j/j hastain lives in Colorado with his beloved and is the author of our bodies as beauty inducers, we in my Trans, prurient anarchic omnibus, long past the presence of common, a womb-shaped wormhole, as well as many chapbooks and artist’s books.
"Despite the 'libertine' of its title, here is a deeply principled system of desire that seeks the beloved via language beyond binaries (text/image, penis/vagina, lyrical/philosophical, I/you, peace/violence). Here are pages of stunningly instructive “inter-mixtures of third life.”
"How else will we get the love? It’s beautiful in here, this book a “cosmic awe maw” of inexplicable tenderness. This is a book I will give to the ones I share the best parts of this world with."
"In this space we find place in our stressed times to dive into a “liquidic us” where we are tossed, lose hold, and are held influx. This is neither love poem nor not for it is one and in all."
"hastain is pursuing in new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk -- rife with fearlessness and sexual desire, this book is a raison d’tre for the integration of digital moments into the current publishing structure. This is it. Open your eyes."
TC Tolbert: The first thing that strikes me about your work is the expansiveness of it (both literally expansive — utilizing the entire page, orchestrating white space in long past the presence of common – and tonally expansive, expansive in address). Can you talk to me about that? What’s it like in your head?
j/j hastain: Sure. I would say that my work is an engagement with expanses — with existing spans as well as with the wanting to exist but not yet existing (which is what a divergent seraph is). Not sure if the work is always expansive (that to me feels like an ethical judgment that can be made / named best by those who are involve themselves in the work based on how it makes them feel – to me expansiveness has to do with an inherent, felt transgression or trespass (by sensation) of given forms and structures / strictures / strictnesses. It has to do with what excess feels like. So there is integrally a pre and a post in expansives (not necessarily linearly) — like “this is the cup” and “this is the cup over-filled by red liquid.” The red liquid is the cup’s (as an element) expansiveness) but my work is certainly not reductive or dogmatic, that’s for sure!
But — I want to thank you for saying that you experience my work as expansive. That is so beautiful to me!
I will speak now to what you refer to as “tonally expansive” and “expansive in address” — I think that what you are asking about is “who” I am talking to and “how” I am talking. The “who” is the the movable site where my you (the elemental that I can continually converge with) can be divulged — can deluge all over me (and you if you want). This “who” is an always future aggregate that is moxie. Mixed. Becoming. A “who” that is dependent on my (and your?) gesture to bring it from states of capacity into extant and autonomous form. Yes — there is alchemical chivalry to this. There is the ongoing impetus of the lover.
Re the “how” of my talking. I am interested in sculpting limitless verse / anti-verse to coax the ethereal swells into material form. I really do feel in my body (which is also a form that I have coaxed into existence in order for it to feel authentic to me) that to coax is to be able to interact well with the materialities as motile-sites that can be turned into suites. Into places we can exert and exercise and exhibit our corpuscle suits and as we strive to make neoteric sutras.
I enjoy working with space as emotio-spiritual content in conjunction with working with the words, the sounds that the words make audibly as linkage, and the way that the words (which are also sounds) look in a space (which is what a page or a body is). So a sensory inebriating aesthetics. I am saying that in a room that has a balance space can be as important as other extant physicalities. Plus, I feel that space is a great ally (always rooted in potential to become________) to already extant forms.
There is also something to say here about the materiality of space already being rooted in mystery — specific in its capacity but indeterminate re its form/s — and so, hopeful for me in my maintenance of identities that are indelibly gestural and based in volition. I am saying selvage as suture. Selvage as inherent impetus toward furthering_______.
TC: There are moments when the breadth of your work seems to have no end, you incorporate photography and collage in at least two of your books, you are a musician, teacher, activist, and a gospel singer! Is there a relationship between your trans identity and movement across genre?
j/j: Thank you for bringing this up. I will talk about this aspect of my work (body, performance and page) in the context of both what I refer to as the inter (between-ness of inhabitations) as well as compositional power to provoke accurate kismet.
