The Liminalist # 170: Feral Nation (with Jonathan Lethem)

Part one of a two-part return conversation with Jonathan Lethem, on writing Feral Detective, the process of assembling, the election happens, the MeeToo movement, beating dead horses, what Donald Trump represents, a curdled archetype, presidents & pop culture, the neoliberal continuity, fixating on an image, a disambiguation of US politics, Obama’s peace prize, a symbolic fantasy of egalitarianism, the female avatar, urban feral children in Lethem’s fiction, neurological disruptions, genre formalities, organizing chaotic material, a motiveless motive, a gentle Heathcliff, the space of the desert, splicing genres, Tolkien & Pullman, figures in landscapes, searching the lost self, a compulsive voice, Adam Curtis’ prediction, Bernie Sanders the underdog, the power of disappointment, the absence of black people, identity politics & art, writing across racial difference, power relations and gender, a baseline for supremacy, the notion of gender, living in a simulacrum, a collective feral nation, a double identity, Humphrey Bogart’s mother, a dis-parented image, the mother representative at book readings, shades of dis-affiliation, the paradox of the superhero, the edge of the forest, the western Hero archetype, True Detective, the need for bad men, the veteran-detective, misgendering in Gun with Occasional Music, Lethem’s secret,. Where men hide, shining light, a tentative relationship, a form of aperture, a net for projections, acts of completion, Kubrick and vehicles for dreaming, working on a problem, a rural Chronic City, Motherless Brooklyn film adaptation. 

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” by Geoff Berner; “I Will Disappoint You,” by Marwood Williams; “These Words Are Yours,” by Hazelwood Motel 

10 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 170: Feral Nation (with Jonathan Lethem)”

  1. Lethem has not read the script
    Lethem has not read the script

    good show
    also, I think Kubrick films are constructed to make the viewer “shine”

    looking forward to part 2 and Motherless the movie

  2. My god; the insularity, and this man is an artist.

    What is very little understood about the electronic age is that it angelizes man, disembodies him. Turns him into software.
    Marshall McLuhan

    In place of a world, there is a city, a point, in which the whole life of broad regions is collecting while the rest dries up. In place of a type-true people, born of and grown on the soil, there is a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses, the parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, religionless, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous of the countryman…
    Oswald Spengler

  3. Latest comments are doing a good job of illustrating why I suggested to Jonathan it might feel unsafe talking to me.

    I suggest you wait till part 2 and consider why “discretion is the better part of valor,” and why the root of the word tactic is tact.

  4. Another rootless cosmopolitan who backed his fellow tribe member, Bernie Sanders, then bemoans the absence of ‘diversity’ in homogeneous, ethnically European parts of the US. That, and that insufferable, Woody Allen neurotic hesitancy, made this too gruelling to listen through to the end.

    • *Sigh* As I said at the end of the podcast, this first conversation kept focused on Jonathan and his own work so that with the second part we could get into more intimate and liminal areas. Jonathan does have a very halting way of speaking which I think relates to how intuitive – even autistic – a person he is, on the one hand (he seems to have difficulty turning his thoughts into language), and a certain discomfort in or with his own body, on the other. It’s like speaking doesn’t come naturally to him and he is at great pains (maybe literally) to ensure that his words closely approximate his meaning. This is a rare quality in speakers, and nothing at all like Woody Allen’s nervous rapid-fire patter. If you listen to Jonathan you’ll hear that each word seems to emerge separately from the one before or the one that comes after, like isolate units.

      Anyway, it’s a bit disappointing to find my listeners unable to disconnect from their own ideological affiliations and listen to the human being. I suggest trying part two.

      • *Longer sigh. In case you haven’t noticed Jasun, but I’m sure you have, we are living in fraught, ideological driven times and you’re part of a collective identity, whether you like it or not. And that collective has been earmarked for the extinction bin by social engineering and demographic replacement, but you likely know that too. So whereas you, in your Canadian backwater, may be choosing to ignore the ideological war going on around you (but just far enough away to carry on with your, muh enlightenment, self-indulgence. Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest.), in Europe many of us cannot. So, yeah, I’m a tad sensitive to him inserting his own ideological views when I know how calamitous they are for Europeans.

        I’ve followed you for a long time, so clearly I am interested in your spiritual quest, but if there’s a time to focus on the material plane and the bigger picture, that time is now. Even the Dalai Lama recognises that fact.

  5. I don’t know if the spiritual leader of Tibetans is a CIA asset and neither do you. And even if he is, the fact he spoke out in the way he did is tantamount to going off message, being that the CIA is a Wall Street, globalist entity. Not much of a touche tbh.

    • I expected you might focus on that in your bid for one-upmanship. What I do know for certain is that comments such as your latest but one make me think I should take up gardening if I am failing to communicate this badly.

      Good luck fighting your ideological war.

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