➸ from a 2007 interview
What is your current worldview?
The universe doesn’t tell us what to do. But consciousness means that each moment we are required to do something, even if it means to just sit there. We must choose. That is what consciousness is, to choose.
So people make assumptions to create temporary philosophies, or rules, in order to know what to do in each situation. Assumptions can be “pain and suffering is bad,” “satisfying my urges is good,” “surviving is good,” etc. All assumptions are equally arbitrary from the perspective of the universe itself. Therefore when I do “good” things I am also aware that it is “good” only from my own perspective, and only for a certain moment in time, and only because I have made assumptions, which other people also have made.
Depression is featured prominently in your book Eeee Eee Eeee and I wanted to know what your personal experience and views on depression are.
I think I have “felt bad” a lot but I’ve also “felt good” a lot, even if it’s because of something like having a coffee and knowing I have a number of hours alone at a computer to write or listen to music or whatever, or getting an unexpected email or text message or something from a person that I like. I’m not sure if there’s any way to measure if I have been more “depressed” than other people. I try not to make it into a contest. My view on depression is that it is probably on a scale, like from 1 neuron to 1,000,000,000 neurons, and a person isn’t either clinically depressed or not clinically depressed, but that those terms (and this can be extrapolated to most terms that exist) were created by corporations to make more money.
I think when people are able to self-diagnose themselves as “depressed” they are also more prone, in those times (when they think they are depressed), to think in opposite ways of when they are happy. For example a depressed person might think, “I look fat in this dress,” whereas an hour ago, when they were not a depressed person, they would think, “I look good in this dress,” though they weigh the same. Maybe if a person can have some detachment and realize that they are thinking the exact opposite of what they were thinking an hour or a day or a week ago they can learn a little to “choose” to think in a way that can help make them “happier.”
Thoughts cause emotions, I think. A person thinks something, and then feels emotions. And a person can control what they think, if not completely then at least to some degree.
Which New Yorker do you most admire?
I don’t know what “admire” means, but I like Werner Herzog because he doesn’t complain and is not dramatic. He always makes many documentaries about people who are in very terrible or potentially dramatic situations who remain calm and nice and do not complain or act dramatic or act like they are in a terrible situation, but just another situation. I know he isn’t from New York but that is okay. He has probably been to New York before.