January 2011

Thalia Field


This issue features a microinterview with Thalia Field, conducted by John Madera. Field’s work as a prose writer involves philosophical inquiries, topographies, dismantling of form, and fragmentation of narrative. She questions notions of genre, and her work often steps off the page in other forms, like dance, theater, silent film, and various multimedia amalgamations. The results don’t offer neat conclusions, but provide catalysts for further exploration. Field is on the literary arts faculty at Brown University, where she teaches experimental fiction and performance.

Microinterview with Thalia Field, Part I.

THE BELIEVER: In your book Bird Lovers, Backyard, the birds ask: “Does art merely say things that aren’t facts, but assert them just as strongly? Assert things but refuse to prove them? Argue but not corroborate?” If it’s true that art asserts things as strongly as if they were facts, asserts them without proof, argues them without corroboration, should we trust those assertions?

THALIA FIELD: Asserting is a key word, and I’m glad you used it—it’s in the nature of every character to assert, to want to make ourselves believed (to believe ourselves). Finally, trust is maybe not in the assertion of belief but in compassion toward the confusion behind all assertions. It’s a condition of living to assert as much as we can, but if you’re the first or the last’as those birds are or Neil Armstrong is’are you beyond description? An assertion disrupts like any obstacle, creating form. We take it under consideration when others assert themselves, because they’re part of our world. But trust them? Maybe art can be honest in not requiring an economy of trust, while demonstrating the powerful contingency of beliefs and systems. Maybe.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

John Madera has published work in Conjunctions, Opium, elimae, Tarpaulin Sky, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, the Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. He is the managing editor of Big Other and a columnist for the Nervous Breakdown.

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