Interview with C.J. Christine
June 2, 2022
MM) F20 Grail 12 is beyond literature. C.J. Christine is a package deal. She makes music, she’s very sharp with art, fashion, design. She’s witty and knows stuff you don’t. I use the third person here because you’ve a few times talked about how writers only care about their writing, not the whole character or gestalt of what they are. The bit, so to speak. Your book has poetry that reads like rap lyrics, or jokes, pictures that look like poems, etc. As a singular reading experience, I’m in awe. Tell me about the process of writing it. What does the title mean?
CJC) The title is supposed to be an algorithmically generated title. I dislike futurism for its plain sake and am deeply opposed to its aesthetics outside of fashion.. Gaga. I had a boyfriend who would call me “little luddite” At the time I didn’t even know what a luddite was or meant… but it’s actually a derogatory term used to describe someone in opposition to advances in technology or means of working.
Quick history lesson 4 u… the term derived in the 19th century… Britain.. the luddites basically evolved into a secret sworn by oath organization that was able to completely eradicate the encompassing textile machine industry simply bc of their divine prowess and factions of extreme dedication to craftsmanship. The term, being used still, by my ex bf, and snobby fools who loathe OG lordship and outsider art. I’m, no doubt, a modern luddite without 0 ado.
Anyway, yeah F20 (the title) can be a reference to a secret cheat code, or a computer error message; two technological experiences that I believe evoke and possess heavy mystery…the mystery that lies in anything that’s secret or protected by oath… like the luddites or special mercenaries.. the knights templar, freemasons etc. That’s why I support labor unions so much. Their mission statements alone are the inscriptions of everything that accelerates change within a society. A secret passage must always be carved for any substantial progress to materialize, even more so in a world conscripted with so much retardization. Video game lore is super up to date if you need to know your history.
My writing process is entirely cluster b. It’s basically the one thing I realize I have no control over. I don’t even write it… I just let the Norns take the wheel. Ha. But I do like to envision the book as being a (secret) right of (passage)… or like a diary for someone permanently trapped on their smartphone or computer. I had a friend in high school named Kevin, who used to make DMT in his house. His entire fridge and freezer was stock piled with lye… the chemical used to make DMT. Anyway, one day he completely lost it. I’m not really sure if he was doing the DMT in heavy amounts or if he mixed one of the batches wrong or what… but whatever it was he got stuck. He quit answering his phone and no one could get in touch with him for days. He was making all these crazy Facebook posts, warning his friends to forfeit their accounts so they wouldn’t end up like him… saying he had seen what’s to come but it was too late for him and he couldn’t escape, shit like that. He was literally in shackles, chained to his computer, most likely possessed with some sort of demon spirit.. but still felt it his duty to become a crusader and warn us about whatever deity he had encountered that was all consuming; and clearly what he presumed to have more power than our species.
My boyfriend at the time, whose since passed.. RIP Luke Taylor.. went to check on him and apparently he wouldn’t talk, he was completely mute still staring at his computer screen…continuing to write those damned facebook posts…. I wish I could get ahold of them somehow but you know I obviously listened to Kevin’s premonitions and deleted my account.. still no Facebook till this day although I have Instagram now which is technically the same thing. From that time in my life, I have 0 mementos; no photos or anything…maybe some printed out prom pics, but that’s it. Kevin apparently was forced on anti-psychotics. Not sure how he’s doing but I have to attribute a lot of my inspiration for F20 to him. Despite his suffering, I think the majority of schizophrenics should instead be diagnosed with supreme supernatural powers such as clairvoyance and the ability to telepathize with angels.
MM) What inspired you to make ASCII art in particular to accompany this?
CJC) My intention was to make a book of poems but since it is my first publication, I wanted to enhance its readability. And since the infantilization rates are up for adults, and children no longer know how to read, I thought it an interesting experiment to include drawings throughout the book. I chose ASCII because I’m nostalgic for a simpler computer era and I prefer its history in contrast to other drawing styles. One day perhaps if I ever have a real house and some extra cash I’d like to have a room dedicated to old computers, the ones that barely even have internet browser access. Maybe even keep them like pets, give them names and stuff.
I think the ASCII being in many ways the first meme, before emojis etc. or the ability to go online and hunt down computer graphics, ASCII was the only tool that could be used on email servers and the like to communicate language via image expression. In this book, ASCII is meant to read as poetry, to fill in and create a juxtaposition to where the text alone might have previously formed only a singular element. I think the drawings in combination with the classical text standard helps to form a visual cue for what could be perceived as otherwise unexplored text. #Future#Nostalgia. I guess the book is sort of meant to be read like an email server draft, message, or chain.
