Warren Zanes orange shirt

Warren Zanes Collides With Midlife. Art Ensues.

Q: You had also been functioning at a really high level, so how could you not lose some threads along the way? Unless you were in complete denial and didn’t let yourself feel all the things that you were feeling, and then you wouldn’t have this record. I mean, you had to descend into the muck to come out with something that represents the experience.

A: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that. One way in which you survive these things is you reach out. You’ve got an art that you practice, and you’ve got to reach out to it, because it’s going to give you some juice back that will carry you. That sounds a little corny, but it’s really true. I did a writing project that is for me and me only that went for like eight months. And man, it really helped me. And I’ll always have it. And it’s not for an audience. And the music helped me. I built a play house with my kids. That helped me as much as anything. We designed it together and we built the thing. I don’t know how to build this shit. But we just, like, invented our way there.

Another thing was we got really into canoeing. That helped. You’ve got to do this stuff. But I had to reconcile myself to the fact that some things that came much more easily in earlier phases of life were really hard.

Q: Such as?

A: Getting the motivation and getting the passion. I was reading something about Jonah and the Whale and the operative metaphor for when you go through hard things in life. You’re in the whale and it’s a dark, murky, unpleasant place. And you feel like you’re just trapped in this disgusting room, but you’re in a whale that’s moving. And you just have to be in that dark, uninhabitable place until that whale comes up on the shore and you walk out of it. You’re going to feel like you’re not moving, but the whale’s moving. Crazy as it might sound, that one really works for me.

Q: I guess you can extend it to the point where the only way you know that you’re in a moving thing is if you step back far enough to see the whole picture. You have to be in it, but don’t you also have to be able to step back too, especially if you’re making art?

A: Sometimes you can’t step away. Sometimes you’re going through shit and it’s so all around you, you can’t step away. It’s sink or swim time. I don’t know, I’m such a pragmatic fuck that I always want to be able to do that, and I was, like, why can’t I do it? I can’t sleep. Food tastes different. Everything is different. I was trying to get at that on ”Dream Away.” It’s my favorite on the record. It’s that the whole world is different. Trees are different, the stars are different. You can’t see the old place. Forget hinging everything on being able to see it again. Hinge it more on coming through this.

Q: Right. Maybe the idea that you’re going to see it again is a lie. Maybe it doesn’t exist anymore.

A: My sister’s a Carl Jung fanatic and he’s a big midlife guy. I’m more of a Freud person, but Jung did a lot of really interesting midlife stuff, and for him it’s the foundational experience. I think the true midlife experience is there’s no going back.



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  1. Posted November 29, 2011 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Fantastic frickin’ interview. Very insightful and really useful for thinking about how to persevere and create while going through some serious shit. Love it. Nice work, Joan!

    • joan
      Posted December 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      SO glad you like the interview. zanes is candid and forthcoming and also really articulate, and that’s such a novel combo. it’s also such a gift to people who are trying to figure out how to create and how to slog through real life — AT THE SAME TIME. yowza.

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