Renowned author Bruce McAllister, whose fine novel The Village Sang to the Sea… was published by Aeon Press in 2013, has been interviewed by Garrett Calcaterra of Black Gate magazine. Check out Magic, and Miracles: An Interview with Bruce McAllister, and here are the opening questions.
Calcaterra: I just finished reading The Village Sang to the Sea, and it struck me how much the concept of rediscovering lost magic resonates in it, which is similar, I think, to what you do in Dream Baby. Is this a conscious or purposeful theme you like to explore?
McAllister: There’s a wonderful quote I once found: “Magic points to the magician and miracle points to something else.” That’s really what a lot of my fiction is about. In the Village Sang to the Sea, the village has magic, and it’s trying to change the boy, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Brad is scared shitless of it, and at the same time, if he became that lizard at the end of it, well that’s transcendence.
It’s a little like Arthur C. Clarke, whom I was influenced by early on. The brilliance of Childhood’s End is it starts with the idea that, “Oh my god, there are overlords and they’re alien.” And then, by the end of it, when human beings have transcended, they have become more alien — we hold onto the remaining overlord as being closer to us. He becomes our identification. It’s brilliant because it really becomes a study of what’s alien.
So in my book, while the boy is afraid of becoming a lizard, it’s because he’s afraid of no longer being human, including all of its pain. He’s not happy being human, but he wants to be a human. To me that’s really what human beings want. We’re quite willing to suffer. The human ego is the psyche’s embodiment of the body — it believes it can die, even though as long as we’re living it can’t die. This makes everything fear driven. Comfortable misery is preferable to fearful risk.
So I’m not saying Brad is ego driven, but he is making a commitment to being human, even though the village wants him to become a blissful lizard — and what’s wrong with that? It’s almost fear of Buddhism. “I don’t want to become enlightened because I don’t want to leave this world.”
See the full interview.