MM) What do you think of Hunter S. Thompson and gonzo, ambushy, confrontational art? You’re both from Louisville, Kentucky. What was it like for you growing up in the south?
CJC) I love confrontation. I think it does the people well. I think more people should get their asses kicked. I believe in knife fights and murder, drug addiction for the people. I hate entitlement and I preach sovereignty. Hunter S. Thompson is a lord and I commend him for everything he’s done in the face of literature and journalism as a method not to the madness but for communicating its special power and giving it a platform to fight evil spirits in the news and media distribution services.F20 is definitely pro-confrontation and pro-insanity.
My family is originally from Kentucky, mostly from a small town called Lawrenceburg, but I lived in the city primarily, Louisville, yeah, where Thompson is from. I also grew up in many parts of the South… South Florida for one and with my foster family, in some fucked up parts of Texas outside of Dallas. Growing up for me was very unstable. I was in something like 11 different schools, I would start the school years late often times. I moved around a lot, I never knew what I had to prepare for most years but even so, I had to assimilate. I moved back and forth between Florida and Kentucky a lot. The longest I’d ever got to stay in one place I think was during High School…in Louisville, where I lived with my Granny for 4 years. But yeah, I wouldn’t wish for that sort of upbringing on any child. It’s incredibly unnatural and it’s caused me a lot of problems in my adult life.
MM) What do you think of religion?
CJC) Recently, I’m more into Norse mythology than religion. But I like eastern religion best fundamentally. Buddhism, although not technically a religion, is cool. I like people who worship dogs, shit like that. I grew up with all types of religion in my homes as a kid. Eastern books mainly. They got into Kabbalah for a sec. My mom n step dad. My mother, who primarily raised me, was an atheist but she always found ways to put me in Christian schooling. Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, you name it. For three years, I went to mass three times a week.
I make multiple references to Christianity in F20 primarily because my character arch summoned it and I was also really devoted to prayer at the time. It’s always just been something I knew about and have used to my advantage during darker spells. But at the end of the day, I don’t think larping as having an affinity for religion is alluring at all.. I find it in its entirety to be sacrilegious and just plain blasphemous.
Starting with my grandparents who were of age, my family all grew up in the Children of God. I was born into it very young. I don’t take Cult shit lightly or really even understand the concept of religion as satire, or by a meme or trend given the history of its abuse. There shouldn’t be anything trendy about being a Christian or a Wiccan or an Odinist or whatever. Your beliefs are yours and you deserve to share them but you can’t sell that shit on a t-shirt. I mean, hell, you might get a stain on it… Remember, the Japanese were able to set fire to the Christians, let them roast on spits like little piglets, tie them up and wait three entire days for them to drown at sea, but they could never take away their faith. And I think that stain on your little Prayer t-shirt there, might have just killed my faith in you… as an autonomous being… 🙁
MM) What do you think of Dolly Parton?
CJC) Blondes literally HAVE. more. FUN. Outside of that, I think she’s rad and I have no ill opinions of her. I’ve cried watching her sing and talk but that’s not saying much since I cry at pretty much anything that doesn’t require tears and laugh at just about everything else. Oh, and I think cliches are tried and true methods worth adopting and propagating, contained in the zeitgeist like messages in bottles. Dollywood, baby.
MM) You’ve referenced rap music before, kind of tongue-in-cheek but I feel there’s some truth to this, that modern poetry is toothless compared to rap. What can writers learn from rappers?
CJC) Writers can’t learn anything except how to stop being writers and start becoming plumbers. But that goes for most people pursuing art, or anything immensely rooted in self interest. What can I say? I should have been a cop. Who takes their own advice?
Camille Paglia I believe said this before me, regarding rap > more conventional, now somewhat being perceived as dated methods of delivery for writers in general… I’m not sure how far she delved into this subject but the preface is certainly a worthy insight.
I mean it really all just comes back to Plato.. full circle. He’s my G.. my fave philo dude. I don’t give a f*** about the others. If plato could rap… holy shit. Literally. I too, like Plato, fear the written word.
But, yeah, I think in order to hit double-quadruple-triple-
MM) As an act of iconoclasm, F20 Grail 12 does a little flying in the face of the ideal of America’s sweetheart, girl next door, baddie plutonium Barbie platinum bombshell image and southern-mannered dialect and vernacular you’re working with. There’s also some poems which are highly cryptic and stirring, poems that seem bored with themselves, poems which are dead serious. First, what is the ideal woman and the ideal man? Is there something to be said about classic, to a degree fictive, feminine archetypes such as the flapper or the femme fatale? Are they timeless? Have they evolved? What is it about these symbols that attract or move you as an artist?
