The Questionless Books Interview: Stranded Astronaut and Poet Christian Bök

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The Questionless Books Interview: Stranded Astronaut and Poet Christian Bök

Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, The Questionless Books Interview gets a host of lit-types (authors, editors, publishers, publicists, designers, booksellerss, readers, bloggers, journalists, etc.) to finish a bunch of statements about the state of literature and the "future of books".

Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a ’pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut, and ’Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science (Northwestern University Press, 2001). His book Eunoia won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize and is the best-selling Canadian poetry book of all time. Bök has created artificial languages for Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley’s Amazon. His conceptual artwork has appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. He currently teaches at the University of Calgary.

Christian's Books:

Eunoia
Crystallography
'Pataphysics

Christian's Links:

Twitter

I am...
a stranded astronaut--but I would prefer to be a time traveller from the future.

I am known to...
write poems by genetically engineering a surreal species of unkillable bacterium.

I do this in...
the hope of writing a book that might be on the planet when the sun explodes.

I do this because...
no other poet seems to be willing to write this kind of insane poetry on my behalf.

I do this when I...
can get free access to supercomputers capable of simulating the folding of proteins.

The way I do this is...
greeted with skepticism by fellow poets who speculate about my planet of origin.

At its core, a *Writer* is...
a kind of stenographer who simply recopies books unshelved in the Library of Babel.

As opposed to an *Author*, who is...
a thief, known to check out books from the Library of Babel without returning them.

A *Writer* is responsible for...
permuting letters in the genomes of literature so that some new species might evolve.

As opposed to an *Author*, who is responsible for...
ensconcing a monoculture dominated by the predatory behaviour of only one gene.

At its core, *Publishing* is...
an act that almost all writers probably do long before it ever really needs to be done.

As opposed to *Editing*, which is...
an act that almost all writers think occurs after the act of writing rather than before it.

A *Publisher *should always...
publish my work on the understanding that I probably know best why I do what I do.

As opposed to an *Editor*, who should always...
suffer from an overweaning, obsessive compulsion to detect mutations in my text.

A *Manuscript* ready to be read by others is...
probably going to be announced on Facebook in the hope that at least twenty friends are going to hit the "Like" button in support of such a boondoggle.

As opposed to a *Book *that's ready to be ready by others, which is...
a perfectly machined cube of titanium, slowly melting in the blast furnace of culture.

A *Manuscript *should always...
be neatly printed in capital letters on lined paper with a black crayon by monkeys.

As opposed to a *Book*, which should always...
be worthy of being recorded on a gold record and then fired off into outer space.

At its core, *Bookselling* is...
like purveying astrolabes to astronauts, long after the rockets have left the planet.

As opposed to *Book Marketing*, which is...
the act of insisting that you really do need astrolabes, "'cause they're good for you."

The smallest unit of narrative is...
the "if-then" conditional statement, followed by the query: "what happens next?"

To be a *Book* a thing must be...
a living repository of information capable of inciting other life to become a book.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...
that my books might be in it, and yours might not be—(unless, of course, the reverse is true, in which case I might have far more reason to fear the future than you do...).

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...
that, for most of us, it is the only place where we can go to find out what happens next.

In the future we will all...
be reading stuff written by robots, whom we judge for the merits of their disobedience.

At his/her core, a *Reader* is...
a phantasm of the poet, who must maintain such a grandiose delusion in order to live.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website Bookninja.com.

Go to George Murray’s Author Page