Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Mustard Man Interview With Richard Godwin


Christopher Grant: Minus the use of human material, of course, how did the love of good food or cooking play a role in the genesis of The Mustard Man stories (if any)?


Richard Godwin: The host gives the meal. The parasite digests, he sits at the shoulder of the diners and watches their habits.

The Mustard Man is a mythology. He is a modern mythology of desire and need. As such the monopolies of homogenised food are part of the thematic materials that comprise the narratives. He is part and parcel of what we eat. He is also a character who will feed to you the thing you ought to eat and as such he goes beyond waiters and the catering industry which are a reflection of our own commercial narcissism and economic need.

CG: As I read Piquant, and I mentioned this to you, I began to see The Mustard Man as a hero. He doesn't target the everyman but rather those that hold themselves above the common person and the laws that the rest of us have to follow. Do you consider The Mustard Man a hero, an anti-hero, a force of nature, something else?


RG: The Mustard Man is all of these, he occupies the precise position in modern history where all terms lose their meaning and he injects them with renewed vigour. Heroism is a product of the political system it serves, and an anti hero is now subject to surveillance, those subverters of the order of things may be subject to the system they rebel against but a force of nature is that precisely because of his knowledge of his own destiny. The key here is the people the Mustard Man eviscerates with great gastronomy and there we have the food chain. Darwin posited an evolutionary model we inhabit as a paradigm that may be juxtaposed to those theories about what we need to survive propagated by the political systems we inhabit, the Mustard Man has been in all of these and is beyond them too, because his identity is part of an ongoing historical revolution that has always been here and always will be. He is the Saviour of Art and the Champion of Art. He is placing certain people back into the food chain.

CG: In Kentucky Ketchup, it is said that Jack Laretto has a new novel out called Pony Trip. You, of course, had a story about a deranged serial killing spirit by the same name. To intentionally get meta on you, is Pony Trip the novel Pony Trip the story leaking into the fictional stream now that The Mustard Man has re-seeded the space/time continuum?


RG: The Mustard Man works with herbs. He understands the nature of soil. The farm lay untenanted for months that passed with the slow resolution of some grim prophecy. Winter turned and settled a million leaves deep in the soil that acquired new fecundity from the mulch and insects that bred there.

CG: What is Julius Pharaoh in the whole thing? Is he is follower/recruiter or is just biding his time to usurp The Mustard Man's leadership? Or would that be telling?


RG: Julius Pharaoh is a product of the changes the Mustard Man makes in the space/time continuum. He is the prophet of a parallel position in time to the characters he meets.

CG: William S. Burroughs talked about good versus evil in terms of Johnsons and Shits. In the collection, The Mustard Man doesn't target your common man (or woman) and even goes out of his way to help one of these people. Instead, he targets those that Burroughs would have called Shits (the politicians, the reviewers of art that don't know what art is, et al). How much influence did Burroughs have on these stories (if any) and how much of it was your own distaste for the Shits amongst us?


RG: I like Burroughs's depiction of the Johnsons. There are certain people who like to stick their noses in but do nothing when needed. That is not the Johnsons. If Burroughs was an influence here he was not a conscious one. However the Mustard Man is a champion. Those who wish to impose a facile moral order based on their own prejudices are undoubtedly going to end up in the food mixture. If one has a palate it is impossible not for feel distaste for the Shits among us. The Shits who make moral judgements without due consideration.

4 comments:

Graham Smith said...

A great Double header of an interview which was very enlightening.

Loved the Zappa references and I'm not desperate for a spot of mustard.

Paul D Brazill said...

Great extra bit of insight into the Mustard Man and his creator.

Jason Michel said...

Richard's wicked imagination & humour is what makes MM so enjoyable to read.

Like all great satire, you feel that it all is happening somewhere right now.

ajhayes2 said...

Not a squeeze bottle in sight. All the piquancy is slathered on with a wide-spreading blade. Superhero? Absolutely! The Watchmen would welcome him with open arms. He would be their high priest, offering absolution and babtism in a slow moving, neon yellow river of sharp edged salvation. A certain Jonathan Swift (he of A Modest Proposal) shines subtly through the mythic make up of MM.
(And one might add: a subtle soupcon of a certain Mr. Glamour too, of course)