by Christi Kochifos Caceres
G. Tod Slone is the founder and editor of The American Dissident, a 501 c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. He holds a PhD from a French university and is a professor of English and foreign languages and a published (and unpublished) author. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts. His exhibit of critical cartoons can be seen at The Camel Saloon - http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com/.
How would you begin your day if you had no obligations or obstacles?
Oh, that’s a good one, isn’t it. Probably as I do everyday. But if I were completely free? I’d fly to the island of Anticosti or better yet travel around the perimeter of Iceland.
What is your drink of choice?
Red wine, vin rouge, vino tinto. And Calvados – and the one from the south of France…pastis.
Do you have a favorite food?
Smoked herring. I’m eating that now - mostly for health. Oh, and marcassin – wild baby boar. I haven’t had that for years.
What is your best time of day?
When the day is over; and it’s time for a laptop DVD, a glass of wine.
What do you wish you did not have to do?
Work. And die. I’ve had a thing about death for years. And as an atheist, death obnubilates any purpose. But I don’t want to depress you.
What touches you most deeply?
I guess vast expanses of the planet without human dwellings. Like you see up north. Newfoundland and Labrador.
What films or books and writers do you love?
My favorite film – Affliction with Nick Nolte. It’s a wonderful film; you have to see it.
Ironweed. The British film, Naked. I like dark. Books – Voyage au bout de la nuit, by Céline. Writers - Thoreau, Solzhenitsyn, Ibsen, Orwell, Pierre Falardeau, the poet, Raymond Lévesque. And I’m currently reading a somewhat unique novel auf Deutsch by Nobel Prize winner (2009) Herta Müller called Atemschaukel.
Where do you find inspiration?
January 1st I wrote something on that – I keep a journal. “It is overcast outside, I hunt for a quote on positivity…” I’m inspired by crap. I had an inspiration for a cartoon that day based on a quote by Kevin Larimer – “When inspired you are an inspiration.” But I turned it into a negative.
Which of your relatives or ancestors do you most relate to and why?
I don’t have a close family. I always liked my mother. She wrote too and she probably influenced me indirectly.
Who has influenced your life most profoundly?
Situations rather than people influence me. Direct encounters with corruption in colleges and universities (e.g., Elmira College and Fitchburg State College) have been a great source of creativity for me. Good writers like those mentioned above confirm my negative observations, rather than influence me.
What would you change about yourself if you could do it by just snapping your fingers?
Age. And second, my bankbook. I’m not discontent. People think I’m an angry person – I’m not, I’m critical. But we’re living in a very positivist world. Barbara Ehrenreich writes about this in Bright-Sided.
What do you consider to be your gift?
Rude truth telling… in a society that shuns it. I borrow the term from Emerson.
How do you think your therapist would sum you up in one sentence?
He would say, “Take these!” I always get to hear the negative things from my woman friend… I don’t know if I should tell you what they are.
What bugs you the most about other people?
I’m a pretty sensitive person. I pick up on things that maybe others don’t. I think, the unfriendliness of many people, their cocooning with just family or a very small circle of people. I hate the generation gaps. I want to speak with young people and old people, not simply people my age.
What helps you feel balanced in your life?
Probably a good three quarters of a liter of red wine. And running, physical exercise.
What will be the title of your biography?
Maybe, The Poet. But I don’t like poets, or poetry. The Dissident… or Furious Contention. The widow of poet Robert Creeley called me “furious” last year, so I borrow the word from her.
What question have I not asked that you would like to answer?
That’s a tough one. Why do I question and challenge when so many others don’t?
There’s a question for you.
Do you have an answer for that?
Yes, brushes with corruption and the ability to extrapolate those brushes. Most people, when they witness corruption, do not extrapolate. The 60’s leave me dumbfounded. Whatever happened to the 60’s? It just dissolved, out of the blue. My stuff comes from working in academia, which wasn’t at all what I’d expected. Instead of encouraged vigorous debate and criticism, I found conformity, obsequiousness, and careerism. What a sad discovery.
G. Tod Slone