[Questions for Marilyn Manson asked July 6, 2008 by Jonathan Borden and their answers received August 1, 2008 via ———, formerly of Interscope Records, who presented them, in accordance with prior such communications and Manson’s orders, to Manson, who dictated replies]
JB: The appreciation I have for you responding to my work and for ——— facilitating its communication should be quite obvious, but I feel, formally stated. To attempt to outrun the clichés you must often endure, thank-you for taking the time for your admirers and fellow thinkers.
MM: “It is not a problem to have communication between us; unfortunately, it does have to be this way, being that if I was to contact you, a fan, I would be forced to contact a lot of my fans and even though I am very personal, I just would not have the time to do so.”
JB: Your criticism of my literature I sent to you as audio was true to your form; stark and dissimulative. Bearing in its plain sight what was required to direct me at second glance to the wisdom your advice bore within, garnered from your experiences and expressed as a summation of such, I felt quite honoured and will take your honesty to heart.
You spoke of my diction being what this world needs in terms of lyrics and literary manipulation, so it has assigned a standard which I hope to live up to. Now all I need is a more entertaining angle.
MM: “Focus on what is true, what is truth, and what will be truth. You don’t have to entertain to make music, all you have to do is express.”
JB: My purpose in communicating presently is to oblige your invitation of further dialogue through ——— and to ensure your awareness of the humility your reply brought to me.
That being said, I hope you, Evan, and Twiggy are well, that you are assured your fans are already clamouring to discern whatever it is your latest online presence (at least that which is perceived) is hinting at, and that I share this excitement for your forthcoming oeuvre. I also wanted to ask your thoughts on a few things I am presently undertaking.
MM: [No answer].
JB: I have been delving into the corpus of Sade with an inquisitiveness that is equally academic and personal, and in its darkness finding aside from peculiar magnetism, some sort of experiential apprehension.
Strange things have been happening in my life since reading Sade in-depth, perhaps cautioning me, and it is an undertaking I have committed to in view of writing my undergraduate thesis on his conception of the Self (I am a student of Early Modern Studies and History, focusing on the 18th Century).
Aside from otherwise paranormal coincidences or messages in my encounter, Sade’s influence is something I know you have considered and propagated, both largely through The Golden Age of Grotesque and your recent endeavour, the underappreciated but startlingly cerebral account of your contemplation of Marilyn and Manson; Brian, Dita, and Evan: EAT ME, DRINK ME. I feel your experience with Sade could help me in my preparations for my thesis.
MM: “Jon, Sade is one who speaks of the mind. Some people would say that Sade’s writing is of an abnormal point of you, as I would say, but then again, look at my lyrics. The one point that I enjoy reading about Sade is that a lot comes from personal experiences and stages of mind; a writer always knows a writer even if one is more of a reader. Think about that; I will not explain it, but think about that last part of the sentence, it should give you some insight.”
JB: My favourite work of literature is Wilde’s De Profundis. If you are not familiar with it, it is the last major work of prose he composed, and the longest love letter in the English language. He wrote it from prison to his conniving lover and downfall, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.
It is a veiled manifesto of artful living and speaks very much of the Christ mythology and fascination with death and filth you explored particularly well with Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death).
MM: “I have literally thought about making De Profundis into a song. His work is magnificent. When I read his stuff, it gives me inspiration. Not everyone is prone to understanding Wilde.”
JB: Some of your revered peers, namely Bob Dylan, have entered the academic sphere in terms of cultural influence.
Like what I feel is shamefully the minority of your fans, I look much deeper into your art—the cohesive union of your music, poetry, and visual aesthetics. I find Hermetic sentiment, both Early Modern and Postmodern critiques, as well as endless enjoyment in discerning occult references, allusions, and otherwise revelatory concepts.
You definitely have the personality and appeal of antiheroes such as Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, the Marquis de Sade, even the founder of Quakerism (who coincidentally favoured leather clothing) George Fox. All of these men were on the fringes of the societies in which they lived and expressed themselves, but are now placed in a pantheon of revolutionary philosophical and artistic thought.
How would you feel if you someday entered the academic canon as a rock-star-poet, artist, true aesthete and contemporary dandy, studied formally by scholars?
Would you like this set into motion somehow?
MM: “No comment.”
JB: As a fan of yours, I feel your work is grossly underappreciated within what is still your lifetime, and I feel, as the artist’s cliché surely stipulates, you will someday after your efforts receive due recognition for your contribution to human thought.
What efforts do you make to archive and preserve the records of your presence so as to ensure your legacy?
MM: “You see all the cameras running around in some of my performances? That’s how I do, and how I will, ensure my legacy. I mainly want to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to be.”
