Tom Robbins on Pop Reality
June 18, 2012
This is from an interview with Robbins published in the Northwest Review in 1982. When asked if he wanted to add anything, Robbins said:
“One thing. Saul Bellow has been sneering in public at those writers who, in his words, ‘have succumbed to pop reality.’ I suppose I am one of them. I have not the slightest objection to being linked to ‘pop reality’ and I’d like to tell you why.
“With the exception of Tantric Hinduism, every religious system in the modern world has denied and suppressed sensuality. Yet sensual energy is the most powerful energy we as individuals possess. Tantric saints had the genius and the guts to exploit that energy for spiritual purposes. Food, drink, drugs, music, art, poetry, and especially sex, are used in Tantra in a religious manner. Tantrikas perfect the techniques of sensual pleasure and use the energy released as fuel for their God-bound vehicle, their rocket ride of enlightenment.
“Pop culture, in somewhat the same way, may be exploited for serious purposes. Pop reality has great energy, humor, vitality, and charm. When it comes to liberating the human spirit, sensitizing experience and enlarging the soul, pop reality has one hell of a lot more literary potential than Bellow’s earnest moralizing, all stuffy and dour.”
From Conversations with Tom Robbins, ed. By Liam O. Purdon and Beef Torrey, pp. 23-24.