[JONSY CHEWY INTER-VIEW]
‘jonsy chewy (torontonian) recently got unmasked as a panda-puppeteer who brings to the ‘alt lit’ dinner table his fascination for contemporary art + world music (especially die antwoord + sigur ros) but will often lapse into non-artsy fields like mathematics / computer science / digital cartography; he once wanted to write like jean baudrillard but uses the word ‘boost’ too often to sound french; by day he works in web administration at an art gallery’
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MATTHEW SHERLING: tell us about the creation of your new chapbook, F(4) ~ FORWARD! (http://www.scribd.com/doc/104352676/F-4-FORWARD)
JONSY CHEWY: My de facto debut into ‘alt lit’ comes with this ebook, ‘F(4) ~ FORWARD!’ of just ~40 pages with intermittent fits of large bold print. I wrote it this way to consider people’s busy lives and tastes. They could also pick which chapters to read without reading start to finish. I also wrote it in only two weeks, somewhat inspired when I saw Heiko Julien’s ‘I AM READY TO DIE A VIOLENT DEATH’ In short, F(4) represents my ‘moving forward’ into writing - into new extremes - into ‘alt lit’ and beyond!
MS: I particularly enjoy how you’ve removed the ‘I’ & ‘is’ from the chapbook. can you speak about this decision / exploration?
JONSY CHEWY: Thanks! I love how you noticed that! In 2009, I came across an essay about E-Prime (writing without the verb ‘to be’) and wanted to write like that. The deliberate removal of the first person pronoun added another arbitrary layer to the challenge. I did this purely as a personal challenge to have a feel at what words we take for granted.
I even use ‘I’ and ‘to be’ sparingly on Twitter but I’ll ‘lapse into vernacular’ on Facebook chats and daily speech. You will find that I use a variety of styles because life has its contexts. I wouldn’t call this ‘breaking character’ but simply ‘becoming water’ and taking on a shape that the ‘liquid in me’ feels should adapt.
I want to believe that ‘X is Y’ but it always comes to something like ‘this collection of random effects sums up to Y - for now’.
MS: I haven’t seen this many exclamation marks since the last time I read Whitman. you use them very tastefully, though. was this ‘exclamation’ important to you?
JONSY CHEWY: I didn’t lay too much emphasis on the exclamation marks or wanted to make a serious point (no pun intended) with them. I guess I felt excited in the beginning (not that I did not in the end) but you’ll see I somewhat ‘calmed down’ by the later sections of F(4).
One experiment I have for any aspiring writer: try writing a book with only exclamation and question marks (no periods / commas / colons)! Try variations of experiments like these and see what happens!
MS: this exclamation seems to evoke ‘optimism.’ are you influenced by steve roggenbuck’s ‘boost’ mentality?
JONSY CHEWY: YES! Funny thing about Steve Roggenbuck. I remember he actually approached me first on Tumblr way back in mid-2011, eons ago in interwebz time, but I couldn’t grasp his style at the time. I couldn’t stand his spelling mistakes as a then-hard-core orthography nut, see? I set him aside for a while which I truely regret because beginning in May 2012 I ran into him again on Twitter. When @santinodela (hehehe) tweeted the word ‘lief’, which coincidentally means ‘love’ in Dutch and Afrikaans, neurons suddenly buzzed and bursted with excitement, I asked about ‘lief’ and he took me to Steve Roggenbuck!
I then decided to watch Steve’s boost documentary on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9hEfR-cXc4) from September 2011. The video contained a tweet by Ben Austin / http://murooned.tumblr.com/ / @benba57 (whose poetry had already mesmerized me on Tumblr) and I ‘was sold’. Hah, later finding out that he also likes Sigur Ros and dubstep music made him more accessible to my liking.
Still, I oscillate between ‘boost’ and ‘bleak’ at times. I can’t just feel happy and positive all the time. Yet, in general, I do feel vibes of a ‘global upward spiral’. The question remains: who let the dogs out?
MS: your work seems to be very ‘post-modern.’ the work itself is very ‘self-conscious,’ always speaking about itself (at least the first half). does the notion of ‘post-modern’ interest you?
JONSY CHEWY: In F(X), I wanted to write like post-something-ist Jean Baudrillard (the author of the book that Neo uses in The Matrix to hide his software) who does that self-conscious thing a lot in his books. It also comes from a childhood of watching cartoon like Animaniacs.
Postmodernism will always interest me. However, in early 2011, I looked into something called ‘metamodernism’ which deals with the post-postmodernist oscillation among ‘various movements / ideologies / styles / sentiments’. We live in an age when attitudes change like the weather. Some system always gets in the way. Django Wylie also mentioned metamodernism in a blog post (http://djangowylie.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/a-note-on-metamodernism-and-centreless-fiction/) which mentions, wait for it…Tao Lin. Have a look at the blog post’s graphic and it will all come clear :)
MS: can you speak about your ‘anonymity’?
JONSY CHEWY: I didn’t intend to remain anonymous but I guess it adds a game-like element (for me at least) to the mix.
Oh, I do plan on meeting Steve Roggenbuck and pals this September 3 and I wonder how it will pan out. I have thought about letting the panda puppet remain Jonsy Chewy, puppeteered by an IRL counterpart whose name sounds eerily close to ‘Jonsy Chewy’. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll decide last minute if I want to appear on a website with the address ‘http://www.fricker.xxx/’.
I suppose subconsciously that my anonymity comes from my newness to ‘alt lit’ and so for now I wanted to use a pseudonym but one close to my IRL whenever I should reveal my IRL name.
MS: what is your perception of ‘alt lit’?
JONSY CHEWY: I see ‘alt lit’ as a dynamic stage of ideas that I have just begun to explore. I think I have only discovered a very tiny part of its community and looked at only a microscopic amount of its ‘lit’. Each person seems to has their own unique styles and symbols but we all somehow speak and live this accessible ‘lingo’. People I’ve met IRL (versus URL) also do but I have never come across a group so courageous and free-spirited as ‘alt lit’.
I sometimes think of ‘alt lit’ as the next generation or a revival of the Situationists from the 1960’s.
MS: if you could wrap up your worldview in one sentence, what would it be?
Metamodernist and multi-faceted with moments of bleakages but also memorable boostages!