The writer Marty Fletcher interviews the writer, blogger, artist and psychotherapist Randall Sokoloff. This interview will be published in our upcoming summer issue of WEDONTEXIST Magazine, which will be about the art of blogging.
Interviewer: Hi Randall. Should we continue the interview now for thirty more minutes or so?
Randall: Sure. What was it you were saying last time we talked?
Interviewer: I’ve been reading your blog and other published writings for a long time now. I can’t seem to figure out what exactly you are doing but this interview is an attempt to make some sense of your writing. Is it one big lie you are constructing or are you actually telling this continuous, never-ending story with each piece that you write, like an open ended novel? I think of your writing as merging somewhere in between these two points, but I wanted to ask you, what are you doing?
Randall: With my writing?
Randall: I like a quote from Stevenson about fiction: “The novel, which is a work of art, exists, not by its resemblances to life, which are forced and material, as a shoe must consist of leather, but by its immeasurable difference from life, which is both designed and significant, and is both the method and the meaning of the work.” So for me the meaning has nothing to do with what I write, the meaning of what I write is entirely in the distance from what is being written about.
Interviewer: So you are merging both method and meaning?
Randall: I suppose. Each story that I write is really just setting up the need for another story, so yes your statement about my writing as a kind of continuous and unfinished novel or literary project is correct.
Interviewer: The meaning of what you write is to be found in its distance from reality?
Randall: I think that fiction is realistic when it reminds readers that what they are reading is a complete lie. Getting readers to a point where they can accept the pleasure and excitement of the text they are reading as being just that and not a reflection of something else. In fiction meaning only exists in the experience of reading. Outside of the book or blog entry the story does not exist. The meaning is temporary, transitory, like all forms of meaning. It is the same when watching a film or listening to music. The meaning is transitory. The problem is when people try to extend the meaning of art into reality (the world).
Interviewer: What I like about certain stories or pieces of music is that they are not trying to offer up some kind of conclusion that you can take home with you. There is an infinite bundle of possibilities within the piece but ultimately it does not mean anything beyond the experience of reading or listening. Even though I feel like sometimes you are offering solutions in your work, I don’t feel like there are any conclusions. Just infinite possibilities.
Randall: I like that reading of my work. Thank you. For me, fiction is the only authentic terrain where anarchy is still possibility within a society that has become completely militarized and regulated. Within the context of fiction the writer has limitless possibilities. They can shape realities in whatever way they want. This is the exciting thing about blogging. There are no rules online. Do whatever you want! There is the freedom to create whatever meaning you want to create. Where else in life can a person do this?
Interviewer: This is why it so important to not accept any conclusion, even though it may look good.
Randall: Absolutely. In our current society, if you accept a conclusion, chances are you have accepted propaganda- not straight talk.
Interviewer: I feel like your work has something to do with a kind of resistance. Resistance to the status quo, to the society you find yourself living in. It seems like there is a kind of heroic struggle in your writing.
Randall: I don’t know about that. Sure there is a lot of resistance in my writing. Writing for me is an act of resistance against status quo. Ultimately, I’m trying to work through the problem of sincerity. I am attempting a kind of sincerity between what the story is about and what is being said. This is the interesting problem for me to try and work out in my writing.
Interviewer: Yes. The pleasure of reading your work, for me at least, is going on this journey as you try and work through the interesting problem you just spoke of. You are a terrific narrator and you make things happen on the page that I identify deeply with. Even if you are not understanding what may be going on there is still the pleasure of discovery when reading what you write. I feel like I get to join you on the path of discovery, that reaching into what you do not know yet.
Randall: Thank you. I like that and would like to say more about it. Do you mind if I go get a cup of coffee quickly and then you could call me back in say twenty minutes?
Interviewer: Sure. No problem. I could use some coffee myself.
Read more of this interview with Randall Sokoloff in the upcoming summer issue of WEDONTEXIST Magazine!