Jason Squamata, 1001 Interviews No. 7

Jason Squamata is a Portland-based writer and spoken word artiste whose scribbling has appeared in Stealing Time magazine, Propeller magazine, the City of Weird anthology, and Hypno Komix.  He has performed in the Truth or Fiction series at the Funhouse, the Soft Show at the Blue Monk, SpaceTimeSpace at the ShoutHouse, and the Mark Savage MindMeld at the Jade Lounge.  Essays, fictions, comics, lyrics, dream diaries, and schizoid manifestos can be found at orakuloid.blogspot.com.  Recorded material can be accessed atsoundcloud.com/jason-squamata.  He currently writes psychotic erotica  under yet another alias.   His voice and mind are featured on two regular podcasts: THE CONVERSATION (w/Kanda Mbenza-Ngoma) and THE ORAKULOID.  Episodes are available through the usual vectors.

INTERVIEWER

What are you feeling?

SQUAMATA

A sketchy tranquility, a ragged majesty, a squamous sense of purpose.

Amongst other things.

And you?

INTERVIEWER

I heard a phrase today: lingshibaofojiao

“clutching the Buddha’s legs as the clock ticks down”

been feeling like that, maybe not Buddha–clutching at something tho

Do you feel a pressure to write? A pressure to share what you’ve discovered in dreams?

SQUAMATA

I feel a pressure to record it, to sacramentalize the experience and complete it by catching it in a collage of words and images, be it a dream or a memory or a speculation or an intuitive epiphany.  Sharing it isn’t a natural urge of mine, so I drive myself to do so, or get driven by others.

INTERVIEWER

What do you read?

SQUAMATA

Encyclopedias, mostly, and books germane to the universe I’m building at any given time. Some fiction, here and there, if it feeds the tone of the work at hand.

INTERVIEWER

What different forms of writing have you tried?

SQUAMATA

Comic book scripts, song lyrics, novels, short stories, performance pieces, dream diaries, screenplays, pornography, obsessive confessional essays,  film and TV reviews, deranged barrages of posting on facebook, rituals of various types, slices of memoir, literary criticism, love letters, hate letters, gonzo journalism, poetry.

INTERVIEWER

You seem to do a lot of collaborations. Why do you like them?

SQUAMATA

I’ve collaborated with artists on graphic novels because I love the comic script as a literary form and I love writing for the visual brainscape of someone whose eye I admire.  And because I don’t have the patience or ambition to draw the comics myself.  I could write three in the time it takes to draw one.  And there’s something nice and Warhol about writing poetic recipes for masterpieces that someone else has to draw.  I’d like to do more of that.  I’ve collaborated with musicians because I love smart and weird pop music (among other musics), and I think I generate some interesting lyrics and melodies, but I don’t play any instruments and I can’t really sing in a way that pleases me.  Theatrical and cinematic collaborations have mainly been in the service of friendship and respect for the vision and creativity of friends who are more into that sort of thing.

I liked ghostwriting because I had to warp the stuff of story for the strangest hollywood reasons, over and over again.  It became an act of surrealism.  Sometimes outside directives and prompts and limitations can create the circumstances for bizarre secret breakthroughs.

INTERVIEWER

What is Amerikan Zer0! ?

SQUAMATA

A comic book series I was working on with an east coast artist and dear friend named Andrew McKenzie.  Bits of it are viewable on my blog (orakuloid.blogspot.com).  The idea was to do an American James Bond, but his homicidal fascism, brainwashed brutality, and corporate corruption would be overt rather than implicit.  I wanted to turn the whole tapestry of millennial conspiracy theory into a playground for the darkest comedy I could imagine.  A nasty punk scifi spy opera.  The first arc spliced Columbine, MK-Ultra, 9/11, Burning Man, Operation paperclip, the assassination of Obama and his replacement with a robot duplicate, military industrial psychosis, the evils of Disneyland, and various other nightmare scenarios into vicious political pornography.  We did one issue.  The rest remains in outline form.  So many of the subtexts in it have become overt that I fear its moment may have passed.  If it ever had a moment.

