Due to technical problems with the recording, we have decided it best to release only the transcript of our interview with Andy Nowicki.
Mike Polignano: Welcome to Counter-Currents Radio. We’re joined here today by one of our authors, Andy Nowicki. Andy is the author of several books: the novel Considering Suicide, which is published by Nine-Banded Books, The Doctor and the Heretic and Other Stories, published by Black Oak Media, and two novels published by Counter-Currents: The Columbine Pilgrim, and his latest book, Under the Nihil.
Hello Andy, how are you today?
Andy Nowicki: Hello, Michael and Greg. It’s good to be on your podcast.
Greg Johnson: Welcome to the show.
Andy: Thank you.
Mike: Andy, if you would tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do, and who are your people.
Andy: Well, my name is Andy Nowicki. I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, and I teach college-level English for a living. But for a calling, I write. Your listeners might know me from various outlets such as The Last Ditch, Alternative Right, and a couple of others including TakiMag and a few others as well.
Lately, the focus of my writing has been in the area of fiction; it’s a place in which the muse has spoken to me, and the last couple years have been a very productive time for me. I’m very happy to be in the stable with Counter-Currents authors. I was happy last year to have my novel The Columbine Pilgrim published, and this year, what I would call a thematic sequel to that novel: my new novel Under the Nihil, “Nihil” spelled N-I-H-I-L, which I guess technically might be NEE-hill, or something like that, in the book it’s a clever tie-in, a comic kind of thing, but I’m just discovering it can make for some marketing difficulties. So I do want to emphasize that the title is Under the Nihil, with “Nihil” spelled N-I-H-I-L, as in the prefix to “nihilism.”
Mike: Yes, I wasn’t quite sure if it was pronounced NEE-hill or “Nile” at first, but “Nile” sounds better.
So, where did you go to college?
Andy: I was, like Mike, an Emory student, although I’m a little bit older, and I didn’t quite cause so much of a stir as Mike did when he was there. I graduated from Emory in ’93, with a good old English major, which was a foolish decision for a major because there are tons of unemployed Ph.D.s in English out there — right now. I’m thankfully not one of them. But I graduated with a degree in English, then I got a masters degree a few years later at the University of Dallas. My doctorate still remains unfinished, and might remain that way. So that’s basically my story. I am certified to teach English, and right now, as I was saying, I teach on a college level. But again, there’s vocations and there’s callings, and I feel that my calling is really the written word.
Greg: So what made you choose to write fiction?
Andy: Well, that’s a good question. It was something that I always aspired to do, but for years and years I was blocked in that regard. I remember way back when, in elementary school, my friends and I would get together at lunchtime and we had this group, which we called “the dream group.” We told stories in the form of dreams, we would say. We would talk about this adventure story and sort of make it up as we go, and it was just this wonderful thing we had a lot of fun with. And then somehow when you get a little older, you become more of a harsh editor of yourself, and it’s harder to just let the creative juices gush forth, as they were.
So I got to a point where I was writing a lot of nonfiction. I was interested in political, social, cultural issues. But I always saw fiction as a higher aspiration, as something that I eventually wanted to do. And recently, I would say in the last five years, I’ve had the good fortune of being inspired to write fiction, and I have managed to find some very supportive publishers. And the rest is history; [laugh] or rather, it is continuing to be history. Hopefully it hasn’t stopped being history just yet.
Greg: So who are some of your literary influences?
Andy: Well, I would say . . . it’s funny, there are people that you read that you enjoy, and then there are people that when you read them, you don’t necessarily enjoy them as much, but somehow they become more influential: they seep into your own writing. I would say, when I think about it, the hugest influence for me has got to be Dostoyevsky, particularly his Notes From Underground, as the ultimate portrayal of the alienated man of a certain reactionary mindset who rejects modernism. That’s a very compelling character for me, the kind of character I keep coming back to over and over again. So Dostoyevsky’s a big influence.
As far as style goes, I love F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. His breathtaking style of writing is something that I think I aspire to, although I would not claim to be anywhere close to it. But I’m trying, and maybe I’m getting better.