For me accurate kismet will always be a mixed zone. I believe that an autonomous mixed zone will always need multiple methods of being coaxed. Instigated. Stimulated. For this reason I try to touch (through and to) page by way of many approaches. Yes, photography, sound, collage, music, bent activisms and even embodied song. Information rubbing against information (non-homogenous-ly) is how monsters, hybrids, gorgons, Frankenstein’s, etc (inhabitants of the inter) are made. I believe in these because they are my offspring and because they are my lineage and because they are my community. We are abiogenetic species — infinitely capable of holding our we. I have guarantee here (amidst the inter) that I will be unconditionally held.
I work with variations in form and genre (visual, audible, textural etc.) so that the work can function less like a line or an apparatus (slave?) to historicities (that in a big way leave the movements and materialities of my queer body out of view / representation) and more like an umbra (the darkest part of a shadow) being fucked (coaxed) toward new versions and variations of luminosity. By luminosity I mean mystical illuminations and non-dogmatic revelations. I mean evolutions and increases in animateness — I mean making queer pages as additives to queer space (of which my body is). When I refer to luminosity, I do not mean polarity or war between traditional representations of dark and light as duality.
Queering language is not a new notion in the context of current socio-cultural and modernist writer-ly conversation. However the ways in which I am interested in queering language emphasize that the language itself have a vigorous autonomy — that it have agency. In this way there is no “use” and much less “refuse”(lost ones) because excesses in the forms, are parts of the now-autonomous bodies that the forms are. They can keep their parts. They can exert cuts over their parts and emerge as blaring powerhouses of authenticity. Autonomy / agency of the language is integral to my gesture because it is a primary way that I can ensure that through the composition processes new materialities are being created with the needed utilities and technology (within their forms) for their own continuance.
I find that autonomous language does lessen my loneliness. Does increase proximities. Does add community to community.
In recent studies researchers of the pineal gland have discovered that in serious seekers the bones in front of the pineal gland become thinner and more pliable, while in usual subjects there is severe calcification on the bones in front of the pineal gland. Many mystics believe the pineal gland to be the third eye. I want my work to instigate orgasmic states for the third eye — to engage deep, beloved relations to the infinite capacity (in the physical body) that the third eye is. I believe that if I can make the third eye’s beloved outside of the body as pages, unforeseen cosmic information might bleed through the merges and ecstasies that occur by way of such feral types of breeding.
My trans / genderqueer identity does have a lot to do with my movement across genre. Across space. My identities and my pages sort of biomimic each other regarding this. They incite each other further. For me, pages are post-human-birth essential organs that appear via mystical holarchies. As interactive kiln. I am happy to attempt to speak more about my trans / genderqueer identity in the context of current societal delineations, but I think I need another question from you in order to do so. For me there is not a general delineation between aspects of my identity. I guess in the same way that I work to stimulate and provoke the mixed zone I spoke of above, I am whole, partial, fractured and endless within the mixed zone of my physiological, psychic and sensory realms.
TC: Talk to me about self-care. And doing vs being. I have a friend who always reminds me, “we aren’t human doings, we are human beings.” I really struggle with this. As an artist, I love and need to create in a variety of fields. As a trans person, I also feel a kind of responsibility toward my community — a need to be visible, and lay whatever groundwork I can. There is also something in here related to Alice Walker’s idea that “activism is my rent for living on this planet.” Do you feel any of that? How do you navigate these things?
j/j: How beautiful is this question! This notion of Alice Walker’s “activism. . . .” All of this makes a lot of sense to me. I hear in this the desire to work to make balances. A sort of living Feng-shui for the selvage and its many relations. There are expectations and there are so many needs aren’t there? Our bodies and their gestures are so needed. We need each other and we need ourselves. Oh glorious myopias of need!
