DATE: 9/01/2004 10:31:00 PM
Inside the Nutcase's Studio
What the hell is that thing?
A wicked fricken cool interview with yours truly.
It has come to my attention that if you're not a member of the site, you can no longer see the interview. So I'm adding the text here. Because I'm self-absorbed. This is news? Deal.
Jane: So...hi Kitty.
Me: Hi Jane. Howaya. As we say in beantown.
Jane: I just woke up, to be honest. And then went OHMYGODINTERVIEWWITHKITTY
Me: lol, I RULE YOUR WORLD!
Jane: In the respects of napping, pretty much. Anyway, so you've been a member of the cult for a long time, since 3.0, right?
Me: Um, i don't think so. There was like the oldest version...I'm from like the second oldest version. But there has been a redesign since i've been there.
Jane: Well it's still longer than the majority of members. You said you had 600 posts when 3.0 rolled over?
Me: At least.
Jane: And you were queen of posting for quite a while too. Back when 2000 was still a lot.
Me: lol yeah I guess...although i recall willtupper being the supreme lord of posting if I was the queen.
Jane: Until you both got bumped by framstedt, that conniving genius. Anyway. How did you discover the cult in the first place?
Me: My friend Joe knew I was obsessed with NIN and Trent and all that, and he linked me to an article posted on the cult about Trent and Chuck knowing each other. I filed it away for a while, but forgot about it. then I finally went back and saw it had a completely new look. It intrigued me. I was bored at work. the rest, as they say...
Jane: And you're famous for voicing your own opinion on the cult. Do you think the way you act with us has made you act any differently in real life?
Me: I'm famous?
Jane: Well cult wise. As famous as one can be on the internet.
Me: How so? I mean famous for voicing my opinion...and there are so many newbies, or at least people who are newbies in comparison to me, I didn't think too many people knew me anymore.
Jane: I still think the way you conduct yourself sticks out. Alot of people on the cult walk on eggshells because they're so afraid of offending anyone. Like....myself....
Me: But you're also sweet and nice, I'm just a high-riding bitch. But to answer your question: a little bit. I think I've gotten very skilled at flaming people (or I like to think so). Sometimes it's difficult for me to hold back on the snappy patter in real life where people can reach me. :-) But I've always been the person who DOESN'T come up with the comeback three seconds after a confrontation. I've often been the girl who comes up with the comeback right at the moment, and gets punched. That whole gap between maddening incident / great comeback is a survival skill.
Jane: I think the term bitch is waaay too often applied to you.
Me: Why do you think that?
Jane: Because I think women who are good at expressing their opinions without regard to the tone of what they're saying are often labeled bitches, whether or not it's true.
Me: Yeah, I guess I have a little different connotation for it for myself. Like "uppity" really. But also i can sometimes be soulless. Other times too sensitive.
Jane: Do you really feel you can be soulless? how so?
Me: I guess I lack the horor at certain things other people have. Violence and tragedy and darkness, those things fascinate me rather than repel me. I'm very rarely truly scared of anything.
Jane: And you think you're too sensitive sometimes too?
Me: Then again there are things that I simply fail to understand about the way people think. Greed astounds me. Especially large-scale government conspiracy type greed. I just can't believe money is worth the inhumanity people sometimes have toward others. i guess you could say certain things, like the iraq war, sadden and anger me. i just don't get the way people act, though, really. like, making fun of other people in a middle school type way. what does it accomplish? what does it accomplish to be high on yourself and self-centered and arrogant and take advantage of other people for some piddly little materialistic crap? why do people think their jobs represent who they are? why do people watch reality television? i just don't get how someone could sit in front of "The Bachelor" for a freakin' hour. why do people tolerate pop-culture shit? who gives a fuck about paris hilton? who gives a fuck about michael jackson? who gives a fuck about survivor? but then again, whatever gets people through their day in this increasingly cruel world we live in is probably a good thing. overall i try to be philosophical. i try to live and let live.
Jane: Do you really think that going to war over money is any less of a reason than any other reason to go to war? Assuming all reasons of war are legitimate, what one makes more sense? Power? Love? Pride?
Me: i think WWII is the only just war i've ever heard of. someone was trying to conquer the earth and kill off an entire race of people. hitler had to be stopped. and before 1941, he really was winning. that was something worth fighting / dying over. of course, that's what my history books tell me. and my history books were written by the winners. hitler wanted to create a museum about the extinct race of jews. that's why he took so many pictures of them in concentration camps and shit. at least, that's what the winners told me...you see, i'm just weird, i'm like this mix of total idealist and utter craven cynic. i bleieve nothing i am told and yet i swallow it all as someone else's valid viewpoint. i guess you could accuse me of moral relativism.
