A Conversation with bibles on The Better Face of Fascism – Scott Litts
March 2, 2020
The Better Face of Fascism is an exceptionally honest book. The author, bibles, is unapologetically transparent— a transparency maybe best achieved through anonymity. Everything from manic ecstasy to self-loathing depravity, megalomania to helplessness, is explored through his meandering journey. Inspired by the idea of Currentivism, which capitalizes on the speed of technology to collapse the space between the artist and their audience, bibles’ style is one of intimacy and immediacy. It’s a hyper-aware stream-of-consciousness, complete with the absurd non-sequiturs of intrusive thoughts, the obscenities of a brash inner-monologue, and the self-mythologizing we’re all guilty of but hate to say out loud.
The book is, on its face, an extensive recording of a soon-to-be parent’s life as he and his wife prepare to bring a child into the world. It’s the viscera of all the change and upheaval such a colossal event entails. With life bearing down and threatening parts of him that have long been crucial to his identity, the writing itself takes on a therapeutic quality as an exercise of catharsis and consolation. It becomes a cyclical process of rumination, critique and untangling.
Consequently it’s also an exploration of artistic creation, particularly creation under numerous constraints— increasing responsibility, financial strains and, of course, a lack of time. The process is dissected and examined, questioned and answered again and again, sometimes hesitantly, other times with absolute, unflinching conviction. If you’ve dedicated significant time and energy to an artistic pursuit, the anxieties dredged up will be familiar, if uncomfortable at times. Likewise, the highs will remind you why you pursued such a thing in the first place.
But this isn’t to say it’s a self-serious, humorless narrative. bibles’ often flippant attitude in his day-to-day interactions has an absurd, playful quality to it. He’s all too aware of the gulf between him, a neurotic, extremely-online writer, and the comparably conservative citizenry of his suburban Utah. His own exhaustion at the mundanities necessary to life make his writing all the more necessary as he navigates his own addictions, failures, successes and progress in graphic detail.
To read this book is to come to know bibles and all his idiosyncrasies, neuroses, fixations and fantasies, and to maybe further understand your own in response. As bibles illustrates such a complete picture of himself you will inevitably see pieces of yourself— strange pieces, essential pieces, maybe lost or rejected pieces. It’s part Eraserhead, part Notes from Underground, but most of all it’s an urgent, hard to categorize work that feels compulsory and imperative to the author’s understanding of himself and the people around him. The product is a fascinating, in-depth account of chaotic growth that will leave a part of bibles with you whether you like it or not.
I reached out to bibles, who was kind enough to answer a few questions and tell me a bit about the book and the writing process.
S: When you were writing this book did you have a sense of yearning for structure? The life you portray is sort of reluctantly structured, but you seem bored by it.
B: That’s a good analysis. I wanted the natural essence of life to find the structure. I was yearning for the narrative strings of life to become the beams of the book.
S: Interesting, that’s what I like about autofiction. I think it mimics the way we process our own lives. So given this is such a personal book, do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do with it, and was it a therapeutic/cathartic process for you?
B: It was therapeutic. I consider myself a catharsis writer. I did get what I wanted out of it, but it has left me hollowed out in some way. I’m hoping that it will hold me off through the drought of time I have found myself in as a result of the situations concluded in the book. In a sense, the production of the book is a betrayal of the writing itself.
S: How so?
B: So much of the book’s subject is the unnecessary nature of itself. Writing stands alone. When you produce a book, you are sacrificing time from writing to create the product. You have to listen to your publisher, etc. whose money you’re working under. They’re going to try and make a return from you. It’s an unnecessary expense. I appreciate the book. Don’t get me wrong. Writers lose something when they make books though, and they no longer have to now that the internet exists.
S: So do you think there’s a significant difference between writing a book under few to no constraints and writing on the internet, like via telegram the way you do? Like there’s something lost in the book, or not worth it?
B: Something lost and gained. Like I said, I appreciate the book. I love books. I think that they should be special. There are so many out and coming out. They can catch the essence of writing online, but it takes expert editing and publishing. It’s not just telegram. It’s this, between you and me. I’m on my phone. I have a piece of pizza in one hand. I had to escape my job. I’m in the parking lot of a restaurant that doesn’t serve the food I’m eating. Some people, myself included, can do great things with editing. There’s so little time though, and an endless number of editors to come.
This isn’t how I want to be coming to you, answering vital questions about my legacy, etc. I want to be at my computer, going fast, at the speed of thought. But I live under many constrictions at the moment. There’s so much unknown to me. The typos are smoothing out, the grammar becoming clearer, like we caught back onto the station. Just a blip. Right here, and it could be the last.
S: So it sounds like this all relates back to Currentivism. I think I have a pretty good grasp based on your explanations in the book and online, but could you tell me a little bit about it? And maybe about the role the internet plays in it since it seems pretty crucial.
