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. Who or what was the first human “god?” How and by whom were it/they “discovered?”
Gods are inherently jerks and with humans it goes without saying. We must challenge all concentrated megalomaniacal or self-proclaimed sources of power though I am inordinately grateful to the inventor of the printing press, the sweatpants visionary, the master of indoor plumbing, etc.
2. If you had to be an anthropomorphized geometric shape, what shape would that be? What would your life be like as said shape? Would you have a job? A family? A pet? Details, we need details.
I’d be Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece bumbling along greasing my knees and fleecing my pieces in perennial search of whatever will make me whole. And, yet of course, it is the very lack, the absence as engine, the incompleteness which gives voice to song. As we know from the children’s book, plug me up with a perfectly fitting triangle and I’ll roll along like a wheel so fast I’ll miss everything, and I’ll no longer produce a single sound. Call it Lacanian, call it Kabbalah, call it Leonard Cohen, call it the essence of melancholy – but it is the broken shape that holds, that feeds our purpose, curiosities, and desires. “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
3. Tell me about your favorite book, film, painting, and/or album that doesn’t exist. You don’t have to be the (future, potential) creator though you could be.
It is the thing that makes us laugh and cry and rage and ache, that makes us forget the inevitable marching of time, if only for a little while, that endlessly nourishes us regardless of whether we read it forward or backward or middle to end, that continues to challenge us with every reread, breathing into our hearts and minds as a living thing, and that also has chameleon capabilities to morph in accordance to what we require at the moment, like a mood ring, ever changing as it changes us, the only book we need.
4. Do you have rules for writing? What are they? What do you do if/when they don’t work?
Any rule is meant to be broken. Embrace what works but remain open to possibility. Trust your instincts then interrogate your choices, rinse, repeat. Stamp out preciousness wherever you see it. Steal time when you can. When all else fails, and you find yourself tumbling into the pit of despair, give yourself enough time to let your nails grow and limbs strengthen to claw yourself out. Don’t let the doubt demons win. Be kind to yourself. A ton of work happens away from the page, like when we’re running or farting around. Allow for that space. Eventually, we need to put pen to paper. Remember: everything can be rewritten. Once it’s on the page is when the real fun begins.
5. Do you think you’d make a good “Imperial Overlord (lady, they…) of the Known Universe? Why or why not?
God, no. For one, I’m allergic to words like imperial or overlord — and then there’s the minor fact that I know nothing. The only thing I do know is every day I know less and less.
6. “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…”
fresh mint in hot mugs and popcorn for dinner
Sunset in summer and fires in winter
The rush of a pen on an unspoiled page
Teenager laughter my dog’s velvet ears
Reading and sleeping and bittersweet tears
The sweat from a run, swim of the lake
Sara Lippmann is the author of the novel Lech (Tortoise Books) and the story collections Doll Palace (7.13 Books) and Jerks (Mason Jar Press.) Her work has been honored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has appeared in Catapult, Guernica, The Millions, The Washington Post, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. For more, www.saralippmann.com.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Brooklyn Rail, The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown, Rain Taxi, The Rumpus, Bull, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press. His second novel, Twilight of the Gods, will be published in late 2024. Baumeister is an editor with 7.13 Books and holds an MFA from Emerson College. He escaped the world of corporate finance long ago. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.
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