Jane: don't you think most people are like that? That most of us have no problem believing everything we're taught in history class but can spend our whole lives questioning everything that's directly around us?
Me: no. there are definitely people who stick to a highly slanted viewpoint. i believe most people are like that--just not most people on the cult. but most people have a religion, or a philosophy, or some type of belief system. you have to have a frame of reference. my frame of reference is to analyze things, set them up side by side, compare and contrast. i'm trying to systematize the world. i'm trying to create a card catalog of existence. i'm trying to make it all make sense. that might be different from someone who bases their perspective on, say, the Bible, but not really.
Jane: doesn't that ever get tiring?
Me: lol, yeah. it put me in the nuthouse.
Jane: Ahhh yes, I forgot. Well, not directly though, right?
Me: yes and no. college was a system overload for me. i was raised in a very provincial, picket-fences type town, and going to college i saw things that just overloaded my system. my system is fairly easily overloaded, actually. things don't really scare or bother me but sometimes they just amaze me so much, positive or negative, and i try to figure them out. basically the movie "american beauty" is my philosophy on life. the way the kid with the video camera thinks a dead bird is beautiful. i agree with him, but i think what most people don't get is that things can be beautiful, or amazing, or floor you in a negative way that isn't necessarily horror or anger or any type of proactive reaction to what they're experiencing.
Jane: What kind of things overloaded you?
Me: things that overloaded my system...hm. my sophomore year i got really involved in on-campus activism, protesting the administration and all that shit. i actually went to a meeting where i mouthed off to the chancellor of the university. i was all gung-ho flipping out on the university, thinking i was going to change things...and then all of a sudden, one day, i stopped dead in my tracks and remembered that mouthing-off-to-the-chancellor meeting, and how the only other ppl there besides the suits from the university were TAs who were a member of the grad students' union. basically because TA salaries / positions were being cut by the budget cuts i was there fighting against. otherwise? empty seats. all the undergrads, who at 20,000 strong had the potential to be the strongest voice for the students, were out drinking beer. everyone there but me was basically there for their paychecks in one way or another. i felt like an idiot. i also realized that the guys from the administration got their marching orders from the state, and the chain of command doesn't really stop anywhere. you can go up to the president of the university in his penthouse in boston, but then, what about the undergrads who stayed away from a meeting where they could have made a difference staying away from that thing in droves? how is it not their fault too? then a little while later i saw a gigantic student event protesting violence against women or the occupation of palestine or some shit, something faraway and something they could feel good about yelling into bullhorns over but not anything that they'd actually have the responsibility for changing. and i realized that the activism i thought was redemptive was just another belief system, like capitalism or Christianity, and i just couldn't participate in the illusion anymore.
also, in the high school i went to i was used to what i call a higher barometric pressure of intelligence around me. we were all rich kids and raised with a tremendous education, and the class i happened to be in was highly talented. in college i was astounded ppl thought i was smarter than average. in high school i'd been the average kid or the dumb kid in some subjects. but then i went to oxford and i was with kids from smith and kids from harvard and smahhht kids from amherst and i thought, finally, i'll be around smart people who are really interested in learning...and no. they were even dumber than the masses at amherst. oxford was when i really started to come apart. of course, i was also told at the hospital that i was far too young for a situational depression and that its depth and symptoms of psychosis had to be as a result of chemical imbalance...and i'm completely stable now on medication, whereas i'd been in talk therapy for 5 years before starting meds and it hadn't made a dent. so maybe all of this is just my brain chemicals starting me from a skewed perspective to begin with. it's a mindfuck, no? i know that disillusionment happens for most people, but it doesn't almost kill most people. i took it to an extreme. whether biological or whatever, i looked at the world around me, decided what it was like, and literally decided i didn't want to be a part of it anymore. then later with the help of better living through chemistry, i guess, i made what i felt was a conscious decision to continue living. i have to say, though, i feel that i enjoy life more deeply now that i've had that experience. very few people actually stand at the edge, and thus few people are lucky enough to have to consciously decide why it is they want to step away or step over it. i don't say this to be full of myself--i think i seriously, seriously, have lead a charmed life.
Jane: How do you think your experiences with depression have changed your perspective?
Me: well, i just told you, right? lol. i know why i decided to live. i know that i decide to live every day by waking up and getting out of bed. i have a sense of responsibility for my own choices.
Jane: Damn responsibility... it thinks it's so smart...