For me there cannot theoretically be a difference between “doing” and “being” because on the level of my body if there was a “being” that could be separated from “doing” I would necessarily have to believe that there is some sort of inherency (state of rest?) that is natural for me. For me that is just not true. I feel the most natural in induction. In engagement. In motion. In morphology. I have actually struggled a lot to work this in my body on the level of cells, because I feel like I am even “doing” when I sleep / dream. So — there are not really states of rest. I guess that this is valuable because stasis is not an option in such exertion, but it is also true that often it makes me feel like I am a bit far off from models of “health” re the human plane. I am aware that much of this answer is because I do not feel like I am cosmically indigenous to this plane of existence. I have always felt disparate here which has meant that I am always in a position / poise of action toward. Composing composite belonging. Reaching for else.
For me, to be in a body as a motile identity, is a constant work and activism.
What I love about the self-care part of your question is how it makes me ponder / wonder about all of the things that self-care could mean. My initial response is something like this — I engage self-care by bridging with elementals from this plane by chord. This is how I can feel myself as part of a reverberative imperative inherently of earth. I am saying that even though I do not identify as inherent to earth until I make myself such, that does not mean that I am not as desperate as anyone who is inherent to earth, to find (or compose) homeland. I participate in homeland as an always future site, by way of my dependence on “you” in order for me to make harmony with “you.” “You” could be a tree, a bird, a page, an image, a story, a sound, a personage. It is fusion between a you and a you that makes harmonics possible. Harmonics (in the context of my fusions) means offspring. Means a third thing that did not and could not have existed before the convergence of yous.
Then when I think about what you might be asking regarding self-care I wonder if you are asking me if I drink jasmine green tea in the mornings or if I sleep long on the weekends or if Tracy makes love to me in our Beloved (which is our non-dogmatic faith practice) in the ways I need (from kink to role play to extreme emotio-spiritual connection) or if at age 18 I broke away completely from my parents and my Mormon upbringing for the sake of my sanity or if I walk during my quotidian work day in the wild, overgrown trenches of Colorado and to these my answer is yes!
I guess it is that to me self-care does not feel different from care for a you (“j/j, will you write a recommendation of my book for Lit Pub?” or “I have to turn in this paper on hybrid forms in an hour, will you look at it and help me”) or from composition of books or from finding ways to fulfill stages (performance work, political activism) — and all of that extending for the sake of upholding, sits in my body in the shape of the word cull.
I am overwhelmed and overjoyed with the vitality of all that must be done.
TC: Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about Judith Butler — her idea that “gender is performance.” And the theorist in me is really, continually, excited by that idea — but the trans person in me feels like it somehow undoes an element of authenticity in relationship to my gender identity. I wonder how you think about these things — how performance plays out in your lived experience as well as what you hope to accomplish on the page?
j/j: I just want to start this answer by saying how beautiful you are and how this authentic articulation of the complexities of how you can and cannot integrate this particular theory is of value to me. I think here about the beautiful poem (was that in Drunken Boat?) that you wrote about Leslie’s face being held down in cop shit after Leslie had been raped. I think of how gender is existing actively (between Leslie’s F-M / Drag King masculinities (not socially “acceptable”) and the cops’ Bio Male masculinities (socially normed/privileged) and the enactment of de-masculinization) in that situation and I have to say that I do think that gender is performative there but not necessarily “performance” (in the ways that Butler’s quote could connote diminutivity if not careful to clarify).
I am saying that Leslie is certainly not performing Leslie’s gender like a costume is animated when put on, but later taken off. This is not play time. This is not “wow, wasn’t’ that a great show!” It is not trying on divergent forms for the hell of it. It is not entertainment of an audience. This is gender as gesture inseparable from the heart that keeps the body and its gender/s going. Heart in the way that I am referencing it is not necessarily one core of a body. I think that there is literal heart in each of our cells (those nomadic elementals) — a sort of inarguable mystical consciousness — and that heart in each of those cells vibrates and fills the cells with information. I have no doubt that if Leslie tells me that Leslie’s gender (the orchestral relation of Leslie’s cells?) is_______, then that comes from Leslie’s mystical meta-consciousnesses and should not be argued with.
