When L.A.’s schizophrenia between Dreamland and Utopia was becoming socially manifest, the United States, which was always a place, went to war with America, which was always an idea.— Steve Erickson
The most interesting Steve Erickson quotes that will inspire your inner self
If I had it to do all over again . . . I wouldn't change a thing.'. . . the final expression of narcissism, the last gesture of self-congratulation.
Out of the house and on my own, I faced the fact I didn't much like who I was.
I didn't like my judgmentalism; I didn't like my absolutism. I didn't like my repression of natural empathy, my pinched lack of emotional generosity. How I had been thinking politically had less to do with what was wrong with the world and more to do with what was wrong with me, with my fears and insecurities, failings, weaknesses.
I was raised a right-wing Republican and was about eighteen when I had to admit to myself that in regards to the great domestic crucible of the day, civil rights and racial justice, conservatives were on the wrong side historically and morally, and that it took too much intellectual and psychological jujitsu to pretend otherwise. I didn't want to pretend anymore; I wanted to be on the right side.
I have members of my immediate family, and my wife's immediate family, who voted for Donald Trump, and now there's this gulf that I have no interest in bridging however much I love those people. It's almost like the Civil War.
Is the humanism intuitive or labored over?, the answer is: Yes.
It begins intuitively, it becomes the reason for writing the thing, and then it's to be considered and fine-tuned and even calculated.
There are millions of white Americans today who still can barely bring themselves to acknowledge that the Civil War, with its twin Americas locked in a death match, was about slavery. They'll argue it was about economics, and they're right only because one of those economies was a slave economy. They'll argue it was about culture, and they're right only because one of those cultures was a slave culture.
For better or worse I'm the writer I am today because of hearing those Dylan records. For better and most certainly not for worse, I'm the person I am today because of hearing Charles.
If you're a smart writer, you listen.
Western music is arguably America's greatest contribution to the 20th century, cultural or otherwise.
Certainly the last thing I want is to be "difficult."
By the late 70s conservatism was becoming more corporate on the one hand, more theocratic on the other. In reaction to the 60s, conservatism was more about order than freedom, more about conformity than singularity.
The material dictates the approach. I tell the stories in the way that feels natural to tell them. Certainly the last thing I want is to be "difficult."
There have been times I thought that when I got a certain point in the story, a certain character was going to do a certain thing, only to get to that point and have the character make clear that he or she doesn't want to do that at all. That long phone conversation I thought the character was going to have? He hangs up the phone before the other person answers, and twenty pages of dialog I had half written in my head go out the window.
I began composing the next poem, the one that was to be written next.
Not the last poem of those I had read, but the poem written in the head of someone who may never have existed but who had certainly written another poem nonetheless, and just never had the chance to commit it to ink and the page.
In the end I write the novels I need to write when I need to write them.
In my early twenties the nature of conservatism itself changed.
When I identified as a fourteen-year-old conservative, it was closer to what we today think of as libertarianism - conservatism, at least for me, had been defined by Jeffersonian credos like "the best governed are the least governed" and "I have sworn eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" that were very idealistic and romantic to a kid.
To the extent that I've ever understood postmodernism - and I'm sure there are people out there who do, but I'm not one of them - one of its distinguishing traits is the story's awareness of its own artifice, and how that awareness becomes part of the story. And if that's right, then I have no idea how I ever got lumped into postmodernism except that I believe, since I was first published, people just haven't quite known where else to put me.
While I do believe I become a technically better writer over time, in others ways writing gets harder because inspiration is finite.
The material dictates the approach.
These days in particular it seems not only unavoidable but even irresponsible to not acknowledge politics in some way.
To me experimental fiction ultimately is about the experiment and I'm not interested in experiments for their own sake, and if anything I've always steered a bit clear of that kind of thing, because it seems gimmicky to play around with text rather than do the work of telling a story and creating characters.
Being a man of taste and sophistication, the 80s were objectively, quantifiably, empirically, diagram-it-on-a-blackboard the worst decade in the history of recorded music.
The form is always integral to the expression of the theme or to the sheer telling of the story, and sometimes the right form is apparent to me from the outset and sometimes it isn't.
I tell the stories in the way that feels natural to tell them.
Strip away the morphing landscapes and rips in the space-time continuum, and my stories are about things that novels have always been about: love and sex and identity and memory and history and redemption.
To me experimental fiction ultimately is about the experiment and I'm not interested in experiments for their own sake.
In LA, you think you're making something up, but it's making you up.
I believe novels can have secrets from their author, a notion I imagine would appall Nabokov.
I think most novelists I know, certainly including me, feel the novels choose them rather than vice-versa.
a dream is only a memory of the future
I write almost purely by instinct. I've never made an outline.
While a particularly deft sense of irony may be one of the tools of great storytellers, I think it's also true that if irony serves as a retreat from an emotional engagement that you're overly concerned is uncool, that's a failure of nerve.
In essence I'm really a very traditional writer.
I subscribe to the notion that, ultimately, characters do drive everything else.
My own personal experience has become more first-hand.
The last thing I want is that sense of artifice - rather I want the reader drawn into the story and lost in it and vested in it. So the emotional connection is everything, albeit a connection on my terms.
By the plain form of my delirium I will blast the obstruction of every form around me into something barely called shadow. I sail. I swim to you. I know the water.
Obviously cheap sentimentality isn't something any good novelist wants to traffic in, but I think it's a problem if you consider it to be the most egregious of all creative sins. I think it's a problem if you consider it the thing to be avoided at all cost. I think it's a problem of you're not willing to risk the consequences of that kind of emotionalism under any circumstances. Then you wind up in the cul-de-sac of irony.
Though energy and inspiration diminish, experience grows - the theme of parents and kids, for instance.
It became inescapable that as conservatives were wrong about people of color, they were also wrong about women. They were wrong about gay people. The only individual freedoms they seemed to get exercised about were the freedom to make a profit and the freedom to own a gun.
One of the basic philosophical tenets of conservatism - which says that the more power devolves from the federal government to the states, the greater individual freedom grows - is just flatly contradicted by crucial junctures in the country's life, most conspicuously in the 1860s and 1960s, when it's been the federal government that's interceded against the states to secure individual freedom.
I think for the foreseeable future we have to disabuse ourselves of any ideas of unifying, or coming together, or all getting along. I don't think we're going to reconcile the America that elected the first African American president with the America that just elected a president avidly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan - I'm not sure I even want to reconcile the two.
One of the reasons I'm not so keen on people calling me an "experimental" writer is that it suggests the work is about the experiment, when it's always the opposite - any "experimentation" is dictated by the material.
It wouldn't have occurred to me that while this old white man, which is to say me, was voting for Hillary Clinton, white women were choosing an overt misogynist [Donald Trump] over the first woman president. Someone will have to explain that one to me someday.
I'm my own "ideal reader" in the sense that I write novels that I would want to read.
Before I begin a novel I have a strong sense of at least one central character and how the story begins, and a more vague sense of where things may wind up, but at some point, if the novel is any good at all, the story and characters take on lives of their own and take over the book, and the writer has to be open to that.