Just wanted to share an interview with yours truly that came out today from Tamara Santibañez’s Discipline Press:
Here’s an excerpt:
Tamara: I think you often don’t realize the scope of how different something you’re doing is or how underrepresented it is until you start doing it, and have created a point of comparison or something tangible to measure it against. Tell me a little bit about language, because I know that’s something you are very conscious of. Being from Philadelphia, trying to use certain colloquialisms or speech patterns to represent particular populations.
Monk: I really am a fan of writing like how I talk and how I hear people. I also have a bone to pick with literature or the academic establishment, or simply class and society that privileges a very particular type of English and particular type of grammar and conduct. Which I find to be psychically violent and in ways physically violent. If you walk up into a group of college educated people who are all about theory and stuff like that and you’re not coming from that background, but you have your own personal experiences to speak from and you try to talk to these people…they don’t listen to you because you aren’t using the same words and you can’t even fucking understand them because…what is “fascism”? What is “kleptocracy”?
T: It’s a language barrier used to silence people’s voices.
M: I think it’s classist, I think it’s elitist…I just have a lot of experience watching so-called “ignorant” people have their knowledge get passed over for “legitimized” knowledge because somebody’s got a degree and somebody doesn’t. Meek Mill, who is a Philly rapper, said on his Instagram one time how he doesn’t care about writing or speaking “American English” cause America was never meant to be for him anyway. It’s similar to how I feel. The language I use in my stories—the dialogue and the narration—it’s happened a couple times that I read at an art gallery and someone asked me after like, what did I base the scenarios and the accents from. Like a white person who, to me, comes off as well-educated and suburban and middle/upper class, and it makes me be like, fuck, I gotta be so deliberate contextualizing my shit in these places as a white-passing person—like did you just think I made this up out of nowhere for “art” or something? No, this is how I fucking talk—it’s how the people who raised me talk and it’s from where I’m from. And it’s a very deliberate decision to put that into my narrative style and story telling, because I love how Philly sounds and I’m not ready to see it disappear yet.
T: How does your wealth of knowledge of science fiction and your eye towards writing speculative fiction influence your perspective of media and of contemporary politics? I guess I’m referencing how people love to talk about Orwell, for example. Like to credit George Orwell with predicting our society today with 1984. Do you see science fiction and speculative fiction as being more prescient than other types of fiction or having a predictive nature?
M: Science fiction is definitely predictive. I also believe that what you put into words and put out there—when you write something down, you fix a moment into time for another person to see. So to me it’s like spells, it’s like real witchcraft, it’s real sorcery when you put something down as a volume or a story and pass it on. So for a lot of sci-fi that’s out there like Orwell or William Gibson’s Neuromancer, there’s a lot of cyberpunk that’s written by straight white men specifically that people are like “oh my god, its coming true…” Phillip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, all these guys people are really hung up on. But the other thing is that tech companies and the military are hung up on them, too. It’s not like these authors predicted stuff and it magically came true. They wrote what they saw might be possible. They were speculating from their perspectives. They wrote down their perspectives and put it out there at a time when all these things were just possibilities. Those stories didn’t just get into the hands of like, upstart kids in the ‘burbs or wherever the fuck you may be. They also got into the hands of the Pentagon, military intelligence, people who grew up to be social media data analysts and city planners, people that believe in the might of the United States empire and the right to violence and all these types of things. My critique lately is that there is a big sort of re-focus on science fiction to look for answers, especially now after Trump. All these big-money industries have been holding round-ups and panels to look for the next big hell to make real.
Read the full length interview here (published at a time when I was transitioning from a now-retired ‘Eighteen’ given name): http://www.disciplinepress.com/blog-posts/2016/12/8/m-eighteen-tellez
About Discipline Press:
Discipline Press is an independent not-for-profit publishing imprint based in Brooklyn, New York. Founded by artist Tamara Santibañez, Discipline is inspired by the intersection of the personal and political in creative expression, and focuses on art, subculture, and sexuality.
Through publishing and curating works for artists, activists, radicals, and countercultural icons, Discipline aspires to elevate the voices of those marginalized within existing subcultures, particularly those of people of color, women, incarcerated, queer and trans individuals. Discipline is dedicated to subverting censorship in media, print, and art and serves as a resource for work deemed explicit or overly challenging by other publishers.