J.C. Lee, a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as Justin Lee, was born one day. And on that day (which was special, I assure you) the gods of writing cast a curse on him. This curse was that he would not realize his gift as a writer until he entered college...most specifically, by accident (as all brilliant things usually come about). This curse also included his ability to cast the Stupefy spell when he wrote, to knock out any opponent of his with WORDS. So, with some help of J.C.'s closest friends he began to kill lots of trees and hold readings of his plays, where his acting team would sit in a circle and read 3+ characters each. These plays included a lot of adult themes, namely: suicide, gayness, death, psychotic woman, rape, school-shootings, and boxes.
Little known fact about J.C.: His Expecto Patronus is a jellyfish holding a fountain pen. Watch-out, y'all.
1. If you were making up a required reading list for high school student what would be top on your list and what book would you knock off current required reading lists?
My undergraduate degree is in Secondary Education - English, so I've got some strong opinions about this. I'm not sure I'd knock off any reading from the list - though I'd love to see the way in which Shakespeare is taught revised and revisited. Certainly, the reading list should be augmented. Books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower would go a long way towards deepening a student's appreciation of reading, same goes for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. What high school reading curriculum needs is to rediscover what makes reading exciting and while To Kill a Mockingbird is important, its not likely to build personal, emotional bridges to students today.
2. What book that hasn't been made into a movie yet should be done so, and who should film it?
I'd really love to see someone like Guillermo Del Toro tackle Neil Gaiman's Sandman or 1602.
3. How do you feel about Mayan ruins?
They're fucking awesome.
4. In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Obi Wan says of Darth Vader "He's more machine now than man." at this point in your life, could the same be said of you? Has the life made you more manly or more mechanized? Defend your answer.
No I feel the opposite - I feel more alive right now than ever before in my life. As a teenager, you sort of retreat into this social shell you construct for yourself that enables you to create distance between yourself and the world. Over the past few years of my life I feel a helluva lot closer to being more alive than anything I've felt before. It's a great feeling. I think love is necessary to crack that open - because to be in love you've got to be yourself and I've been in love for almost 10 years now. That's gone a long way to defrosting my steel mechanics.
5. What was your most vivid dream?
As a child I always had a terrifying recurring dream where I'd be asleep in my bedroom in New York and suddenly the air in the room would thicken and the whirring fan overhead would slow and slope. Then the fish in the fishtank at the foot of my bed would one by one begin swimming out of the water and into the air. It was terrifying. And no matter how old I got, the dream always took place in my very first bedroom when I was a little kid. I haven't had it in many years but I can still recall it with absolute precision.
6. Would you rather have World Peace or a Class Revolution?
I don't think either of those things sound very appetizing at the moment. World Peace without Class Revolution, for example, would mean a placated and ignorant working class that just keeps being abused. Class revolution without a focus and structure is just more human blood-letting. The world is too complicated to be reduced to either/or scenarios anymore (if it ever was).
7. What do you have against babies?
I fucking love babies. Shut up.
8. What TV show are you most embarrassed about watching? No pretending you doen't have a TV; you know you stream The Mentalist from CBS.com.
Honestly I don't watch television that I don't either rent or live stream from Hulu or Netflix, so I'm pretty proud of the television I like (Six Feet Under, the Wire, Dexter, Rome, Carnivale, The Office, 30 Rock, True Blood). I'm not embarrassed about liking any of those shows. I still enjoy an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation every now and then - perhaps that merits a bit of shame.
9. Which comic books affected you the most as a child and then as an adult?
As a child it was X-Men: Mutant Genesis. It was the first series I had from start to finish and I really identified with the explicit "otherness" of the X-Men and the diversity in their storytelling and characters. I still do even though Brett Ratner is responsible for irreparably damaging part of my childhood. As an adult it has to be Watchmen - that was the first time I realized a comic book could really engage in an intellectual discussion about the nature and purpose of human existence. It was really transformative when I revisited it as an adult (and the main reason that a character from This World Is Good has a monologue about that very thing).
10. Does free will really exist?
Absolutely. Anyone who thinks otherwise should stop fucking around and accept responsibility for their shit.