Brandon Freels Interview

Your bookshelves are crammed with weird surrealist books, philosophy books,
cultural studies books. Do you really read all these or is it just a front
to make you look smart?

Yeah, I really do read all those books. I'm interested in understanding how
the culture we reside in operates, how it impacts my personal autonomy and
my existence. I'm also interested in locating different means of expanding
and elevating my autonomy, such as the many practices that combat this sham
of consumer culture, and the techniques that arouse creativity. I've been
studying theorists such as George Bataille, Andre Breton, and members of
the Situationist International for sometime now, and recently started
reading various anarchist and Marxist thinkers. I'm currently reading

How do all these different types of writers that you read shape your own

Lautréamont's Maldoror has encouraged me to bulldoze traditional literary
blueprints and idiotic retarding devices like "character development."
Early surrealist texts such as Breton's Nadja and Louis Aragon's Paris
Peasant have got me very interested in the merger of autobiography with
other formats, not to mention the projections of the interior and emotional
developments. While I was writing Freels Comes Alive! I was reading a lot
of Bataille, and began to feel more comfortable writing sexually explicit
material, which I've come to see as, when it acts as a dialogue between the
artist and the artist's own interior necessities, an important part of
untainted truth-telling. In some respect I want my texts to consist of the
clash of actuality and wish, with no regard to the consequences, no worries
about how the text will be received by family,
friends, or anyone. To live in a glass house, as Breton said, or what I like
to call kamikaze confessionalism. I want my texts to be one step beyond the
traditional autobiography, to include dreams, lies, daydreams, and

You started off publishing stuff in magazines when you were really young.
What drew you into it?

I don't really remember what drew me into the literary faction of the small
press. At the time, I think I was fifteen, I was just overwhelmed with the
small press in general, and its anti-academic DIY approach. I think I
wanted to take part in the zine explosion, but didn't know precisely how to
do so, being a high school kid with no money. Having my poems published was
the easiest way to get involved. I was very taken with Dan Nielsen's
literary zine Blank Gun Silencer, which published poems that mixed humor
with an experimental flare. Dan provided some good advice about stripping
the poem until it shivers, and avoiding sad attempts at being clever. I
remember reading some of Kevin Sampsell's early poems in Blank Gun
Silencer. I really liked those poems. Basically, using Tzara's words, I got
involved with the small press to find people. I lost interest in publishing
after I began communicating with Hal Sirowitz, Sparrow, Joe Maynard, Ron
Kolm, and others associated with the Unbearables. I was happy just sharing
my work with the small handful of people I was writing letters to, or
meeting locally, such as Kevin. Creativity became almost a hermetic
pursuit. Recently I tried to regurgitate my old interest in literary zines,
but its just not the same today, not as playful. I'm much more interested
now in personal,
political and non-literary zines.

What kind of music do you listen to? Do you listen to music as you write?

I listen to a large variety of music, from punk to jazz, and my interests
change rather frequently. My only real consistent interest seems to be PJ
Harvey, who I've been listening to since high school. I still have some old
Misfits and Black Sabbath collections around, although I rarely listen to
either of them anymore. And I'm still interested in many of Mike Patton's
projects, such as the two Fantomas albums. Recently I discovered the kraut
rock band Faust, and have been very impressed. Then there are proto-punk
bands like MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, and I guess even the Velvet
Underground, all of whom I enjoy. Over the past year or so I've been
exploring some early blues music, and have come to like Son House and Blind
Willie McTell. I've never really tried to listen to music while writing,
but I have had experiences of paranoiac-critical listening, an adaptation
of Dali's Paranoiac-Critical Method, that have eventually been incorporated
into my writings. An example from Freels Comes Alive! is the uncertainty
between the phrase "slow demise" and the word "sodomize," an actual audio
hallucination I had while listening to some Goth band. I have plans of
experimenting further with paranoiac-critical listening, which can easily be
induced simply by playing a record backwards and, with the help of your
imagination, interpreting the reversed voice. I've been thinking about
putting together a small collection of poems created through this method,
possibly with a few Billie Holiday songs as my source sound.

Weren't you planning on going to some sort of art school soon? You really
want to be a lifelong student, don't you?

Around 96 or 97 I was accepted into the Pacific Northwest College of Art
with the intention of majoring in painting, but that summer, due to the
fascist-realist dictatorship of one of my previous instructors, I
lost all my interest in painting, which was no longer an activity of
exploration and play, but a technique for self-inducing migraines. Two weeks
before I would have started at PNCA I dropped out and enrolled at Portland
State University. Like most at the university I was uncertain of what the
hell I was doing there. Luckily I found the Art History department, and with
the support of one of my professors I was able to act on my unclear interest
in Dada and Surrealism, a mild curiosity that had developed after several
individuals used these terms to describe my first chapbook, Who the Hell is
Brandon Freels? So art school was merely a transitory possibility that I
rejected early. There is a possibility that I might return to school to
receive my Masters, possibly focusing on lesser-known revolutionary
avant-garde movements, but at this point I would rather not return to the
institution. It's been almost five years since I last painted.

What sort of involvement do you have with surrealist groups?

I've been communicating with English-speaking surrealists and others on
the periphery for sometime. Some of these individuals are from Canada,
Austria, and the United Kingdom, while others are from Texas, New York, and
Michigan. There is a small bunch of hooligans in Minnesota gathered around
the zine Blue Feathers that I've been in contact with since 97, and I
recently participated in a questionnaire distributed by the Chicago group,
the results of which appear in Race Traitor #13-4. There are also
English-speaking groups in Leeds, Stockholm, and Wisconsin, but
unfortunately I've had little or no contact with these groups. This summer I
participated with the founding of the Portland group. So far we've released
one notable tract, "Direct Action is Contagious," in support of Dignity
Village and against the city council's foul crusade for the transformation
of downtown Portland into an environment assembled for working, shopping,
and power washing. This month we collaborated with KBOO's Circle "A" Radio,
producing a special surrealist show that included readings of our own
poetry, music by several of our acquaintances, and a handful of our
proclamations. There's also a strong possibility that we may put out a zine
next year.

What do you look for in a woman?

Where I work there is a specific person that possesses a body that is
undeniably alluring in the typical sense, but the more I look at her the
more I find myself driven to her teeth, of which the two central incisors
seem extraordinarily obese. In retrospect, I think I've had this sort of
encounter before, with a certain individual whose contact determined much of
what appears in Freels Comes Alive! In this case I was, among other things,
fanatically directed to a crooked lateral incisor. You don't exactly have to
be looking for a spark to find it, and I can't say that I look for these
dental diversities, but rather that I stumble upon them casually. Of course,
these sensual enticements, which could be fetish related, vary from woman to
woman and in the past have included bouncy black hair, large thin hands,
petite toes, lavender fingernails, a distinct tone of brown skin, and once
even an elbow. Rather recently I found myself surprisingly impressed by the
slight revealing of leg hair peeking out around a friend's exposed ankle.
Beyond the physical notations I think it's correct to say that I like women
who are playfully mischievous, and possess a nice sense of black humor. I
tend to find submissive women entirely unappealing and nauseating, along
with irresponsible and cynical people in general.