(Pedra de Toque): Montesquieu states in his philosophy that “an author is a fool who, not satisfied to annoy his generation, insists in annoying the future generations.” What can you say about this statement?
(Maurício R B Campos): I hope I’m not annoying anyone. Actually I make an effort for the contrary to occur! What I think is that this statement by Montesquieu doesn’t apply to the contemporary writers. This is a statement for the elite of his time. We writers live the Age of liberty. Any person can write a book, by using Word and publishing it on Amazon or on the Clube de Autores [Authors’ Club], for instance. And I cannot speak for these persons, but when I write, I don’t think my words are immortalized; although I think it’s a romantic thinking, I know I write popular stories. I don’t think I’m a learned man and my reading brings all the vices of a commercial literature.
(Pedra de Toque): What do you think about it? Reading and writing: a necessary evil?
(Mauricio R B Campos): The way we get involved with the characters in the elaboration of a novel is an experience that by itself is worth the entire process of writing. It’s creating something from yourself, more like bearing a clone than a son, and it’s still a good way of self-analysis.
(Pedra de Toque): Have you worked on characters that are fully fictional or with some predominance on reality? What is it for the author to deal with such duality between fiction and reality of the characters?
(Mauricio R B Campos): In the Rei Amarelo [Yellow King] comics, the main character is Edgar Allan Poe, and since I can remember, it was the only real character I used so far. Using a real character demands too much research work, I rather attain to the literary creations.
And if all is fictional, nothing is false. The characters are always a product from experience or observation, mostly. In this more realistic component, my characters are always based on something I experienced, even that it was by the pen of others, by sensations brought by music, etc. More than creating, writing is recycling, readapting, transforming elements from others by our filters.
(Pedra de Toque): Have you published poetry? What is the name of the book, if you’ve ever published?
(Mauricio R B Campos): I began publishing poetry in fanzines, I think it’s a natural way, but I don’t consider myself to be a poet. The high point of my poetic element was the special mention in the 3rd Literary Prize Poetry City, promoted by the Association of Writers of Bragança Paulista along with the Secretary of Culture of the City. The Prize generated a book with the same name. Here I leave the link of one of my first publications, a simple haiku published in the fanzine Seleções em Folha.
(Pedra de Toque): Do you believe in the work in its posthumous possibilities? Do you think, like Léo de Carvalho says, the contemporary people don’t read us with much interest; perhaps because we are present and we need to “die” so that our work starts to flourish or to be actually valued, if anything?
(Mauricio R B Campos): This question is more profound than it seems to be, and some clarification is necessary here. There are two types of authors: those who seek to reach a sense of aesthetic perfection and those who seek to reach readers. For the first ones there’s always this hope that the ostracism of his time on Earth be rewarded with the future glory; for the second, in the group I count myself in, there’s only the present time, because the future will belong to the new generations.
The stories we hear from authors left to ostracism during their lives and that are now recognized don’t seem to be a standard that will repeat in the future. Not with the massive amount of authors the contemporary world provides. The poet said the future repeats the past. I disagree. This thesis reminds me of the Image effect, and I apologize for using such a distant analogy from the literary schools, but it’s the one that best fits this matter. In the North-American market of comics the auctions of first editions for astronomic prices are famous; the first number of a Batman magazine for thousands and thousands of dollars. And there were two main publishing forces in the USA: Marvel and DC. Marvel was always famous for exploring its professionals, and in the nineties, there was a riot. The main artists from Marvel, those who resulted in millions for the company and who only received crumbs, abandoned the publisher and found their own house – Image. New heroes appeared, some were original, others were discarded copies of Marvel’s characters, and the comic shops underwent a flood of new titles and new numbers one. It was a knockout of sales. I don’t remember if Image managed to destroy Marvel’s sales in some month, but it almost did it. Then, time went by and those thousands and thousands of collectors who had bought number one of Spawn, for example, discovered he would never be worth a thousand dollars. By the way, he would never be worth more than the cover price. Everybody had that thing at home waiting for a valuation that would never come. And it was then that Image’s sales went abruptly down and gradually the professionals who had founded publishing company returned to the big houses that dominated the market and sold their interests in Image afraid to have to face a bankruptcy process.
Image didn’t go bankrupt, and thanks to some publishing phenomena it remains fighting for a third or fourth position in the North-American comics market, a market that is frankly decaying. But this pictures what I meant. For me, the profile of the misunderstood genius is something that is in the past. In the information era, either we are big now or we will disappear as writers. And most writers will disappear. Is there a boundary for those who don’t have influence or money to become minimally known in Brazil? Yes, there is. Everything has always been and will always be easy for the elites. But this fact shall not change in Brazil in the next five hundred years.
(Pedra de Toque): What is the favorite book that you wrote? Is there? Is it always the one that is been worked on, or the last one that you wrote, or the best is yet to come?