Me: well let me just qualify this, since i know some asshat on the cult is going to be all, "you don't take responsibility, you take pills."
i won't get into whether or not pills really work / mental illness is biochemical. regardless, there was a specific point in time where i decided whether or not to take the pill--like neo choosing which pill in the matrix. there was a definite crossroads--a definite door #1, door #2 moment. and i made the choice to help myself by taking the medication. i make a choice every.single.day. when i continue to take that medication, and whether it really is responsible for my recovery, even the placebo effect is something i choose to participate in. am i buying into a bullshit medical establishment? am i buying into american capitalism? am i buying into a particular belief system about how the mind, heart and soul work that you may or may not agree with? absolutely. but this is my point: i saw all this from an outside perspective. i truly thought about rejecting it all, and rejecting it all meant dying. i consciously chose to step back and work within the system, work within reality, see what i could accomplish with the cards i've been handed.
in closing, though, asshat: you probably still think i'm full of shit. and that's fine with me. god bless you and more power to you if you are firm and sincere in that belief.
Jane: I think people who think that are usually kidding themselves anyway. Disx, God bless 'em, always made fun of you for taking meds, but he himself was a hardcore drug user for quite a long time.
Me: Haha, disx. i'm happy for him he finally got himself banned. that seems to have been what he wanted all along. he considered himself a huge rebel and this big anarchistic force. it must be tough to have to be right about everything all the time. seriously. he must have many moments of cognitive dissonance in his life...like when i backed him into a corner about the meds thing. that thread is prob. still around if you want to see my bitchiness in action. but i have to say disx was an original. i've had lots of ppl try to get rises out of me since, but after my battles with disx, everything else was just another go-round at the same thing. disx helped condition me to pick my battles.
Jane: that's kind of the same way I feel about Brock. The one nice thing I can say about the kid is that he's made me a lot better at just gracefully accepting insult and moving on.
Me: well...i think of things like this in terms of plants...hear me out. plants survive because they bend to the ground under the wind. they don't uproot themselves or die, but they bend to let the wind blow over them. if a plant remains stiff and rigid, eventually something will bring it down. or like glass and plastic. plastic is tougher because it's flexible. with brock, you're like the glass or the rigid plant. there are things you simply will not accept, things you will simply not hear without being offended, and so you can't get perspective on brock. i'm not saying this is anything negative about you. there are things you will not compromise about, and brock challenges that. i think you can see where he's trying to be funny, and you get it, but you refuse to laugh about it because you take some of the things he's making fun of very, very seriously. i've learned to be okay with brock (although posting this might bring on another attack...we'll see) but in general i think he uses a lot of words but has a highly reductionist perspective. it's like what he says is true, but not. like yeah, you're from nebraska, you're a christian, etc. but he's taking the caricature version of you. not the real you with your subtleties.
Jane: everyone takes everyone that way I think.
Me: i like to think i acknowledge some ambiguity about you at least, but yeah, the cult is really cultural shorthand anyway. although, really, we all represent ourselves and interpret others in an oversimplified way IRL too. It's how most people cope.
Jane: Do you think that the cult, and the way we act on there, is just a condensed, abbreviated way of how we act in real life? Or is it totally unrealistic?
Me: it's a simplistic society. that doesn't mean people are always acting how they act IRL. many ppl use the cult to take on an alternate identity. but it's much more simplified than an actual social structure. for example, i am a large woman. not freakishly so, not jerry-springer-fat but by most standards i am a fatgirl. it's something i'm pretty well over, but i know a lot of ppl on the cult respect me more because they can't see me. they give me a chance because my words and not my appearance strike them first. Wow this is going in a totally different direction than our other lost interview.
Jane: Yeah it is. we should call this one the found interview. Anyway... I think there are other ways to discriminate when people can't see you though. Like you were saying about being bitchy. And I think people often write off what I say because I'm considered "cute."
Me: Well, that's just refusal to accept ambiguity again. i think you're adorable, but i don't write off what you say. such things are possible.
This is why i admire chuck, though. first of all, i think i have a much different interpretation of fight club than most people. i think fight club shows how subcultures are bound to deteriorate and collapse in on themselves. because as subcultrues grow, pretty much they end up having to establish the same rules as the main culture. this has happened to the cult, also. as it has grown so large, more and more rules have had to be imposed on its members. this has driven anarchist types crazy and at times off the board entirely. much like fight club we started the cut as an underground thing, and then we ended up becoming the space monkeys with Project Mayhem. that's how you get into the backwardness of a society that started off as a means of questioning everything became a society whose first rule is, "you do not ask questions."
second of all, though, i think it's v. easy for ppl to interpret fight club as an actual call to action--because chuck has so much sympathy and empathy for his own characters. he writes these incredibly flawed, some would say pathalogically flawed, characters, and loves them dearly even as they do stupid things. i think he's like that with his fans, too. the people who ask him how they can join fight clubs, he's said he thinks that's crazy, but he loves these fucking crazy people and how much they love him. he's like everyone's smiling grandfather--who loves you, but also loves that you go home to your parents for them to raise.