I also think that it is totally appropriate for a person’s gender/s to evolve. With the evolution of genders and identities and anatomies, comes need for accurate application of names. Comes need for accurate pronouns. Relations also have names. All of these are integral in my opinion. I am saying I will call you what you call yourself. Period. And, please call me what I call myself and you will have made a non-debatable home for yourself in me.
So — gender to me is performative but perhaps not “performance” (“performance” which if not clarified could imply a beginning and an ending / a limit). However gender’s performativity does not depend on an audience. Meaning my gender is not something that I perform on anyone else’s stage. It is not something I perform for “you.” In the context of my gender I do not depend on any “you” or social delineation in order to be able to state / enact myself. It is instead “my body is my stage and this is what happens here.” So performative like the bird’s movement of their wings is performative. As in — action is needed. This is how we “do” / “be” what we are. I believe that my gender needs my action in order to specify itself by way of my body. I believe that I collaborate with my gender/s in order to articulate / express my gender/s as authenticities and aesthetics in space.
Judith Butler also said that “there is no psychic core” but instead a “copy of a copy for which there is no original” and that I do not agree with. Though I do agree that it is not particularly useful to try and singularize / limit the mass of any selvage and relations into some demarcating or delineating point — I also believe that in us there are many “psychic cores” and that expression / exhibition of these cores allows (or forces, if needed) socio-cultural forms and strictures to broaden to hold our myriad. I am saying that I do not believe that there is no such thing as authenticity because there is “no psychic core” — but instead I feel that the myriad psychic cores allow authenticity and originality to exist in the future. Post stimulation. Post activisms of naming and touch. How beautiful to think that my gender/s need me. Need my loyalty and volition in order for them induce changes (based in my inarguable authenticities) in outdated socio-cultural strictures, limits and biases.
TC: And finally, it seems to me that your work strives toward creating a textual body, that these are not individual poems so much as they are organisms. Does this feel accurate to you?
j/j: Yes! That is very true. Not individual poems. Organisms moving together toward (a sort of ongoing chordal politic) species. An open system capable of response to incentive, reproduction, advancement, expansion. Always moving in conjunction. Always configuring and sustaining the milieu and deeply inclusive homeostasis. A dependable, divergent stability.
TC: No, absolutely not — your work is not at all reductive or dogmatic. But you talk about an “inherent transgression or trespass” and that has to do with “what excess feels like.” Keep going here. I’m definitely picking up on some ethical implications of your work. Does your work threaten? If so, what?
j/j: Yes. The work itself is an inherent transgression of normative historical strictures / stipulations — transgresses the status quo in terms of content and poise regarding content (contact). The work is trespass of the confines and limits of the pre. This may be the pre of my own past. This may be the pre of outdated outlooks or forms regarding social appropriateness in such and such genre or in such and such ideation etc. There are certainly ethical implications in my work — but as my loyalties are not binary these ethics are not nourished by singling out any one aspect of a polarity and siding with that aspect while demonizing another.
I am saying that the work is its own self-induced alterity so that it can engage (and offer) the countless aspects and desperate densities of matter. I guess it is sort of like ‘what are the ethics of continually crossing an infrared bridge?’ — so, those ethics are not currently extant (though they are I think, implied by matter’s current planar configurations and potentials) and must be built built built! The building of the ethics of a continual crossing like this — an elemental that is always flickering both in and out of form — is a cosmic chivalry. Increases portal. Induces slippage and lovely destabilizations regarding what is generally modeled for any being in society / culture.
It is important to me that spaces for new emancipations are continually being generated. This is key to the way that I focus on composition of variant ethics, because I want to ensure that there are emancipatory spaces that will couple with the paces of any accelerated evolutionary processes. I take responsibility for generating these (though I am not the only one doing this kind of work) emancipatory spaces. It is part of my identity to do so. It is important to me that we as beings have the ability to have agency regarding being freed as well as regarding what we are being freed from! I am saying that just because there are groups rallied in support of or against _______ or _______ (without discounting any of those endeavors, here) it is integral to me that a being be able to decide where and how they want their energies directed so that their emancipations can feel most authentic — whether working with Occupy Wall Street, hurling energy toward a socially extant movement or (like the 4-5 million Sadhus of India) sitting near the Ganges nude with one arm held up toward the sky for many years until that arm has become calcified — sweet Sadhus who by Viragya “desire to achieve something by leaving” trespass the limits of the flesh to achieve Mokhsa (liberation).