(Mauricio R B Campos): As in the immortalized lyrics by Frank Sinatra: “the best is yet to come”, always. I’ve been improving my writing, which is for me a constant exercise of new discoveries and abandon of something. I’d like to mention some works that inspire me and that I have the dream to match, but I wouldn’t dare! Anyway, I can say my great project is to create a detective work that is memorable, that overcomes the genre. There are still some projects with which I’m associated in the fantastic literature, but I intend to sail through other waters.
I’ve just finished writing my first novel, a new adult work that searches to portray a portion of our time, the anxieties that devastates this generation that came to a world where there are novelties every fifteen minutes. The theme of the book is the Chaos Magic and how two young persons have their lives transformed thanks to this curious and fascinating philosophy.
(Pedra de Toque): In this new genre, are the supposed “new adults”, who will certainly read it, interested in overcoming the chaos or only make the same fuss as we, from a bit older generations [laugher] have been doing, that is to say, more increasing or duplicating the chaos than overcoming it properly?
Chaos inside the Chaos Magic is a way found to represent the strength that commands and guides all the actions of the Universe. Chaos, in this sense is the way by which an atheist could believe in the closest that could be described as a divinity, based on mathematic calculation and quantum physics (nothing to do with this quantum spiritualism that is spread through the aerated minds of the Brazilian people). This god Chaos would be as different to us as the divinities of the pantheon of the myths created by H.P. Lovecraft (Cthulhu Mythos). Chaos Magic intends to be a way to benefit from this indifference of the Universe. It’s a revolutionary vision to face the world and is as difficult to be questioned as any religion.
“Humankind will only be happy when the last priest is hanged with the guts of the last king”. The statement is ascribed to Diderot, but it has a different origin. “I would like, and this is the last and most ardent of my wishes, I would like that the last king was choked with the guts of the last priest”. This phrase was written by the French priest Jean Meslier, in his book Memórias dos pensamentos e sentimentos do abade Jean Meslier [Memoirs of the thoughts and feelings of the abbot Jean Meslier]. The scientist-sorcerer Peter J. Carrol, creator of the Chaos Magic, changed the meaning of the sentence and created another one that became the motto for his followers: “Magic will not be freed from occultism until we have hanged the last astrologist with the guts of the last spiritual master”. His ideal for the philosophy that he established was to keep it as close to science as possible, especially the quantum physics theories, rather than to any esoteric current.
But if you mean the chaos of the normal confusion of the youth, I can only repeat the heresy my father used to state, not knowing the author: Youth is a disease that is only cured with time. Unfortunately, the youngsters come to Elis’ conclusion: “apesar de termos feito tudo o que fizemos, ainda somos os mesmos e vivemos como os nossos pais.”. [In spite we have done everything we did, we’re still the same and we live like our parents.]. I’d like a generation to break this vicious circle of the system and change the world once and for all. The Millenials seemed to have this chance with internet and the alternative means that seemed to be able to promote it, but there’s always a Zuckerberg and oligarchies to destroy the generations’ dreams. Facebook has killed the internet, destroyed the inherent way to present new world views that are eminently democratic provoked by the computers world wide web, by making everyone get on their knees on a single social network that controls and commercializes everything.
I see no hope, we’ve lived the beginning of a new Dark Age, the beginning of the cyberpunk hell, quite worse than Orwell, Dick or Fahrenheit 451. In Fahrenheit 451, the books are burnt, but the future that we see rising doesn’t need to burn books anymore, for anybody wants to read them.
(Pedra de Toque): Tell us two authors that most inspire your creation and your production. Talk a little bit about them and the mimetic relationship of their work with yours.
(Mauricio R B Campos): Ernest Hemingway and Roberto Bolaño.
Ernest Hemingway has always been my writing model; they say his style was learnt from the Bible, there’s a kind of intentional distancing and dryness in his prose that matches the modern literature perfectly. But there’s a little of Machado de Assis, the great genius of the universal literature, in every Brazilian writer. And Machado’s style was not the distance, his narrator was such a sagacious predictor. At every sentence I write I try to isolate Machado’s style and try to reach the North-American writer’s dryness.
Bolaño is the Latin prose poetry in its maximal perfection degree. Reading a paragraph of the Chilean author is like admiring a picture in an art gallery. He was a poet and started writing prose to pay for his debts, there’s no better means to produce a high quality prose.
(Pedra de Toque): Is obscurity in MM38 or the Day on which we expected French flying fish and Origami, both from Urban Mosaics (Origami only later, as we know), amongst others, intentional or it’s not something you plan to leave the reader quite curious what that’s about, and suddenly he starts searching or reflecting to understand those suggested images properly?
