From The ParaNormal to the ParaPolitical
AUSTIN PARA TIMES
Austin Para Times Interviews: Steve Brudniak
by Russell Dowden
APT: Steve, thanks for sitting down with me, those who know you know why I might want an interview from you for this magazine, would you agree?
SB: Maybe, they might wonder why (Laughs).
APT: Before I get into consciousness with you, and philosophy, I want to get right to "Waking Life", what was it like to be in a feature Film?
SB: Its real exciting, as most anybody would think. I've always been real interested in film and used to make shorts when I was young, in jr high and high school. They were stories done on super 8 and 8mm. I've done a little bit of acting since then, but I really enjoy being able to be somebody else and trying to pull it off. The ability to do it and have it solidify into something that can be your best. You know, your best performance, able to be shown over and over (laughs). The idea of film to me is really exciting, I enjoyed it (Waking Life) and I had fun learning my lines. I felt good about it and I thought the film was really great.
APT: Linklater is popular these days, you know each other well?
SB: Rick and I had only met through the film but he and I knew a lot of the same people, and we knew of each other, he also knew of my sculpture work. Willy Wiggins is a friend of mine, Nicky Cat is another actor he used to work with that is a friend of mine as well. I know one of his Cameramen, Lee Daniels and his brother Bill. Luke Savisky is another guy who was in Slacker and is with Austin Film Society and is also a friend. So its kind of funny we've known of each other and we have a whole lot of the same friends. So when we met we just hit it off easily.
APT: The Movie is up for awards you know? Your thoughts?
SB: I'll be thrilled ya know, to see if it gets an academy award. Its up for best picture animation against Shrek. Most people don't think it will make it but. The Academy Awards tend to, I think, fall into whatever the general public seems to really want.
[Ed note: the film never made the academy award nomination]
APT: All right, you're a talented artist, sculptor, actor, performer, philosopher and a not too shabby singer.
APT is interested in your thoughts on the paranormal and consciousness. Tell me more about the Advaitic philosophy?
SB: Advaita is a philosophy that I've just begun looking at; it's not a philosophy that I necessarily subscribe to as my final one. I tend to look at everything open-ended, in that way I have my own idea about the way things are and the way to behave, and I take that and run with it and keep an open mind. So, I'm not saying that I'm an Advaitist or whatever they call themselves. My sister sent me a couple of books by a Guru that lives in India Ramesh Balsikar, and the philosophy is very very simple in that everything is consciousness, which means we're all part of that. I think more than likely, as some religions believe, that there is one consciousness that envelopes everything. We're all the same thing, we're all god. And that also because this is true, then every thought, every idea you have is directly from god, from the source, so we're not the doers, we're not the people that we think we actually are, our free will is not really real. Everything that happens is just our reaction to the thoughts that are given to us from the source which we commonly call god, and the center of this whole conglomerate of god, which is everything. This can be looked at scientifically and what it boils down to is that, if you think about it, every decision that you've ever made, has come from the things that were happening to you in your past up to that moment. A few seconds back you might have been just irritated by something, and that could have affected your decision, whatever that decision might be. A few hours back, you could have been having some thoughts about something that had affected you earlier, which would have contributed to that decision as well. So all those things that are added up, you could look at, back to the day you were born. The way you were raised, your genetics, everything in your past bringing you up to this moment; this goes all the way back to the big bang, and if you realize that and understand that its programming, and no matter what, the way things are going is exactly fitting a pattern that could have been predicted if you had a big enough computer. I could have been predicted at the moment that time began. At the moment of the big bang or anywhere at any point in time you could start and say that from that point on you could predict that Russell is going to be shaking his head in agreement to what Steve Brudniak is saying in front of a tape recorder on Fletcher Street in a place called America that was founded by ; bla bla bla. Every second you go back from the present was caused by the second before that and the second before that and so on, and there's no way that those things that happened could be any different, because they were caused by a group of things previous to it that made it exactly the way it is.
