Interview With Slagheap
  • Ray Harvey: writer, bartender, nobody's bitch

    The following questions were submitted to me some time ago by Mr. Maxwell Hoaglund, of Slagheap magazine, which unfortunately closed its doors before this Q & A appeared. I publish it here with Mr. Hoaglund’s full knowledge and permission.

    Q: If your finger isn’t typing, where is it?

    Ray Harvey: It’s on the pulse of the people.

    Q: Are you really a bartender?

    Ray Harvey: Yes.

    Q: What is your signature cocktail?

    Ray Harvey: The Harvey Fingerbanger.

    Q: It sounds fantastic.

    Ray Harvey: You have no idea.

    Q: What all’s in it?

    Ray Harvey: Two parts finger, three parts banger. The rest is secret.

    Q: Working in the food and beverage industry — has it made you into a foodie?

    Ray Harvey: Perish the thought!

    Q: Do you have dietary restrictions? Vegetarian? Vegan?

    Ray Harvey: No, no, no. Not that which goeth into a man can defile him but only that which cometh out; for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Gourmandizing of any kind is one of the surest signs of stupidity. The food snobbery of the vegan or the food snobbery of the vegetarian or the food snobbery of the organic-only cult, no matter how shabbily dressed, is every bit as beastly as the food snobbery of the rich and famous.

    Q: As an anti-postmodernist — if I may put it that way — are you stalking your victims? If so, doesn’t your tendency to shoot from the hip startle them?

    Ray Harvey: On the contrary, it lulls them into a false sense of security.

    Q: Speaking of which, your article on Postmodernism, including the comments, created a small sensation in our office. What, may I ask, is reality? Can you prove existence?

    Ray: Reality is existence. And existence is that which exists. Reality is that which is. The only alternative to existence is non-existence. But non-existence does not exist. There is only existence. In the words of Victor Hugo: “There is no nothing.” Regarding whether we can prove existence: yes, in a sense. Proof, by virtue of what it is, assumes existence, you see. How so? Existence must necessarily come before proof, because of what proof actually is: i.e. the preponderance of evidence which admits no other alternative. Evidence means that something exists. The very proof of existence is existence itself, to which there is only one alternative: non-existence. But non-existence does not exist. Only existence exists.

    Q: Where do thoughts go when one is not thinking?

    Ray Harvey: Where does the wind go when it’s calm? Said Voltaire.

    Q: Who or what have been your biggest literary influences?

    Ray Harvey: Karl Shapiro, Dostoevsky, Blood Meridian and Suttree, J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories. Also, Nabokov’s Transparent Things, Pale Fire, certain sections of Ada.

    Q: More than once, you’ve been accused of declaiming, as you’ve also been accused of ribaldry.

    Ray Harvey: Paraphrasing Nabokov, conventions and cliches, particularly of the sexual variety, breed remarkably fast: the blotchy buttock, the bulbous breast, the baggy balls, phony moans of bliss, the endless talky-talky of dick this, ass that, vagina this, oral that — it’s worse than primitive; it’s boring. The lack of style in these discussions of various copulation techniques is enough to wilt the most tremendous of boners.

    Q: You’ve said that your novel is in some measure concerned with justice. Is that correct?

    Ray: Yes.

    Q: What is justice?

    Ray Harvey: Justice is the legal recognition of the fact that each and every human being, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, color, class, or creed, is individuated and sovereign, and no human or government institution may therefore infringe upon another’s property or person. Money, never forget, is also property.

    Q: Why is justice important?

    Ray Harvey: The path of the just is as a shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. But what is the alternative? Only injustice. We are each born free. Freedom is a birthright.

    Q: Gordon Gano once said “Happiness is a word for amateurs.” Do you think that’s true?

    Ray Harvey: No, I do not.

    Q: What is happiness? A chocolate turtle?

    Ray Harvey: Yes.

    Q: Would it be fair to say that you see life as a funny but cruel joke?

    Ray Harvey: No, it wouldn’t be fair. That question has the unmistakable shimmer of inanity. Life is neither inherently silly, nor inherently angst-ridden. The only alternative to life is death. And death is what gives life meaning in the sense that death is what life constantly strives against. But it’s not the other way around: from the perspective of the dead, life obviously doesn’t carry any particular relevance. I think you may be confusing me with the walleyed Existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, or one of his ventriloquist dolls.

    Q: Where is The Good located?

    Ray Harvey: The Good ultimately resides inside the human brain, which is conceptual by nature and operates (therefore) by means of choice. There can be no good nor evil if there is no choice. Thought is not automatic. Thought requires effort; it requires an act of will. Quoting the psychologist Rollo May: “When we analyze will with all the tools that modern psychology brings us, we shall find ourselves pushed back to the level of attention or inattention as the seat of will. The effort which goes into the exercise of will is really effort of attention; the strain in willing is the effort to keep the consciousness clear, i.e. the strain of keeping attention focused.” That is where The Good resides. That is ultimately the source of all good and all bad behavior: the choice to pay attention or not. The rest is just an elaboration on this.

    Q: Where may we see an excerpt of your book?

    Ray Harvey: Well, you can hear me read the Prelude, in my surliest voice:




    Read Part 2 of this interview here.


About The Author

The sawed-off shotgun of literary pulp.

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