Nov 20, 2006

Some Tom Robbins quotes

Here are some of Tom's answers to an interview:

Reality is contradictory. And it's paradoxical. If there's any one word -- if you had to pick one word to describe that nature of the universe -- I think that word would be paradox. That's true at the subatomic level, right through sociological, psychological, philosophical levels on up to cosmic levels.

To say that you can't take life seriously and that life shouldn't be taken seriously is not to say that life is trivial or frivolous. Quite the contrary. There's nothing the least bit frivolous about the playful nature of the universe. Playfulness at a fully conscious level is extremely profound. In fact there is nothing more profound. Wit and playfulness are dreadfully serious transcendence of evil.

I wouldn't want to just raise people's mood -- to elevate their mood -- without first or simultaneously making them aware of the fact that there are a lot of terrible truths out there. So you have to wed that awareness of the terrible truths to a sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty and the passion and the love and even the danger itself.

I'm not an animal, I'm a zoo.

What I try to do, among other things, is to mix fantasy and spirituality, sexuality, humor and poetry in combinations that have never quite been seen before in literature. And I guess when a reader finishes one of my books -- provided the reader does finish the book -- I would like for him or her to be in the state that they would be in after a Fellini film or a Grateful Dead concert. Which is to say that they've encountered the lifeforce in a large, irrepressible and unpredictable way and as a result their sense of wonder has been awakened and all of their possibilities have been expanded.

At the same time, I don't think that a novel is supposed to be a guide book to happiness any more than it's supposed to be a journal of one's personal pain and frustration, which most novels are today, unfortunately. I think the novels that are most important are those that are more on the order of those coyotes that howl on the hills outside of town. Something mysterious and wild and hypnotic.

Timothy Leary told me that when he was in Folsom Prison -- he had never heard of me, at the time -- Sonny Barger, who was the president of the California Hell's Angels came up to him and handed him Another Roadside Attraction and said: [he speaks in a gruff tone befitting an Angels president] Read this. It's the Angels' favorite book. My personal motto has always been: Joy in spite of everything. Not just [mindless] joy, but joy in spite of everything. Recognizing the inequities and the suffering and the corruption and all that but refusing to let it rain on my parade. And I advocate this to other people.

I set myself a goal of two pages a day. Some days I get it, some days I don't. If I'm writing dialog I can usually get more than that because I can write dialog fairly quickly. But the descriptive passages, the philosophical passages where I'm paying even more attention to imagery and to metaphors and similes and figures of speech, that comes very slow. I write very, very slowly and I try never to leave a sentence until I think that it's as perfect as I can make it. So I'll just go sentence to sentence, almost word to word. Plug along.

No. Almost none. [plotting in advance] When I begin a book I have only the vaguest sense of how the plot is going to shape itself and no sense at all how it's going to end. You wouldn't know that from reading this book, because the end ties in with the beginning, I think, absolutely seamlessly and smoothly.

But I have no idea. When I introduced those themes at the beginning of the book I had no idea where it was going to take me. And that's the adventure of it, for me. That's the fun of it. That's what keeps me doing it every day. But in order to do that and to make it appear as if I knew everything in the beginning it demands a tremendous amount of concentration and energy. At the end of every writing day I feel like I've been wrestling in radioactive quicksand with Xena the Warrior Princess and her five fat uncles.

My tastes are pretty eclectic. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Everything he writes. Everything Jim Harrison writes. Everything Thomas Pynchon writes. Nancy Lemann. Andrei Codrescu. The non-living: Nabokov and Henry Miller and James Joyce. My all-time favorite novel was The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary. A nice Irish gentleman.

From January Magazine