INTERVIEWER

What is The Orakuloid?

SQUAMATA

The Orakuloid is a name I give to my OverSelf, the naked voice that comes through me when I attune myself to its frequency.  A character I play in my own miasmic memoir, I guess.  Also, it’s a job title.  A side-reely mobile executive psychopomp.

INTERVIEWER

The executive that makes demands of you?

SQUAMATA

His only demand is that I cease to exist so he can go about his business in my body.

I can manage that daily, give or take.

A sentient brand that eclipses my consciousness when I say a magic word.

INTERVIEWER

You can manage to cease to exist once a day without ceasing altogether?

SQUAMATA

Sadly, I always coalesce back into a Squamata shape when the rhapsodies have spent themelves.  But I always have tomorrow’s void to look forward to.

*themselves.  “themelves” was a jungian slip.

INTERVIEWER

What are dreams?

SQUAMATA

Journeys.  Messages.  Apotheosis.  Effluvium.  Collages of memory.  A necessary interface with Otherness.  A place where we forget our roles and retreat into our ramshackle palaces of memory, and through their basements enter the everywhen.

Or random synaptic tsunamis.

I guess I don’t know, really, but they’re my favorite part of living.

INTERVIEWER

What is the everywhen?

SQUAMATA

That place deep in the mind, beyond all bullshit, where we are conscious of space-time as an object without origin, doom, or duration, or an ocean all lines and boxes dissolve in, that space where everything that ever happened to us is happening all at once.  Accessible through dreams, drugs, cinema, music, love, poetry, weird sex, and, allegedly, various forms of meditation.

INTERVIEWER

Do you slip into a dream state when you write? Or do you transcribe your dreams?

SQUAMATA

I wake up with varying degrees of dream still alive in my head.  Sometimes I can scribble it directly before it dissolves.  Usually it’s a few images, bits of dialogue, vague happenings or presences.  Then I write down the dream, dreaming it again as I go.  It might not be the same dream.  But the fragments I catch are beats I can riff on and, of course, they attain a narrative logic more often than not now that the conscious mind is involved.  If there’s nothing left of the dream when I wake, I come up with some fragments at random and I fake it.  Within two weeks, I can’t tell the “real” dreams from the “fabricated” dreams.  Other kinds of writing demand a different kind of trance.

INTERVIEWER

From your piece, “Deep Inside Her Tulpa-Cluster.”

find it here: (http://orakuloid.blogspot.com/2012/09/orakuloid-dream-diary92712deep-inside.html)

“ There’s a feedback loop that comes on when you do lots of diving.  I’m always embedded in some kind of narrative, wherein I usually go diving into a deeper degree of narrative and feel a strange metabolic nostalgia for the diver I was in the level above. “

Do you go in and out of narratives when you’re not writing?

SQUAMATA

I’ve always felt that we all do, metaphorically, of course.  The different personas we assume, subtly tweaked or otherwise, consciously or otherwise, depending on which humans we’re with–there’s an implicit narrative in all of our personas, an implicit way of seeing.  And the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, how we remember things and how we choose to remember things.  More recently, I’ve been developing an unshakeable conviction that there is in fact nothing in the world but narrative and the matter that grows like moss when stories intersect.

INTERVIEWER

All the ‘physical world’ is a weaving of various narratives?

SQUAMATA

Your own cluster of narratives may or may not be enriched by such a context. Speaking from within my own cluster, I’d have to say, yes.  Definitely.  No question.

INTERVIEWER

I’ve heard creativity to you is a muscle. What do this mean to you?

