Liminalist # 28: A Conspiracy of Secret Voices (with Jonathan Lethem)


(Companion essay, “The Margins & the Mainstream: Horsley on Lethem”)

Outtakes: Lethem on Dissident Gardens and maternal lineage (15 mins)  Download


First of two conversations with author Jonathan Lethem, on meeting Lethem, Lethem “almost feeling stalked,” the transmigration of psyches, encountering Philip K. Dick, being colonized, reader-author intimacy, the genesis of Seen & Not Seen, the message in Chronic City‘s bottle, reading as co-creation, mining the author’s unconscious, resonating interpretative fields, the price of interpretation mania, an invitation thousands are ready to decline, Moby Dick and the bottomless pit of unreading, the quest for validation, accepting marginalization, the contact that counts, the imaginary chasm between margin and mainstream, Lethem unprepared for being overrated, the obnoxious pantheon, the Tunes, the pursuit of voices, something about the signal, VALIS in the kibble, an ambivalent relationship to culture, enmeshment in commerce, being a culture maker, the spider and the fly, prison guards as well as prisoners, Jasun’s no. 1 fan, David Byrne and the enmity of the fan, the responsibility of the writer, Lethem’s early cult fan-base, what’s wrong with Jonathan Lethem, two views of freedom, living outside of ideology, getting to the real, where culture and nature meet, filling the void, exalted dead objects and negotiating fulcrums, Seen & Not Seen as a moving marker on a journey, accommodating trauma, trauma puppets, writing as self-confrontation, the long goodbye, Steve Carlton’s too-late hello, the Mets as capitalist bribe, social engineering, temporary autonomous zones, purity and impurity, matching affinities, Marvel comics and the upside of enchantment, interpretive fusion in comic reading, an inconsequential gap of nothingness, the action of the reader, the ungodly resources of the creative spirit, gaps in consciousness, breathing stories into dead space.

Jonathan Lethem’s website

Songs: “El Mariachi”  by The Freak Fandango Orchestra; “Internal Wrangler,” by Clinic; “New Feeling” (live) by Talking Heads; “Morning Birds” by Kristin Hersh.

2 thoughts on “Liminalist # 28: A Conspiracy of Secret Voices (with Jonathan Lethem)”

  1. Eating, fucking, and reading? Contemporary holy trinity? Reading is iffy, maybe eating, fucking (ormasterbating), and watching TV and or youtube and or porn.
    Enjoyed the podcast. Thanks very much!

  2. Lethem’s comment about books accruing authority “in the imagination of someone who used them to construct their own participation in the magical prison of culture” immediately rang a connection to the film ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” the main character, Kumiko, and her implementation of the film ‘Fargo,’ to define the confines of her own prison.


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