Ben Lerner

Your interviews or blog posts or whatever are less supplements to your novel than part of it. I’m not private, but I believe in literary form – I’ll use my life as material for art (I don’t know how not to do this) and I’ll use art as a way of exploring that passage of life into art and vice versa, but that’s not the same thing as thinking that any of the details of my life are interesting or relevant on their own.

The strange thing about the apocalypse is that it’s uneven. For some people, it goes one way and for others another way, so that there’s always this shifting relation to the narrative of the disaster. Sometimes apocalypses are just structural fictions, and sometimes they’re real. Sometimes a narrative requires an end – the fact that the beginning was always leading somewhere becomes clear at the end. There’s an idea that we’re always in the middle, but we posit this apocalyptic end in order to also be able to project into the past or the beginning. I think that’s true and false.

I’m increasingly on the side of thinkers like David Graeber who are talking back to this notion of totality and emphasizing how there are all kinds of moments in our daily lives that break – or at least could break – from the logic of profit and the modes of domination it entails. Zones of freedom, even if it’s never pure.

When I was a kid and we played baseball we used to use that “eye black” stuff sometimes – that kind of grease you put under your eyes to reduce glare or something. We only used it, of course, to look cool; it’s not like we were any better prepubescent athletes for reducing glare.