Friday, November 24, 2017


Noah Cicero is an American novelist, poet and short story writer. He is the author of seven books of fiction, two e-books and a book of poetry. Originally from Ohio, he now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here is a link to his most recent book, Blood-Soaked Buddha, Hard Earth Pascal:

I'm very curious about your latest book, BLOOD-SOAKED BUDDHA-- HARD EARTH PASCAL. Starting with the title, can you tell us a little bit about it. What was your intention or aim?

The title comes from two things. Blood Soaked Buddha comes from when Dazu Huike waited outside of Bodhidharma’s cave. Dazu Huike kept asking Bodhidharma to teach him the way, but Bodhidharma wouldn’t teach him. Eventually Dazu Huike cut off his arm to show Bodhidharma his sincerity. A person must bleed to become a Buddha. The Hard Earth comes from how Pascal tells you, that you are embarked on life, you are on the earth, and must make a philosophical choice about how you will live, and this choice is hard.

The book starts with some statements on time, bitterness and ethics. And then it goes into thought experiments, what if there is heaven? What if there is reincarnation? What if there are ghosts? And ends with Pascal’s Wager. But of course, I have a different take on the wager than Pascal. Basically, I have never been satisfied with the philosophies surrounding the fact, what if there is heaven and what if there is nothing? I have never been satisfied with the explanations on how to live by the Judaic Religions and I have never felt satisfied by Western Atheists. This book springs from that dissatisfaction.

Congratulations on the publication of your latest poetry collection, NATURE DOCUMENTARY. I'm assuming it's about your relationship to nature, which seems significant in recent years. Can you speak a bit to your evolving relationship to certain themes like nature in your poetry? What are other subjects that draw you, poetically speaking?

“Nature” really has two meanings. One means “outside of the urban” and one means “How something behaves” in an Aristotelian sense. I have spent a lot of time outside urban environments. Growing up in Ohio gave me the chance to walk the woods for hours at a time, to look at beetles, cut up vines in the forest and lick water out of them, to see snakes and deer. I’ve also been to many national parks, and lived at the Grand Canyon. And now I go hiking every Sunday somewhere in either the Spring Mountains or Mojave Desert. But people who live in urban settings often have an unnatural view of the forest and desert. The urban view it as beautiful, but that is projection. Nature isn't beautiful. Everything is eating each other, everything is dying, rivers are smashing through rocks, snakes are eating mice, mice are being eaten, and animals basically rape each other. Nature is brutal. It is totally Hobbesian.

I had this moment standing with a young woman looking at the Grand Canyon. She said, “The Colorado created the canyon.” I replied, “The Colorado destroyed the land before it.” But neither are true. The Grand Canyon was not created or destroyed. It is, just is, and for some reason, we like to look at it.

But the poetry book is also about the nature of humans, that we are often consumed with halcyon days. We make bad choices and have to live out ruined lives, and sometimes have to do things we don’t want to do, but we have to forge ahead and do it.

The book might be about, how brutal it is, to be human.

I really draw a lot from the inability to change, how we can stay the course even though it is a real disservice and obvious punishment to ourselves.

Your connection to the Latin American literary scene seems completely natural. It makes perfect sense to me. With what and whom do you most ally in that scene?

I have made a great friends in the Latin American writing scene. From Spain to Argentina they have become connected via the internet. There is a poet named Luna Miguel that has worked hard to bring Spanish speaking writers together. She has done lots of promotion by word of mouth and the internet for years. You go to Mexico, Chile or Peru and people will talk about their love of Luna Miguel. I’ve had the honor of meeting some of these great people, some of the best minds and hearts. To think about the people I’ve met, and the kindness they’ve shown, my heart grows warm.

It seems too long since we've actually talked, but one thing that has evolved for me from this distance in terms of my perception of you as a writer is your relationship to the art as a kind of ambassador of truth. Can you speak to that--disputing or denying it is cool too.

Truth has died out, there is no incentive to be interested in truth anymore. This is how we do things in the 21st Century. We all have these ideologies/brands/identities and we seek art that reflects our ideologies/brands/identities. When people read Dostoevsky in the 20th Century, they knew they were embarking on a journey, that they would stumble onto passages that made them doubt truths they held dear, but they did it anyway. We don’t read or write books like that in the 21st Century. No one is going to read a book on the Barnes and Noble table and feel self-doubt. This is why the books stop selling a few months after they come out, because they are DOA, Dead on Arrival. The words are dead, the books have no life.

The search for Truth in Being, is not about seeking, it is about experiment. It is about starting your novel or article with an experimental idea, dissecting the idea, and allowing the answer to arise out of the dissection. But we don’t believe in that anymore. We have answers ideologies/brands/identities that we have to maintain. We are nothing more than marketing niches.

I believe in Truth in Being. I think people should think about enlightenment. It breaks my heart, really makes me sad, when I look at a group of people rushing around, maintaining their ideologies/brands/identities. I can really tell, none of them are thinking about enlightenment, they aren’t worried about what it means to be happening.

What drives you to write most now? What drove you to write initially?

I have always felt this terrible pain inside me. An unbelievable agony. I am really exhausted of it. I know why writers kill themselves if you asked me, “Noah, tell me why writers kill themselves.” I wouldn’t do it. Just believe me, if I took the pain out of me and put it in your body for even a minute, you would scream, pull at your hair and beg me to take it out of you. I don’t know why, but writing keeps it at bay. Writing is a release valve for it. Probably years from now scientists will discover that this terrible pain and the need to make sentences come from the same place in the brain, but as of now, I don’t think we know, and if we did, would it matter?

                                                            NOAH CICERO

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