Saturday, June 17, 2006


The following Barfing Frog Press interview took place between Che Elias, author of The Pagan Ellipsis, et cetera, and CB Smith. Read on and absorb the particulars of this fascinating interview:


CB: The first question I have for you is, What? What is the motivating force that leads you to press your thoughts and reflections to the page? Is it a process undertaken for the purpose of completing a book to publish or is it undertaken for reasons more personal, more essential?


Che: I originally got into writing during the aftermath of a particularly harsh life. A woman whom I met, Andrea Musher, who is on the cover of the book, inspired me and encouraged me; If not for her I wouldn’t have written anything or brought books out. I came originally from a filmmaker’s point of view and I see writing as another way of seeing an imprint, some kind of evidence of expression. Andrea inspired me.  So did cinema which is evident in the book. My early writing I did for Andrea but the books were specifically inspired by films, their syntax. What drives me is the outlet, the great pouring out of words in my head everyday. Writing is communication, transference of sound.


CB: Andrea Musher. Yes, her name is mentioned in the Dedications section at the book's beginning. So Andrea holds a special place in your artistic biography. Marjorie Cameron, who functions as the key persona in the book, does she also figure in there somewhere?


Che: A filmmaker named Kenneth Anger adapted a series of Aleister Crowley texts. In the first of the films, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Marjorie Cameron plays the part of the scarlet woman. This was my first exposure to her. My next was in the film Night Tide where she plays a witch at a boardwalk in California. She is a real person and was in the OTO and was married to Jack Whiteside Parsons, and there is this great book Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, which I read and which is very important to me too. Also Cameron was friends with L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Campbell as well. It is another story though, back to the point.  I related to Cameron. She had the same face as Andrea and I felt as if I related closely to her experience (Cameron’s) through her art and poetry and what I read about it and saw. The book, The Pagan Ellipsis, deals with women explicitly in all concerns; the scarlet woman, Cameron, would be the ultimate. But I wrote the book about myself, she was just a symbol


CB: The book being about you offers a new perspective. Do you see yourself as a pagan coming to terms with life in this civilized world, I use the term civilized loosely.


Che: I guess I toyed with the idea of paganism But I am not Pagan though I embrace some of the principal beliefs.  I feel as if I am a nihilist on most days, which is difficult. The book though does deal in contrast, which you mention, and is about coming to terms with a lot of issues but being repelled by them. I hoped to convey simultaneous rejection and acceptance. I think with the series juxtaposed in the book I succeeded. They were more in the end like experimental films than stories though, which is strange, because now I feel my writing has changed from that so much.


CB: When you say "I embrace some of the principal beliefs," is this of Paganism you speak or beliefs of another kind?


Che: I do like the idea of Earth and that being the mother. I mean, I do think you have to give back to the earth in order to get from it. When you get more into it, Witchcraft, casting runes, you know the rites of both of them, the things which coincide, but as far as nihilism goes I live in the moment.  I know nothing can come from nothing. I don’t believe in a material or I should say a physical god. I think existence is endless energy, comes apart, ascends and progresses before it meets again. You do things every day which cause you déjà vu, I think we all do. I meet people I have never met before, yet I recognize them. I am not just a pagan or a nihilist. The Pagan Ellipsis is about both of them. Marjorie questions that in the opening of the book with the quotes from the bible intercut and Victor, when making his film, behaves as if he were a nihilist, Bella encounters something paranormal, they all go together. Then there are things missing and that is where the Ellipsis comes in. It is about the Gap, the long in between, and me being the middle man for these people and places and situations.


CB: So you function as the middle man for those who people your book. You are the Shaman then?


Che: I never thought of it that way, but I guess you could see it as such. My current girlfriend is into shamanism, though I have mixed feelings about it personally. I hope my voice though in the book speaks for a lot of the characters while at the same time leaving others vague. I guess in the sense where I see why you ask this is the fact that I won't judge them I can only enable them to pass from one phase on to the next.


CB:  Allrighty then. Not Nihilist, Not Pagan, Not Shaman. If one were to come away from meeting you with one outstanding impression, what in your opinion would that be, or more appropriately, what would you prefer that it be?


Che: I guess that I’d thought and felt pretty profoundly about the explicit pain of my youth and turned that into something beautiful through art and saved my own life by doing so. I hope they'd see my juxtaposition of hope and hopelessness in my mind, that and a genuine odd sense of humor. I guess the fact that I can laugh at most bad things that happened to me in the past is what really saved my life.


CB: So in effect you want people after meeting and getting to know you to come away with a general impression of your adaptability, your ability to be a survivor, your ability to turn the bad of your past into good and use it as the engine to power your future. A grand and noble thing, that is. In closing, let me first thank you for your time and generosity of spirit while simultaneously stating that the impression I have received from you is exactly as you’d hoped.



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