So Dostoyevsky, Fitzgerald . . . the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was a somewhat very bleak writer, a difficult writer, but somebody I’ve always really loved to read and a man I really admired, the first — I guess you could call it — Christian existentialist. And that’s really had an influence on my subject matter or it’s touched on a lot of the same things I find are interesting or compelling as far as subject matter goes.
And I could probably think of some more. I love the early poetry of T. S. Eliot. I’m not sure how much of that fits into my work because I don’t really do much poetry. I’m sure I could think of some more. I’m sure once I get off the line with you all I’ll probably think, “Oh man, why didn’t I mention this person, or that person?”
Flannery O’Connor, there’s another one. When I teach the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the shocking twist of the ending that it has. Flannery O’Connor combined her very strong Catholic faith with this very tough and sometimes disturbing — humorous but darkly humorous — very dark and disturbing subject matter. It still, even though it was written quite a while ago, it still really catches you off guard. And I really love that. I love the idea of shocking the reader, because you don’t want to just speak to people’s prejudices and flatter them, you want to shake it around a little bit. And I like that idea.
Greg: One twentieth century author that your books bring to mind is Walker Percy, who is a Southern Catholic, and something of an existentialist as well. Do you know and like Walker Percy’s work?
Andy: Yes I do. I kind of think of him as in the same echelon, or very much following in the footsteps of, Flannery O’Connor. Maybe — this sounds a little bit harsh but — maybe a second-rate Flannery O’Connor.
Greg: Yeah, that’s reasonable. I don’t think he’s quite on the same level as her, but I do think his work deals with a lot of the same themes.
One more little follow up about sources and influences. Are you from the South?
Andy: Yes, I am, and that throws a lot of people off. There’s a lot of things that I could say in response to that. I was born in Atlanta, and people in Georgia would say “oh, that’s not the South.”
Greg: No, not really.
Andy: [Laughs] But yeah, I am actually a Southerner in the sense I was born here and raised here, but my parents are both from Wisconsin, and I hear all the time “well you don’t sound like you’re from the South.” I don’t really know what to say to that. It’s a reasonable point. But I think if you heard me when I was growing up at 12, 13, 14 years of age, I really did have a Southern twang. And somehow I just unconsciously unlearned it. So now I just sort of sound like the North American broadcaster, this accent that I have today.
But yes, I am from the South. I see myself as kind of an outsider from Southern culture, but I admire the defiance of the South: at its best, the disinclination to assimilate with the Zeitgeist, this tough, hardy kind of spiritedness that you find in the South and in other similar cultures. But again, for me I’m kind of on the outside looking in, culturally speaking. So it’s a complicated relationship I would say I have with the South – but yes, technically speaking, I am from the South.
Greg: You’re not unlike two of my favorite Southern authors, though, those being Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, because although they were born and raised in the South they were also outsiders insofar as they were Roman Catholics in an overwhelmingly Protestant culture. And so they had a bit of that outsider perspective which I think added to their ability to capture things about the South that maybe Southern Protestant writers might not have been able to.
Andy: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I think if I’m not mistaken Percy was a convert. Am I wrong about that? I actually don’t know.
Greg: You know, I actually don’t know either, and I should, because I read his biography maybe 15 years ago.
Andy: Well, I know that O’Connor was born and bred Catholic. But also a born and bred Southerner, Southern to the bone in a lot of ways. But also Catholic which does give her outsider status. And I do think I of myself as a type of Catholic convert. And I do think that the Church had — it’s probably a controversial subject among the listeners of this podcast — but I do think that whatever else you would say about the Catholic Church or Christianity in general, there is a definite aesthetic something that is brought by the years of the Church’s dominance over the Western world. And that’s something a writer could really use, even if he rejects the tenets of it.
I’m thinking of somebody like James Joyce, who’s earlier work I would also say is very influential for me, someone I didn’t think of earlier. But I think he was really shaped, even though technically speaking he was not a faithful believer, I think he was really shaped by Catholicism in a lot of ways that definitely affected his writing, for the better.
