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Backwash Interview with Supervert

This interview was conducted by email in December 2002. It was published in Backwash Magazine. Here is a pdf of that beautifully designed print version.

1. Was there an inspiration for the Mercury de Sade character? Charlotte?

There was no single real-world model for either Mercury de Sade or Charlotte, although a few incidental details such as appearance were in fact drawn from a certain male and a certain female I happen to know — neither of whom are aware of the fact.

More to the point, I would say that it's almost wrong to call Mercury de Sade and Charlotte "characters" in any classic sense of the term. Charlotte's identity is gradually sucked out of her until she's reduced to a body, a thing. And Mercury de Sade is no typical literary character: he has no obvious motives for his fetish, he learns nothing, undergoes no revelations, and does not emerge from the narrative transformed. He's the same guy before and after the story, and that's precisely the point: fetishes don't evolve, they repeat. If Charlotte is a thing, Mercury de Sade is a machine — and she's just one item on the assembly line of his obsession.

2. What inspired the various alien sex scenes Mercury de Sade fantasizes about?

If you mean "What inspired Mercury de Sade to fantasize about those things?" then you'd be trying to psychoanalyze a character who doesn't have much of a capacity for self-reflection. His inspiration did not lie in primal traumas or repressed memories or adolescent infatuations with science fiction. He's just an automaton acting out the instructions of his fetish.

On the other hand, if you mean "What sources of inspiration did the author draw upon to create the alien sex scenes?" then there was no one thing. You can't reduce imagination to a simple procedure, as though it were possible to drop LSD and stare at a Hieronymus Bosch painting in order to foment a certain kind of vision — which, incidentally, is probably why "drug writing" has never amounted to much of a genre. A chemical formula, with entirely predictable distortions of perception, cannot surpass the random mutations able to be imagined by the human mind. Dreams, to me, offer stranger experiences than drugs... And images and ideas come to an author very much like dreams. You can try to analyze them afterward, but you'll never isolate or identify all the materials that enabled you to synthesize the dream in the first place.

3. Do you have any type of bizarre fetish?

I have a bizarre fetish for bizarre fetishes. (Would that be a meta-fetish?)

4. If you could live out one of the alien sex scenes in your book, which would it be?

I very much believe that writing — if you do it with enough passion and intensity — is itself a kind of experience. Granted, if you write about a serial killer, it's a different kind of experience than cruising around in a red pickup truck, picking up crack whores, and strangling them with your jumper cables. But still, in order to write about such a serial killer, you have to get into his head — think his thoughts, see his sights, feel his feelings. You end up knowing his subjective experiences without having performed his objective actions. And in that sense, you really have lived through what he's lived through...

It follows, therefore, that having written the alien sex scenes, I've already lived them out.

5. How would Star Wars rate as a big soft-core porn for the exophile?

A lot of girls probably have sexual fantasies about Chewbacca. He's very cuddly, a seven-foot-tall teddy bear. Weirdly, though, you'd expect such a big alien to have an enormous penis. Since you don't see it in the movie, you can only presume it's a tiny little thing obscured by his fur. Probably it wouldn't be much fun to suck, since you'd end up with all that fuzz in your mouth. Imagine giving head to someone whose pubic hair was longer than his penis!

6. Does an exophile find one alien more attractive than another? For example, would ET be more desirable than the aliens from Alien?

The Alien aliens were meant to be repulsive, but of course that wouldn't stop certain degenerate individuals from preferring them to the most beautiful supermodels. Conversely, people generally think ET is cute, and yet if you look at him he really resembles a turd with eyeballs. Normally people who find turds cute are thought to be ill or perverted, and yet ET was the alien that apparently brought out the coprophile in everyone.

7. You spoke of God as being an extraterrestrial being. Though you wrote about Descartes alluding to the angel as an extraterrestrial creature, why do you suppose religious people can believe in angels but not aliens? Couldn't angels and chariots mentioned throughout the Bible be aliens and ufos?