B: It’s about getting rid of some of the falseness that is manufactured in literature. Hours spent trying to seem natural. It’s about untangling life. Wherever that is, even if it’s in fiction. It’s a breaking of the rules. Like, something you can only do now that you couldn’t do previously. Publishing takes forever. Even with lit mags. Writing already takes enough time away from the writer. So much attention. It throws me into such fugues.
S: So would you characterize your work as in a way confessional? Or maybe autofiction?
B: Yes. It’s both of those things. I grew up getting a religious thrill from confessing. There was salvation in the act. Autofiction helps me get closer to god as well. I like the way that the narrative reveals itself. Choices are presented like [BR] Yeager was talking about. I’m supposed to be a better person after the writing, but it hasn’t much worked out that way for me. However, I am allowed to continue playing in my imagination. The job I’m at is a challenge. A case. There’s an undercurrent to everything. In a way, it’s like mining for my personal truth. A personal truth that is larger than myself.
S: Ah the religious aspect is an interesting point of context. I didn’t necessarily pick up on that in the book. You do reference and at times praise God, but it seems pretty casual. So you’re a practicing worshipper?
B: Practicing, I suppose, in my writing. Art is my religion as much as it is that I’m looking for God in life. Art, or writing, in this particular sense of me, is my way of trying to find the god of it all. I’d say that the Latter Day Saints have lost their way. Am I against multiple wives? No. Do I have the strength of courage to have them? No.
S: You grew up in a LDS environment I’m assuming? The book does take place in Utah.
B: Yes, this is true. My mother and father are also Utah mormons. My sister and her husband are mormons, and they all love Trump. The Republican party has become the new church, and it tears us apart that I like the Jesus that is Bernie Sanders.
S: You mention Trump in the book a few times in a sort of anxious tone. Was he a consistent source of anxiety in your life while you were writing this? Or at least the effect the phenomenon of his presidency had on the people around you?
B: I will admit that my family is stupid for supporting him. I won’t say that I don’t find the whole thing entertaining. I’m of split personalities. The Better Face of Fascism is someone more like Putin, but I’m not here to judge. A person could say that it’s me for the art of it that I’m making. It’s what really gets left behind with all of the Jewish deaths and global domination. We were trying to flip the earth on its head, and look at what it amounted to. Trump is more like Mussolini— the better face of fascism. Someone to keep us from blooming utter, gross cruelties through the grasping for the freedoms of our fantasies.
S: Throughout the book you refer to your audience and the sort of debt or obligation you have to them. I understand that much of your writing is done for yourself, like you said, as a way to get closer to God and sort of unfurl your life. Is there any specific intention you hope your work has on your audience, or any particular ideas you hope to engage them with?
B: Yes. I do hope that people like the book. I hope that it hits a chord with the audience. As an author, I try to write what I want to read; I know that there are at least one or two other people out there who feel something like what I feel writing it when they read it. As a writer, I have a testing relationship with my audience. The audience is truly very small. God willing, I am allowed to get more personal than the book allows. This goes back to answer that last question. I’d say that the sequel is alive here in this interview. The struggle of having a child. She’s two now. The book is something like that old as well. We’re in it, you and me, and whoever reads this and reaches out to me is in it. I’m working to smatter past it. I need salvation. I don’t know if I can achieve it without the audience. I have said elsewhere, perhaps not in that book, that the audience is God. It’s the voice outside of yourself. It’s the peanut gallery. It’s the trusted advisor. The fairy godmother. A comrade in the battle against whatever the antagonizing force is that we’re at war with. I hope to bring people into the struggle through my work. I enjoy the way that my writing affects other people’s writing. I am a jungle carver out in the dark, moist wilderness. There are Darwins all around, white towering their way into successful careers. There is such madness out here, but there are these lights of love who come to you like volleyball friends to Tom Hanks’ castaway. They become characters in the book, whether they want to or not. It can wreck relationships, but I’ve always seen authors as having the potential to be counselors, guides, etc. I find I have that sort of an effect on my audience. They tend to care for me. Empathize with me. Through this though, they are able to find liberation. That’s what I’m hunting for. I need them and they can use me. We’re not out here simply for our careers. We are looking for liberation. The great treasure in the unexplored.
S: I find that in my life people who are truly dedicated to their art, the ones that stick with it over their life, have similar justifications for their work, that it’s their own searching that they’re concerned with and everything else is secondary. This feels like a nice, conclusive note to end on. Do you have anything else in mind that you’d like to add?
B: I think that it’s pretty good. We covered a lot of ground.
S: Yeah we went in a lot of interesting directions, thanks for chatting. I always like to hear about the way people work and more importantly why they work.
You can find bibles’ The Better Face of Fascism at ExPatPress.com