Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Love/Hate Relationships and the Duality of Nature - The Rumpus Interview

Rumpus: The title of your book is from a Bags lyric, but you write about the idea of Violence Girl as something that precedes you (“the seeds of Violence Girl were sown long before I was born”), a transcendent force that overtakes you. The book also contains an emphasis on dualities, like in the passage where you describe your love of Bruce Lee movies and their well-defined roles of thugs and heroes. What do these doubles mean for you, the narrator?

Bag: There are several things that happen when, as a child, you see the adults in your life behaving in ways that seem inconsistent with how you have come to imagine them to be. Initially there’s confusion and maybe even a little bit of disbelief. We treat children to very simplistic explanations of humanity, we tell them people are either good or bad, so when people exhibit both traits and we all eventually do, it can be difficult to know what to do with that new information. It’s hard to figure out how to relate to someone who does good things one minute and bad things the next. In my book, my father is both a doting parent who showers me with unconditional love and the man who abuses my mother. I had to deal with conflicting emotions, I hated and loved my father equally. Experiencing these seemingly contradictory emotions forced me to have empathy for people because I could see the complexity of human nature.

I think it’s probably a feeling that victims of domestic abuse can relate to. Nobody marries thinking they’re going to get Mr. Hyde. I think we all expect our partner’s behavior to be consistent with what they’ve projected in the past. So when the abusive side shows up there’s an element of confusion and disbelief because that’s not the person you thought you were getting, but understanding that people can harbor both sides and that perhaps they are even two sides of the same coin can be another way of looking at that behavior. Sometimes the very thing that makes someone a passionate partner in one instance makes that same person a formidable foe in a different situation. I found a little bit of solace in understanding the duality of my father’s nature.

Read my entire May 2012 interview with Niina Pollari online at The Rumpus.

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