Regarding “threatens” or not. Certainly my work is a threatening of anything that would cripple the myriad authenticities or impose stasis on the moving cipher — on mystery as a primary, leading force. Certainly there is a threatening of the illusion of collective linearity or sameness / oneness.
I would say that my work threatens but does not need to be perceived of as threatening. As I said in our bodies are beauty inducers (Rebel Satori Press) you have to want to experience it in order to feel the occult — like on the level of trance or hypnosis, you have to want to be altered in order to experience altered states.
TC: I’m curious about your process of “sculpting limitless verse / anti-verse to coax the ethereal swells into material form.” Because there does seem to be a limitless quality to your work — in that, as I read through your books there are very few times that I think I’ve come to the end of something / anything. And then you talk later about “selvage as suture.” Which, to me, implies that the body is both a site of injury and a site of healing. I feel like the limitlessness of your work has something to do with your body and this “maintenance of identities.” Am I way off here?
j/j: Not way off. You are right on here! Thank you so much for your gorgeous intuitions! As far as sculpting limitless verse / anti-verse to coax the ethereal swells into material form — this activism of tending to ethereal traits by way of human form is always both disjunctive and intercessory. The process of this involves a sort of divergent divination / haruspex (hence the presence of sound and image conjunctions in the work — these thaumaturgical stirring and strumming wands) working with the thicknesses of phrases and curvatures, then carving them into neoteric shapes by way of a slow whittling (by echolocations / reverberation of many types). So, I would say that there is always this working with an extant bulk (a moment, a feeling, a memory from this plane or from another, a sensation, an idea, a gnawing, a bruise that I cannot remember where I got it from, etc.) and whittling it to a previously unforeseen specificity that allows some sort of crossing to occur. The point though is to get an it specified — not to make a thinness (due to whittling) out of anything, because this work of mystery shares lineage with wishes and a wish is never thin or brittle.
I think that to specify for the sake of ______ is always a loving and generous act.
I appreciate your picking up on the fact that there is no “end of something / anything” in my work. This is true. It is much more about inhabiting the inebriation of the pages themselves. Their shapes are to be considered like any other personages are (having an integral place in the pageant / demonstration that form is). I have a dear friend who cuts up my books and puts them in a locket that is worn over the heart. I have another dear friend who reads them then burns them. I have another dear friend who taught one of my books to her class and when she asked me how I wanted her to teach it, I said that my desire was that the class participants inhabit it as if it were theirs from before. That they not treat it like something of the upper white towers of intellectualization and instead like “your firmament spills into the shape of your room” (Diane di Prima). Like their own satchel. This meant that the members of the class cut up the book. Colored in it. Graffitied. Wept into its pages. Glued in family portraits. Smeared dirt on it. Dirt and fruit pith. It stood in as a compassionate position (rather than imposition) for them. A friend. A holding. And that is so fucking fulfilling to me!
When a you inhabits the pages you are adding ethereal lipids to them which gives them more galactic weight — makes them more existent. Evident to themselves. This relieves them. I am saying that when you enjoin with the shapes that have been whittled to these specificities, there is less lack. Less disparateness. I am saying that the pages are dependent on you and they are dependent on the trees that are their ancestors / predecessors and that they would hurt if they could not have you with them inside of them. Yes, this is a formula for a new eros. A new way to merge.
As far as selvage as suture is concerned, yes — the body is at once a “site of injury and a site of healing” (thank you for saying that. That is so beautiful!) so what is there to be done about that? There is so much to be done! So many fulfilling emancipations to be had and felt! The it is always partially complete and still in need of being compelled — therefore, I believe that to make a layered lace arc that it is not possible to see the beginning or the end of (have you ever seen this kind of a supernumerary rainbow? — constructive interference is what makes the thickness / vastness of the arc so complex and the complexity is what makes the color spectrum so varied and rich) so that healing (suture) can be an activism-continuum that we engage both before and after imposition/ injury (which is bound to occur in form due to chaos). I am saying that to embody selvage as suture is to allow us active stance within the limitless potentials that that non-ending lace arc is — rather than having our senses of selvage be mere reaction to exterior impositions regarding that chaos. Lace is always procreant.
