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‘TASCAM_0189.wav’ Text by Sarah Tripp. Semi-Gloss, Semi-Permeable

  • Posted on: April 14th, 2016
  • By James McLardy

TASCAM_0189.wav

“When your friend suggested that you interview me, did he mention how we know each other? Did he tell you that he himself participated in the ‘scenario’? Obviously not. You know that I don’t really know him. I knew of him before we—I was surprised he put you in touch with me. Perhaps he glossed over the details. I suppose he must have told you something to pique your curiosity or you wouldn’t be here right now.”
Q.
“I wouldn’t describe the scenario as foreplay.”
Q.
“In reality the scenario rarely goes anywhere and never guarantees sex.”
Q.
“That depends entirely what you mean by ‘sexual’. To be honest, I’m not interested in what I think you’re referring to. Maybe I’m assuming too much. What does the word mean to you?”
Q.
“I asked first.”
Q.
“I can’t speak for everybody. I imagine that whatever the dictionary says will be the antithesis of what I mean. Hold on, let me look it up. ‘Noun. Sexual activity, specifically sexual intercourse.’ No, that is not what I mean. Oh, that was ‘sex’. Sorry, I’m looking for ‘sexual’. ‘Adjective. Relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.’ ‘Relating to’ and ‘connected with’ sound more promising. Although, I don’t want to connect to anything. The scenario is just a pathway to, but not a guarantee of, excitement. Sometimes the participants just don’t get it, or they get it ‘intellectually’ but can’t play. They’re unimaginative and, in the end, they require more and more specific instructions and the scenario fails to ignite.”
Q.
“Well, then I say ‘thank you’ and leave it at that.”
Q.
“They haven’t but the scenario has—I prefer the word faltered.”
Q.
“Perhaps they feel that way—maybe you’d feel that way. Failure is a little harsh. But since I’m not looking for a specific outcome, if only it were that easy, disappointment would be an inappropriate emotion. I am very careful never to emanate a you-have-disappointed-me attitude. Sure, I am quick to shut it down but in a light-hearted, it-was-worth-a-try way.”
Q.
“I actually don’t have any expectations. And therefore, I am really not disappointed because I know from the start that the chances of the situation igniting are low.”
Q.
“Correct. Thank you. You’ve made a very valuable distinction. The difference between having ‘expectations’ or ‘motivations’ is the essence of the scenario. Expectations can be met, whereas motivations can only be sustained. I have conflicted and complex motivations but they are largely unknown to my, lets say, ‘conscious mind.’ And that is how I like to keep them, obscured.”
Q.
“Do you mean, what is the obstacle that is obscuring my motivations? I’ve never thought about that. Would you like a cup of tea? I forgot to offer.”
Q.
“A glass of water? I have biscuits somewhere.”
Q.
“I wasn’t saying anything. I believe you were asking what might be obscuring my motivations. Perhaps the structure of the scenario itself simultaneously obscures and sustains my motivations.”
Q.
“We sit in a room—a room like this would be fine. We look at each other but not in the usual way. After a while, the scenario ignites or does not.”
Q.
“I feel reluctant to say what the igniting of the scenario looks like. Any visual description would largely depend on your point of view. And would inevitably be partial.”
Q.
“We, the participant and I, take different positions or perspectives.”
Q.
“We could but, if the scenario does ignite with any force, we usually don’t because we want to remain exactly where we are for as long as humanly possible.”
Q.
“The moment itself, the moment we awaken to a mutual awareness that something is igniting, does not amount to, or equal, excitement. The moment excites. Yes it does. I am beginning to sense—and I think you know this—that you are trying to narrow the limitless horizon of the scenario with words. You’re trying to reduce something you have no experience of to a noun. The language you’re using is very closed. The scenario excites, evolves, expands. In many ways, the scenario is a verb masquerading as a noun.”
Q.
“Occasionally I drift off. Then I realise and think, Okay, nothing is happening. Although, if the participant is highly sensitive, they can sometimes sense my boredom and this creates a crater of awkwardness in the room. So, technically, there is not nothing happening. Waves of tedium and anxiety are circulating. But, as I said earlier, I try to bring unpromising scenarios to an end, closing the door softly but firmly. However, if I misjudge my tone of voice or make any sudden movements—perhaps involuntarily angling my body towards the exit—my impatience abruptly evicts the participant from the scenario, putting them on the outside of something they were trying to get into. With this outside point of view comes a loss: a loss of possibility, of potential, of some fleeting chance. They certainly look lost.”
Q.
“Probably because this abrupt outside-ness does connect at some deep, instinctual level with feelings of rejection and a failure to please. Is that what you’re frightened of?”
Q.
“Do you mean impotence? You have to be able to handle jeopardy. I like to think of awkwardness as a latent form of jeopardy. The thing about awkwardness is, it is integral to the scenario. The scenario slides around on a continuum stretching between nothing and exciting. You have to be able to survive inclement awkwardness to discover the scenario’s potential. Survive sounds too harsh. Notice. You have to notice how odd and unidirectional the scenario appears when offered but still be able to play.”
Q.
“One way. At first, the scenario appears to be a one-way street.”
Q.
“Restrain you? For a start, you’re much bigger than me. No. Definitely not—unless that’s what you want?”
Q.
“If I tell you more, we are going to go over a threshold, the scenario will be ‘live’. The telling of the scenario is its activation. Do you understand?”
Q.
“Once you hear the details, the situation is going to change fast—this interview is going to be over.”
Q.
“It is quite a presence, like a third person in the room. Lets switch the recorder-thing off.”
Q.
“I doubt you will want to interview me afterwards.”
Q.
“Okay. Lets begin.”
Q.
“Again? Do you remember where it is? Down the corridor to the end, then right, then left and it’s directly opposite the ladies. It’s a bit of a maze.”
Q.
“So, I’ve placed your chair there and I’m going to stand here.”
Q.
“You don’t have to be able to see me. Just keep looking.”
Q.
“Are you sure that thing is switched off? It’s still flashing. Is it definitely—”

TASCAM_1089.wav adapts the unidirectional form of the interviews in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, whereby the interviewer’s questions are denoted by the letter ‘Q’.

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