The Next Big Thing

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Caryl Pagel Thank you to Adam Fell for asking me to follow his NBT interview (about the forthcoming Dear Corporation, out from H_NG M_N next fall) with my “Next Big Thing” thing.

What is the working title of the book?

Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death

Where did the idea come from for the book?

“Rationalism insists that all our beliefs ought ultimately to find for themselves articulate grounds. Such grounds, for rationalism, must consist of four things: (1) definitely statable abstract principles; (2) definite facts of sensation; (3) definite hypotheses based on such facts; and (4) definite inferences logically drawn. Vague impressions of something indefinable have no place in the rationalistic system, which on its positive side is surely a splendid intellectual tendency, for not only are all our philosophies fruits of it, but physical science (amongst other good things) is its result.

Nevertheless, if we look on man’s whole mental life as it exists, on the life of men that lies in them apart from their learning and science, and that they inwardly and privately follow, we have to confess that the part of it of which rationalism can give an account is relatively superficial. It is the part that has the prestige undoubtedly, for it has the loquacity, it can challenge you for proofs, and chop logic, and put you down with words. But it will fail to convince or convert you all the same, if your dumb intuitions are opposed to its conclusions. If you have intuitions at all, they come from a deeper level of your nature than the loquacious level which rationalism inhabits. Your whole subconscious life, your impulses, your faiths, your needs, your divinations, have prepared the premises, of which your consciousness now feels the weight of the result; and something in you absolutely KNOWS that that result must be truer than any logic-chopping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may contradict it.”

(From William James’ “The Reality of the Unseen”)

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry, Mythology, Index, Fable, Science, Elegy.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Javi González as The New Holland Mouse in “Common Plant & Animal Names (Existing & Not Existing.”

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Experience is not enough.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

4 or 5 years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

These lettersthis roomthis poetthis filmthis bookthis bookthis bookthis articlehimhimherthis bookthis photothis eventthis barthis museumherherthese pageshere.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The cover painting—skull, deer, plants, lace, bones and all—is by a brilliant Milwaukee artist (and recent MIAD grad), Katie Batten. Isn’t it lovely?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published by Factory Hollow Press.