SQUAMATA

I don’t remember ever saying such a thing to anyone, but I do talk lots of random shite, so who knows?  Perhaps I was referring to the Latin meaning of “muscle”, which is “little mouse”.  Creativity is a little mouse.  I like that much better.  As far as creativity and discipline go, I think every human being is endlessly creative.  We’re making a universe out of a storm of wavelengths all the time, to the point where it actually hurts if we bump into it.  If we can burn off some of culture’s inhibitive templates, or if we’re born broken and aspire to career in the arts, we can rewire that apparatus and make whatever narrative we like, in trance states or otherwise, on paper or otherwise.  If I said in reference to writing, yes.  I’m macho like that.  I need to do it every day.  Not because the mind will get flabby.  But because it’s a place to be strange and holy.  A place to be fucked up and honest.  A magick place, and the only strife I know comes from the world outside the scribble.  The scribble soothes.  The scribble purifies.

INTERVIEWER

“We’re making a universe out of a storm of wavelengths all the time, to the point where it actually hurts if we bump into it.” What do you mean?

Or, how does it hurt? I mean.

SQUAMATA

How do I put this?…I don’t think any of this is real, Bobby.

But we invest belief in our narratives so deeply that we can die inside them.

INTERVIEWER

We’re in one ‘reality’ now. It’s not necessarily The reality or real at all. If we dip too far into any one reality, we divest from the others and our connection to them dies?

Or we take up root in one particular reality and live out our existence until we die?

SQUAMATA

Do you ever dream un-lucidly, reacting to everything in a strange location as if you know it well, as if you have a history there?

INTERVIEWER

Yes.

SQUAMATA

All we ever have is a moment and a cloud of speculations.

I don’t know that we ever get all that rooted in a particular “reality”.  Or at least I don’t think I do.

Maybe this is a dream where I think that.

I’ll no doubt think differently when I wake up into another dream.

INTERVIEWER

How does the scribble purify?

SQUAMATA

It turns memory and yearning and shame and human mystery into a kind of music.  Scribbling without stopping until the bell rings means you can step aside and let your shadow do the scribbling for you.  If you move on and return to those pages later, you’re bound to be surprised.

INTERVIEWER

Kind of like automatic writing? Like the surrealists?

SQUAMATA

A bit like the surrealists, more in the Daliesque paranoid critical sense than the Bretonian immaculate conception sense, a bit like the Beats maybe, spontaneous bop prosody or he Burroughsian routine.  More Beatish in the sense that there is a target or a jewel center of interest.  I can riff on an image or an encyclopedia entry or a plot point or a scene or a character or a dream, take pictures of it from every angle and collage them.  The first draft of everything is a screaming collage.

But lately I’ve been blowing my Orakulism through the valves of a robot with mutable vectors.  She can aim my Orakulism at multiple dramatic macrostructures, archetypes, and primordial situations.

For maximum reader enjoyment.

INTERVIEWER

A robot with mutable vectors. Would that be a… laptop?

SQUAMATA

No.  The laptop comes later.  First, I interface in twelve sacred stages with the Glissando Spektrola.

INTERVIEWER

What is a Glissando Spektrola?

SQUAMATA

A process.  An instrument.  A robot friend.  A game through which to live the path of The Orakuloid.

INTERVIEWER

A kind of internal robot?

SQUAMATA

Most of it’s internal.  But there is a big stack of index cards involved.  Covered with glyphs and inky codes.  The machineries bloom in the relationship between cards and mind and scribble.

INTERVIEWER

Is the Orakuloid a benevolent employer? Or do you ever go on strike? Do you ever resent the Orakuloid?

SQUAMATA

The Orakuloid is who I am when I’m scribbling.  The Voice incarnate.  I’m just a shabby suit the Orakuloid is wearing.  I live a superficially ordinary life so I can provide a space within which he can eat me.

INTERVIEWER

Do you do anything during the day, any sort of preparation, cultivation, to ensure that you dream at night?

SQUAMATA

Not really.  The dreaming will happen anyway.  If I can’t remember any of it, I trust myself to make some shit up to meet the daily dream quota.

And I try to dream as much throughout the day, awake or asleep, as possible.

