LITnIMAGE interview with Harold Jaffe on his newly published book, Anti-Twitter: 150 50-Word Stories
Your work is often described as “docufiction.” Can you describe for our readers what that means. Is Anti-Twitter docufiction in a certain form?
Thirty-five years ago, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Joan Didion, Gay Talese and some other "journalists" set about deliberately melding journalistic "fact" with fiction; the suggestion was that this is what mainstream journalism was doing without acknowledgement, so they (Wolfe and Thompson et al.) would foreground the melding.
As I and others (the cultural theorists Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard, for example) see it, the usurpation of "fact" has moved very rapidly, even exponentially, along with the almost total reliance on technology. Information becomes disinformation without apology; one datum contradicts a previous datum posted a few hours before; medical technology makes no distinction between the "artificial" and the "natural." For example, when Janet Jackson's wardrobe "malfunctioned" a few years ago during the Super Bowl halftime show and a "breast" was exposed, the institutionalized media went wacky, but nobody pointed out that it wasn't her 45-year-old breast at all but rather the expensive surgically implanted "artificial" nubile breast that was briefly exposed.
The entries in Anti-Twitter relate several themes, and oftentimes several in succession will read cohesively. With 150 entries altogether, what was your thought process behind the placement of each? Do you feel Anti-Twitter should be read and considered from start to finish or sampled and digested in chunks of any given order?
Because of the brevity (exactly 50 words), propinquity is a factor; that is, where the "stories" are placed vis-à-vis each other is intended to modify and extend the implications of the individual texts.
Several of your recent books, such as Terror Dot Gov and Beyond the Techno Cave: A Guerrilla Writer's Guide to Post-Millennial Culture, explore the ramifications that technology has unleashed upon contemporary society and culture. How much is Anti-Twitter an extension of that? A number of entries tackle the subject, but I suppose the book’s restrictive form is also an aspect of how new social network technologies affect the ways we communicate?
Anti-Twitter addresses technology less directly than how the world-view has been radically altered by the dependence on technology.
Regarding these “found texts” that you’ve altered and adapted (and in some cases torn down and built anew), from what sources do you derive your material? Are the “Last Words from Death Row” entries based on actual accounts?
Sometimes the "found texts" are readymades from "news" sites where I've mostly altered the ground or context but not the figure or text itself. Other times I've done considerable altering both with language and formatting. The "Last Words" are based on actual accounts of Texas inmates about to be executed that I plundered from official documents, then "treated."
Can you let our readers know what current projects are you working on?
A number of things. I have a volume provisionally called Gluteoplasty comprised of 50- and 100-word "stories.” It is in a certain sense a continuation of Anti-Twitter. I have another volume called OD comprised of narratives which feature people in public life who have either deliberately or inadvertently overdosed: Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Freud, Walter Benjamin, Aldous Huxley, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Antonin Artaud, Abbie Hoffman, Diane Arbus, Jean Seberg, Lead Belly . . . Another volume is a novel called Brando Bleeds which features a docufiction version of one of my faves, Marlon Brando. Yet another volume is titled Paris 60, based loosely on Baudelaire's Paris Spleen, written while I was in Paris in 2009 to greet the French translation of one of my earlier collections, 15 Serial Killers. I write rapidly; I need to.
Where can readers find and purchase Anti-Twitter?
In "quality" bookstores; online on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders . . .
The following are excerpts from Harold Jaffe’s Anti-Twitter:
For sale: medieval torture devices:
Shame masks to enforce silence
A14-foot rack to stretch the heretic’s body
A tongue ripper to punish blasphemers
An executioner's hood . . .
Sotheby’s announced plans to auction the largest privately-owned collection of torture devices on record.
Proceeds will go to Amnesty International.
Some mo’fucker snatched my identity—24/7 work-ape on my back & shit to show for it.
I hope my identity thief makes better use of me than I did.
Call me identity-less.
Know what I plan to do from now on?
Nothing at all.
Chill, baby, chill.
is no ordinary nun.
Former exotic dancer in Naples, now she dances for Jesus.
She tours orphanages and hospitals performing her Vatican-can.
Curiously, the church fathers do not disapprove.
“My can-can,” Sister Anna explains, “shows that Jesus is alive, that he is a God of joy, not sorrow.”
No hokey come-ons.
No pheromone aftershave.
No premature ejac.
No sexual politics.
No big-dick narcissism.
No faked foreplay.
No insincere dirty talk.
No “I’ve shot my bolt, sorry ‘bout that.”
Machines provide exactly what you need.
And if, après-sex, you want a cigarette, you don’t have to share.
In our demented global village the stimuli never sleep.
Cannabis is one small way to separate, briefly enter into the exempted space-time of dream.
Louis Armstrong was said to have smoked pot every day of his adult life—then he'd pick up his horn and make people happy.
An Iraqi football player has been shot dead by a spectator as he scored an equalizing goal.
The shooting occurred in the final minute of a game between Sinjar and Buhayra in the city of Hilla.
The striker was shot in the head.
The goal was denied.
Last Words, Death Row
Well Moms, thas how it played out.
Love life, live long.
Dealin’ wit’ reality ain’ always what you wan’ it to be.
Tell my kids I love ’em.
God is real. He fixin’ to find out some deep things that are real.
Take care yosefs.
Last Words, Death Row
Been hanging round this popsicle stand way too long.
Before I go, I wanna say somethin’ to all yawl.
Bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put headphones on my skull and rock and roll me when I'm dead.
Shit-eaters—I’ll see you in hell!
Click here for Harold Jaffe's bio