[“Coffee” Theme by Cambo]
Gabriel Firmo: Alright, so welcome back to State of the Arts, a podcast by two idiots on NBN. My name is Gabriel Firmo.
Lucas Bezerra: And I'm Lucas Bezerra. And Happy 2020!
Gabriel: Yeah, welcome back. It was surprisingly quick, the break.
Lucas: It was extremely quick. Well, the break was quick, but traveling back was not. I think you took a direct flight from Brazil.
Gabriel: Yes, it is the worst.
Lucas: I did not. It's not the worst for you. I mean, jumping around on airplanes wasn't fun. But we're back. We're here recording our third episode of State of the Arts.
Gabriel: Yeah. And so what is the...? We have a pretty traditional question to start the year?
Lucas: Yeah I mean, I figured we'd just do a little recap of 2019 and our favorite arts-related thing that we did. It could be like, one in Northwestern, one out of Northwestern.
Gabriel: That we did or that we consumed?
Lucas: That we did, that we consumed, I guess is a better way to put it. That we saw, experienced.
Gabriel: Okay, okay, that makes more sense. Yeah. Do you have one like right off the bat?
Lucas: I've got one for my Northwestern.
Gabriel: Okay, go for it!
Lucas: It isn't really at Northwestern. But yeah, it was during my time here; as soon as I got here, basically. So the MCA last year had a Virgil Abloh Expo. And that Expo was really cool. It really showed like his sort of vision of what design and what art is, and he's got a lot of–
Gabriel: That was out here at Northwestern?
Lucas: No, that was in the MCA, like in Chicago.
Gabriel: Oh, okay. Okay, okay. Okay. Yeah,
Lucas: But it was while I was here, I guess this could be my not Northwestern.
Gabriel: I mean, I guess that kind of counts for it? There's no hard and fast rule.
Lucas: No, but I kind of want to showcase something from Northwestern.
Gabriel: Okay, sure.
Lucas: So let's leave that as my not Northwestern-related.
Gabriel: Yeah. This year I went to – so Giovana, my girlfriend, she surprised me with tickets to Next to Normal, which is my favorite musical of all time.
Lucas: Just to be clear, not Next to Normal at Northwestern.
Gabriel: No, no – That was also amazing.
Lucas: That was really good.
Gabriel: But there was one that was playing in a nearby town. And I was surprised with tickets and we went, and it was like it brought me to tears on like two different, three different occasions. Just like throughout the runthrough. And that was just like crazy. I had never seen any of my favorite musicals live before and Next to Normal, it's just like so near and dear to me. So it was crazy good. Definitely highlight of my 2019. Next to Normal at Northwestern, also very good,
Lucas: Also very good, yeah.
Gabriel: But it would be kind of terrible if both of my highlights Northwestern and non-Northwestern were both Next to Normal.
Lucas: Yeah. Next to Normal was the first thing that I did here, arts-related. Well, that I went to. But I have to say maybe my highlight was going to – So our guest on the second episode, Joe, his band, another Northwestern-based band and a third Chicagoland group had a performance. They had a gig, North Side of Chicago. It was a little bit after we interviewed Joe. So, he told me about it, and I went, and both his band was great, but also the other Northwestern band. So I'm just gonna, I'm gonna shout them out again. So Joe's band is called Morning Dew and the other band is called Honey Butter. And they're both really good.
Gabriel: Damn, I really need to go to one of these.
Lucas: You really do.
Gabriel: I did not manage to go last quarter.
Lucas: It was a lot of fun. And it was full of Northwestern students and just good energy, you know?
Gabriel: Yeah, I mean, that sounds – I'm not a big concert person so I always get a little bit "eh," but for music on like the smaller scale where it's not the enormous super packed concerts I feel like it'd be more fun just in general. For my Northwestern thing, I think Dolphin Show 2019 was Hello Dolly. And I remember Hello Dolly being so extraordinary – and like both of mine are musical theatre.
Gabriel: Man, Hello Dolly was so good it made me want to write stuff again and sing again. I hadn't written in a good while, and I hadn't performed any music for a very long time because I had stopped taking classes when I came here. And I remember I came out of Hello Dolly and I turned to one of my friends and was like we need to start some project together because I am so inspired.
