Monday, June 25, 2007

The Interview

A friend of mine, a Canadian blogger, posted the following interview questions on his blog, Evydense. I will attempt to answer the questions as best I can.

Interview questions for Gary

Okay, better late than never. . . . sorry about that. Gary asked me for 5 questions for him for this interview thing that's going around. Gary lives in Washington D.C. and spends a part of pretty much every day in the library. He loves books, reading, classical and opera music, and is a fairly keen observer of people. His mastery of English and his extensive vocabulary is a trademark of virtually all his blog entries. He is blunt! He suffers from schizoid personality disorder which has a big impact on his life and activities, and is the main reason he is not employed. His Jewish background is clearly an important part of his life, and is a topic he frequently writes about. To get a good flavor, visit his blog here.

Without further ado, here are my questions for you. If you think any of these questions are self-destructive, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence! Good luck with the mission.

1) You have pointed out that you have made it as a Wikipedia entry. Do you have any particular reaction to that? The entry deals with "Jewishness". Could you identify a few illustrations or examples in your life that were specifically centered around your Jewish roots, background and heritage?

My reaction to being referenced in Wikipedia is "it's about time." Fame is due me. Next comes world domination and the Nobel Prize.

I can't really identify illustrations or examples in my life that were specifically centered around my Jewish roots, background and heritage. I am only half-Jewish, first of all. My mother wasn't Jewish. I was not raised in the Jewish religion. I identify with the Jewish people and their historical struggles.

To answer the question more fully I rely on the comments of Sigmund Freud about his ties to the Jewish people: "It was to my Jewish nature alone that I owed two characteristics that had become indispensable to me in the difficult course of my life. Because I was a Jew I found myself free from many prejudices which restricted others in the use of their intellect; and as a Jew I was prepared to join the Opposition and to do without agreement with the 'compact majority.'" Comparable language is employed in Freud's "Autobiographical Study." Some twenty years earlier (1903), he advised the music critic Max Graf upon the birth of his son Herbert (aka Little Hans): "'If you do not let your son grow up as a Jew,' he said, 'you will deprive him of those sources of energy which cannot be replaced by anything else. He will have to struggle as a Jew, and you ought to develop in him all the energy he will need for the struggle. Do not deprive him of that advantage.'"

I suppose these remarks are a little cryptic, but that is my response to your question.

2) Writing is clearly not only one of your strengths, but one of your primary interests based on what you write in your blogs. What writings have you done that you think have sustained themselves as your 'best' writings, what were they about, and if you know, about how old were you when you wrote them and what frame of mind were you in? If that's too fuzzy or ambiguous a question, how about this one instead. What motivates you to write?

I believe my best writing, the writing I am most proud of, is my legal writing. One example is posted on one of my blogs. You can check it out at:

http://backgrinfo.blogspot.com/2005/10/employment-discrimination-pelican.html

I am also proud of my autobiography, Significant Moments. It is this writing that is referenced in Wikipedia. I worked on it for eleven years, from 1993 to 2004. Although it is written entirely in the form of quotations from published material, it is, in my opinion, highly original and deeply personal.

What motivates me to write is the desire to discover myself. To learn about my unconscious wishes, conflicts and prohibitions. Writing is a process of discovery for me.

3) Your background and interests in music lean towards what a lot of folks would consider to be 'refined' music. When listening, do you "dissect" the compositions as if they were musical stories, and consider the pieces and how they fit together, or do you hear it as a continuous, inter-dependent wholeness? Do you have a favorite opera or two, and why are they your favorites?


I just listen to the music and enjoy. My deepest enjoyment in life comes from music, not from interaction with other people. My favorite operas are by Wagner: Gotterdammerung and Parsifal. I love Gotterdammerung for the majesty of the orchestral writing. I love Parsifal because of its deeply personal message, a message that I identify with. Contradictory feelings of hopelessness and ultimate hope permeate the work as they do my own life.

4) You also talk a great deal about your childhood, your growing up experiences, the old country attitude of your parents and how you perceive that it has affected you. What are some of your 'warm fuzzy' memories from your childhood?

I have no warm, fuzzy memories of my childhood. What I do recall with fondness is that we used to go to Atlantic City, New Jersey (a beach resort) two weeks every year, coincidentally, at the beginning of July. I loved the beach and I thought that Atlantic City was the most exotic place on earth. In childhood, I looked forward to our trips to Atlantic City all year.

5) If you had a chance to do it all over again, what would be one or two major choice differences that you would make and why?

First, I would have studied harder in high school. I did poorly in high school. I attended a school for academically-talented students that was very demanding. I had the ability to perform well, but I was lazy. Second, I would have chosen a major other than journalism in college. I don't know what I would have chosen, but it certainly wouldn't have been journalism!

Have fun . . . hope they're ok for you. I hope and trust you know that if I have inadvertently crossed lines here, you can just ignore the question (or better still, chew me out as part of your response!!) Don't forget to post your answers on your own blog, and include the 'official rules' at the bottom of your post. PEACE.

2 comments:

Evydense said...

Thanks for being as open as you are. I hope you found something worthwhile in doing this. Personally, I think spending two weeks at the beach every summer would have been more than just warm and fuzzy. That would be bliss! The only family vacation we ever had was one year we drove down from Ontario to the maritimes to visit relatives. Aside from that, we made our own fun, we were too poor for annual trips.

Again, thanks for the insights....(but tut! tut!...you didn't post "the rules"!!!{grin})

BTW: Happy 4th to you.

Gary Freedman said...

Actually, we were too poor for annual trips too. We didn't own a car. My aunt and uncle used to have to drive us to and from Atlantic City, NJ. And we stayed with friends of my father's in a somewhat run-down section of town. But to a kid, it WAS bliss!