These questions are about the short story “An Interview In Which Old Timbo Explains His Choices”, and definitely contains spoilers which, once seen, cannot be unseen. For the actual short story itself, please go here.
Okay, well, first of all, I’m disgusted and appalled. I really thought this might actually be a short story that didn’t involve genitalia or bodily fluids for once. It felt, I don’t know, a bit more respectable than your other short stories, like it was a proper adult story for adults, rather than just some juvenile gross-out for sickos. And then… well, you know very well what you did.
Yes, yes I do. Sorry about that. That was half the point of this story, though: to lead the reader, very carefully and logically, down a very clear and rational path, using realism and empathic dialogue, to a place where they’re in favour of sucking off horses.
Well, because it flows, logically. I don’t dictate where this shit goes, I just follow the evidence. If our main concern is with not causing pain, then it naturally flows to equine fellatio. It’s not my fault. I just thought that, if plants do actually feel pain, then the only really logical position on cruelty-free eating has to be sucking off horses.
I know, I know, it’s hard to accept. That’s why it took me a long long time to work out how to write this story. I had this idea many many years ago, but I had no idea how to best tell the story: it seemed too full on, in a way, to be able to properly tell, without it being sensationalist or wacky or revolting.
I can see how the concept of giving blowjobs to horses might lead to difficulty.
Oh, it did, yes. But once the character Timbo appeared, it all came together. So to speak. He’s just the very opposite of sensationalist or wacky or revolting: a quietly-spoken, quaint, old-fashioned fella who just happens to regularly suck the semen from horsecocks.
I did quite like Old Timbo. Is he based on anyone in particular?
Me too. His speech patterns – and let’s be quite clear here, only his speech patterns – were based on the way my grandpa spoke. Pa was a natural story-teller, and he would always insert these little flourishes – “you follow?” – into his story-telling, even when his stories had absolutely no direction and ended up being a complete mishmash of half-told quasi-anecdotes. He could start a story and it would end up having no relevance to anything, but was still completely engrossing in the telling. I remember one year, celebrating Nana and Pa’s anniversary, he gave a speech about his life so far that went for nearly an hour, and he barely got to 1945. I thought the story might be best told in a realist style, and might be a story better “told” than “shown”, so creating it as an interview with Old Timbo worked really well (for me). And yes, the old-school vibe, the “scenic route” style of story-telling, and the quaint old phrases and sayings, seemed perfect to contrast with this story of homo horsie headjobs.
Um, you can’t say “homo” any more.
All words are good: it’s people’s intentions that are bad.
So, I guess the obvious question is: do you advocate a horse-semen based diet?
This is the toughest one of all to properly answer. Because in all honesty, the idea of sucking off horses just doesn’t appeal to me, even though the logic seems rock solid. I do try to live cruelty-free as much as I can, but if plants do actually feel pain, then it does seem problematic to eat them. I think personally I just have to draw an arbitrary line, and say I can accept animal pain less than I can accept plant pain, or some other horribly speciesist and unconvincing argument like that. Which doesn’t seem, on the surface, very different to some meat-eater saying they draw the line at chickens, or a pescetarian drawing the line at fish. I guess, in the end, we all have to draw our own line somewhere, because we need energy to keep existing, and my personal line seems to occur around the plant/animal divide. But I do see that this line is completely arbitrary, and is uncomfortable, and doesn’t do the plants any favours. I imagine that, maybe, some time waaaaay in the future, everyone will be sucking off horses as the norm, and they’ll look back on people like me, who are grossed out by the thought of pleasuring a stallion with my mouth until it ejaculates, as hypocritical bastards who were enabling systems of plant oppression and cruelty. I just don’t know what to say. Perhaps that’s what I am. Perhaps that is what I’m doing. I’m not perfect. But at least I made someone up who is brave enough to do the things that I’m not.
You’re talking about Old Timbo.
Yes. He’s a brave man. And the world needs pioneers like that, who aren’t afraid of where their ethics take them. Because living by your ethics in a world that has swapped ethics for convenience is a really hard thing to do.
So it sounds like you’re a vegan who is scared that veganism is in some ways just as bad as corpse-eating?
It’s a scary thing, to wonder whether or not your ethics-based lifestyle is actually just another form of cruelty. It’s confronting and difficult to navigate. But at least I am trying, I guess. What about you?
Um, yeah, we’re out of time. Soz!