My relationship to the Church, to Catholicism, is not always an easy one. I struggle with faith, I will openly admit that. But I do think that, as you were mentioning with Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, there is something about having that perspective that helps you see things in a culture that maybe someone more immersed in that culture — the American, Protestantized culture — wouldn’t necessarily see. So I think that’s a good point.
Mike: Andy, I understand you wrote a nonfiction book called The Psychology of Liberalism. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Andy: The Psychology of Liberalism is something that I wrote back around the turn of the millennium. It was published in 2002. It’s not available right now on Amazon, although people can write me if they are interested, since I do have a few copies of it in my house right now.
It was a book that I wrote out of an interest in scrutinizing all the ideas behind liberalism, about what we know is liberalism today. Why does liberalism exist, what it is composed of, and so forth. I wrote from the point of view of somebody who — what is the famous statement: “A young man who is not a liberal has no heart, an old man who not conservative has no brain”? I was a liberal in my younger days, in my more foolish days, and then turned against it with a vengeance in my college years and soon thereafter, even though I didn’t have nearly the same kind of experience that you had at Emory.
Once I rid myself of all vestiges of political correctness, I obtained a visceral kind of loathing towards it, one that I still have, deep in my heart, deep in my bones. And that really turned me toward seeing liberalism as a real fraud. Not that there aren’t sincere and good-hearted people who call themselves liberals, but for me, at a certain point, when I saw just the smugness of it, the tyrannical nature of so much of it, I turned against it with a cold fury. And so this was a movement that is still the driving movement of the times, of the Zeitgeist, that brought me along in its wake for many years. So I was thinking to myself, what is it exactly? And the book is my effort to grapple with what liberalism is.
And I guess it was kind of influenced by some other writers like Thomas Sowell, his book The Vision of the Anointed. Of course Buckley’s Up from Liberalism. I’m sure I could think of something by Ann Coulter. Some writers that, whatever we think of their ideas, are good writers and have some interesting ideas about this subject. But this is my side of it. I did the best I could with it, and I think it turned out pretty well.
But I had a hard time. That was really before I found a niche for my writing. So I was still very much struggling. I think I ended up self-publishing that book, way back when. But like I said, it’s still available, and I think it’s still worth reading and something that would interest your readers.
Greg: Let’s talk now about your new novel, Under the Nihil. “Nihil,” as you pointed out, is the root of “nihilism,” which means “nothing-ism,” literally. What is your view of the nature of nihilism and its causes?
Andy: Well, that’s a really good question. As far as the nature of it, I don’t know. Maybe what brings it about it just disillusionment. I think that characters like Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man, and what he represents, or a lot of Nietzsche – I know Nietzsche claimed not to be a nihilist, but there’s still that same kind of “everything’s falling apart, nothing’s holding the world together,” so there’s this very desperate state of mind. And it’s something even though I deplore nihilism morally, I can understand its appeal aesthetically. Like I said, you can also connect it with the movie that was reviewed recently on Counter-Currents, Fight Club, which is also a book, and is also one of my favorite movies.
There is something about getting to this point where you just realize that so much of what you thought was a sham, particularly I would say in our modern world with the phony dogma, the smell of the orthodoxies of Liberalism and Leftism and multiculturalism. All this sanctimonious crap that we just have to believe if we’re to be thought of as a good person. There’s something really liberating about just saying “screw all this,” blaspheming the idols of the age. It’s aesthetically very appealing; that’s where I go to a lot in my writing.
The problem is, of course, you disbelieve in the idols of the age, you disbelieve in the Zeitgeist, but you need to replace that with something else. Otherwise, you just have something fundamentally very destructive.
That’s where a lot of my characters end up going, into these very destructive places. It’s certainly the case with my narrator in the Columbine Pilgrim, Tony Meander. He ended up being lured into this very dark place where he made a decision to do something horrible. And I think that’s also the case with the main character in my new novel, Under the Nihil, who was also very disillusioned, feels put upon and spited, let down, spat on, and there’s this real push back. Eventually he gets his revenge on the world, as it were.
