AGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 93: SARAH MARIA GRIFFIN or THE DARK IMAGINATION

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Friends,

Let's enter the mystery together: You, me, and dark science fiction writer Sarah Maria Griffin. Let's talk about violence and evil and owls. Let's think about David Lynch's uncanny power, and how magic works, how horror works. Let's approach the paranormal, the dreadful, the uncommon.

Sarah is the author of multiple books, most recently the excellent novel, Other Words For Smoke, about a brother and sister encounter the sinister and strange forces in their aunt's house. The book just won the Eason Teen/Young Adult Book of the Year 2019 here in Ireland.  Her previous novel, Spare And Found Parts chronicles a post-apocalyptic world with a hopeful girl at its center, trying to move humanity forward while her machine heart ticks away.

Sarah and I had a profound and potent conversation, and after we finished the episode, we continued to talk about the entire world, and love, and fortune. And then all the lights on my block switched off. Now that's a powerful connection!

This is one of my favorite episodes of AEWCH ever. As Sarah says at the end, we "move immediately past...small talk." Couldn't ask for anything more.

So excited to share it with you!

We discuss:

  • Magic, the paranormal and why they're so troubling for people
  • Twin Peaks as evil and threat and occult power
  • Horror is No-One-Believes-You, Fantasy is We-All-Knew-This-Was-Real-Even-Though-You're-Just-Learning-About-It
  • Why investigating mystery can fuck you up
  • Not-knowing as an act of compassion
  • Sarah's leap in style and vulnerability in writing
  • Following desire and characters
  • The unendingness of Hell
  • Why questions are always appropriate tools
  • The tarot as anatomy (and why it gives us unsolicited dick pics sometimes)
  • What a world of caring about subjectivity looks like (and why Freud got that right)
  • Why there is no metric for violation or resilience
  • Fiction as a generator of compassion and empathy
  • The importance of speaking poetically

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Sarah, read her entertaining and thoughtful one-year memoir, Not Lost: A Story About Leaving Home. Here are here contributions to the legendary Irish lit magazine, The Stinging Fly. And here's Sarah talking about empathy.

• I'm sure you've all seen Twin Peaks, but have you seen the newest season? It's utterly terrifying and completely challenging. It is a true act of occult intensity. The episode we talk a lot about it Part 8. Here's an image from it.

• Sarah mentions the eclectic and wonder-filled story collection Her Body And Other Parties by the great Carmen Maria Machado. She also gives a shout out to Leslie Jamison's poignant collection of essays, The Empathy Exams.

James Tate was a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet. He was an infrequent but happy friend of mine, as well. He died in 2015. Here's his poem, "Never Again The Same"

Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
People were screaming in the streets.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another's eyes?
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

• If you're American, you've probably heard of the spooky immersive theater experience, Sleep No More. If not, check it out.

• I really love the episode I did with experimental punk musician and author Tim Kinsella - AEWCH 43. He's a hero of mine, and I feel blessed to have had the conversation. I posted a playlist on spotify of Tim's music to go along with that episodes. It demonstrates his breadth and strangeness and inventiveness as an artist.

• A couple of first lines come quick on each other's heels. First, I mention the first line of Sarah's novel,  Spare And Found Parts: "Just under the surface of the waves where the ocean met the land, a hand without a body reached for someone to grab it." And then I mention the chilling first line of Kathryn Davis's (pictured below) novel, Hell. "Something is wrong in the house."

• Want to read Alejandro Jodorowsky on the tarot? Read his book on it, co-authored with Marianne Costa.

• I mention, briefly, a man who was harassing Sarah and other women in Ireland, and how she was compassionate in her response. For a quick summary of what happened, here's an article in the Irish Times about it.

• There's a great book by anthroposophist and inkling Owen Barfield on the move away from poetics and towards flat literalism. It's titled Poetic Diction: A Study In Meaning.

Until next time,

XO
CH

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