APT: So are you saying that things are predetermined by the source?
SB: According to Advaitac philosophy, things are predetermined, in that everything has already happened. It's more like we're going through the grooves of a record that's already been written. The way I see it in this concept, is that everything from the beginning of time could not have happened any other way than it did. Therefore everything that's going to continue to happen is going to follow in a particular pattern that cannot be helped, and it can't be helped because everything before it caused it. Everything before that, everything before that, everything before that brings us to the beginning of time, right? The beginning of time caused this present moment to be exactly the way it is. Why is this happening? Theoretically, I think you could say, the Universe basically wanted to become. This is just my theory, I have no facts backing this up but, the universe wanted to become and the way it did is through what we call science. Through the creation of matter and the movement of matter, and the falling in of this pattern that was going to move out into a particular point in time, where we would have an intelligence great enough to understand those concepts to where, at that point, the universe could begin to know itself. Then the universe would be able to say "Hey, I Am" and "I have interaction by producing myself in these millions of bodies and souls and plants and animals and insects and creatures. I'm able to have interaction, gazillions of interactions." Complete entertainment; the universe is entertaining itself, and we are evolving to a point where eventually, as humans we've got the ability to see it now, and manipulate it. Our intelligence and technology is growing at a rate that is exponential to where we'll be able to repair most of the problems of humanity and of the world very soon. Within the next couple hundred years we should be pretty much a pain free, problem free society. A society of what? The Universe experiencing itself. In what way? Pain free, happy, blissful, perfect, and that's going to continue to evolve until we are... whatever. A spiritual light or something. Just gleaming with perfection. I don't know. The progression makes sense even if you don't believe in any kind of spiritual religion.
APT: How is the psychedelic experience associated with this concept? You have, no doubt, dabbled in psychoactive chemicals, correct?
SB: Yes, I've experimented with psychedelic drugs at different point in the history of my life, and they have been some of the greatest teachers I've ever had. I will say that from the deepest bottom of my heart, I've never felt such a presence and spiritual connection to something else other than another human being as I have with psychedelics. There is no doubt in my mind, that there is some sort of science that we have not discovered that allows psychedelics to bridge, some kind of gap, either between us and a part of ourselves that we don't know yet, and or a part of some other entity or higher power or a greater conglomerate of the universe. It's a bridge, you know it's a telephone; it's a wave that science hasn't even studied yet cause they don't allow it for one legally. They're missing out on such insanely powerful things. To not be allowing the study of these chemicals is sad.
APT: What are your thoughts on the collective consciousness? the idea that we all collectively make up a global awareness that is ethericily connected? Are you familiar with this concept?
SB: My deepest belief at this point, which is still open-ended, is that we are all connected, in that we are all actually just the eyes, ears and sensory perceptors for the Universe. Everything that is, in my opinion, most likely is, like a nerve ending directly to the center of consciousness. So yeah, we're set up physically as humans, able to leave the earth, to go anywhere, we have hands like no other creature, and because of that extra creativity we have, we were able to have technology and take better care of ourselves. So, once again I think that evolution is part of that one oneness trying to become more than it is even.
APT Expanding on itself?
SB: Yes. Which also makes me believe, that if the universe is evolving to that position, then humans seem to be at the cutting edge of that, otherwise what is the need to evolve humanity any further if theirs already the evolved position out there somewhere else. But, then again you could negate that and say that's just one more position that god or the universe or consciousness wants to experience. That is the human version of that growth.
APT: What are your thoughts on mankind's need for control in the 3 dimensional realities? We seem to be very aggressive, and violent these days, does Advaitic philosophies elude to why humans thrive on power and control?
SB: The Advaitic philosophy says that humans strive that way for power and control because the ego is still present, and the ego is there for a purpose, which is to fool us into believing that we are separate beings from each other and from the source. Therefore because we feel separate we feel the need to progress and to gain in life, and to survive. We are under the hypnotic illusion that we need to take, so that creates an ego to constantly protect itself. It's always trying to gather more nuts for the winter
APT: Are your beliefs evident in your art?
