Pop Culture
Oct 05, 2022, 06:28AM

Sounds Decadent, Doesn’t It?

A 1994 The Free Library interview with author John Barth vs. a 2017 Lightspeed Science-Fiction and Fantasy interview with author Nnedi Okorafor.

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Nnedi Okorafor: No deadlines. No required length. No nothing.

John Barth: Possible symphonies ahead. A kind of eclecticism.

Okorafor: Through a lot of cynical laughter and snickering.

Barth: This is especially uplifting when I consider the strong signs of other more nefarious types of shifts in this country.

Okorafor: It’s vast, you die out there because you’re not supposed to be out there, and there is too much we don’t know, like what’s out there and why it’s out there and what it’ll do when it gets inside.


Barth: The murals are unfinished, so is Virgil's poem, and there is that chilling proto-postmodern moment in this classic of Roman literature when Aeneas sees his own face in the murals, in an unfinished mural because his story is only in Book Two.

Okorafor: What does “modernity” mean? Most of the time it just means assimilating to Western cultures and ideals so you can enjoy technology.

Barth: I think so. It's enough to think about one's next book.


Okorafor: We don’t control or know everything, and that fascinates me.

Barth: That's the inevitable shift of perspective that new experiences give us.


Okorafor: I didn’t decide; the story did.

Barth: I monitor my notes and I monitor my internal muttering to see what it is that I'm trying to say to myself.

Okorafor: Yeah. It was like looking into time and space and being able to manipulate it, but if you tried to analyze it, you’d fall out of it.

Barth: That’s right. Sounds decadent, doesn't it?

Okorafor: Epic.


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