Vlad Savich: Dear readers. Today I want to introduce you to Scott Manley Hadley. You know what he asked me when I offered him to do an interview with me? “What do you know about me?” Nothing. So I ask the question. Who are you, Mr. Scott? Tell us about yourself.
Scott Manley Hadley: Who am I? I’m a blogger and poet, a reader, a writer and a host of an unsuccessful web series. I also do work for money, which is tedious and tiring. And I’ve recently financially fucked myself due to a very unlucky set of circumstances, but hey, money is money and – as I said to my grandfather earlier today, the other one, not the dead one, who was at the funeral of my other grandfather – it’s easier to fix an empty wallet than an empty heart. Isn’t that a very poetic thing to say? I laughed and then made a speech at the funeral that mentioned my dead grandfather being bad at driving and then after the funeral everyone stood around swapping anecdotes about the dead man’s bad driving. Lovely stuff.
Does this explain who I am at all?
VS: Yes. Your answers means you are the person that I want to be friends with. Money, death, funeral, unsuccessful, grandfather circumstances. Is this the theme of your work?
SMH: I don’t know. I flirt with a lot of different themes, most recently, poo, excreta. I am interested in physicality, ultimately: the reality that is flesh. I think shit is something people choose to ignore, in much the same way that people feel uncomfortable talking about ageing, or the rotting we do once our body starts to die. What kind of person do you like being friends with? Would you consider yourself someone you’d like to be friends with?
VS: For your creative work do you need street noise or a silent room?
SMH: Neither, tbh. I LOVE white noise. Like the noise of an engine or fan, the noise of a pneumatic drill or washing machine, the sound of a tumble dryer or the pounding beat of a train. I like noise but not sound. So somewhere in between the two. If I had to pick, though – which I probably should – I’d go for silence. But I like noise that is so oppressive it creates like a false silence. Like noise so overwhelming that nothing can be heard other than the noise itself. I feel like you’re into street noise. Is that correct?
VS: I write with classical music. Especially Mozart’s Requiem. Do you, as a writer, think death is the end, or the beginning, or something else?
SMH: It’s the end, isn’t it? Certainly to the individual. I think death is the beginning of one’s legacy, one’s impression – all of a sudden we stop existing once we die, but our existence then becomes something we can no longer influence. We are judged entirely on the impressions we have given. So one continues to “exist” even when one isn’t alive, in the living world, I’m not talking about an afterlife, that’s not a writerly issue. We live, but then we continue to exist as a consequence of the actions we make when alive. Does that make sense? BEGINNING BEGINNING BEGINNING.
VS: Do you think what a human being is. Is it: 1/ The Creation of God, 2/ Monkey, 3/ The hero of a computer game?
SMH: Well, I’m of the right age for The Matrix to have been a formative text in my personal growth. I must’ve seen that for the first time when i was 13 or 14, and it presents itself so authoritatively that a lot of seeped in. so maybe I do see all this as a game, as digital, as unreal. Maybe I do see this as test. There is no god but the god we make of ourselves, the happiest people are those who ask no questions, who engage in life with no thought, to behave like a monkey – or better a fish or bird or reptile – is to be most content. There is no psychic energy behind the stare of a shark, just unstoppable aggression and hunger. Monkeys… monkeys, like dogs and pigs, are too alive. It is the robotic animals, the ones with no concept of god or technology, that we must fear.
Do you agree?
VS: I agree but I want to ask you what would you like to be – a dog, a horse, a fish, a poisonous snake, or a cat?
I hear a cat has nine lives. Would you like to get along nine lives?
SMH: Fuck that, I think one life is enough
I’d like to be a dog. I have a dog, getting my dog was the best decision I ever made in my life – SO FAR. A dog is warmth, is affection and personality and presence. A fish and a snake I hate, I don’t think they are as real, I don’t think animals with scales have the same intellectual presence as those without. It’s speciesist, I know, but I don’t trust them, I don’t like them.