CJC) First of all, I hate flappers. Worst style ever. I genuinely don’t feel moved by any of these symbols and I find them all rather unfortunate and un-evolved. I mean that in the sense that every woman now is technically a flapper and every song on the radio that is sung by a female has lyrics devoted to taking someone’s man or something of that context. And this “pop” simulation is what I suppose could be perceived as the modern equivalent to the “femme fatale.” In regards to the roles of men and women I find it all truly subjective just like whatever floats your boat. I think the ideal man or woman can be present in all forms, for some people it’s completely nonsexual or without gender. But I’ve been attracted to all different types, some I probably shouldn’t have been for reasons entirely devoted to biology. But yeah, people are primarily fucking disgusting and I have absolutely no interest in meddling or forming any speculation to or about anybody’s private roleplaying fantasies. But for me, I like men because I’m straight as hell…I won’t even let women touch me at the strip club. My thoughts on anyone whose “with the shits” or whatever is actually just that they’re fucking gay and that’s OK.
Let them be Gay! – Cj Christine
MM) How do we make literature great again? In all seriousness, we’re all freefalling and there’s no upward mobility. Readership is down. It’s cool again now. So what?
CJC) I personally don’t believe anything should be commended as great without some serious hesitation, however, I think these days, the markets for all things are nonetheless, oversaturated. It’s a sad reality. I mean it’s nice that people feel like they have a means to self expression but they’re certainly not entitled to it. This is the first time in history where peasants can deem themselves as supposed kings and feast from the same plates as the ruling echelons. It really all comes down to technology again. The time we live in now, it’s also a bizarre parallel to the roaring twenties, you know the heyday before The Great Depression… so it is what you make it. I think our jobs as connoisseurs / sommeliers of taste are just to find the pockets of sunshine in between the chunks of garbage and plastic manufacturers… the glow-in-the-dark vinyl coated sheets in the print shop past dark, if you know what I mean. I think one of the biggest problems we face now is “Stan” culture. That’s probably to our detriment. The roaring twenties.. an increase in inebriation.. a lot of not giving a fuck.. woohoo anything goes attitude.. and all of a sudden, you blink, and that’s where you’re headed, straight off the edge. I personally just wish more people would shut the fuck up, stop being horrible at everything and leave this stuff to the professionals. (hahaah XD)
MM) Who are some of your favorite artists?
CJC) Artist… An outmoded term used to describe the most deplorable stereotypes. It can be used sort of overarching in reference to some really stupid people I loathe and want no connection to but it can also be used to describe some really special individuals who have changed and are continuing to change the world in new and exemplary ways.
But, yeah. Truman Capote is probably my favorite author. I like Andy Warhol. I like a lot of gay authors strangely. I find that happens a lot with musical artists as well. Gay or Trans, the third sex or whatever, they’re clearly in connection to something I’m not and possess capabilities or a connection to some otherworldliness beyond my understanding. I recently started exploring the works of the author William Vollmann, whom I am fond of, however Michele Houellbecq is probably my true literary hero of the 21st century.
I’m in absolute awe of the writings of Lark Vorhees from Saved By the Bell. She has this one thing published; Trek of the Cheshire, an absolutely revolutionary writing. style… she. carries. Trek. Cheshire. I’ve been getting into a lot of these untapped Southern authors… older stuff, with their focus being primarily on short stories. Basically, hmm. Mary Maclane, this 19 year old coming of age in the early 20th century living in Butte, Montana. She cool.
Basically, I like to read the works of many different people but most of the characters or voices you’ll find in my writing practice are based on real people I’ve been close to or have gotten to know in passing (some of which are a culmination of multiple people I’ve known that somehow end up getting attached to a singular identity) but most of my concrete inspiration is formed through life experience and true events.
Uh, outside of writing, I’m really fond of the painter, Brook Hsu. She’s really as real as they come and her work reaches far beyond this generation. She’s one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and I think she’ll be one of the few artists of our generation to be recognized historically.
But if I had to pick my truly favorite artist, which I think should be described as the way that someone lives their life and not necessarily what they do for a living, it would probably be my mother (another cliché for a girl.) But my mother lives in a tent down by the river. Didn’t they say life imitates art or is that just what life is. #art. But, she’s the reason I am everything I am today, and I attribute everything I’ve become to her.
MM) How do you feel about America?
CJC) Ronald Reagan ruined our country but I think it’s blossoming.
MM) What’s next for you? Are you working on a new idea?
CJC) LeT;s juS say I’m going 2 be tha 1st popstar writer. (British accent) Hahahahahahaahaa, Yaaaa <33