Also the fact that a non-ending arc (like a rainbow is) may or may not actually be a circle, and oh the deific excesses that that mystery makes possible!
The limitlessness of my work is interested in maintenance of the many identities — in constantly fluenting the indeterminacies of the variations — in spawning a space so vast and intricate that it can hold any of the facets as they spill forth as materiality in need of being specified. This is an ensuring that any of the variegations of identities will be welcome and can have home made for them. I am saying that I will live to construct the garden because I had to make myself belong in the garden, even if I am not entirely Adam or Eve — even if I am not entirely from planar earth. However, this garden is not only mine. It is ours. It is the indelible, life-giving and life-taking situate of a true, admixed collective. Of a we.
TC: You spoke about an “autonomous language” and I’m wondering if you are implying that language is inherently autonomous or if this is the function of queering language? Does it have and exert its own agency and / or desire? Are you concerned that the autonomy of language might actually limit a trans/queer existence rather than expand it?
j/j: I see this in a few different ways. I think that as a cosmic entity, language is extant (because it has been made and because it continues to make contact possible). For this reason I do think that it inherently has autonomy. I do not think that language is only how it is utilized in any current socio-cultural space or stricture.
I also think that language is inherently dependent on us inasmuch as we engage it. So — language’s inherency is autonomous and dyad. Benefits from bindery with the extensions of another elemental (human, robot, letter dug up from where it was buried hundreds of years before).
But in the context of queering language I think that it is possible to enable / enhance more agency on the part of language. To actually make space for the language to experience / exert its varying emancipations just as we (as personages) seek and provoke them. I think that in the creation of lover-like spaces with language, the language (like with a human lover) will express desires related to the particularities of how it is being merged with. I am saying that I think it is possible to incite (which is co) and then hear (which is experiencing its autonomy) language’s moans and cries. A page is embodied language’s moans and cries made visible and though presented in visual form this information still goes into the body by way of sound and feeling.
In my work with language there is always a sort of disjunctive lyricism that comes forth from these lover-like spaces. There is no doubt for me that this particulate, disjunctive lyricism is the result of an equitable collaboration (merge) between myself and language (both with our autonomies and with our need to converge).
Now, there are certainly animate blends also! Places in the convergence that it becomes impossible to decipher one from another. We must not discount those because they to me are the places of deepest thaumaturgical awe –
I am not concerned that the autonomy of language would ever limit a trans / queer existence. I have only ever felt language enhance those realms for me. I think that the way that persons (with their objectives based in the limits and strictures that are a result of fear) can use language (which is imposition and not inherency) could be the only way that language would ever stand in the way of any (including trans / queer) emancipations or embodiments. I am saying that it is possible to draw a third box and put a check in it and then name that box (“gastropod mollusk”), at the doctor’s office when they ask you to indicate: 1) Male 2) Female re “gender” (we do not even need to go into here, how gender is different than birth sex and how M/F re gender is a ridiculous question for a doctor to ask). That it is possible to shout that the categories that we are given are not enough. To act on what we have given and force it into something vast enough (or specific enough in whatever ways are needed) to hold us. Do I think that bureaucratic uses of language regarding trans / queer identities are profoundly disheartening and revolting in their archaisms and outdatedness? Absolutely. But I am also saying that language itself is in my opinion, a cosmic inherency and there is no reason that one inherency (language) would block out another inherency (trans / queer identity) without it being marionetted by fear or limit, which is really what war is.