I think horses and cats would be fine to be, but i think dogs are often happier than both of those animals, they are filled with affection and love begets love, “the love you take is equal to the love you make”, innit, thass the beatles like…
VS: In Russia, dogs run around the streets for search of food. I don’t think that you would be a dog that lives in a cold country. A dog without a master.
I don’t think that you would be happy.
What for, a human being, is happiness?
SMH: I think happiness is a falsity, I think contentment is a more achievable thing to aim for. I believe that lionising the idea of happiness makes people struggle with life more than they need to: when we believe that there is an obtainable state of perfection, a grace, a transcendence, that can be everlasting and with us until death, we aim for something impossible. Shit things will happen, and to try and hope they won’t, to judge ourselves harshly because we aren’t as “quantifiably” “successful” as other people leads us all down paths that are difficult to ever arrive at. We must seek our best possible lives, but with a realistic understanding of what that possibility is. We are not all doomed to riches, good looks, respect or power, y’know, and lots of people with those things are not happy. We need some kind of connection in our lives, whether with friends or family or lovers or pets, but the degree to which different people need this varies.
I can tell you what happiness isn’t, Vlad, but I’m not certain I can tell you what it is.
VS: I realized that you don’t know what happiness is. Maybe you will answer me what we living for. What is the meaning of our short, like a flash in the night, life?
SMH: There is no meaning. If there was, it would be more obvious, more agreed, more universal. I’m doubting the complete existence of anything definable as happiness. I don’t know what it is because i don’t think it exists in any way I am able to understand. One must strive to enjoy every moment, right, rather than have peaks and troughs. I think that the most mediocre lives are the least sad. My life is very eventful tbh, which is actually quite annoying, even though I sometimes have great times, sometimes have terrible times. I think on balance I’d rather have meh times all the time.
Do you believe there is a universal means to happiness? It would be nice if there was.
VS: Tell me please, what do you think about. Is life worth living for?
SMH: I suffer from frequent and very serious depression. I often try to deal with this using medication, intoxicants, therapy and escape into literature. I have never yet found a means to justify, eternally, existence. I think the best we can hope for is at least one experience every day that makes us feel like life isn’t a waste of time, at least one moment where we think “yes”. I don’t get this very often. I have a little dog, he’s adorable, and sometimes when I’m with him I get it. Sometimes when I am with my friends I get it. Sometimes when I read an incredible passage of prose or poetry I get it, sometimes when I look on a magical view or drink a gorgeous wine or experience the flavour of a delicious food, I get it. But to get these things, I have to be in the right frame of mind, I have to be undepressed, unanxious, unscared. I think that the moments that make life worth living are rare, and that they can often go unappreciated to the people who need them most.
Some terrible things have happened to me, but some amazing things have happened too. The amazing things sometimes didn’t strike me as amazing until long after they’d happened, and likewise some of the worst things that have ever occurred in my life I didn’t understand until years later, because I thought bad things were what I deserved, what I was due. Depression makes you feel like life isn’t worth living. And when you’re depressed for many years, that thought builds the fuck up. I don’t think I’m being very original here, I fear this is quite cliched nihilistic white man bullshit.
-SINGING MAKES ME HAPPY
-PLAYING WITH ANIMALS MAKES ME HAPPY
-KISSING MAKES ME HAPPY
-TASTING NICE TASTES MAKES ME HAPPY
-FEELING STABLE MAKES ME HAPPY
I don’t think it takes much to feel happy, but I think contentment begets contentment.
Scott Manley Hadley is not fine and blogs at TriumphoftheNow.com
Vlad* Savich was born in the USSR, where he was educated, married and fathered his daughter. As soon as the chance appeared to leave, he did. At present he lives in Montreal, where he writes, directs for the theatre and breathes the air of freedom. He can be found online at savich.lit.com.ua.
*He prefers not to be called Vladimir, so as not to be associated with the disreputable activity of a certain barnardine Russian leader.