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February 16, 2021


[From: BREAKING THE SILENCE, by Goliath and Trench]

I see. OK. Now, although your work has received high praise from literary critics, you have never been able to find appeal among a large popular audience. Your work seems to speak most receptively to an indie-oriented, almost underground cult following at best. Why is that?


OT: I’ve been to Australia and it was full of sheep. I saw sheep being sheered, sheep milling about, sheep looking stupid and sheep munching whatever it is that sheep love to munch. People are like that; most of them are sheep, though few follow the shepherd; most just follow other sheep. If the un-washed masses don’t want to bathe, any attempt to hand out soap would be a futile gesture, like warning lemmings that the view from the edge of the cliff isn’t really that spectacular. We’re not trying to set the world on fire or please the boss. We’re satisfied to kindle a comfortable flame for the campfire sing-along and leave the ass-kissing to those with a taste for plumber’s crack and fudge brownies. So that’s the ad on my matchbox, missy.

It’s Bieta! Not missy.

OT: I’ll try to remember that, missy. I truly will.

ZG: You should take notice, my dear, that I have never addressed you in such a condescending manner, nor would I deign to.

I appreciate that. It’s a point in your favor. So, are you under contract at the present time?


ZG: I am currently on sabbatical and have allowed the scope of my existence to narrow for the time being, even while the walls of my penitentiary seem to extend beyond the horizon. I am a prisoner of esthetics and live in my own small museum. It is a functional work of art. I call it Camp Carpathia. I refer to my residence as a camp because it is temporary; a modest, though comfortable settlement, a suburban teepee, a post-industrial yurt. My logistics are such that I no longer require a home, just a place where I store my dry goods. Sometimes I have company. Sometimes I do not want any. I think it may always and forever more be that way. I see few friends these days and consider everyone concerned to be better off for it.

Some of your songs deal with social and political issues. Do you keep close watch on world events? What do you think of the state of things today?


ZG: What do I know of such things? The tragedy of modern life obscures my vision when I scan the newspaper. I need reading glasses for the fine print. Even then, I sometimes seem to be missing the point. That is why I have the Times delivered only on weekends. I do the crossword puzzle, peruse my favorite features, then I toss it all in the recycling bin. Lately it has been peaceful. I have inventoried my supplies. My rations are adequate. My bills are paid. Everything is in order. My mind is calm. I have both time and chocolate. It is a spiritual deficit that prevents me from funding an expedition to go looking for anything I do not already possess.

OT: If he says so. As for me, I’ve been tending my own house plants in serene isolation from the limelight. Fame is toxic; just ask Elvis. He’s appearing at the Holiday Inn tonight. I can get you backstage after the show if you’d like. He doesn’t give autographs anymore, but he’ll let you wipe the sweat from his brow with your panties if you smile and call him The King.

No thank you.


OT: How ‘bout we go to a John Waters film festival?

I don’t think so. Thank you. Historical figures and events sometimes figure prominently in your work. Would you say that world history is a major influence on your artistic perspective? 

ZG: I have studied history for many years and have forgotten much of what I have read; though I could forget everything and it would probably be to my advantage, then I could start from scratch. History is nothing but a compendium of illusions that are catalogued, bar-coded and filed in the same media center as fiction, literature, and those numerous generalities that are consigned to the opposite extreme of Dewey’s continuum of decimals. Everything that has happened between the infrared and the ultraviolet can be found on the shelves where the busts of Herodotus and Thucydides gather dust. It is all a collection of dreams; some are just more believable than others. My dreams often seem preferable to what the tables of contents list in those books labeled reality. Do you really think you can trust the accuracy of what is labeled on the back of a can of soup? It is taken as a matter of faith that the nutritional information is correct, but how can one be certain? Faith is the rope of sand promised by both religion and politics to hoist you to an alternative dream that is promised to be better than the dream you are currently experiencing. I am awake now, but wish that I were not. One can dream of being awake, and daydream about sleeping, but to what end?  It does not make any difference which side of the mirror you are on. The background does not change. Did you know that if you tape record the word we, and play the recording backward, you will hear the word you. And if you record the word you, and play the tape in reverse, you will hear the word, we. Record them alternately: we, you, we, you, we, you, we, you…, stand in front of the mirror and play the tape backwards. You will hear: you, we, you, we, you, we, you, we… and you will change places with your reflection and be through the looking glass headed for a tea party. Do you know what that is called?

No. What?


OT: Why, that’s The Consequence of WE, missy.


And just what is that?


OT: I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you why it is.


Ok. Tell me why.


OT: Because there is no I in ego, missy.

ZG: I is such a small word; just a line between two points, a measure with a limit to its distance…


OT: …WE becomes a structure formed of complimentary lines; a structure giving meaning to existence…


Is that a lyric that reflects your typical outlook on life, or is it an exception, with your darker verse being more in keeping with your character? There seem to be a number of distinctly different “voices” inherent in your work. Which do you think is most genuinely yours?


ZG: I would recommend asking him an easier question, my dear; that one has too many words for him to handle, in my opinion.

OT: Speak for yourself, Ziggy. Where my tribe comes from, they cut folk’s tongues out for lesser insults.

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