‘The amorphousness of meaning-making’: Elena Gomez Interviews Toby Fitch

By and | 1 February 2020

EG: It’s just this era of capitalism we live under where people are forced to work too much and there’s no escape route. I think everyone is within their rights to complain about work and to know that relatively we are privileged but also know that work is a global problem. I’ll finish up by asking what you’ve been reading or watching or looking at lately that’s been exciting?

TF: When I watch things on TV it’s like me ordering meals at a nice restaurant that should obviously be memorable, and then eating them, taking lots of pleasure out of them, but then completely forgetting exactly what I ate. I forget the names of TV series I watch like that.

EG: Is this a parent thing?

TF: No, it’s me. It’s literally me. Memory’s strange. I think we build up different kinds of muscles for the types of memories that are possible and I’m probably not very good at certain kinds of remembering. Others I might be slightly better at, like, I feel I’ve always remembered the emotional arcs of songs, poems and narratives better. I can rarely reel off quotes or plot points or facts the way others can.

EG: Everyone’s got different things we always remember or always forget. It’s probably not the end of the world that you forgot a TV show you watched.

TF: Actually, I watched Russian Doll, but that was just last week, so easier to remember. The split self, or split subjectivity, in that was really interesting and done in a fun way. I’m watching the latest Rick and Morty, now that I think of it, which is lots of ridiculous. I tend toward the zany ones, that are also serious in that they tackle tricky topics, and the world(s) as we live in now. I watch a lot of crime dramas, too – they’re really addictive and I like to be shocked. A really great but harrowing one I watched recently is Unbelievable. Also, I binged Line of Duty. Besides TV, I’ve been reading plenty of poetry between semesters of teaching – during the ‘holidays’, this horrific fire ‘season’. I’ve been rereading Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen prose poems and finally reading Kim Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death . And a poet I hadn’t come across before, or I had but didn’t realise she’s written a lot – Mary Ruefle. I only knew her book A Little White Shadow (it’s actually ‘white out’ poetry, using an actual White Out pen). But she’s written heaps of other books. I love the swift associations she makes. I’ve also been reading Brecht’s early city poems, and Muriel Rukeyser, and rereading Sean Bonney, especially his book Our Death, since his death in November. I’m reading more overtly political and socialist poetry, along with Australian history, because I’ve been trying to write a book of poems for about five years called Sydney Spleen, and I’ve had poems knocking about that deal with the city, national politics, media spin, late capitalism, climate change, etc., and I’m trying to keep thinking of how to read around that.

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