Orthodox Nihilism

Jack Madden
MFA DM 2022


I interviewed my grandmother today. The interview was going well, I found her long pauses reflective and insightful. I was taken aback at first by her blatant disregard for several of my questions but realized some questions (or any question perhaps) aren't even worth answering at her age (or any age perhaps). When I asked her if she had any advice, she didn't. There's no advice, just be, the words are a vice anyway. Or don't be, whichever comes first. Then I remembered she had passed away last month. I continued the interview despite this distracting thought and listened with greater intent to each word unspoken.

—JM, November 18, 2020

Audio Transcription

{Birds sing all around among the sounds of a summer forest. A road can be heard in the distance.}

Me: Hi Nanny, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. So you're down in Georgia and there's been a recent spike in COVID cases. Can you just tell us what it's like where you are right now?


Me: I know you're very social, so has it been hard not getting to see your friends as much?


Me: How seriously did you take COVID back in early spring when you first learned about it?


Me: Did the people around you have a different reaction?


{The sounds of the forest and birds have become noticeably quieter over time, fading slowly over the length of the recording.}

Me: What would you like to say to the people who aren't taking this pandemic seriously right now?


Me: Having had the disease can you tell us a little about what it's like?


Me: Why do you think some groups are so vocal about discrediting the severity of COVID?


{Surrounding noise continues to fade slowly. All other sounds besides my voice have become very quiet by now.}

Me: Is there anything you were looking forward to this year that just had to be put on hold?


Me: Do you have any advice on just how to get through a time like this?


{As the environmental sounds continue to gradually fade only the loudest birds can now be heard but just barely.}

Me: There's been so many people who've had this disease and passed away from it. What do you think they would tell us right now?

(20:58) {End of recording}

Jack Madden got his Ph.D. studying space and now does art. He likes nothing.