Liminalist # 28.5: Potemkin Villages (with Jonathan Lethem)


Accompanying essay, “Invitation of the Mirror”

Follow-up conversation with Motherless Brooklyn author Jonathan Lethem, on the novel-in-progress, working in the horror genre, late-Cronenberg parallels, Chronic City, personal fantasy informing fiction, Lethem’s characters as nonviable personas, deflationary fiction, crumbling castles, useless super-powers, & ineffective postures, the P.K. Dick vault, occult symbolism in Chronic City, the ephemerality of identity, Lethem’s resistance to coherent spirituality, allegories and the air of meaning, Henry James’ golden bowl, Ubik, Dr. Seuss, invitation to a mirror, Kafka-as-secular-spiritual writer, staying on the threshold, liminality in children’s fiction, cults, reality creation, & fiction writing, parallels between spiritual teachers and authors, the Norman Mailer problem, a voice hologram of self, Lethem’s changing literary identities, two minds on either end of the reading experience, a dangerous tightrope, the Wizard of Oz & Santa Claus as homeopathic antidote to Christianity, dreaming worlds, mirror neurons & varying levels of immersion, the essay-film, the investigations of voice, Valis and the line between fiction & nonfiction, Lethem & Horsley divergent traumas & strategies, Lethem’s reverse amnesia, living a detective story, different stations, the nonfictional element in Lethem’s fiction, Motherless Brooklyn, the thinking mind inside the fiction, Lethem characters drowning in critical apparatus, As She Climbed Across the Table, The Disappointment Artist & the loss of the mother, a dance with an absent partner, Lack the sentient void, rival images of loss in Chronic City, an embodiment of emptiness, Lethem’s flirtation with Zen Buddhism, the gain of loss, dervish operations, a permanent autonomous zone, when the therapy is over, debunking the guru.

Jonathan Lethem’s website

Songs: “El Mariachi” & “Monkey Said,”  by The Freak Fandango Orchestra; “The Kommema & His Religion,” by SunWalker; “Baby,” by Clinic.

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