BREIXO VIEJO (BV): Bob, we’ve known each other for some years already, back from when I was a graduate student making a video on Hanns Eisler’s and Adorno’s book on film music…
HULLOT-KENTOR (HK): Sure, you don’t need to remind me, Breixo. You wanted to interview me about the book on film music that Adorno wrote with the composer, Hanns Eisler…
BV: …and instead you hypnotized my video equipment!
HK: That’s what you get; you didn’t want to be hypnotized…
BV: …and you didn’t want to be photographed…
HK: So, I took it out on the machinery.
BV: The camera was still hypnotized when I got back to Spain! How did you do that?
HK: That’s not the important part.
What matters is that you never figured out that, while I pretended to hypnotize the camera, you were watching with a very special sort of attention.
BV: You mean it?
HK: Obviously. You can’t hypnotize a camera; think about it. Anyway, I didn’t mean any harm. Wasn’t it a lot of fun?
BV: We got nothing done.
HK: No. True. Nothing. Still, Breixo, it was for the greater good. Did anything get broken?
BV: What’s past is past, I guess… HK: …oh, I doubt that…
BV: …It’s a figure of speech; I doubt it too. But, now I’m interviewing you, instead, about the graduate program in Critical Theory and the Arts that you’ve started at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. It’s a big undertaking, I know. Is this something you just got into in the last couple of years?
HK: No. I’ve had this on my mind at least since graduate school.
BV: That means you would have had plenty of time to think about it, because I know you spent a lot of years in graduate school. You went from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, to clinical psychology, got some other degree in psychology, and ended up in Europe studying philosophy and literature in Germany and France before you finished a doctorate in Comparative Literature.
HK: It’s true. I’ve rattled around a lot, studying. There’s more to it than that, but in the ’80s when I could have been finishing my degree there weren’t any jobs for anyone, and definitely not in the universities, and I figured I’d be better off staying in school.
BV: How did you manage?
HK: I’m not sure I did. I had a theory back then, for my amusement, the “Stay-at-Home Theory of Surplus Value.” It had one thesis: “Capitalism needs us more than we need it, so if we stay home, they’ll send checks.”