Gordon Dahlquist Q&A #13

Author of THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Gordon Dahlquist Q&A #13

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:45 am

ONBC: I would love to hear your answer to our discussion Question #20 ~ The Authors Intent



From an interview with Mr. Dahlquist at powells.com:

Powells: If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?

G. Dahlquist: I don't have a subtitle, but a good title would be "The Punishment Element, Perhaps," which is a quote from A Clockwork Orange, spoken by a doctor when they realize that the aversion therapy is desensitizing the main character against classical music as well as violence. For me it's a lovely moment pointing out how many unintended consequences arise out of human intentions, and also how we tend to do our best to rationalize and moralize what we realize too late that we can't control. It's as good a distillation as any for what I try to write about — and am no doubt as subject to as anyone else....
How does Mr. Dahlquist's intention manifest itself in The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters?


How does your intention manifest itself in The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters?

GD: A few years ago I spent some time on the island of St. John, which has a large population of mongooses, which were introduced by the british to combat the plague of rats in the cane fields. Of course, what no one realized is that the rats were nocturnal and the mongooses came out in the day – they never saw one another, but there was enough for everyone to eat, and so both populations continue to thrive, passing each other affably at the punch-in clock ...

This is a fairly benign example of what I'm talking about in the above quote - that human life (both on an individual and societal level) is constantly dealing with the unintended side effects of otherwise well-intended plans. On bitter days this can feel more like "no good deed goes unpunished", and on others it's just an awareness that the world is a lot bigger than human intention (another example might be the cargo cults of the South Pacific). With regard to the book, it's certainly nothing explicit in my writing or my intentions, but certainly the ironies that are present in the book, some of which your posters have pointed to, touch on this idea. Clearly the money men behind the cabal – Vandaariff and Henry Xonck – were betrayed by people they assumed they controlled; the cabal members were betrayed by their own contempt – the consistent under-rating of "nobodies" like Temple, Svenson, and Chang; and also by the loss of perspective that so easily comes with power. But most importantly for me this is spelled out in what happens to the three protagonists, how their own worlds - quite unintentionally, for none of them would have welcomed it at the start – are cracked open by the things they're forced to do and feel.

As to the notion that the indigo clay might have been intended for good, well, I can only quote Aquinas, who said that "nothing was ever done, but for good". Knowing what I know of Oskar Veilandt, I'm sure he had no doubt whatsoever that he was acting for the best of purposes at all times, up to and including the ambitious project involving Lydia Vandaariff.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A #13

Unread postby Theresa » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:50 pm

...human life (both on an individual and societal level) is constantly dealing with the unintended side effects of otherwise well-intended plans.

I think Mr. Dahlquist has done a fine job of exploring this theme in his book. There is always some fallout from a well-intended plan...sometimes very minor, and sometime very large and far-reaching, as in the case of the glass books. And we've only read one book of the trilogy.

We haven't seen the last of the unintended side effects, have we?
;-)

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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A #13

Unread postby gemini » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:25 pm

Yes, I agree with theresa, and those side effects can be dissected down to each character as well as the main story of the process and its enablers. Our three protagonists certainly developed unintended consequences that they could not have forseen in themselves before their accidental meeting. Their moral fiber, the unexpected feeling they had towards saving each other, their resourcefulness.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A #13

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:53 pm

I agree that unintended consequences are often the result of good intentions. I didn't get the feeling that the Cabal or Veilandt had any good intentions from the beginning so I am probably missing something here. It is certainly a story of a plan gone wrong and foiled by the the consistent under-rating of "nobodies" as Mr. Dahlquist says. I also like his description of our protagonists being "cracked open by the things they're forced to do and feel", a great description!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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