What is facticity?
The word has different meanings, but in the book facticity concerns the backdrop from which our choices emerge. Things like upbringing, education and the country we live in are readily identifiable categories of facticity. These things frame and determine our choices in ways.
So does facticity pertain to everyone?
Even dogs and cats?
I think so, yes.
Can you give another kind of example of facticity, something that will really get my attention, maybe something with data or numbers, something controversial?
Sure. Consider the fact that 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Why don’t 80% of Americans identify themselves as Muslim? Is it because Americans have carefully investigated the strengths and weaknesses of each religion? No. It’s because there is a kind of cultural, educational and geographical facticity that paves the way for religious belief. If you were raised in Turkey, you would very likely be Muslim.
So are you saying that you do not believe in free will?
Not the common sense conception, no. To clarify, I do believe that we are often free from external obstacles, e.g., someone holding a gun to our head and telling us what to do. But I believe that humans are very much subject to the laws of cause and effect. And these laws determine our futures.
Determine our futures?
What do you mean, you are?
Well, I am not writing about Big Sky country explicitly, but it’s difficult to escape one's past, and what may appear as one thing can be another. So, it’s cliché, and clichés are boring, but can we ever escape where we came from?
So you are from Montana, but Facticity Blues takes place on a tropical island. What’s the deal? Why aren’t you writing about Big Sky Country?
I did notice that the last chapter references Three Forks, Montana. Does this have any kind of personal meaning for you?
Yes. I was raised in Belgrade and Bozeman, not too far from Three Forks. And there’s a lot of the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson rivers still in my bones. So the last chapter is a kind of coming home of sorts for me, maybe an attempt to come to terms with my own facticity.
Do you consider yourself a Montana writer?
Kind of. I consider myself a Montana writer, and a Colorado writer and a writer of philosophical fiction.
How did you get into writing fiction? Did you take any creative writing classes?
No, I didn’t take any creative writing classes, and I’m not entirely sure how I got into writing fiction. I think it’s just a place where I like to dwell. When I was in elementary school, I wrote some short stories, so I think the desire has always been there.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, but I can’t say much about it. The goal is to finish it by the end of the year, but that’s probably a little ambitious.
What’s the deal with Jonk-Q Mosileeleelee? How did you come up with him?
The best I can say is that he is inspired by a few characters. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra for one. Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek for another. And maybe the Dos Equis guy.
So is it fair to say that Jonk-Q is your alter ego, the man you want to be?
Yes, I think that’s fair.
There are a lot of themes in the book. Beer is one. Do you have any favorite beers or breweries?
I do. Black Shirt is a favorite. New Image and River North are great, too.
What about Scrabble? The board game Scrabble is a major theme in the book. What’s the deal with this?
I just like playing Scrabble, and I think it’s a ponderous board game. Maybe there are even life lessons and an entire world view contained within Scrabble.
What about the sea? In the book, the sea has both literal and metaphorical senses. Can you tell me more about this?
Well, starting with the Bible and moving through Conrad, Melville and a bunch of other literary greats, the sea obviously has a storied history. But for me the focus is more on a personal attempt to grapple with an immense metaphor. If I had to say what the metaphor represents, it would be the chaotic, the unknown, the dangerous and unconscious aspects of the self. So, it becomes a question of when and how we deal with these parts of ourselves, when and how we should go out to sea.