But again, it’s liberating. It’s fun in a way to read about or to live through vicariously, but there needs to be something more. Hopefully people who read Under the Nihil and The Columbine Pilgrim and other things that I write where I deal with these kind of characters will see that I’m not ultimately recommending that we go down that route. That is always a concern.
Mike: Are there any particular authors who especially influenced your thinking about nihilism?
Andy: Well, an author I mentioned earlier — someone I’ve never particularly liked the substance of his ideas, but I like his spirit — is Friedrich Nietzsche. That seemed to be a concern, a preoccupation for him. And also I mentioned Dostoyevsky. It seemed like it’s something that Dostoyevsky was very much aware of. I mean we’re approaching some moment in history when all the certainties that we used to hold dear are going out the window. What is going to be left after that, you know? Just anticipating this great crisis.
I think those two people are the main ones I can think of now. And of course I mentioned Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk is the author, who I would not say is a great author or anything, but it was a good book and a great movie. And it does also cover a lot of that same territory with regard to nihilism and its appeal as well as its drawbacks.
Greg: I think Fight Club is a great movie and a somewhat less great book. And one of the things that disturbed me about the book that was edited out of the movie — and I thought much to the advantage of the story — was the incredible nihilism of the original novel. There’s a bit of that in there. There’s the pranks and things like that, which are a bit nihilistic. But you can see logic to them, because they’re a way of building camaraderie amongst the members of the fight club. But in the novel they’re contemplating things like blowing up art museums and things like that, which are destructive of things of real value, as opposed to blowing up corporate art and trashing franchise coffee bars, which aren’t things of real value.
But the thing about Fight Club that is interesting to me, the real question that comes out of the movie and out of the piece by Jef Costello that we published is, “is it just nihilistic, or is there something positive about this story?” There’s a lot of tearing down, and a lot of anger and so forth in Fight Club. But is that laying the foundation for something new? And I kind of like the Hegelian take on it, that you see with Jef Costello, which is that Fight Club is a return to the beginning of history. And so you have to have a certain amount of tearing down, and there’s a lot of struggle, but if you look at Hegel, struggle –the fight to the death over honor — is the beginning of history. So there’s a sense in which new culture, new values, new hierarchies, and things like that will emerge organically from that explosion of what seems to be purely nihilistic anger. So I think it’s a tremendously important text, and it is kind of hard to interpret.
One thing I’ve been meaning to write about Fight Club for the website is on this very question of just how nihilistic it is, because Jef Costello doesn’t deal with the big question in my mind: In the end, the building that the protagonist and his girlfriend are standing in, isn’t that rigged to blow up any minute? And if they’re standing in a building that’s about to go “boom,” it sort of bums out the happy ending that seems to be there; it gives it a kind of Inception-like ambiguity at the very last moment.
So let’s talk about Under the Nihil some more. One way to look at it is on the dust jacket, which is that this novel is a fictional exploration of the question, “What if you could take a pill that removed all of your inhibitions, including the fear of death?” And I want to think about that a bit, because do you think that loss of inhibition, and specifically loss of the fear of death, is necessarily a bad thing? Couldn’t one see it as a kind of enlightenment?
Because most people fear nothing more than death. Death is the scariest thing in the world for most people. And if they get over their fear of death, then all of the other fears are taken care of at the root. And that gets rid of the main impediment to living well and doing the right thing, which is fear. So in a way, it strikes me that overcoming the fear of death might be an incredibly liberating and empowering thing. Is that a possibility in your view?
Andy: Yeah, fear of death is something we all have to deal with in our lives. Obviously, being human that’s what sets us apart from animals is we are aware of our mortality. Most of the time we don’t think about it or deal with it, but we have to eventually, because death will come assuredly to all of us. So the idea of being able to deal with that fear, to get over that fear, is definitely a positive thing.
