The Liminalist # 170.5: An Invisible Audience (with Jonathan Lethem)

Second of two-part return conversation with Jonathan Lethem, on Lethem’s nonfiction, a writer who doesn’t hide, a mask of transparency, Joe Brainard, bargaining with disclosure, fiction & nonfiction, the ache for fame, Superman/Clark Kent syndrome, a performance of honesty, The Blood Poets, Prisoner of Infinity, Whitley’s fortress of solitude, a Strieber rabbit hole, the psychology of the fantastic, quarantining horror fiction, rival interpretative narratives, Jacob’s ladder, involuntary amnesiac Bardos, death-as-landscape, MKULTRA & missing time, Philip K. Dick and the passage from fiction to nonfiction, Strieber’s unfathomable injury, Dick’s faux-pas of introducing Christ, a terrible prophet, the pure Dick beneath the brand, the unreadable Exegesis, language as a scalpel, slash marks on the curtain, making an imitation of a photograph with language, accidental documentaries, an inadvertent layer of info in the novel, The Great Gatsby & the history of the novel, the unreliable narrator, the beautiful naiveté of auto-fiction, “How Am I Not Myself?” the novelist’s object of desire, when the problem matches the solution, Kafka’s The Castle, striking through the mask, the realm of the dead, an invisible audience, out of print status, the garbage stratum of the new, the ecstasy of influence, dissolving into archetypes, what age is the black boy when he learns he’s scary, a magical result, inhaling a memory, karmic splicing, a tiny raft of posterity, the idea of the super-genius, the transmission, the hunger for the transcendent, the collective enterprise, the entertainment-industrial complex, unmade artworks, Hampton Fancher, knowing David Cronenberg, the twin goblins of romanticism and capitalism, the transactional experience, human communing on book tours, a little bit of Ubik, Lethem’s novelist suit, suspicion for stories (Lethem’s next novel), art as response to reality, the holy moment, an authentic earthquake.

Exegesis of Jonathan Lethem’s The Feral DetectiveThe Monster in the Mirror: Donald Trump and the Disease of Confidence

Jonathan Lethem’s website.

Songs: “Slouching Towards Bremen” & “Hustle Advisory” by Geoff Berner; “These Words Are Yours,” by Hazelwood Motel

8 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 170.5: An Invisible Audience (with Jonathan Lethem)”

  1. “Truth, With Occasional Fiction”

    Dylan is only Blakean in the C.S. Lewis “Transposition” sense, a Flatland version of a 3D object.

    Mirror neurons, POI, PKD, good stuff. Thanks for getting the big fish back on the line.

    • I do consider JL’s Dylan worship to be a case of a massive cultural blind spot, eyes wide shit, as it were (typo not intended but left in for emphasis) … But all the sacred cows must be smashed, so….

  2. Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls could be added to the “death as landscape” genre!

    The Exegesis is great to have around—you can open to any page and watch his theories chase themselves in a circle. Was thinking about Julian Jaynes bicameral mind recently and had to check Exegesis to see how it fit with Dick’s cosmology.

    Fantastic podcast!

  3. Well, I’ve listened Jasun… I’m convinced more than ever after this conversation that the academy is where imagination goes to die.

  4. [Parents] Always have a second child. If the first one ends up an intellectual, you’ll need some one to care for him when you’re gone.

    Argentine aphorism (poorly translated)


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