Confinement paralyzed Felipe Benítez Reyes (Rota, Cádiz 1960). Until the writer stood up and got to work. The result is ‘The conspiracy of the conspiranoicos’ (Renaissance), a “pandemonic” novel that dissects the denialist thought giving voice to the participants in a delirious gathering. Humor is once again a double-edged sword for the author, who wants to freeze our smiles after placing us on the brink of laughter.
– Did you write hot during confinement?
-Yes. At first it was paralyzing. But then it served as a subjection to the reality or the unreality that we lived. Writing was a stimulus to pretend a certain normalcy to myself. I did it day by day, in line with what was happening and the alternative theories that I was reading.
– Some delusional theories?
-Most yes. An assortment of exotic thought that gave me a lot of play. Reading these parallel theories, to put it politely, irritated me. But suddenly I decided to turn irritation into inspiration. I tried to get into the minds of those who reason like this. That was the germ of the novel.
-A pandemonic fiction, let’s say. A dance of demons.
-You are right. It is a good definition. It is a delusional carousel. Those delusions could be narratively shaped with an essay or a novel, and the essay didn’t fit me.
“If you raise a flag, no matter how crazy or crazy its values are, someone will feel it as theirs”
-Were we always a conspiracy country or is it getting worse?
-With a pandemic, the conspiracy is at its peak. The anti-vaccine rage, the idea of the manipulation of hidden powers … It all serves as a trigger. Anyone today has their private television channel and their parochial page to give their opinion. To intensify the circulation of so much nonsense and so much folly. People who lack scientific training believe themselves capable of disproving accredited scientists and raising to eminence any crazy person who agrees with them. A picturesque panorama.
-With speakers like Miguel Bosé, who is in the novel.
-Have a flag and someone will feel it theirs, they say in the United States. And I think it is so. No matter how crazy the flag is and even if it represents the craziest values, there will always be someone who subscribes to it. If Ouka Leele or Miguel Bosé are our scientific spokesmen, we are going badly. They are charlatans with a profession that has nothing to do with science who believe in the duty to question and deny reality, not just the pandemic.
-Does conspiracy denial kill?
-Yes. It directly attacks our lives. We take it as quaint and funny, but it’s dangerous. We are offered wild remedies for cancer, we are encouraged to refuse vaccination or not to wear masks. It is the empire of folly. It enacts and propagates unsubstantiated individual manias. There will always be those who believe unlikely things, such as being vaccinated with a chip that will control you mentally, make you buy what you do not want or make you an Orwellian slave.
-Are we in the golden age of hoaxes and mystifications?
-Yes. But it is also possible that we will reach the platinum age. Unfortunately it can get worse.
-Does the devil load the gatherings?
-Definitely. The ones in the novel are a bit outdated. Today it is discussed online, through chats. The face-to-face ones are almost obsolete, but I wanted to draw a conventional gathering, in which some guys meet once a week and give free rein to their delusions. That bream colloquium was a good narrative format.
«The cospiranoic denialism of the pandemic kills; it’s the empire of folly
-The humor, crucial in your narrative, is now grotesque?
-The opinions and ideas of the characters are ridiculous and comical on their own. The hard part was not caricaturing cartoonish characters. He didn’t want to take them to the grotesque. Humor is a vehicle, not an end. If it breaks out, the novel doesn’t work. I portray consciences and create peculiar characters, and humor is a component of the portrait. My purpose is that laughter freezes. I like it when they say that you laugh with my characters, but your smile ends up freezing. I reflect the crazy condition of our reality.
-Like the ‘Damn Trinity’: the devil, Soros and Gates.
-It’s rare to point to Gates and Soros as supervillains who like Fumanchu or Fantomas want to destroy the world. For what? How do you come to that conclusion? I wanted to see how that thought fizzles and one nonsense leads another senior on a delirious carousel.
-The pandemic has not brought out the best of us as said. It has almost been the opposite.
-It was predictable. The idea that we would emerge sanctified and purified of spirit was too optimistic. They did not believe it or those who formulated it. The human race is as it is: it does not come out better or worse off.
-Set the novel in a recognizable Cadiz.
-Yes. It is a good setting for this type of novel. I pay tribute to a city that I really like and where I spend part of the year.