Now the question comes in the notion in the book that this is an experimental drug that’s going to create the synthetically produced loss of the fear of death. Whereas what you find instilled in some parts of the world, not in the secularized West, where we just live for comfort most of the time and don’t really believe in a transcendent truth or reality, but in covering the point that’s made in the book where the characters talk about radical Islam, where you have people willing to strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up, or hijack planes and fly them into buildings. Which of course I don’t approve of, but the impressive thing about them, is they show these people are . . . unlike us. They have this transcendent faith that leads them to think, “if I die doing this, or when I die doing this, I will not be afraid of death,” because of their beliefs, because of the faith that they have.
Now of course we can mock their faith, and there are things about it that are mockable. But I think that’s a pretty damn impressive thing to have. It’s something we don’t have in the West today, in our degenerate state. We have the best weapons, we have the best technology, we have the largest army, and all that. But what we don’t have, which our enemies in the “War on Terror” do have, is faith.
To tie it to the book, that’s the experimental program that the main character agrees to become a part of, this Dostoyevskyean figure, this Underground Man, who has lost everything, has had this nervous breakdown, lost his calling in life, been chewed up and spat out and left with nothing. He gets approached by this mysterious figure who claims to represent some kind of shadow government who says they’re working on this drug called “Nihil” — pronounced like “Nile” — and they’re trying to refine it. But what they’re going for is a pill to get rid of their fear of death but at the same time not have to believe in any of it. Not have to have any transcendent faith.
I think that’s where I see the issue. It’s not the idea of being able to cease the fear of death, because since we have to die, we have to get over that fear eventually. But just whether we can do it through access to a transcendent faith as opposed to just having this secularist point of view, where we seek pleasure and a concordant avoidance of pain. Where it’s almost like cheating to take the pill to reproduce this state of mind, when you haven’t really deserved it, you haven’t done the work necessary to get it. So I guess that would be my answer.
Greg: I love the line where you describe the purpose of this drug, Nihil, as to deliver “the fruits of faith together with the luxuries of faithlessness.” I thought that was a nicely-turned phrase.
Greg: But isn’t that so much like Americans? We just want to skip the process and go right to the payoff, and if we can do it by sticking a penny in the fusebox or by addling our brains with psychoactive drugs, well, so much the better.
What’s the significance of having the protagonist be a washed-up Catholic priest? Or rather, a washed-up would-be Catholic priest?
Andy: Well, it calls to mind the crisis of faith that I want to make reference to. That’s a referent in a lot of my books. It’s also in The Columbine Pilgrim. There’s a lot of Catholic imagery there. This depraved individual who chooses to do a very — from a Catholic point of view — a very immoral thing — but who still retains his Catholic sensibilities in this weird, twisted way.
And the character in Under the Nihil is similar. He’s somebody who has this strong desire to believe, and he has this attraction to the Church. In this case, he has a sister who is a nun who is very devout. So he sees it as his calling for a little while, and frankly there was a time in my life where I thought of the priesthood. Things didn’t shake out that way, but I know what it feels like to have that kind of hunger for meaning. You want to have a calling that is not just “a job,” not just something you do that pays the bills, and then you come home and forget about it. It’s something that’s real, that’s substantial.
So he gets it in his head that he wants to be a priest, but then he ends up getting thrown out of seminary school because they think he’s psychologically unstable. Of course ironically, that sets up his breakdown, maybe proving them right. But maybe he would have been an okay priest. We don’t really know. In any case, his faith — the idea of faith, or wanting to believe — was something very strong for him, and I think it’s a very important issue in the West. I think we can come together on this whether Catholics or Protestants or pagans or whatever. That it’s important to have some kind of transcendent faith. You don’t really get anywhere that you want to go without it.
Of course, how do you get it? That’s another question.
So I would say that his Catholicism foregrounds a lot of the nihilism which follows. After he loses his faith, he plunges deep into nothingness, and really all that’s left at that point is a whole lot of anger and spite. He becomes this very destructive man on a mission to do something very destructive. So it’s a kind of a tragic fall from grace in some ways, similar to the character in The Columbine Pilgrim, too.