Gabriel: Because, for a student musical that thing was--not even for student musical just completely even out of its context it would be one of the best shows I've ever seen. It was so, so, so, so good.
Gabriel: So actually our guest for this week, because we have a guest every week is Elynnor Sandefer. She is someone I'm super excited to interview. She's an old friend of mine at the school, but also just kind of someone that I met tangentially through my creative writing classes. She was one of the most unique writers there. Like, there are a lot of very good writers at Northwestern, and for sure, Elynnor is one of them. But specifically, like her style and her choice of topics was always one thing that was just so out of left field that makes her a very, very unique writer, and she was actually one of the first people I suggested when we start with the show.
Lucas: Yeah, so I'm excited. I met her today, didn't really get a chance to talk to her that much. I’m excited for this.
Gabriel: Yeah. Let’s go to that now!
Gabriel: Ok so, we are here now with our guest, Elynnor.
Elynnor Sandefer: Hello!
Gabriel: Would you like to kinda introduce yourself, say what you do that’s artsy...
Lucas: Why do you think we asked you here, I guess?
Elynnor: I'm Elynnor, I put words together and make them do things. Optimistically, good things. I'm here because Gabriel has had some writing classes with me and thinks that my work is weird.
Gabriel: Yeah. I think it's good, also. Like, disclaimer.
Elynnor: That can be the same thing.
Gabriel: But very weird.
Elynnor: Yeah. Thank you.
Gabriel: Like, that is... I mean, we'll get into that in a bit. I think like the standard first question that we ask everyone here, which is that like, necessarily, if you're doing art on a university campus, like you're pre-validation, essentially, like you're not getting any external validation most of the time. Especially for writers more than any other profession. So, with that in mind, why do you do it? Like when no one is in your corner, why do you still do it?
Elynnor: Well, the work that I do is mostly writing. And for me, a lot of that starts with journaling. So I do it for my own brain before anybody else's brain. And in that sense, validation has never been that significant. Okay, that sounds wrong. It sounds like I don't take criticism. But everything I make is usually first for myself, which I find works for me. When I write things it is because I'm driven there by some kind of personal urgency. So to that extent, I don't really care if other people want to read it. I also haven't started trying to publish yet so that may change, will change, definitely will change.
Gabriel: Okay. Yeah.
Lucas: Yeah. I mean it from what I've heard about you and what you write... When I met you today, I mean, you asked me about my opinion on melons?
Elynnor: I sure did.
Lucas: And I've heard that you wrote an essay on whether boba is a soup.
Elynnor: I sure did.
Lucas: So you've got a wide range of topics, although they do seem to revolve around food somehow.
Elynnor: Yeah, that's been pointed out to me. I don't know what to make of that. I don't eat that much.
Lucas: So I guess like, where does the inspiration for this kind of stuff come from? Like, what are you trying... Where does it, how does it work in your brain? I guess.
Elynnor: Um, well, I have a tendency to hyper fixate on things, often objects. So the cereal being soup is something I fixated on for a while last year. Melons are something I just find personally interesting right now because people don't seem to think that they have strong opinions. But if you ask them for an opinion, they almost always have one. Except for when they don't know what a melon is... like some people.
Gabriel: Is that a call-out? I think that’s a call-out. ’Cause she asked me what a cantaloupe was, and I was just like, I blanked on it. I only know fruit names in Portuguese.
Lucas: Not gonna lie, same. I mean, she asked me specifically about cantaloupes and I... No images came to mind. So...
Gabriel: But like, I have read a little bit of your stuff, and so this is a really interesting thing is that you talk about these hyper fixations, which are some kind of like oddball ideas, but you do take them somewhere, right? You're not just writing about melons or just writing about, "Is boba a soup or is cereal a soup?" You do something in the nature of all nonfiction, which is something more profound out of like kind of surrealist or just kind of out of nowhere topics. So, what is exactly that process like? Because at least from my perspective, I also do a fair bit of writing and a lot of your topics I can't even really imagine inroads into that range, you know?
Elynnor: Well, for cantaloupe, it was that my roommate was cutting a cantaloupe, and I realized I had forgotten about fruit, and I just hadn't eaten fruit in a long time. I started getting worried about scurvy because like citrus or something. But I don't know, I was watching her cut a cantaloupe. And it occurred to me that it just, I don't know, it would never occur to me to buy a cantaloupe. And I thought that was really interesting, because they've been a part of my life for a long time. They have them in dining halls, they're terrible in the dining halls and just generally average. So I use them in an essay I was already writing at the time as just like a joke about the realm of averageness. But yeah, I don't really know what the cantaloupes mean, except for maybe the fact that there are objects that are in everyone's life that no one really notices, but we care about...