TC: I love this: “I find that autonomous language does lessen my loneliness. Does increase proximities. Does add community to community.” I don’t want you to explain it. I just want you to know that I love it. Also, this: “We need each other and we need ourselves. Oh glorious myopias of need!”
j/j: Just something to add here. I see my own gender / embodiment variations as my community — as more than sole or only. I see your (any you) gender / embodiment variations as community. I am talking about gender excesses and gender ecstasies and sweet supplenesses of embodiment, not about gender confines or binary-based categories. In this way engaging language in order to exhibit / express those variations only strengthens them. Makes them more extant. FYI — I currently identify as a post-embodied-masculine femme queer. Effeminate monstrosity. Post-stigmata vixen / vulpes. Meaning I have had to cross so many times (full transitions) to get here. Meaning trans motilities. All of this always to accelerate and intensify the felt it, by whittle, synthesis and integrations. I believe that these are how vitality is made and I believe that embodied vitality is a choice. Is my choice.
There are yet to be pronounced pronouns that must be mined and mine them, we must!
TC: Also, I love what you’ve said here about the performativity of gender existing outside of audience. That the doing is being made manifest. Is language a part of that for you? Is your language gendered? Can language exist outside of that?
j/j: Yes! Language is certainly a part of the performativity of gender for me. My language is not gendered (I do not think that inherently language is gendered, but instead is galactic in its capacity and so will express itself in many ways including genders) but my language is certainly my gender! Yes, my language is my gender! My language is my future body and its qualities spun by luminous loom now, by way of my own volition.
TC: What is a question you wish you were asked?
j/j: I would love to be asked to talk about my husband-wife Tracy. Or to be given the opportunity (which I now have) to name her here in the midst. I would want to talk about Tracy in the form of a statement of amorous and passionate thanks. To name the bindery that we are in — this profound relation that keeps me here. I hope that this comes off like I am madly in love with her. I hope in it is implied the depth of my commitment to her and to the monogamous relation that we have been upholding and nurturing for 5 years in this life and whole lifetimes in many other planar incantations. It feels integral to name her here because I really think I would have left this planar reality a long time ago were it not for her continual unifying (vivifying of me) with me and opening my spectrum about what it can mean to be in love in the human plane. Oh the reverences and restitutions! All of the ways of being more and more deeply revealed. Flecks of light across the top of a geode. That gorgeous heart sting that happens when we go so far back into fucking that there is literally no longer any back to me (“the miasma of night is between your legs”-Jenny Boully). So many vigorous and radical ways of straddling the threshold between the human plane and the cosmic infinitum by way of co-practicing Chod.
A kismet beast amidst so much kinetic jam.
TC: Alright, I can’t help it — every time I turn to the first page of new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk I laugh out loud. There’s a playfulness (on many levels: visually, sonically, referentially) in this book that I haven’t fully recognized in your other work. Talk to me about the play — where it’s located, and where do you hope it goes?
j/j: Hmmm. It is so interesting to me that you laugh. What a great thing for me to hear! I would say that there certainly is not an intent on my part to provoke a pre-determined response but I think it is true that new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk is an interaction with the libertine and the monk aspects of form, content and embodied movements.
For this reason the first page of the book the alpha and the omega for a cyborg is a sexy and sort of “fuck-you” confidence-based statement that I imagine many queers rooting in as tone related to status-quo expectations and impingements. I can see how this piece would bring pleasurable response. With it (an openness and an admitted origin in the divergent/ deviant—meaning ‘I self-name as such which means if you name me as such the name is already mine so exteriors do not have power over me’) as the starter of the book it becomes possible to feel how Jill Magi talks about the deviantness of the book: “holding j/j hastain’s new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk, I can feel my body push away from its disciplined and well-groomed version of itself; my pulse quickens, readying my system for a revitalizing intake. So as with certain religious reading practices, I take this book [and] open to any page.” I am saying that perhaps what is bringing that response from your body and heart and mind is how the very first moment of narrative / anti-narrative / other-than narrative is a cyborg saying ‘there are phallic cores in the center of the earth that are and are not biological (they come from earth but are not “destined” or stasis as phallus (masculine?) and in fact appear in form by way of a reoccurring and unstoppable dripping (effeminate?) underground. This locates the book in ulteriority from the moment that it is opened and perhaps there is a letting in the body of the reader regarding that. A sense of relief.