Greg: Andy, maybe I should be a little worried here. I’m concerned: how much of the characters in Under the Nihil and The Columbine Pilgrim is autobiographical?
Andy: [Laughs] Well, I would say quite a bit, so maybe you should be worried. [Laughs] But of course, you know, that’s the thing. That’s what I find interesting to explore; that’s what I find the most interesting thing about writing. You can take on these kinds of characters and have them do things which you would never do, whether it’s because you’re too scared to do it, or because you think it’s wrong to do it, but they’re things that part of you would like to do.
Maybe you’ve found that — I know you’re a writer as well, you both are — maybe you all have found that to be the case too. But to me it’s part of the cathartic experience of writing. You get some stuff done. You take on this role of this character, who’s a lot like you but a bit more extreme or maybe a lot more extreme. And that way you could, again, have this cathartic experience through this fictional character without having to go to prison. [Laughs]
Greg: That’s great. There’s an important change in the main character in Under the Nihil in the third chapter that I want to ask you about. Before I go into that though, I should say to the people out there in radio-land . . . I should issue a spoiler alert. I’m going to talk about the plot of the novel and how it ends. So maybe you’ll want to tune out right now because you’re all hooked on the idea of buying it anyway.
I think it’s an important question, and I want to discuss it. In the third chapter, the fellow who has taken the deal, he’s been offered this deal to be a guinea pig, taking this drug Nihil, which takes away his inhibitions and his fear of death. And he meets this 40-something desperate divorcée, and she takes up with him. And in the first part of the chapter he behaves towards her and towards her daughter in a really absolutely vicious way. He’s a real cad. He’s a real monster. And then in the latter part of the chapter he decides to blow up a famous New York landmark in an act of terrorism.
And I’m curious about that latter decision and how that was sparked by his interaction with the divorcée. I guess my real question is this: did he have a crisis of conscience there? Did he come up against just what a monster he was capable of being, and was he so revolted by that that he decided to strike back at the America that had turned him into this monster, by becoming a terrorist?
Andy: Yeah, I think his state of mind is confused, and I think he is casting about for motivations. He’s got this primal urge to destroy, to take things down. He’s got this very strong anger against the world and against the culture as it stands. Part of his critique is correct, but of course he doesn’t go about it the right way. [Laughs]
But yeah, I guess that is what you call a good thing. I think his account of it is not that he says “oh God, what have I done, in the way I’ve treated these two women?” The divorcée and her daughter aren’t very likable characters themselves. At least the divorcée isn’t. But his behavior is still inexcusable towards them.
So his account of it isn’t “oh my God, what have I become? Let me atone for it by this act of self-destruction.” What he says is “I gotta up the ante here. I’ve been on this level. I’ve had these particular kinds of adventures. I’ve messed with people on this level. But now I want to really do it for good.”
But there is, throughout the book, this despair about the character. There’s this sincere critique of the America that is on display in the book. So I think that you could see it that way as well. He’s a messed-up guy doing messed up things, but he does have a point. There is something that’s righteous about him. There is a way in which his critique of things has some substance.
Which again, I would tie in with the Dostoyevsky character, the Underground Man, in that he’s a kind of insufferable guy also, but he’s got some good points. He makes some profound arguments on the way to being this cad, or monster, whatever you want to call him.
So I guess maybe there’s room for both interpretations, I don’t know. But it’s a good question.
Greg: That’s very clarifying, thank you. That’s very helpful.
Mike: So Andy, what’s the connection between the American love of liberty and nihilism?
Andy: I think it’s not a connection that most people would want to make, particularly conservatives. We’re all men of the Right here, but I’m talking about the typical Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity-type of “conservative” that’s out there who wouldn’t see any equation at all between liberty and nihilism. “Liberty is enshrined in the Constitution,” “this is the greatest country in the world,” all that kind of rhetoric.
But I think that there might be a connection between democracy and nihilism. When you have this idea that the majority rules, and so if there’s a vote, and 55% of the people vote for a law, then it passes. Or if they elect certain people into Congress, and a majority of them enact this law into practice, then it’s like the truth is whatever the majority says it is. And that’s a deeply destructive way of viewing things.
