A conversation with Thor Harris

 

    For our 100th conversation, we spoke with Thor Harris about the vastness of the universe, the nature of water, the properties of the human body and how we remember our departed loved ones.

    My mom is such a part of me. I miss her voice and her sweet face, but who can say where she ends and I begin?


    We asked Thor to tell us what came to mind when presented with each of these parts of his body.


    My weakest appendage.


    Vampires.


    Where the music comes in.


    Windows I look out.


    Hairy barrel, ape-like.


    Strong, long, hairy, ape-like.


    Connect tools here.


    Fat, breathe in then out.


    My horses.


    Mash nerve ending against the rock.

    1

    Morgan Enos

    To begin this conversation, can you please describe your earliest childhood memory in as much detail as possible? What was going on? Has this memory been inflated or distorted with time?

    Thor Harris

    I remember being about two feet tall, walking or toddling up to a carved wooden chest that my dad brought back from China after his time in the Korean War. That chest is now at my brother’s house. There are flowers on the chest and they were given to Mom, who was in the hospital for some reason. The memory is clear. I don’t know if it has changed over time. Not much.

    2

    Some of the things you’ve written about losing your mom helped me deeply as I processed losing a parent this year. You mention something that others have often brought up in regard to loss — carrying someone around with you. Can you describe how this physically or mentally feels to you, to carry someone you love around who is no longer around? Do you ever feel those you miss kind of bubbling up in your personality, almost like they’re subtly forcing their way back into the world through your actions?

    My mom is such a part of me. I am merely a agent of the kindness she exudes. I miss her voice and her sweet face, but who can say where she ends and I begin?

    3

    From there, I’d like to talk about the emotional properties of time. I think quite often about how the most traumatic day of your life, the best day of your life and the most uneventful day of your life are completely flattened and equal, not varying in actual significance. They’re all just that — days. How do you personally measure time in your own mind?

    I try to live as if this was the last week of my life. I also try to ignore time and deny my natural tendency to be driven by the meat grinder that American capitalism truly is.

    I have to remind myself that I have always had good food and a nice place to live, and probably always will. I was born with a poverty mentality which always lies to me and tells me it’s too late.

    4

    Please tell us everything you know about water. Does anything fascinate you about its properties, or its ability to exist in so many forms?

    I like to swim.

    5

    I’d like you to consider the idea of the brain as a computer system. What do you think happens in the hard-wiring of the mind when confronted with life-altering experiences? Do you think this could be understood in a mechanical way?

    Our brains are oversized, misfiring mutations. Too big for our frail bodies, our vast imaginations are like caged animals. The human brain is as odd as the giraffe’s neck or the elephant’s trunk. Shortly after we wipe ourselves off the face of the earth, it will be repopulated with a great variety of new species. Let’s hope It never makes a mistake like us again.

    The comforting thing about gazing into vast spaces comes from scale. When we realize how small we are, we see truth.

    6

    Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis or lucid dreams? If not, can you name any memorable experience you’ve had in your dreaming mind?

    No, I don’t remember many of my dreams. E.M. Cioran said, “What is that one crucifixion when compared with the nightly torment of the insomniac?”

    7

    Please meditate on these three objects: oceans, icicles and tubes. What does each immediately remind you of? Any memories, thoughts or anecdotes?

    Oceans

    All the water on earth is constantly being redistributed into bodies, lakes, trees, tears, pee, Coca-Cola and snow.

    Icicles

    An excellent disappearing murder weapon.

    Tubes

    A great band from the late 1970s that wrote “White Punks On Dope.” Give that a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

    8

    Finally, you ever felt spellbound or in awe looking at the sky on a perfectly clear night? What emotional responses tend to come up within you from each? What’s your interpretation of the overall architecture of the universe?

    Sure. Everyone has. The comforting thing about gazing into vast spaces comes from scale. When we realize how small we are, we see truth.

    Thank you.

    Data


    Conversation: 100
    Curated by: Morgan Enos
    Conducted by: Email
    Published: December 29, 2017
    Total questions: 10 + 8
    Word count: 758
    Reading time: Three minutes
    Hyperlinks: 3
    Imagery: 10

    Metadata


    Water: Redistributed
    Appendage: Weak
    Memory: Unchanged
    Mutation: Misfire
    Weapon: Disappeared
    Kindness: Exuded
    Love: Unending

    Relation


    About the subject


    Thor Harris is a musician, painter and carpenter who has played in Shearwater, Swans, The Angels of Light and many other projects.

    About the curator


    Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.


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