Elynnor: What do you think literature is?
Gabriel: Oh God, you can’t drop that on me. This actually came up in one of my classes recently with a teacher who asked I think that exact question. And they disregarded genre fiction out of hand. So horror, sci-fi...
Elynnor: That's not literature?
Gabriel: That sort of stuff.
Elynnor: That's a... yikes. That's a hot take.
Gabriel: I think they were doing it like as a sort of, like, “Oh, it's the beginning of class and I'm going to do this to spur discussion.” Because it doesn't seem like that's their opinion, necessarily. But I was immediately as a genre fiction fan, like, "Ahh." Because fantasy is generally considered not literature.
Elynnor: Okay, but I've read amazing works of literature that are fantasy in nature, and I'm angry at this person whose name I don't know.
Gabriel: But so you are just like, "Anything is literature".
Elynnor: Well, I think that art more broadly speaking is anything whose existence is conditional upon a very particular arrangement of human choice. And I think that, within that it's very difficult to differentiate between different kinds of art. Like if you've read the poem “38” by Layli Long Soldier, this is not in that book I mentioned earlier, but it's a great poem that you should read. And in it, she is referring to a specific action/event as a poem, and that is like one of her main claims. And I think that there's a lot of power in that and saying that, well, I guess in naming what you're making or naming something, something other than it is.
Gabriel: Yeah, I guess it becomes just, if it's intentional, it's art that sort of almost, that level of simplification. Which I would get, like, crucified by some of my philosophy teachers for that, but I think that is a pretty good...I mean, you're the philosophy major.
Lucas: I mean, it's almost in the like, I think of the “this is not a pipe” painting.
Elynnor: Ah yes, The Fault in Our Stars.
Lucas: I'm not sure... Yeah, I mean, it's just this sort of idea that the objects and the things that we conceive of as being what they are...
Gabriel: Are totally a construction?
Gabriel: So you can just say anything is anything.
Lucas: I wouldn't go... I wouldn't say that.
Lucas: But that's an idea. I guess.
Elynnor: Sometimes it's fun to.
Lucas: Sometimes it’s fun to.
Gabriel: I mean, in that case, then I'll just say boba is soup.
Elynnor: It obviously is!
Lucas: I mean, she walked in here and called this podcast art.
Gabriel: Yeah. That was, that was quite surprising.
Elynnor: To be fair, I have not listened to it. No offense, I'm sure it's great. I just didn’t know about it.
Lucas: Yeah, I think we're running out of time. We always end our episodes by asking our guests to plug something on campus that they are excited for related to the arts. Could be anything, I guess. So tell us what you're thinking.
Elynnor: Well, I'm not involved with any publications or performance groups or anything like that, but my roommate and best friend is on the staff of Helicon, which is a literary and arts magazine. And you should submit to that because they want you to submit to that.
Gabriel: I've read a good deal of Helicon, occasionally. I always forget about Helicon. And then I just, their book comes out, and I'll just see it around and be like "Oh!" I'll flip through it. It's really cool, what people do.
Lucas: I've never heard of it.
Gabriel: You should! There's very avant garde stuff in Helicon which is fun.
Elynnor: If you're a visual artist, especially, you should submit to Helicon because I think visual artists forget about it. Because I think it's mainly marketed to writers.
Lucas: I like that.
Gabriel: Yeah. Well...
Elynnor: They publish anything. There's like a digital game thing on their website.
Gabriel: Yeah. And their physical copies should be coming around soon, because it's winter, right?
Gabriel: Yeah. So it'll be up soon. That's really cool. Thank you for coming by. Thanks for talking to us.
Elynnor: You're welcome. I hate talking to you.
Gabriel: For listeners, thanks for listening and hopefully join us in two weeks. If we can manage to edit this in our regular time frame, and we'll be back with another guest and another question as per usual, so anything left to say Lucas?
Lucas: No, thanks for listening. We'll see you in two weeks. All right.
Elynnor: Google images of hairless cats!