SB: The artwork is an expression of some of the steps that brought me to where I am now. They work more from a position of psychological self-examinination. The pieces are often physical manifestations for concepts that there are no real words or expression for, and usually they deal with internal fears, anxieties, or other internal issues. A lot of them are creating reminders of thought processes.
APT: What piece comes to mind?
SB: this big piece here, Ulteriaphobia. The piece causes electrical stimulation when you touch it. Just the not knowing of whats going to happen when you touch it produces an effect of anxiety.
APT: can I touch it?
SB Go ahead.
APT: Weird, what is that?
SB It's low voltage electricity.
APT: It feels like when you bump your elbow and it gives you that vibration tingle up your whole arm! Elaborate on this piece.
SB: I was hoping people would have some kind of apprehension about putting their hands in the piece initially. There's nothing really there to discourage you from it other than the electric cord coming out of the side of it. This piece has scary things in it; there are centipedes, antifreeze, and some saint like figures appearing through the concrete. Most anybody will be afraid to put they're hands in it at first. So the whole piece is about fear, facing your fears, there's a mirror in the center in the top in a hole. It seems like your looking about 8 feet away in distance. You see the reflection of your own eye. Kind of a miraculous reflection, It shouldn't happen. It looks like your looking through a tunnel and there's your eye at the end of the tunnel looking back at you. And that sort of fits in with this philosophy we were discussing; looking back at your-self. Again, anything that your afraid of is part of the universe, which is all one thing, so you're looking at yourself.
APT: Do you believe that mankind needs to come to better terms with regard to understanding our fears?
SB: I don't think we need to, I think we are going to. I think that is what' s happening. The nature of man is to want to not have any fear, to be happy, be at peace, and we are getting smarter, we have all this technology but we are still babies still in diapers. Eventually we will be adults and we will get along . In this case its society getting what it wants, and maybe we will in a couple hundred years or so. The exponential escalation of evolution is very high. Its not like it was a century ago when Fire was still like, "Ohhh!" Now we have electricity, finally, but before that we had to come along way since the wheel.
APT: Would you say that you are more optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the human race?
SB: Ohh I'm a lot more optimistic than most people.
APT: Would you say that it's in human nature for us to be good hearted people, do you think that the majority of humanity is good?
SB: I think that there's probably a 50/50 split. For every good thing there's a bad thing or a negative action. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and I think that that law in the universe is trying to change. That's what creativity is all about. Here's the ability to manipulate the world. We are the first creature that can actually manipulate science, manipulate the way things work. We're made for that reason, we're able to do that. I think that one day it will be a blissful world.
APT: What in your opinion is Steve Brudniak's contribution to this movie we are playing out?
SB: My contribution is just to have been exactly the way I was, so that I can further the evolution of the universe, that's been my contribution.
APT: What else would you like to say to the readers with regard to consciousness?
SB: Everyone has there own way in coming up with answers to what the universe is all about. There's nothing you can do wrong. Go, be free, be happy, there's nothing you can do, ever, that is wrong, because you don't have the ability to do anything that's wrong, other than what your programming will allow you to do.
APT: Enjoy the experience?
SB: Watch it like a movie. You know we started the interview with movies. Go see "Waking Life" because the movie talks a lot about this stuff. It could be a little hokey, sometimes, it could be a little academic or philosophical bla bla bla, but if you really look at some of what these people say, most of it is sincere. A lot of it is documentary. Especially the part of what Richard Linklater says at the very end of the film, it's a real eye opener if you haven't thought about this kind of stuff before.
APT: Well we hope our readers will open their eyes. Steve thanks for sitting down and talking with me about your art and interests.
The Art of Steve Brudniak will be featured at Joan Gerona Gallery in San Antonio on May 3rd 2002.
From The ParaNormal to the ParaPolitical
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