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After watching Henry Rollins get his Bradbury Creativity Award, we watched him address all of his eager fans. Henry has always been great about staying until everyone has had their time with him. I wanted to ask a few follow up questions, and he graciously agreed to answer the questions if I emailed them to him. What follows are the responses to my questions. Thank you to Henry Rollins and Tresa Redburn. I’d like to also extend my thanks to Heidi. It was wonderful talking to you that night. 🙂
Q&A With Henry Rollins.
1. You often describe your restlessness; it is a restlessness to which many can relate. Please comment on how your perpetual restlessness has contributed to your creativity.
======= It makes things happen. It keeps me in state of movement/unrest/curiosity. When you move, things happen. This allows for countless possibilities. Kafka said:
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
It’s an interesting thought but it never worked all that well for me.
2. With restlessness comes curiosity. Which unconsidered avenues of exploration have surprised you the most when you finally ventured?
===== Well, nothing was ever all that considered. Besides a basic destination, let the place and the people be what it is and they are. I try to be open enough to let it hit me without filtering it too much. I don’t carry expectation, so I am rarely let down or anything else, just open to the moment.
3. I have always found your relentlessness inspiring. Can you describe the moments in between, and how down-time contributes to the resumption of your intensity?
====== You have to pull away from things now and then. I learned that by being stranded in places that I had not a lot to do in them but hang out. I found it to be useful. I try to have periods of time here and there where I don’t owe anything to anyone and can read or listen to music and not have to spin so many plates on so many sticks. This allows me to make work periods more efficient and gainful.
4. I am a high school educator. K-12 teachers are vilified in our society, yet our education system is hemorrhaging lifeblood in the form of our people. Can you comment on this phenomenon?
======= Just my opinion. I think corporations and other forces are working towards turning as many Americans as possible into poorly informed consumers who will continually ingest their products, fight their wars and fill their prisons. What gets in the way of that? Educated people. So, of course teachers are vilified. You’re the ones teaching people history, science, language, etc. If you are too successful, America risks becoming a smart, science-based populace, ready to take on the challenges of the new century. Basically, you are battling old money. They won’t give up without a fight. They are losing, hence their aggression.
5. I tell my students that persistence pays off more than consistency, although both have their merits. What is your ascription to these two values?
======= Depends on what you’re being persistent with. A persistent alcoholic—not such a great way to go through life. Consistency comes after you really understand what the goal is. Quite often, failure comes from not understanding what you’re really after. You’ll always miss because your throw will always be off. Persistence and consistency in this situation leads to very negative results. I think if one defines the objective clearly and is willing to make adjustments, the persistence pays off and the consistency comes from that.
6. Too often passion and anger are either confused, or, for many, one and the same. Your acquiescence to anger seems to be in the form of social consciousness. How do you transform anger into a positive force to “unleash the whirlwind that is you”?
======== My anger is for the most part, civically motivated. Why do I stand up for LGBT people? Is it because I am the world’s nicest person? I doubt it. It’s because these people are not being given the respect that they not only deserve but that is promised to them in the Constitution. So, when someone is trying to get in the way of their rights, I have to take some responsibility and conclude they are also trying to keep my from some of my rights as well. That is when these people hear from me. There is an orphanage that donate money to. Why? Because I am a saint and just the biggest hearted guy? I like kids as much as anyone but I donate out of anger at the parents who put someone in the world and abandoned them. I got involved with the West Memphis Three to beat up on Arkansas and their history of illegal activity in their state justice system. They needed an asswhooping and I gave them one. I kicked Arkansas’ ass and helped three guys get out of prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
7. “Occupants” is fantastic. Do you have any photo journalistic books planned?
======= There’s another photo book done. It will take awhile for it to come out. I reckon a couple of years at least. I always have a backlog of books in various states of completion. It’s been that way for years. We just finished the final edit on the new one and I am working on three others at the moment. Thanks.
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