2007_05_tao_lin.jpgWhen you visit Tao Lin's Reader of Depressing Books , you really get to know Tao Lin, which makes reading his debut novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, a much more interesting affair because it goes from being a novel written by some guy to being a novel written by someone you know. And in this interview you'll get to know a little more about Tao Lin, and then you can read Tao's thoughtful and interesting post on Cho Seung-Hui's killing rampage or his amusing exploration of his writing process.

What sort of aspirations did you have growing up?
I had no aspirations growing up and I'm not sure if I have them right now, at least specific ones. I used to say I wanted to be a marine biologist sometimes, but just to say something, not because I seriously wanted to be a marine biologist. I used to say a lot of things. I've said I wanted to design video games, be a day-trader in the stock market, start a band, etc. I've probably said, "We should start a band," "Let's start a band," or "I want to start a band," over a thousand times to more than ten different people.

What sort of creative outlets did you have?
Throwing things. If I was somewhere with someone I would throw something to amuse us. Like a rock or something. Or I would kick a tree or something. We had a lot of vandalism in high school, but kind-hearted vandalism, sort of. A lot of weekends the most exciting thing to do was to vandalize someone's house. I liked being creative if we threw toilet paper in people's trees or threw eggs at someone's house. I would wrap the toilet paper around something completely or make the toilet paper stretch across the street from one branch to a mailbox or something, or try to throw the eggs at strategic places. I wasn't there for this one thing, but my friends superglued someone's front door to its frame. We also would do things with fireworks. I lit those spinner fireworks and hit them with a tennis racket. Even that felt boring though. I can remember hitting the fireworks with the tennis racket and feeling bored. I played video games and computer games a lot. In high school in one class after we finished our tests we would bring them to a basket and put them in the basket. To relieve boredom, someone I knew went to the basket and stapled all the tests together.

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.

For example, if I went to an anti-Bush protest and chanted something about Bush being bad for attacking Iraq I would feel very self-conscious and not be able to do it with a serious facial expression unless I was also sarcastic. Because what if attacking Iraq means that ten billion alien life forms one million years from now will be saved from severe pain due to the attack of Iraq setting off a series of events that will destroy all human beings, who would otherwise somehow torture those ten billion alien life forms?

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.

You recently moved back to Brooklyn. What's your apartment like?
There are four people and one bathroom. It is $500 a month. My room is 6 feet by 9 feet or something like that. It's dirty, I think, but not in a way you can clean easily. The walls and ground and kitchen and bathroom have nasty shit on them. I think just from years of normal shit being there and then probably chemically bonding to the surfaces.

Please share your strangest "only in New York" story.
I was walking on the sidewalk with earphones in my ears. Rows of gigantic trucks kept driving by on the street. They were very loud and I couldn't hear the music that was coming out of the earphones. That isn't strange, but that doesn't happen to me in other places.

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.

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?
I don't know. I would replace all the McDonald's with Bonobo's maybe.

Best cheap eat in the city.
Fruit is cheap and healthy. I like to get an organic avocado and then buy a small spinach salad ($2) from Dojo on the corner of Mercer St. and 4th street and then bring that to Think Coffee on Mercer St. and eat the avocado with the small spinach salad which comes with a carrot tahini ginger dressing and buy an ice coffee or espresso. Think Coffee has free ice water and all their coffee is organic, fair-trade, and shade-grown.

What's your idea of a perfect day of recreation in New York?
Not perfect, but a nice day would be buying a giant organic ice coffee, putting soymilk in it, walking around drinking it in sunlight and cool weather for about 15 minutes, then going into the library and doing things in front of the computer for 3-4 hours. Then walking outside for maybe 15 more minutes and buying a salad and maybe another ice coffee, then sitting in front of the computer doing things for another 3-4 hours, then maybe meeting a nice, calm, quiet friend and walking around with him or her for maybe one hour, then doing things alone in my room for 3-4 hours like cleaning it or organizing things or reading a few pages of a lot of different books or packaging things to send people and then making a smoothie and drinking it and showering and exercising naked and then going to sleep.

Tao will be appearing at the Giant KGB Reading on May 26th at 7 PM and the Nerve.com Reading at McNally Robinson Bookstore on the 2nd of July at 7 PM.