The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. What would life be like as your evil twin?
Do bad people have more fun? I guess life would be mostly the same, except I’d be blonder, or more people would remark on the color of my hair (blond).
2. Scenario: The following people are on Season 1000 of the television show Survivor, and yes, time travel and communication with the dead have both been perfected so…Nancy Pelosi, Jean Michel Basquiat, Hedy Lamarr, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Joan of Arc, Judy Garland, Angelina Jolie, Muhammad Ali, Marie Antoinette, Bob Marley, Socrates, Confucius, Yukio Mishima, JK Rowling, Cleopatra, Peter Dinklage, Queen Elizabeth I, and Kublai Khan. Who would be first voted off the island? Who would win? Would Jeff Probst still be the host? Please discuss in as much detail as you can bear.
Nancy Pelosi would be voted off first, due to her devaluation of social media, specifically Twitter, which by Season 1000 of Survivor will be like, more popular than The Beatles, Nirvana, and The Backstreet Boys combined. Peter Dinklage would win, obviously. You don’t survive Game of Thrones by getting lucky. Jeff Probst’s hologram would host, flickering in between a state of supine relaxation and something more horrific: a glitch in the algorithm that nowadays (I’m talking about the past, now) people call spaghetti code.
3. If you were staffing a cartoon accounting firm made up of anthropomorphized animals, which species would you select to populate said firm (other than humans)? How about a teaching hospital? The public defender’s office? A university English department?
I’d go with elephants, probably for each sector but definitely for a university’s English department. Elephants have always looked to me like sad, disconsolate creatures. But then again, if this is a hypothetical future, do university English departments even exist?
But wouldn’t staffing with elephants necessitate large expenditures to retool the location to accomodate…well, elephants? Where would you get the dough?
We’d do departmental photo calendars. The market for elephant fetish is (still) booming.
4. What’s one Greek myth you wish ended differently? How would you end it?
I think Narcissus should have just took out his iPhoneXS and taken a selfie and posted it to Instagram, which is sort of like the same thing as falling into the deep end and drowning, or committing suicide through the act of trying to consume one’s self, or, umm, turning into a flower emoji, which no one who texts me ever actually uses.
5. You’ve become so famous they’re building a monument to you. And they want your input. (Yes, I know it’s awkward, but “they” insist. And you know when “they” get like this, you just can’t say no.) What would your monument be called? Where would it be located? What would it be built of? What would it look like?
I’d ask to name it “the Internet”—just like that, with only the “I” capitalized—and it’d be located on the air and in the air. It’d be built of terminals and CPUs, miles of cords and fiber optic cables, Wi-Fi towers, warehouses full of servers, routers, and switches. It would look like stardust, or the black before.
6. Do you think you got the job?
Host for Season 1001 of Survivor? Sorry, I should have told you that’s what this was all about. Would you feel confident replacing Jeff Probst’s hologram as Survivor emcee? Do you foresee any major changes to the game under your command? Any dream contestants you’d be eager to sign up?
I’d like to see the whole season populated by Dada-Surrealistic figures. So much jealousy, so much ambition, so much ego, so many power-hungry creatives on one island. Who would get voted off first? I’d go with Kurt Schwitters, cuz he wasn’t even physically fit to join Dada. He has a “proletarian face,” or so Tzara believed. I’d throw my voice through a fancy speech synthesizer allowing me the small miracle of sounding like Jeff Probst. No one would really know the difference, because no one, really, is watching.
Chris Campanioni is a first-generation American, the son of immigrants from Cuba and Poland, and the author of six books, including the Internet is for real (C&R Press, 2019), which re-enacts the language of the Internet as literary installations. He teaches at Baruch College and Pace University and serves as a Provost Fellow at the Graduate Center/CUNY, where he works on the convergence between migration and media studies. Recent writing has appeared in M/C: Media & Culture, RHINO, Routledge’s Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Movement, Ambit, DIAGRAM, Poetry International, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, and has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese. His selected poetry was awarded an Academy of American Poets College Prize in 2013, his novel Going Down was named Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards, and his hybrid piece This body’s long was adapted as an official selection of the Canadian International Film Festival in 2017.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press in 2017. He is currently at work on a novel, The Book of Loki, and a hybrid collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Superman, the Seven Gods of Death, and the Need for Clean, Romantic Poetry. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.