"In these tight, sexy fictions that make up One Dead Tree, David Menear’s stories and characters uncover hitherto unexplored aspects of the Canadian urban experience." Mark McCawley, Urban Graffiti

Bill DiMichele

Bill DiMichele

DHP: What is your definition of transgressive?
BDM: Ken Kesey, legendary hippie, acid prankster and author of ‘One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest’, collected an incredible array of madcap personalities and took the culture war to the streets in his modified school bus. The name of the bus was ‘Farther’.

DHP: What was the first text you read that made you question accepted societal tenets or values or the way in which the world works? 

BDM: When I was very young (compared to me now), a math teacher turned me on to a book called ‘Flatland’, by Edwin Abbot, a treatise about how the number of dimensions creates our realities, and how we can learn to transcend our level of consciousness. One, two and three dimensions were easy to understand, but the fourth is a little more difficult since we live in it and yet can’t perceive it with our normal senses.

DHP: Give an example of a transgressive work & explain why you felt it was transgressive?  
The work could be literature, film, visual art, theatre, graphic novels or something else. 

BDM: I’m a huge film freak, and one of my favorite movies is ‘Tarnation’, written and directed by Jonathan Caouette. It’s about a person dealing, among other things, with his homosexuality. This is a documentary that begins when he is eleven, and it follows his life with his mentally ill, lorazepam overdosing, electroshocked mother, and with his repressed quirky grandparents. What makes him/his film transgressive is his unstoppable drive to become something new, something beyond what the world calls sin.

DHP: Name a historical transgressive role model & tell us a bit about this person. 

BDM: My favorite transgressive lunatic is the magician/sorcerer/spell caster Aleister Crowley. Everything in his life is a transgressive act; his greatest love was puncturing holes in the Catholic Church and every theosophical society to which he could gain entrance. He travelled the world, paradoxically using lowly behavior in search of higher knowledge. He stole money, he cast spells to demolish his enemies, he abandoned his wife and child in China while he went to see an old mistress (his child died from tuberculosis there). Crowley’s life encompasses both the positive and negative aspects of transgression with a vengeance. His philosophy? ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’.   


DHP: List a few transgressive fictional works from your personal library.

BDM: 10 choices in no particular order:

The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann

Narcissus and Goldmund, Hermann Hesse

Naked Lunch, William Burroughs

Myths of the Near Future, J.G. Ballard

Lathe of Heaven, Urusula K. leGuin

At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre

Count Zero, William Gibson

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

DHP: In what ways are you trying to create or publish work that is transgressive according to your definition?
BDM: I start my response using one word, ‘dogma’: dogma of organized religion, dogma of philosophy, dogma of neurology, dogma of…well, dogma. The main objective of my creative life is to supplant plastic frozen bitter rules and to live in a world illuminated by higher consciousness. Here, the lower becomes the higher. Christ trashed the moneylenders, telling them that he was the end of the old rules and the beginning of the new. This is the spiritual/creative state I strive for, and I’ll do whatever it takes, self remembering, meditation, orison, peyote, LSD, or prayer, to reach a new level.

There’s an old Zen adage:

You don’t know it’s there

Until you know it’s there.

And as you transgress in your own personal style, you must go beyond the bounds, misbehave, fall from grace and become a sinner or a saint. There’s so little space between them. 

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