Brian Lucas on Unlocking a Secret Code to a Bountiful and Utopian “Nowhere”
An interview with Brian Lucas from The Write Stuff series:
Brian Lucas lives in Oakland, CA. His most recent book is Now Land (ink drawings with an accompanying CD of music), self-released under the moniker Old Million Eye. Eclipse Babel, a book of ink drawings and poems, was co-published in 2015 by Bird & Beckett/Bootstrap Press. Gaze Emanations, a series of drawings, were recently exhibited and performed as graphic scores at the Center for New Music (San Francisco). A CD of musical interpretations and a booklet of said drawings was released by Public Eyesore Records in 2019. Aside from painting and poetry, he has also played on numerous albums and toured with the “cosmic free-rock” group Dire Wolves. He is currently finishing up two Old Million Eye albums set to be released in 2021.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
I try to avoid situations where it might be asked, but if I can’t I tell them, “I’m a perpetual amateur luxuriating in the margins.”
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
I would ask what they think is wrong with what they’re doing and go from there.
What’s been most important to your writing: education, or the real world? Why?
To me, both seem to narrow, domesticate, and institutionalize the boundless, fertile, and wild imagination. Ferality is where it’s at.
If you could give advice to your 15 year old self, what would it be?
Don’t listen to the naysayers. If I had taken that advice I’d be an anthropologist, or possibly a saint, by now.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
I’m a success without ever having been successful, thankfully.
Why do you get up every morning?
To feed Mina (our cat, named after Mina Loy). But I also think something momentous could happen: I might stumble upon a new inroad into aspects of the Imagination I wasn’t previously aware of or perhaps unlock a secret code to a bountiful and utopian “nowhere.” Maybe it’s just a habit in order to appear productive.
What’s wrong with society today?
Too many people benefit from brutality.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Ideally a cosmic situationism, a messaging system; a wound, tongue, and nutrient; the ongoing ritual of an innate and unavoidable urge to transmit meaning and experience symbolically; an often unheard, but needed cry in the desert. A way of thinking, an alchemical or magical process. It’s necessary to me for these reasons. It gives substance to life.
What are you working on right now? Or: what kind of work would you like to do?
I wouldn’t call it “work” per se, but I’ve been exploring how to organize sound while steadily amassing solo musical home recordings.
It would be nice to call a truce with language and add to my poetic magnum opus sooner than later.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
I think the Bay Area should relocate.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Or: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
I’ve seen/felt the aftereffects of a few ghostly presences.
A mass spirit possession in Bangkok, Thailand that went on for five or six hours. A few women possessed by the spirits of dead children babbling in child voices, a married couple who became an ancient Thai king and queen, lots of hair whipping; incredible, relentless trance music with a guy imploring the spirits to descend. I almost succumbed to possession myself.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Assam tea, wet earth, peppermint oil, herbs, sea breeze, baked goods
What are you unable to live without?