Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Interview with Mathias B. Freese

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
This Mobius Strip of Ifs is a collection of essays written over four decades and published here and there as I pursued writing in the late hours of the night and weekends as I worked as an English teacher and later as a psychotherapist. So these essays as I look over them at the autumnal part of my life have some essential themes.

It is a kind of Bilsdungroman of my psychological life as a writer, spiritual seeker, teacher and curmudgeon, one of the perks of getting old. It is a mixture of memoir and essay, with me breaking the rules again. Reviewers in England have difficulty handling my honesty. Well, that’s the land of the politically correct, dysfunctional and constipated Queen Elizabeth and Philip the Extraneous. 

In short, it must be a dreary existence if as a writer you constantly struggle to write a message.

Here it is summed up, without messages: a compilation, hopefully compelling, of observations, psychological insights, and reminiscences for those possessing the requisite courage to feel and think, to struggle against cultural conditioning which I despise, and to create artistically in spite of an environment that impedes the awakening of intelligence. I wrote: “Although we are passing ephemera, human lint on this planet in transit, it is a powerful and nourishing feeling for me to have paused long enough to have observed the passage of time and my place in it.”

Is there any special method to your writing?
I don’t think there is a method to my madness. I write when a feeling comes through to me or a sense of awareness. I do not schedule the hours that I will write and I have always written when feelings made me write. Rules about writing, to my mind, are written in sand. I weary of all the injunctions other writers give to writers. It’s like brushing your teeth at least twice a day; sometimes life gets in the way and once suffices. The heavy hand of tradition often crushes. Obedience is not in my vocabulary as an author.

How many hours a day do you spend reading /writing?
Since I’ve been retired I have read more but I read as if I were sampling food from a buffet, this and some of that, and oh boy, a whole lot of that. I go back to old favorites, books by Freud, books about Freud  (Freud’s Vienna & Other Essays, Bruno Bettelheim), Krishnamurti’s vast array of works on seeing, for he  has profoundly affected the way I go about being in life (reading at present Krishnamurti to Himself). In my book I devote a chapter to what books and films impacted upon my life, my cinematic and literary gene base.

I write a blog once a week ( I need time for the aquifer to fill up. I am under no pressure during this autumn season, just observing the leaves falling. I have written a book of short stories on the Holocaust and will begin very shortly to send out queries to publishers. If no success, I’ll self-publish it. This past year 10 out of 24 stories have been published. Indeed, Leapfrog Press’s fiction contest saw me come in as one of three finalists out of 424 submissions. So I know I sitting on gold bullion.

What books have most influenced your life?
Kazantzakis’s Report to Greco, The Last Temptation of Christ, Krishnamurti’s The Flight of the Eagle

If you could be the author of any novel, which would it be and why?
To be the author of The Last Temptation of Christ or Conrad’s Nigger of the Narcissus is to have a profound understanding, in both cases, of man. I write about Conrad in my book:”When I first read it, I knew I was in a room with a genius, not only a literary one, for this was no mere writer of sea yarns. He knew men, and he understood their minds. The book, if it had Freud’s name under the title, might very well serve as the master’s statement about group psychology.” As to Kazantzakis, “Above all he makes you feel! He wrote most of his novels in his seventies and long before that he wrote two volumes in verse describing the further adventures of Ulysses and by all accounts, he equaled Homer. I am indebted to him as a writer.”

Do you think you will ever change audiences?
I have no audience. I write solely for me and a few others. I am not into grossly marketing my books. I have learned in life that writing is simply my perfume, the essence I give off, and it is not for sale in that I am pushing it upon you. Exuding who I am in print is much the same for me as engaging another human being and sharing who I am. Why merchandise who I am? Now and then I receive an award and that pleasures me but I don’t go crazy shouting from the rooftops what I have attained. I know that inwardly.

What are your current projects?
At this time my next effort is at the starting fate. I Truly Lament – Working Through the Holocaust is a varied collection of stories: inmates in death camps; survivors of these camps; disenchanted Golems complaining about their designated rounds; holocaust deniers and their ravings; collectors of Hitler curiosa; an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the Berlin Bunker; a nazi camp doctor subtly denying his complicity.The intent is to perceive the Holocaust from several points of view. An astute historian of the Holocaust has observed that it is much like a train wreck, survivors wandering about in a daze, sense and understanding, for the moment, absent. No comprehensive rational order in sight.