All of this makes me think of how George W. Crile insinuates (in The Origin and Nature of the Emotions) how often laughter and crying in somatic realms are interchangeable — “why they often blend.”
Regarding play. I think it is very true that there is play in new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk. In the same way that we spoke of earlier in this interview this is not play that should be disregarded or taken lightly. This is not us trying on our genders for fun. We are not fucking around. It is play / performativity of the movements as we cross. It is embodiment of our bolds. It is keeping ourselves loose enough that the most information possible spins through us (loom). It is shamanic ritualist play. The play of the philosopher’s stone (Cintamani in Hinduism and Buddhism). The play of induction toward varieties of rejuvenation that connect to enlightenments of many kinds. I need to say this again — you have to want the occult in order to experience it. This is the play required in order to inhabit the occult.
There are full sets of chromosomes in each cell in a body. Chromosomes are inherent coils of DNA and they are responsible for animation of cells. There are many genes, sequences and governing structures within cells. Some cells (gametes) are sexually procreant. The amass of information that I include here regarding cells is directly related to my composition process re new forms and meditations for the pressurized libertine monk. These meta-works (cell-poems) are certainly gamete. They function by way of reproductive adrenalines. Impetuses toward constituting new aggregates. The gametes (meta-components within my compositions) mingle (by magnetism and synchronicity) together and deep, recombinant fusions take place. The result? Uncanny collages provoking a new collagen. Nomadic, flexing globes.
TC: One kind of humor I was recently reading about is the humor of the “unexpected future.” I feel like you are mapping out a future of poetry, love, and gender here (no pressure!). Is the future of poetry / love / gender lighter? More fun?
j/j: I would say that the ways that I work with “unexpected future” are not about lightness necessarily but are certainly about letting. About opening the body (as a form) to its many potentials which certainly demands lubrications (the “blend”) of and by way of somatic states.
This “unexpected future” that you speak of reminds me of Lyn Hejinian’s statements about how the brain wants surprise ignitions (this is not exactly how she said it but something to the effect of). I think that there are unforeseen and awaiting successes that become inherencies when we can engage the many aspects that are required for us to stay here in / as the future we pursue. I am saying that a “future of poetry, love and gender” is what I must compose in order that there be space for myself (and thereby others) on planet as future. We are making our we by way of demanding of form, that it echo us. That it have space enough in it that we can be our authenticities here. That it have images of us in it. That it account for our variegations and our imaginations and our bodies. I don’t think that it is pressure to be a part of that evolutionary arc (I think you are doing it in your own way/s as well by way of your amazing projects – Casa Libre en la Solana / Trans / Genderqueer Anthology / Read Between the Bars/Made for Flight) — I am grateful for your naming your experience of my engagement in that way and I take pride in it.
TC: Is it possible to do a tarot reading for an apparition or a phantasm? Have you done one? What is the role of divination in your work?
j/j: I love this question. Thank you for asking it. Divination is definitely core to my compositional praxis. I engage a necessarily (but not in any way that is singularizing) deep, seeping and continual relation to divinities. For me god/s is inherently multi. Non-delineate-able. Does not benefit from being stricted or kept still in any way. The god/s that I work my divinations by way of are variant, inebriated, autonomous ferals. In fact I would say that I am engaging a practice of composing relational gods by embodied metonymy. Think of a creaming accordion that is always making sounds and motions — inherently dependent on its surrounding aspects (other ulteriors) in order for it to make more relational gods. A song is a relational god. A page is a relational god.
As queer querent it is important to me that my pages are oracles. That my books are aggregates of oracles (“beautiful sharks [that] have lace-clogged gills” -Jenny Boully) This is extispicy by way of images. So, not ceremonially slaughtered animals but ceremonially (sonically) disemboweled or enabled (animated re glavanizations) images. Axiomatic intelligences and energetics rendering themselves elementals on an always tilting verge.