Fuckowski: Recollections of an engineer
[Translation of Fuckowski: memorias de un Ingeniero by Rafael Fernández published in Blogs 20minutos on 14-Jun-2006. This article is an interview with Alfredo de Hoces who wrote the book with this name. The book can be downloaded from YoEscribo.com. The subject of the book is the struggle between the engineer (who does things) and the manager (who causes things to be done).]
In the same way that the Golden Age has its classics, so has the Internet. Alfredo de Hoces has written the first classic of the Internet, “Fuckowski: memorias de un ingeniero.” How about this for the first sentence: “There is a brown line that separates humanity into two large groups: those who are born above the scum line and have a life and those of us who are born submerged in shit and have to fight like hell to get out and breathe.” Can any self-respecting Internet surfer doubt that it rivals: “In a village of La Mancha...”? [Just in case someone doesn't know, “En un lugar de la Mancha...” are the first words of Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a classic of the Spanish Golden Age.]
Winner of the first prize for novels in 2005 awarded by Yo escribo.com, Alfredo de Hoces shows us life as it really is and without beating about the bush: “That was like doing a 69 with a transvestite. On the one hand, you couldn't deny that it gave a certain degree of pleasure, but on the other hand, you had a mouth full of cock.” With an acute sense of humour and and an neat prose that is a long way from the archaic style with which current writers auto masturbate and bore their readers, Alfredo de Hoces has written the novel that Buckowski [Charles Buckowski - the Post Office, I think ] would have written if, instead of living in the USA, he were living in Malaga and studying engineering. The best novel that I have read in years: when you finish reading it, you don't feel that you have read a book, but that you have seen into the soul of a person and you have a new friend. I haven't experienced anything like this since I read “El guardián entre el centeno" [The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger].
What is the other story of this book? Why did you decide to write it, how long did it take, how did you get it published?
I went to live in Dublin for three years, to break with routine and a work environment that left me hardly any free time. I wanted to travel, to meet new people, to feel alive, and to grow. And I started to write; the idea went round and round in my head for months. I started working in a software company after being disconnected from the world for six months and suddenly everyone was talking about blogs. My blog this, my blog that. At first I thought that this was just another one of those fashionable trends that people get caught up in, but then I surfed the net a little and I realised that it was all true.
Well, I set myself up with one of those blogs and started to write little stories, in the way of a cathartic exercise with a bit of humour mixed in. I tried to give myself a smile every day, view my situation in perspective, encourage myself, remind myself about the things that are important in life. I didn't think that this would interest anyone, but to my surprise, I soon began to receive comments and mail from a horde of people I didn't know who said that they identified with what they read in my scribblings. They thanked me for giving them a good time and encouraged me to continue. In three months I had eleven stories, some one hundred pages. A reader suggested that I enter this in some literary competition and only then did I realise that I had written a book. I entered it in the Fourth Novel Competition at YoEscribo.com and I won a prize: 3000 Euro, a week in Mallorca and a print run of 500 copies.
How many copies of your book have been sold?
The first edition is just about to sell out; every week I get some orders. That is not bad, bearing in mind that the novel is only being sold on the Internet and you can read it on my web page for free. People buy it to have something on paper, to give as a present to someone or simply as a gesture of thanks.
Are you pleased to have been published?
Of course, seeing my stories in print gives me a feeling of satisfaction, but I don't consider that to be important: it was a small competition and someone had to win. What I think is really significant is to have been able to use my writing to communicate something important to other people. Some have told me that my novel has helped them to understand some things, and even that it has given them the little push they needed to leave everything behind and to go in search of their dreams. This is worth far more to me than the three thousand Euro.
What are you currently doing?
I am combining my work as an IT engineer with my hobbies, chiefly music and literature. I play the guitar, read anything I can, and write.
What do you think of the current state of literature?
It seems excessively commercial to me: today everything is a business. Products are created at low cost, which generate profits as quickly as possible and people forget them equally quickly, leaving space for new products. It's a cycle of consumption in which it is easy to get trapped: before the mirage disappears and we feel empty, we have another mirage to take its place. In my opinion, compulsive consumption of ephemeral sensations generates stupidity and causes the soul to die of starvation. After a time of doing this you may experience a crisis, the existential emptiness... and then it may already be too late.
