4. Are you aware that (noted French socialist) Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier believed that once the entire world adopted his “phalanx” plan for human assciation, the oceans (all of them!) would turn to lemonade? (And when are you going to write a story about this?)

    5. Rank the superpets in order of their respective claims upon your heart…

    Hope these are to your liking!


  5. The terrifying truth! Yours will be along in a day or two.

    1 – The publication itself, really. Being able to tangibly hold my work in a book and know that others can do the same: that it exists outside of my mind and is free to run amok and inhabit the minds of others, that it’s no longer just the private musings of a single disturbed imagination. This may sound dangerously close to your own position that a work of art exists entirely independently of its author, and maybe it is… but still, it’s true for me in this case.

    2 – Yep. My most played list on iTunes consists of the following bands: Sebadoh, Static-X, the Dungeon Siege II trailer, Helmet, Ministry, A Perfect Circle, Filter, Three Days Grace, Pop Will Eat Itself, Biohazard, Pete, Prong, Slayer, Garbage, The Crystal Method, Gustav Holst, Therapy?Curve, and Minus the Bear.

    3 – Doom is obviously the more interesting of the two, so much so that they tried to make him and Kang related somehow. (Doom, of the two of them, is the one who invented his own time machine, and for that matter, really only uses it as an afterthought: he’s not particularly interested in temporal conquest or even in using the time machine to alter history.) Also, one has a hard time imagining Doom ever ‘reforming’ the way Kang was believed to (becoming Immortus, as it were): Doom is Doom, and there is no changing him now. Also, I have a hard time imagining Kang sticking a red hot iron mask on his face. Kang has his moments (Steve Englehart made great use of him in the Celestial Madonna storyline) but his origin is kind of tepid (he was bored in Utopia so he became a time traveller out of ennui and a conquerer out of a desire to emulate the past he studied) and convoluted (from Rama-Tut to the Scarlet Centurion to Kang to Immortus, with all the divergences and alternate histories that implies) while Doom is Doom… he invents robots such as the Prime Mover and abandons them, he creates the master gem and enslaves the world by amplifying the Purple Man’s powers while proving too strong willed to be affected by them himself, he even masters an alien body-switching technique. Doom’s complexity far outshines that of Kang. Still, there’s that great Celestial Madonna story in the Kang win column, and I did enjoy Avengers Forever alone in the toll of Busiek written Avenger stories, with a complex and layered portrayal of Kang as a man fighting against his own destiny. It’s a shame he followed it up with a sub-par Kang Invasion storyline. It’s possible to argue that Kang just hasn’t gotten the same breaks as Doom, writing wise.

    4 – Oh yeah, I remember Fourier and the Phalanstere from my ‘Socialism, Anarchy and Communism’ class. I’ve always been fond of his claim that ‘androgynous plants would copulate’ and that ‘six moons would orbit the earth’ if we would just adopt the insights of the ‘Messiah of Reason’, namely Fourier himself. He kind of reminds me of Cyrus Teed or John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community, although Noyes was much less insane than Fourier’s more outlandish ideas: maybe I could work him in with Swedenborg and Blake or maybe the later Romantics. It’s interesting to me that Fourier was so ardent in his support for what we today call feminism. It occurs to me that Fourier might have been deliberately putting on a show of eccentricity in his ideas to distinguish himself from the French communists with whom he had little in common.

    5 – Number one is Krypto because he’s the first I ever heard of, then Beppo the Super-Monkey, Proty (he gets no respect even though he died for a legionnaire), Streaky the Super-Cat because I had to have a way to put Comet last. Never did like Comet. The whole ‘secretly wanting to date Supergirl in his human form’ thing puts me off, even if he was originally a centaur. This image shows just how disturbing it could all get.

    — Matt Rossi

  6. And now, Dave, questions for you

    1 – give us anywhere at least five of the most influential works of art on you, personally, and how they influenced you.

    2 – Since I’ve been musing about it over on the Curmudgeons, are you more or less likely to purchase a work of art (be it a comic book, a novel or a what have you) if you know it will economically reward someone who holds views you find repugnant, even if the art in question does not reflect those views? Why or why not?

    3 – Since you brought up Fourier… was Lope de Aguirre a believer in El Dorado or not?

    4 – Ever read Dhalgren? If so, what did you think of it?

    5 – Okay, because I know you like the Gwen Stacy saga… did you ever read that weird story that hinted that the Gwen Stacy clone wasn’t, but was in fact some poor woman Miles Warren kidnapped and used a retrovirus on?

  7. Thanks Matt–this promises to be good!
    I’ll tackle Ed’s questions tomorrow, and yours over the weekend!

    Back to the grindstone!


  8. Just as you hate going anywhere, do you hate leaving Anglo-American culture?
    What are your favourite books, comics and films not written in English, if any?

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