Mike: Certainly lynch mobs are very nihilistic, even though they’re the majority opinion.
Andy: Mob mentality, exactly. We enshrine democracy. We enshrine the idea of the righteousness of the majority. There’s a populism that’s a part of the nature of belief in America and what America is supposed to represent that I think could be easily a shortcut to nihilism.
Greg: So what message would you like people to take away from reading Under the Nihil? And more broadly, from your other writings as well. Is there one big Andy Nowicki issue? Or are there a whole range of issues that you’re dealing with?
Andy: Well, I would like for people to be . . . I think the kind of books that I’m moved to write probably aren’t for everybody, and that’s fine. Frankly my wife doesn’t necessarily . . . [laughs] I mean, she likes the fact I’m a writer, and she thinks that I’m a good writer. But she doesn’t necessarily find some of the extreme circumstances or the subject matter that I write about to her tastes. And that’s probably the case with a lot of people. But my biggest issue is the postmodern crisis of faith, and the confrontation with the Zeitgeist. It’s a really big motivating thing for me just to challenge this artificial, corrupt, and false Zeitgeist that’s out there.
Counter-Currents writes about it, Alternative Right writes about it, we have more in common in what we’re against than in what we’re advocating, but I think we see this real modern crisis brewing that’s going to be our undermining if we’re not careful. And I think this is an issue on a micro level and on a macro level. It’s something that I deal with personally and individually, that’s important for me and what I feel moved to write about, subject matter wise. But also I think it’s a civilizational issue.
I don’t know whether that answers your question or not.
Greg: That’s a really good answer. You mentioned Nietzsche earlier. One of the things I think a lot of the people who read Nietzsche overlook is just how profoundly religious a thinker Nietzsche is. Nietzsche believes that the death of God is a catastrophe for civilization and for mankind, but by the same token he also blames Christianity for being a religion that had the seeds of its own destruction in it. And what he’s looking forward to is the emergence of some kind of new transcendent ideal or set of ideals, because he thinks that without that humans are reduced to what he calls the “Last Man”: people who are incapable of conceiving anything above themselves and their petty concerns and pleasures and anxieties. And that’s really the world that we have to live in. And that is the passive nihilism that we’re in the midst of today.
Andy: Yeah. That’s the landscape we inhabit. I guess the characters that I’ve created, or that I feel drawn to write about — again some part of me is definitely in these characters — are people who confront this whole passive nihilism, everything you’ve just been referring to, this nihilism of the culture . . . and for whom this is absolutely not acceptable. They’re moved to do things that are extreme and that might be terribly wrong. But as T. S. Eliot said, the man who chooses to do evil is in some ways better than the man who does nothing, because at least he’s assessing things and then doing something about it, even if it’s the wrong thing. So there’s something in the desperation of these characters that I really do like. Desperation is a very aesthetically interesting thing for me. So I think it the main concern that I have, that’s what I tie it all down to: desperation.
Mike: Have you ever felt any desire or any inclination to write you’re protagonist as taking heroic action instead of nihilistic, destructive action?
Andy: That’s a fair question. You know, I want to get to that. I think maybe I’m still working on it. I’m Catholic, of course, which is something that not everybody listening can relate to, but something I really appreciate about Catholicism is the saints, the lectionary of saints out there, that the Church holds up. These people who are enshrined as heroes. I guess anybody with a point of view where there is a certain legion of bigger than life people, people who were just like us but weren’t like us, who rose to the occasion in some great way and achieved spiritual greatness or some other kind of greatness . . . So I’ve thought before about writing about what it would be like, instead of about the devil or about a really messed up kind of person, the way that I am now. What would it be like to write about a saint as opposed to the opposite of a saint, which is more what I’m drawn to?
I would like to progress to that subject matter eventually, but the thing is, you have to go where your muse directs you, and so far this is what I’ve felt inclined to write about, the kind of people I’ve felt more comfortable with. But maybe that’ll change. Hopefully it will.
