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The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney: An Interview with Christopher Higgs

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I first found out about Christopher Higgs on the website HTMLGIANT when I initially discovered that website, probably sometime in the summer or fall of 2009. I immediately recognized him as one of the more “nerdy” contributors, in terms of his cultural interests. I also held vague prejudices towards him for a while, because he seemed to be part of that group of humans that can be vaguely classified as the “academic elite.” Eventually, these sentiments wore away, partially because I began discovering his creative works rather than just his mostly literary-theoretical HTMLGIANT pieces. When I found out about his creative writing, I felt like I was exposed to the “real” Christopher Higgs, or something.

Christopher Higgs is the author of the novel, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, which was released this fall through Sator Press (a non-profit press created by Ken Baumann, that “guy on ‘the internet literary scene’ who started the cool lit mag ‘No Colony’ and who is also a successful actor on some teenbop television show”). Higgs also curates the online art gallery BrightStupidConfetti, which has been gaining prestige over recent years. A dude I knew from college happened to be on it as I was writing this piece; I thought that was cool. He previously released a chapbook through Publishing Genius.

The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney is a mindfuck, I think. Higgs is very conscious about grounding himself in the tradition of experimental literature. Similarities to previous avant-gardening authors are apparent, but Higgs takes his text further in terms of fragmentation and self-reflexivity, only to all the while slyly debase such concepts. These are the “complete works” of a reclusive intellectual called Mooney, and any “complete works” text is, by definition, fragmented because it is not written as a unified, linear text and is also usually not compiled with the assistance of the author. Mooney has many similarities to Higgs, such as an affinity for postmodernist philosophers like Gilles Deleuze. But, even though I realize those similarities, they are useless, because the text itself was possibly/alleged penned in the hand of Mooney. There is also a protagonist in a Doctor Seuss’ book that bears the same name. The beginning of the novel is filled with a plethora of fake critical literary essays about it. The literary magazine For Every Year (edited by Cripsin Best) contains a piece submitted under the name Marvin K. Mooney. Of course, the words “by Christopher Higgs” are on the front cover, making the novel (seemingly) paradoxically opaque and transparent at the same time.

Every aspect of the text is polished and yet every detail also pops out of nowhere. It is also somewhat long (~350 pages). Similar to the manner that Donald Barthelme’s story “Shower of Gold” humorously engages with the legacy of the existentialist and absurdists, Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney comically confronts and updates the residue of the poststructuralists and postmodernists. It serves as a fun yet engaging introduction to many contemporary philosophical trends, as well as an example of talented fictional prose. I bought mine off the Sator Press site this past summer, but I did notice while writing this that it isn’t available on Amazon. I think more people should be exposed to this book and I think it should be easier for them to be exposed. That being said, the book’s webpage contains a fair amount of pretty prominent-looking blurbs, so go figure. I recommend going to the Sator Press website and finding out more about this book.

Several months after purchasing and reading the book, I sat down with Christopher Higgs at a computer desk in the library. He (most likely) sat down at his computer desk, which was probably somewhere near Tallahassee, where he is a Phd candidate at Florida State. I transmitted an email to him, containing various questions related to his novel and his other projects. He sent me back an email with a word attachment containing his answers to my questions. I could not open the document on my computer, so I opened it as a Google document and copy and pasted it into a word document on my computer. I think I sounded kind of pretentious in some of my questions, maybe not though.

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  • Garryo

    how is existentialism dead

    how does philosophy die

    i still like it

    nice interview though

    • http://fuckingbigthoughts.blogspot.com/ Andrew

      I think its dead in the sense that no one calls anyone (contemporary “anyone”) existentialist anymore

      I don't think philosophy is dead, though, just that it lacks the same relevance it once had (re:literature and social sciences becoming that have taken its place), and that that is sad, maybe

      I think Chris makes some good points on those topics, although I'm not sure if he entirely changes my mind

      I think that part of the question had an inefficient mix of opinion and observation

      • http://kenbaumann.com Ken Baumann

        Thanks for this, Andrew. I enjoyed it! And Mooney is currently available on Amazon.

    • http://brightstupidconfetti.blogspot.com/ Christopher Higgs

      Hi, Garryo,

      Existentialism is dead as an active site of intellectual discourse. In other words, you'd be hard pressed to discover a handful of recent publications showing interest in the field. Philosophy “dies” in the same way anything else dies: by lack of attention, by lack of a voice. It's cool that you still like it, many folks do. But in the world of philosophical discourse, it doesn't get much play these days. I'm not sure why exactly. Part of the reason for that, I would imagine, has to do with the fact that Existentialism is often critiqued for being ahistorical, which is a major faux pas to most late 20th-early 21st continental thinkers.

      At any rate, thanks for the kind words about the interview. Andrew is a sophisticated and provocative interlocutor.

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