Certainly the argument has been made that the Old Testament in particular — the visions of Ezekiel, the "column of fire" that leads the Jews out of Egypt, etc — documents extraterrestrial activity on earth. Rather than reduce religion to the slightly more empirical possibilities of alien life, though, I am inclined to the view that fascination with extraterrestrials is itself a quasi-religious phenomenon. That's why it's so shocking to say "the alien farted" or "the alien picked its nose and wiped it on the wall of its UFO." People want their aliens to be spiritual, transcendent, superior — like angels.

8. Could aliens have created us? Could we be their own zoo? A place they visit occasionally to check on everything. If they're intelligent enough to get here, they would be intelligent to stay hidden (at least from mainstream belief).

All that you say is possible, but it reminds me of the famous debate between Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell. Russell would say "There is not a rhinoceros in the classroom" and Wittgenstein would refuse to agree. Why? Because the very fact that you can formulate the thought indicates that it's a possibility — and how can you ever completely rule out any possibility? Maybe there's a midget rhino I didn't notice, or maybe I'm hallucinating and the classroom is really a zoo, or whatever.

The same is true of aliens, gods, ghosts, fairies, etc. If you want to be strict about it, you can't logically deny the possibility that they may exist. That being said, however, I'd be more surprised to encounter an alien than I would be to find a rhinoceros in my room.

9. You said after many scientific and philosophical readings you concluded aliens don't exist. Did you believe in them earlier? If so, why?

I never believed in alien life but, before I took the time to probe the underlying issues better, I thought it was possible. And to be clear, I still think it's quite possible that we may discover microbial life, even here in the solar system. But it seems to me the odds of there being any kind of developed, intelligent, conscious life forms are very slim — and even if such life forms exist, I believe the odds of our communicating with them are even slimmer.

Personally, I was most convinced by the arguments against the existence of extraterrestrial life in John Barrow and Frank Tipler's admittedly polemical book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. You may want to read it yourself.

10. Do you believe in God? Or do you agree He is/would be an extraterrestrial, and thus not exist?

You couldn't believe in God and write a book such as Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, could you?

11. Is there one philosopher you admire most? Why?

It's very difficult to pick just one, especially since different philosophers are admirable for different reasons. For example, I do not particularly admire the ideas of Kierkegaard, but I am always astonished by his literary style — with its multiplication of pseudonyms, juxtaposition of texts, and mixture of genres and styles. Kierkegaard was using collage over a century before William Burroughs "invented" the cut-up! Conversely, C.S. Peirce wasn't a very exciting writer, but his ideas are entirely admirable. And Nietzsche, of course, I find admirable in both regards: he was a hell of a writer and a hell of a thinker — though not much of a composer, as anyone who's listened to his compositions for piano would probably agree.

If I really had to pick just one philosopher, I suppose I would look outside the traditional canon and point to the Marquis de Sade. Some of his ideas may have been derivative, but what he did to philosophy itself was already a kind of alien abduction, in the sense that he assaulted it from the outside, performed gruesome experiments on it, and satisfied himself through the most obscene violations. To this day philosophy still walks around in a bit of a daze, denying that it ever happened and failing to come to terms with the consequences.

12. Who on this planet would you most like to see abducted (if aliens did in fact exist) and violently sodomized?

I'd rather be the alien in that scenario and do the violent sodomizing myself.

13. Where is Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish available?

The best place to answer that question is at supervert.com... In America ETSF is distributed by SPD/Small Press Distribution. It's available at amazon.com, and Supervert also supplies books directly to select independent bookstores such as Quimby's in Chicago, Powell's in Portland (OR), and St Marks Books in NY. A distribution deal for the UK and continental Europe is in the works.

14. What do you do when you're not reading or writing about extraterrestrials?

To be clear, I'm not a flying saucer buff, ufologist, or new age alien guru freak. None of Supervert's other creative work involves extraterrestrials, and it's unlikely I will ever write at length about them again. Supervert's real interest is to explore the intersection of vanguard aesthetics and novel pathologies. To that end, I'm preparing another book which ought hopefully to be available in the next year or so...