Mike: I know that recently you went to South Africa. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey and what you learned?
Andy: I visited South Africa in December. I went through Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute. They paid for my plane trip over there and gave me room and board while I was there.
I stayed for a couple of weeks, and I visited Johannesburg and Pretoria, and I also spent some time down in Orania. I wrote a piece about it. It’s going to be featured in Radix, the new print journal that Richard Spencer and Alex Kurtagic are coming out with soon. I think it definitely would be of interest to most of your listeners. There’s an analysis of the Afrikaner nation as they currently stand today. What things are alike today in South Africa almost two decades after the end of the Apartheid era and the ascendency of the ANC, everything that has taken place and what kind of changes have happened. What kind of fears are lingering in people’s hearts, who are wondering what’s going to happen next. It was a very, very, very interesting trip, and I really feel thankful and blessed to have gotten to make it. I’d like to go back sometime, even though it was a trip I felt a little apprehensive about, because as we all know South Africa is a somewhat dangerous place these days, with a very high crime rate. But I made it through safe and sound. It was a very interesting trip.
I wrote it up for Alternative Right, but I gave a forecast of what I was going to be doing while I was there. The piece itself should be available from Radix, which you can find out about at Alternative Right, alternativeright.com; I encourage all of your listeners to do that, I think it would be something of interest.
Greg: So what’s next for you, Andy? What are your upcoming writing projects? Is there anything that you’ve already started? Any new novels/plans for novels?
Andy: Yes, right now I’m working on something else, that’s going under the tentative title, The Carnal Terrorist. It’s a little bit different than what I’ve been doing lately, in that it’s actually going to be novel length. Under the Nihil and The Columbine Pilgrim and other things that I’ve written tend to be shorter, novella-length. This is a work that I’m composing now. I’m also writing regularly for Alternative Right, you can find my work there. That’s an ongoing spot where I write.
I’m also working on some shorter stories that I haven’t yet found a home for. I’d really like to try to break into the [mainstream]. I don’t think my writing is terribly mainstream, but my fiction is not really ideological either. So even though I’m probably seen as radioactive for associating with the likes of people like you, and Alternative Right, and all those guys — with whom I’m happy to be associated — I still have some ambition of maybe being able to get published and be read by people who are not necessarily “on the Right” but who are at least open-minded, and who have the same dislike of political correctness and the same enjoyment of . . . provocation, that I do. So we’ll see where it goes. But I’m happy with the way things have been going the last couple of years. I just hope the Muses keep communicating to me, and I keep it up.
Greg: So what do you think about the current New Right scene in North America? Intellectually, culturally, politically? I find it very, very exciting that there are novels like yours getting published, and poetry and commentary. I’m just wondering what’s your take on that?
Andy: Yeah, I think it’s very exciting as well. I’m not naturally inclined to be optimistic, but sometimes I wonder if we aren’t on the verge of a “paradigm shift” of one kind or another, where all these ideas and thoughts that have been and still continue to be relegated to the back burner or criticized as being “radioactive,” like a lot of the things that you write about at Counter-Currents, and are discussed at Alternative Right and The Last Ditch and other places . . . I don’t know, maybe we’re on the verge of something big — maybe we’re riding the crest of a wave that’s ultimately going to pay off for us.
Whatever happens, I’m enjoying the ride, and I’m thankful for you all, for Richard, and for everybody else who’s given me a chance: Nick Strakon of The Last Ditch, whom I’ve also written a lot for.
I agree, it is a very exciting movement, if you want to call it that. I don’t necessarily see myself as a mover and shaker in the movement, but I’m excited to be a part of it and thankful to be a part of it.
Greg: Well, thank you very much Andy for your time. I’ve found this to be really, really enjoyable, and I’ve learned a lot about you and your work.
Mike: I enjoyed this too Andy, thank you.
Andy: Well, thank you both for having me. I enjoyed it quite a bit myself, and I hope we can do it again sometime.