(Mauricio R B Campos): In the case of Origami, obscurity was coldly calculated, it was a fragment narrative exercise, but in the case of MM38 or the Day on which we expected French flying fish, obscurity was a product of the natural process of the prose poetry. I imagine prose poetry like the single means in which we can take a picture, a snapshot from inside.
(Pedra de Toque): Try to summarize each of your books in a chronological order. What is each one about?
(Mauricio R B Campos): Urban Mosaics is a short-stories collection that starts the journey of a writer through an exploration path of the humankind role in the world, the dissatisfaction and the inadequacy of people in the scenarios through which they lead their lives.
Incompatível [Incompatible] maintains these questionings in a deeper fashion, with a focus on ego. What is this voice that sounds in our minds and that we believe to be our soul or our consciousness? Is there an exclusive personality? What are we? Products of brain biochemistry, mere electric impulses? How to access our essence? In Incompatível we have two youngsters that try to answer to these questions, one in a more moderate and another in a more radical way by embracing the Ego breakup. The Ego breakup is a magic practice that intends to access the Ego through the destruction of the identity complex that was imposed by society.
(Pedra de Toque): Your literature seems to show the aspect of the writing of the city of São Paulo (or the State of São Paulo). How was your childhood? Have you been born in São Paulo? How is you routine in São Carlos, today? What was it to adapt to the countryside like, in case you weren’t born there?
(Mauricio R B Campos): I was born in São Paulo and this city is my passion. For me it’s become a kind of promised land because I’m a paulistano in the countryside exile. I remain here for a living, but it seems harder and harder for me to return to the capital city. It seems it’s always been postponed for the coming year.
And I’ve been here in São Carlos, so I decided to try to delight what the city has to offer, what’s not little. Incompatível takes place here, although it also has scenarios in São Paulo, Madri, Vigo and Santiago (otherwise it wouldn’t be a work of mine); but a great part of the plot is developed in an ecovillage based here in the city. There’s truly a wonderful ecovillage here, called Tibá, but it’s not the one from my book, which is entirely fictional and is called Tibiriçá. Any similarity is mere coincidence.
(Pedra de Toque): What are your creative and productive research sources? Where do you search for more ideas for your work? Do they come from the word or the world? What predominates?
(Mauricio R B Campos): I search to find in the world what gets around from the prosaic – the diverse and the different. And try to portray this world. I think this is our role, at last the role of historians is to care about great happenings and the role of the writers is to portray what happens in the kitchen, and further, in the head of who’s in the kitchen. All those things that won’t get into history, although they are fundamental to define how the people of our age do think.
In Incompatível, for instance, this concept of the Millenials’ generation drew my attention: Chaos Magic. It’s not the Crowley’s magic, although it comes from it, but it’s a mostly simplified type of such magical practices, full of pragmatism. The groups of this practice are numerous and have been increasing. Their concepts are so wonderfully libertarian at first sight that I couldn’t fail to create a story about the theme, by exploring what there’s striking the most in their teachings.
(Pedra de Toque): What is the code to base the Chaos Magic? Is there any book or written table of values to guide the groups following the practice?
(Mauricio R B Campos): The book Liber Null e o Psiconauta [Liber Null and the The Psychonaut] is a grimoire that gathers theory and practice of the Chaos Magic. Another interesting book is the Os Segredos dos Iluminados de Thanateros [The Secrets of Thanateros’ Enlightened Ones], available in the website of IOT Sulamericana.
(Pedra de Toque): Tell us someone you consider a great author who was lost in miserable “likes”; one that you consider to be below mediocre and became a laureate; and others who deserved such destinies.
(Mauricio R B Campos): I believe when one wants to become an author, some things change in their lives, there’s run an almost Kafkaesque metamorphosis in these people. An author is a creature who observes the world from a different point of view, his eyes become eyes of a voyeur, his listening becomes sharp and he sees himself spying the others’ conversations in the trains and restaurants and bars. But the biggest metamorphosis to which the authors are submitted takes place in their skin. Two characteristics are remarkable: his skin becomes smooth and slippery so that it becomes hard to catch them. Another feature is that this smooth skin becomes thin. And I won’t be the one to poke on these thin skins in times of social networks. I’m like the rabbi: do not judge…
(Pedra de Toque): But don’t you believe we’re the judges of our time, we, the real opinion makers in the streets, in the bars, in the homes, in the social networks, and somehow we need to judge more and more and never less, especially to be judges, because we don’t fear any judgments?
(Mauricio R B Campos): […]
(Pedra de Toque): Mauricio, what is life?
(Mauricio R B Campos): Life is a strange strength I search to decipher since I was born and perhaps I will never get to know what it is. And nothing is more amazing than the unknown, I think the grace of the stuff is exactly there.
(Pedra de Toque): Ok, receive our embrace, which is the only untrue thing in Pedra de Toque!