AP: You mentioned the word transformative before, and it does seem like there is a sense of resolution in Horse. Is that true, and what it does mean for you as a writer?
AW: Well as I writing it I was thinking, ‘What will happen?’ And I knew that it was affecting me. I was affected by it. Because it gave me this kind of dynamic principle, as though I wanted to go on with it it; it wanted me to go on with itself, it was doing itself. So it was great fun, really, the most enjoyable writing project.
But, the effect of it – well, ahh, I am now a doctor! But I don’t know…It made me think about life. But writing does have a sort of transformative effect, no doubt. And it had actually almost like a physiological effect on me – this sounds as though I am making it up – the magic horse, Pegasus! But there would be such an intense feeling in writing it that I would feel almost physically affected by it. It’s quite amazing. There was a sense of clarity, and a sort of dynamic principle, that was set up within itself. I don’t quite even understand how it was all affecting me in that way. But you know I think the act of writing has an affect on the central nervous system. And I could do very long stretches of writing…I remember once coming in here to the office on the weekend, no one around, and I was able to write for six hours non-stop, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and it happened!
AP: We’ve spoken about the significance that your dreams have on your writing. Have your dreams changed since writing Horse?
AW: Well I wonder! Probably…probably not. The same process is there. And the dream, the dream narrative … one always translates it by telling it, and talking about it. So it’s always a transformative effect. But I have been affected by the Horse. Undoubtedly. There was a kind of clarifying and elucidating process. Because I was incorporating the whole process of psychoanalysis, which is meant to be producing that exit from the labyrinth. Whereas the Palace of Culture is still within the interiorised space, the nightmare. It kinds of trap, entrapment in a dream; whereas Horse is more release. And I always had that feeling with Palace of Culture, I could start reading it and in a way disappear into the dream … because the dream area is also a dangerous area, which you know, I write about Spinoza’s ideas about dreams, that they are a sort of realm of madness.
But now, clearly cured! But, you know, Freud said the only reason I write is to analyse myself. And the process of writing, it really is an amazing one. I work with people doing it and whichever level they do it on, they still experience that kind of – what is it? It’s a delight. But it’s also a profound experience, of something really happening – physiologically, neurologically – it’s amazing. It’s almost like an electric current that is set up. Amazing. But you know religious practice is connected with this too. I’m thinking, you know, spontaneous emission of language, in Pentecostal Church, Baptist Church, you know. Amazing. The idea of chanting. How strange.
AP: In Horse you write, ‘I say no to the paternal function of symbolic language’; ‘The language of the father is refused’. It is really interesting to think about a feminist reading of Horse and your work …
AW: Oh absolutely, and you know, that is connected with the writing of Lacan, who has a specific area of language of the father, which is literal, continuous language, and it’s the function of the therapist to confront the one being analysed and in a way enforce that language. But I’m refusing this, clearly, in my writing. But you know, often when I did readings and people didn’t know me, they would think it was someone quite mad, or someone in a fragmented state. But I like that. And who says that one has to form a specific narrative, and why should we single out a particular narrative as being the master narrative? But the master narrative is the patriarchal narrative, which dominates our society. So I’m trying to uproot it, somewhat, or destabilise it. But you know, one gets punished for that, too.
AP: How do fairytales fit into that?
AW: Well it’s curious, isn’t it? The fairytales always come from the matriarchal aspect – you know the Brothers Grimm would always collect them from usually old ladies. And there would be that, the maternal aspect would appear. Which in psychoanalytic terms can also be downgraded too, you know, ‘this is where psychosis resides, within the maternal’. So I want to sort of question all of this, and allow different formats of language. Cos I’ve got literal language in there, but I’ve also got fragmented language, and something in between. And who knows, maybe once the book is closed, all the language gets jumbled up! But then, I’m all for it. And Freud was too…apparently he also practiced a kind of mode which can be seen as religious, where you leap and jump between ideas. Leaping and jumping. When I read that, I thought, ‘Goodness, I like doing that myself!’ So how strange, that these ideas exist. But you know in all religious practice there’s the idea of opening the bible at random. The idea of chance events. Irrational phenomena. I would say I was putting my finger in that pot.
And also you know the area of fairytales, the narrative of fairytales is itself diabolical, because it often up-ends expectations and is quite monstrous. But you know, we know fairytales from the cleaned up Disney versions, but, you know, the original Little Red Riding Hood eats her grandmother. Kills her and eats her. And the original toys of Little Red Riding Hood, there would be, on one side there would be Little Red Riding Hood, on the other side was the wolf head. That ambiguity of images, and very dark, almost horror story aspect, is there in fairytales: that’s why I love the area. I’m appearing more and more dark! No, it’s good. That’s me.