Have the things that you write about in your book happened to you?
Fuckowski is my alter ego, a part of me placed in 'dramatic' situations.
Have you had any problems with anyone, using them as a character in your book?
It is curious; there are some who have accused me of misogyny because of the chapter in which I write about my ex-girlfriend, but she loves it. One of my best friends, Alvaro who inspired Pijoski, [who might be called Poshski in the English version - how many of you didn't pick up on the word play in Fuck-owski?] recognised himself in the novel and congratulated me. It is a matter of having a sense of humour; I imagine that we are all offended to the degree that we hate ourselves.
Without doubt, the bit I liked most was when you decide not to go to work to look after a bird that you find lying in the street. I don't remember ever having read a more beautiful metaphor against the heartlessness of our times...
The bit about the bird is true. It was a very young pigeon that had fallen from its nest; I kept it for weeks in my room. Contemplating this defenceless and trembling creature fighting for survival, watching it regaining its strength little by little, winning its freedom in an act of pure instinct, seeing it change before my eyes into what it was destined to be; this was an important experience for me that helped me recover my fascination for the miracle of life.
Have you ever had sex with an animal?
I have had sex with animals, and also with vegetables (a melon). With minerals I see some complications... Joking apart, when I visit my parents, I sleep with two dogs and a cat; there is touching involved, but they are always on top of the sheets. Does this count?
Is your dog really called Satan?
I changed the name of the dog in the book to protect his identity. In the novel I used the name Satan in honour of the faithful companion of The Phantom in his adventures in a comic that I often used to read as a child. Satan was a black wolf that The Phantom adopted as a puppy. This mixture of ferocity and loyalty has always fascinated me. The next dog I have I will certainly call Satan.
Are you a Satanist?
Being a Satanist is as irrational as believing in God. I am an atheist, so I don't believe in Satanism. But everything that fascinates me has at one time been branded as demonic or evil. Nietzsche said in “The Antichrist” that according to Christianity, in the distorted version propagated by the catholic church and a totally anti-natural philosophy, everything close to nature and to life, the pagan, is automatically labelled as the work of the devil, God's eternal adversary. I like the version of the story of the fallen angel which says that when the angel got close to God, he understood the fraud that He was, and for this he was cast out, slandered and silenced. When the church contemplates instinct and common sense, it thinks that it is the devil tempting us. The forbidden fruit is the understanding of good and of evil: it is the exclusive property of God. The rules are set in stone and to question them means expulsion from paradise. This deceit and manipulation, which seems so obvious to me, is bought by many people even today: it is the cornerstone of fascism in politics and is found in the workplace and the family. We are all afraid of questioning the actions of our leaders: we let them do what they want, we give them power in return for protection. We are not going to get anywhere like this. By chance there are some rebellious and lucid minds which do question everything and help to wake others up. Noam Chomsky comes to mind.
How long have you been writing your blog? Have you ever had any problems, have you ever been abused by someone?
I have been doing “the page” for two years, and so far I have been pleased. I have had nothing remotely like abuse; quite the contrary. Someone has even proposed marriage to me...
I have come into contact with very interesting people, like Javier Malonda, who was awarded a prize by 20minutos for his blog, “El sentido de la vida” (the meaning of life). We have forged a close friendship.
However, there are always some who want to fall out with you for some unknown reason; sometimes someone sends me an e-mail remembering them to my mother; This is the price you have to pay for daring to express your opinion. Well, that is just how things are; to not fall out with people you have to become a sycophant.
What are your next artistic projects?
Currently I am writing my second novel, in which I narrate my experiences in Ireland. In Dublin I got to know many people in the same situation; people who had left everything to go out into the world to search for something more. To wake up one morning in a place where they don't speak your language, where the customs are different, where everything is to be discovered and to start making a new life step by step is a very enriching experience. You feel yourself re-born and you discover parts of yourself that you had forgotten ever existed. In the novel I am going to see where this takes me.
Alfredo de Hoces: his page.
Acabo de leer la traducción de la entrevista que me hizo Rafael Fernández en 20minutos, y quería darte las gracias. Está estupenda. ¿Te importa que la cuelgue en mi weblog, citándote como autor y con un enlace a Zenitservices?
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