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. Your life is going to change in one way and one way only. You are going to become a mythological beast with no hope of turning back into a human? What species would you choose? Why?
It is? I am?
Since change is inevitable and mythological beasts come from the human imagination, despite there being no hope for me to transform back into a human, (if this were to happen to me) I’d have to choose a phoenix, a creature who offers hope in the form of rebirth. Humans are made up of the elements of stars and stars are a source of light in the dark for humanity. Stars lead ships when they are lost. Some of the first wishes that were ever made by human beings were made by children wishing upon stars. Wishes are like prayers and prayers are like stars and prayers offer hope. The phoenix is associated with the Sun and the Sun is a star. The Sun offers the hope of the birth of a new day for the planet Earth. Besides, I’d like to travel around with wings and fly through the dimensions. If I were a phoenix I might even be able to help heal the Earth.
2. Do you think Chewbacca and Pikachu would understand each other without subtitles?
Are they both watching one another from inside a two-dimensional sphere (like a screen)? Is one communicating with the other after having broken the fourth wall?
Either, both, neither. Whatever you say.
If these two got together it could be interesting. If they are two different people from two different countries who speak completely different languages hanging out at a Halloween party and one is dressed as Chewbacca and the other is dressed as Pikachu I don’t think that they would have a need for subtitles. It’d be a bit like Beethoven speaking with his secretary at the end of his life. The two communicated by writing back and forth because of Beethoven’s deafness. If dogs and humans can get along well without subtitles I don’t see why Chewbacca and Pikachu couldn’t understand each other without subtitles? In all seriousness, though, Pikachu likes to blast things with energy. There could be a problem with that but I doubt the current would harm Chewbacca very much, at the very least it’d be an interesting introduction between the two. They might even invent their own way of communicating which would be really intriguing. Furthermore, subtitles are what the audience needs as a tool in order to understand the characters in a film written in a language that they do not understand. The characters in the film usually know their lines and can communicate very well because they are inside of the story rather than outside of the story. It’d be interesting to write a story about this concept though. It is possible to communicate without speaking or reading. Non-verbal language or touch.
3. What is the worst movie you’ve ever seen and how would you change it to make it the best movie you’ve ever seen without expressly turning it into the best movie you’ve ever seen (ala, you can’t just say I’d turn Star Wars into Get Out)?
It’s hard for me to decide on whether something is either ‘worst or ‘best’ but for the sake of the question I’ll have to go with Mother! by Darren Aronofsky. The film was like a nightmare built from the mind of a narcissist. The selfish ego is at the center of the universe throughout the entire film. The audience becomes a confused spectator. There should be a spoiler alert here! There is nothing redeeming about the film. The character Mother, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is stuck in a house, at the mercy of a madman, has very little agency, does little to change her life, gives birth and witnesses her infant getting eaten by grotesque people in a cult, is nearly burned alive, has her heart torn out of her chest, and is later replaced by a doppelgänger awaiting the male character, Him, played by Javier Bardem. I wanted to leave the theater, and I thought that I was going to vomit up my popcorn. I’d change the film completely. I’d tear up the script, fire everyone except Jennifer Lawrence, find a female director and make a movie about how a real mother overcomes obstacles, shares her poetry with her child and eventually creates a change for the greater good of all. I have heard some ridiculous arguments advocating for the film as an allegory for Christianity. If people want that sort of discussion they should discuss Biblical literature and history in a good philosophy class. The story of the Virgin Mary has been told a thousand times. Tell a story at a slant, not sideways.
4. What would it have meant to art history if no one had told Monet about purple?
It would be a lot like no one having ever taught Leonardo da Vinci about perspective. Much like Joyce’s thoughts about Ulysses, Joyce said something to the effect of, “There’s enough in there to keep the critics talking for ages,” or, like the relationship between the Earth and the Sun having never been discovered. The Earth rotates around the Sun but people needed to be told. They needed to see the proof in order to believe it. I think that Monet would have found a way to know about purple anyway. If an artist has an interest in something nothing can stop them from seeking it out. There is always crushing up lilac petals or the lips of Irises that can allow for purple to be formed. Some say a poet is born and not made. Some say a poet is made and not born. Let the historians be the judges. I’ve heard that at the end of his days Monet could not see very well, perhaps it benefited his work. Perhaps not.
5. Say your mind was swapped with your pet’s: Who would be more successful: You as your pet or your pet as you?
Considering most animals are born capable of walking within a short amount of time and it takes humans nearly a year to begin to walk I’d have to say that my pet would be more successful if my pet were in my mind. I’d be very confused on all fours. Then again, this begs the question of the meaning of success. If success is survival, then my pet would certainly be better at surviving than I would. I have cats and a dog. They’d all do better than I would at surviving. They already do.
6. What if god was one of us?
We would be in ancient Egypt and his name would be Ramses. There was a time when a god was a ruler among us. Ramses could walk through the gardens and people could shake hands with their god and bow and be like, “Hey god, what’s up, Pharaoh?”
Nina Buckless is a fiction writer. Poetry or prose have appeared in Santa Monica Review, Tin House, Unsaid, Georgetown Review, Absent, Burrow Press Review, Midwestern Gothic, Big Muddy Review, Turkish Literature and Art and Fiction Writers Review. Her short story ‘Deer’ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers Program and the recipient of a Zell Fellowship. Nina is a veteran of Jim Krusoe’s creative writing workshop in Los Angeles. She received scholarships to attend Community of Writers Workshops in 2010 and 2015. She formerly taught art in early childhood education programs in Los Angeles and also taught poetry with InsideOut Detroit in Detroit Public Schools. Nina taught creative writing and literature at University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College. Currently, she is working on a new novel, Cave of Idols, a story told in prose and poetry. She is of Turkish, Irish, Spanish and Eastern European descent.
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.