David F. Hoenigman first novel Burn Your Belongings. has just been released by Six Gallery Press. Hoenigman is originally from Cleveland but has lived in Tokyo since 1998.
Heavily involved in the experimental music scene in Japan, Hoenigman has worked on four albums with writer/musician Kenji Siratori, three of which have been released on Hyper Modern records.
Siratori, a prolific cyberpunk author whose work is sure to mess with your head, interviewed Hoenigman about his new book.
Kenji Siratori: What is the extension of your experimental writing? Incidentally my writing extension is “life=noise”. It functions as the genetic sea of the deconstructive meaning.
David F. Hoenigman: One aspect of my work is the idea that “lessening=nub”. I want my writing to be as anti-prescriptive as possible. I find a lot of writing too heavy-handed, too manipulative; to me it’s more interesting to read something that is limitless, something that doesn’t strong-arm me into drawing a desired conclusion. That’s why the people (I purposely don’t use the word “characters”) in my books don’t have names, ages, physical attributes or any kind of status. They are stick figures rescuing each other, breaking each other’s hearts. They are not tools I use to make a point, they are living and breathing. I believe that if we strip everything away then what remains is universal, something we all recognize; yet different for each of us.
KS: Do you think the anti-prescriptive writing is the post-humanistic struggle to the selfish gene? I think your writing deconstructs Samuel Beckett’s space on DNA.
DH: I’ve always loved Samuel Beckett. I probably think about him more than any other writer, but I think it’s important to distance yourself from your influences. I went about 10 years without reading Beckett and have just started to get back into his work again recently. I tend to binge on things and then put them down. I’m most interested in the long-term, enduring effects of art on the psyche. I think it’s interesting to think about a book you read 5 or 10 years ago and to reflect on what you’ve retained from it. Often it’s just a few flashes, maybe things that wouldn’t be significant to anyone else, but the feeling remains, the highly specific emotion that your soul has reserved for only this book. I’m intrigued by the idea that if all that’s left after time and memory have internally deconstructed a book is a swirling mist of ash, dust and skin particles (but a mist that we treasure, a mist that we feel indebted to) — then why not begin with this mist? Why not throw all unnecessary clutter away when we write? – all adornment, all manipulation, all that will be easily forgotten. Why not attempt with each line, with each brush stroke to stamp oneself upon others’ souls?
KS: I consider about abandoning “all adornment, all manipulation” paradoxically. It’s life as limen of chaos. How is your writing constructed inside this edge?
DH:I had this idea that I wanted to welcome chaos, write down everything that came into my head and just let it takes it’s course. But I needed to impose a form and a structure, I needed to make it follow my rules without losing its identity. I liked the idea of framed bits of chaos, somehow preserve the little monsters and arrange them in rows like some rare beetle collection. If you pick up Burn Your Belongings and just flip through it, I think you’ll notice right away that the layout of every page is identical. When you read it you’ll see that there are strict rules of language and punctuation that the text must adhere to throughout. It’s a display case really, something to take to show-and-tell.
KS: Do you feel text itself controls you? And do you function as free gene that escaped from the word spiral on the text?
DH: I feel the text controls me in the sense that I can’t always write when I want, that sometimes I simply feel empty. Other times things click and I’m able to get some work done. I like to pick up something that I don’t remember writing and read it over – it’s almost creepy sometimes, like there’s been an intruder. Initially I don’t try to escape the word spiral, I let it imprison me and then tunnel my way out with a spoon I stole from the cafeteria. I suppose I function as a free gene when I’ve completed the task, when I can put it down and move on to something else, some new prison.
KS: Dose the apoptosis prison of our brain that was deconstructed by the mind physical task of your writing incubate the hyper abolition worm like the artificial sun?
DH: I imagine it will be different for everyone, I like to think that people can take something from my writing that will incubate within them, something meaningful; but it’s really not for me to decide. The only way I could write Burn Your Belongingsthe way I envisioned it was to absolutely not care what anyone would think. I didn’t talk to anyone about it, I didn’t show anyone, I just wrote. It was more important to me that it was pure than that it was anything others could pronounce good or bad. Who cares what some sardine is scribbling in a notebook anyway? I was invigorated after moving to Tokyo, thousands of miles away from everything I’d ever known. I’d stay up all night writing sometimes, I didn’t have to answer to anyone so why should my writing? I had no idea who or if anyone would ever read it and I don’t think I really cared. Since I didn’t even have a computer my first four years in Japan, it was just a big pile of notebooks and papers, it took a long time for me to get it into presentable condition – to display the beetles as I wanted. I still have a lot of material left over. So I guess what I’m saying is that it wasn’t written to inspire a uniform impression in people, so I have no idea what the ideal heat of the worm incubator should be. I’ll just be happy if it’s a worm some feel is worth the trouble incubating, however they see fit.