INTERVIEWER

You performed in the most recent Mindmeld with Mark at the Jade Lounge. You read us some of your dreams. You read four or so dreams and finished with a dream, asking us to question our present reality. It was effective because you’d broken so many walls between our present reality and the scenes you’d brought us into. How? How’d you bring us into your dreams? I felt like I got lost in something totally outside of the present context. One of the most immersive performances I’ve seen. I guess I don’t have a question. Just: Holy Shit.

SQUAMATA

It’s really thrilling to hear that.  Thank you, man.  I was so unsure about how that went over.  Most of my public performances have been in the confessional/sleazy pulp raconteur stand-up comedy vein.  I’ve been compiling this dream material for years, but I’m never sure if I’m asking too much of a stranger to meet me halfway and invest emotion in someone else’s dream.  I love authentically oneiric dream books myself, but they’re usually by a writer I know about.  I know the flavor of their head spaces and I can follow the skeins of their biography through the dream material.  But I worry that it’s annoying to ask a club to sit still and listen to a bunch of things that didn’t happen while I slept.  I’m glad you were feeling it.

INTERVIEWER

Who is Anima Monday?

SQUAMATA

My female shadow, composed of the pieces of me that can’t be seen, which means most of me.  A ghost lover, a sidekick, a dream teacher, a spirit guide, an evil twin, a guardian angel.  Her name is a sassy slant on Anima Mundi.  The soul of the world.  She’s who I am in a dress when I’m all alone and yet never less so.  She’s who I’ll be after I die, before the next game.

INTERVIEWER

You’ve said Jason Squamata chose a ‘crooked path.’

SQUAMATA

From bleak and harmless Boston suburbs and cemeteries to New York City in the 1990s, from raves and chaos magic and psychic youth back to Boston and student films and half-assed bohemian media consumption, from living the lamest lie to Los Angeles, city of reptile style and demon screens, desperation in Inglewood and the road again back to Boston.  Bigger magic.  Witch houses and writing comics.  From thence to San Francisco, living like a supervillain, fetish culture and ceaseless mutation and UFO abductions every weekend.  From SF science fiction to Portland’s gritty twee, a crash into the concrete of consensus reality that I have only just recovered from.  Those are the major locales.  I won’t go into the detours.

INTERVIEWER

“Just a few more hours now. Saying goodbye to things. Taking note of modern moments. It’s a different Earth I’ll be coming back to, in some way, shape, or form.” How was your trip?

SQUAMATA

That particular trip was one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me.  I did lots of research en route, but the maps and accounts of others can in no way prepare you for some experiences.  They can only insulate you from the terror fleetingly before the floor falls away and you are suddenly in a place beyond the reach of human psychology.  It did put my affairs in order, in some ways.  It reminded me that none of us know anything.  And I will be going back there.  Soonly and frequently.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have any recurring dreams?

SQUAMATA

There’s one I had for three weeks straight when I was six years old, about a globule of green jelly in my brain, vibrating, making the strangest sound, trying to communicate something urgent in a language I couldn’t understand.  I get echoes of it in other dreams, even to this day.  And the first time I took a serious dose of LSD, the whole world was making that sound.  Characters recur a lot, and settings, but there are very few that repeat beat for beat.

INTERVIEWER

Are there any dreams that haunt you?

SQUAMATA

Dreams of lovers that I miss and dreams of love affairs with people I barely I know and dreams of a symbiotic life spent blissfully with someone I’ve never met on this side of the veil, someone I saw in passing or have yet to see.

INTERVIEWER

What is your favorite dream you’ve had?

SQUAMATA

It’s rude to rate them.  I like them all.  The one I’m having right now isn’t bad. Interview dreams are delicious.

INTERVIEWER

Is there any dream you’re waiting for or expect?

SQUAMATA

Sooner or later, I’ll dream that I’m waking up from this dream.  All the things I think I know will dissipate as I rise and do the ordinary things of a different life in a different dream.  I expect to wake from that one, too.  And so on.  Ad infinitum.  Amen.

Interviewed by Bobby Eversmann

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