Making Friends: Ulrich Jesse K Baer.
A correspondence, ABBA, vampires, Genet, alleyweeds and radically compromising the self on the flixbus
When I was thinking about this interview project and what I wanted it to be someone that came to mind that I wanted to talk to was Ulrich Jesse K Baer. I’m a big fan of his writing and existing in this world. He’s the writer of Midwestern Infinity Doctrine (Apocalypse Party 2021) and At One End (Essay Press 2020) and an exciting new work someone should publish, like, right now!
KG: You’ve been in Europe for a while now. First Copenhagen, I think, then Amsterdam and now Berlin? Did I miss somewhere? Being from Sweden I feel like I should be more familiar with these places but I’ve only been to Copenhagen and that was when I was 18-20 and visited the Roskilde music festival a couple of times, which feels like it barely counts. I’ve been to Germany but not Berlin. What has your experience been with these cities and which one is your favorite?
UJKB: Germany is exactly a Caspar David Friedrich painting–desolate and unheimlich. Sometimes I’ll get this feeling that creepiness is seeping in from all around me, here. And exacerbated by the transition into fall. I watched people I was with in a park garden a few days ago talk about how the dark rain made them sleepy. I love Amsterdam, and I was disappointed by how large Rembrandt’s the Night Watch painting was irl. I think all of Europe is creepy, even.
Amsterdam was only a little bit like that scene in I think Sweet Movie with the communist and their canal boat and a bed of sugar you could die in.
Denmark: increasingly deranged as you take the trains in/to the interior. The Jutland. I met some really lovely queer artists in Copenhagen: less sleepy than the viking graves. I’ve been reading Genet’s Querelle because I think he’s the pre-eminent theoretician of shame, and I read and read it while I was lostly alone in the garden outside the royal library, waiting for a flixbus. I truly recommend the experience of radically compromising the self on the flixbus–take it. In the US, the megabus driver wakes you up around 1 AM and forces you off like a megastop, you wait in the harshing fluorescence of the truckstop snack aisles, like an awestruck child. It’s misery. On the flixbus from Copenhagen to Berlin, they woke us up and we were in this white industrial space as a British voice descended, shouting commands, and we went up the staircases. I had to wander for a while before I realized the bus had parked inside a ferry, and I felt that I had more in common (at least spiritually) with the two other passengers who spent most of the night with their heads bowed over the railing, watching the flecks of foam cut into the waves by the ship wake, the only visibility in the night, than I ever did with people who look more like me.Read more...
Source: Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit Pup Pup Blog, October 2022
in Conversation with
Vi Khi Nao
Jessica Baer received his MFA from Brown University in 2017. His work has been featured in Prelude Mag, Bone Bouquet, Pinwheel, Horse Less Journal, and other journals. THis chapbook, Holodeck One (2017), was published by Magic Helicopter Press. They love horses and live anywhere. In this interview, Jessica Baer talks about their Windy City, their Midwestern Infinity Doctrine, their beavertail beach self, their nonexistent umbrella, their eviscerating ecstasy. Please read our interview and their magnificent excerpt that led to this esoteric interview.
Vi Khi Nao: I appreciate your flexibility. How are you?
Jessica Baer: I’m feeling slushy, how are you!?
VKN: Slushy? Like cold and wet? Like a cocktail with rum?
JB: Slushy like runoff ice water sludge in Chicago, hehe, maybe a little rum.
VKN: I have never interviewed someone semi-rum(my)? before so thank you for giving me an opportunity to be a little bit buzzed. Speaking of buzzness (is that even a word?), your prose reads to me like a motorcycle swerving in and out of European cities indeterminately. How do you describe how words exit your consciousness onto the page? Do they move like a motorbike? Or something else entirely?
JB: Haha. Thank you so much for that beautiful image. Sometimes when I feel dislocated in spacetime, I find myself running up alley stairways in the Balkans but I never realized I was on a motorcycle until now. When I write I think of fluid dynamics, so like the eddies and suspensions of silt in a river and the breathless vertigo of the grace of being able to speak with myself fluently. I also definitely try to remain in proximity to death, like a stunt worker driving a motor bike.
VKN: Should your readers wear protective helmets or latex gloves when they read your work? What clothes should they wear when they open your prose?Read more...
Source: Jessica Baer in conversation with Vi Khi Nao: American Microreviews & Interviews, May 2019