Jane: Do you really think it's a bad thing that the cult has become this though? I regard it more as the evolution of societies rather than how they fall apart.
Me: i think it'll fall apart. it has to. i think culture and history move in cycles, too. i think our society will soon fall apart under the weight of all these evil people in the world--and by that i mean both terrorists and the people who exploit the fear of terrorism for their own political gain. eventually, something's got to give. like enron, and worldcom--half of these people's transgressions came from wanting to please shareholders. why are there shareholders? because in a democratic society people should be allowed to have a financial interest in companies? and thus you have enron, worldcom, iraq, halliburton...and what started as a pure idea becomes utterly corrupt. eventually it reaches critical mass, and things begin again. the difference is, they never begin again from the same point--it's altered by what has come before. but there are peaks and valleys to societal trends, definitely.
Jane: so you view it as an evolutionary process too then? Because I know you think that things like greed are basic human emotions.
Me: yeah. they are. unfortunately. they'll always exist. but eventually they reach critical mass. they bump up against the self-interest of other ppl too much, and you get revolution. rebellion. do you realize that right now, as an imperialist power conquering iraq, we are exactly like the british empire we defeated to found this country?
Jane: I...try not to think about that too much.
Me: But maybe that'll end up being good for iraq. maybe getting their independence from us will work, in the beginning, the way our independence worked for us, the way we thought out democracy and freedom and human rights. don't get me wrong, i wouldn't want to live in any other century--any other decades, even. things have come a long-ass way since king george III. but now under our own king george (remember he wasn't actually elected), we're conducting guerilla warfare in a foreign country to try and instill a system of belief / societal structure on them. like the british empire, we will be driven out. just like we drove them out. just like we were driven out of vietnam. you don't fuck with people's homes. you don't fuck with people's self interest that closely. or they'll reach out and fuck you up.
Jane: and you feel that the cult is kind of at the critical mass of that right now?
Me: no, i don't think the cult is at critical mass necessarily, i think people are still learning from each other. eventually, though, either chuck will go mainstream and people will reject it on their own / trolls will flood in, or he'll pass into obscurity and people will eventually lose interest.
i think it's at a critical point for him, though. his last few books have not been well-received. some people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt with lullaby but with diary people are starting to get restless. it's up to him to refresh his image with us. will that involve a tyler-esque descent into dictatorship? maybe. a departure from his original form? maybe. or has his original form exhausted itself, exhausted what we can take with us from him in our lives? maybe. we can't remain in the same place, not at all, but i'll be damned if we don't end up in the same place all the time anyway--like jack starting off institutionalized in a corporate job, a yuppie lifestyle and winding up institutionalized in a literal mental institution. six of one, half dozen of the other. when the cult collapses, people who gravitated there will still be wanting more from life, wanting an explanation, wanting an alternative viewpoint, wanting to be transgressive. at least, i hope they will. have you ever read slaughterhouse five?
Me: "The most important thing I learned on Tralfmadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. he is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfmadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It's just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfmadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in tha tparticular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfmadorians say about dead people, which is, 'So it goes'."
so...we may be disillusioned by chuck eventually, but that doesn't make fight club any less of an important novel. and let's not forget that our generation is the first to read fight club. newer ones will discover it, recontextualize it, bring it back to life again.
owenwarland: This was absolutely incredible. Kitty is obviously an extremely profound person, with flaws and foibles and opinions and an ideaology that she stands strongly behind. I was captivated from the first word of her response to the very end of her quote from Vonnegut.
I've heard some people criticize these interviews, however fairly or not, as chatty. But this interview had depth and breadth, and I'm looking forward to interacting with Kitty in the future. Janey, I'm glad you "found" this one. It's a worthy addition.
And Kitty, you've got to bring back that advice thread. I've got some heavy questions for you.
ALP: I love that quote...
Ballerina: Wow. I loved the "dear asshat" bit. Makes me think of the times when I'll be saying something and I'll anticipate someone'se negative response and I'll feel the need to counter it even before it comes. Really awesome interview.
glamhoth: damn that was a good interview
lupus: This is my favourite interview so far. I already knew several things about Kitty, but I was still totally absorbed in the interview. It was fascinating.
Much love to both girls, very well done.
trypdwyre: this really is a great interview. the questions were neither choppy nor were they just conversational. it has and awesome pace to it, and even though i admired insom already, this interview has definitely (check out that spelling owen ) increased that respect.