JB: Is there somewhere a vast cache of Manson stage attire, notebooks, artwork, and unreleased recordings?
I ask this, because I work for an archives here in Canada and being a student and admirer of the past, as well as working directly with its artefacts, assign a high value to such things for a reason other than fiscal.
MM: “Yes, you can ask ——— that; he has seen everything. I don’t share with many people a lot of what is unreleased. ——— has some of my work that has never been released. He could sell it, I’m sure, but to be honest, he would rather keep it as a symbol or iconography of our times together. The rest is at my house.”
JB: Also, have you considered releasing someday, perhaps in the same vein as your book of aphorisms you mentioned, a collection of all of your published interviews?
I understand the rights hassle this would involve, but I feel it would be of benefit to have a compilation of your thoughts as expressed throughout your career thus far, both humorous and philosophical, without having to repeat yourself to do so, and most importantly, authorized by you.
MM: “People do that already. I don’t plan on doing anything like that; it is for the fans and for the media, not to boost my ego.”
JB: Could you tell me, and I thank you for patiently wading through my inundation of words, what it is you feel comprises artistically successful literature?
MM: “A piece or more that comes from someone who is or was no one. Anyone can make art or literature, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should.”
JB: What guidelines and suggestions do you have for writing?
MM: “Always speak from the heart, and like I’ve told ——— and other peers that have asked me this question, never regret anything that you have put into words. Never regret anything that you have done in life, because when you do, that is when you have not lived at all.”
JB: Mechanical Animals is my favourite work of yours. In 1998, you likened it to a veritable drug itself of sorts, which I can easily agree in defining it as.
Can you tell me what your reaction has been to the fevered struggle which fans have endured in attempting to find meaning in the numeral 15, which that album references constantly?
MM: “There is no meaning behind it, at least not to me, so therefore, there is no reaction.”
JB: You needn’t reveal what the intent was, but how do you feel when fans do dig deeper?
MM: “I am an open book when I feel to be. I don’t feel that just because I have fans, I have to give them what they want; I give them what is in my heart, my mind, and mainly in my day-to-day experience.”
JB: Undoubtedly, “discoveries” arise from your work which you perhaps never intended, while some you did are never found. Does this discourage you? Are you an artist or a philosopher first?
MM: “I haven’t found any point that I’ve tried to make undiscovered. I am a philosopher first. I have to be; I am like a hunter: you have to look for your kill before you take action.”
JB: I find that EAT ME, DRINK ME has had more effort put into it dissimulatively than many “fans” wish to admit. The subtle presentation of what you have termed the Double Cross (of Lorraine and the Celebritarians) is evident as a sort of cue, I feel, linking EAT ME, DRINK ME to Antichrist Superstar.
The windows on the EAT ME, DRINK ME cover art and the Antichrist Superstar booklet, with you during 1996 in a Baphomet pose, are both showing the same Double Cross, perhaps with EAT ME, DRINK ME being your artistic window in 2007 into your own Beautiful Soul, as Schiller may have put it?
Or, a window into your past transformation into Marilyn Manson, which, I assume, was finalized on February 14, 1997?
MM: “With this I will answer your question and it will be up to you to understand it or not, since you do say you are a fan and a listener, too. EAT ME, DRINK ME is about finding who I really am, what I was put on this earth to do, and also to let people know that I’m still here; that just because I am an artist, I am a person first.”
JB: Similarly, Valentine’s Day, 1997, seems itself this same sort of window or portal, like the Double Cross, able to transport you or the fan to any moment within your experience, for we are constructed merely of many moments, of which Dita or Evan is not the only one you are made, nor they of you.
The fact that each album in the Triptych intentionally errs in mentioning one track on each was recorded “live” on that date seems to signal a conceptual segue.
Your career has been founded on the search for dualism (perhaps a reference to the Manicheans, hearkening back to the presence of Christ in your art), so is it safe to say EAT ME, DRINK ME is a mirror for you?
MM: “Not only is it safe, but EAT ME, DRINK ME is strictly about me, about my realization that I am still here for a purpose and whether or not fans still follow me, I will do what I am here to do.”
JB: What has been your reaction to your fans’ reaction to EAT ME, DRINK ME?
MM: “Exactly what I expected, at least the reaction of those intellectual fans.”
JB: I think it horrid so many have discredited your recent endeavour as being sub-par in your corpus, or a total alienation as some mistook Mechanical Animals to be. Both are your most visceral works in my opinion, and I commend you. Thank-you for answering my questions.
MM: “It is my pleasure and my apologies for taking such a long time to get this to you. Jon, ——— still works for me but he works for me on a lower level. We are close friends before co-workers. He has decided to go back to school and I do not blame him for that. Perhaps he will be my attorney one day. Good luck Jon, MM.”