Interview with Joyce Carol Oates | Arch Literary Journal

Who knew Joyce Carol Oates was a runner? On how running and dreaming are alike:

I think that when we’re stationary, we have a somewhat thickened sense of the ego or the “I,” and we’re just sort of self-conscious and aware of ourselves. But when we’re in motion, or when we’re in a dream, the “I” entity starts to dissolve. Some people, including myself, and possibly you, are capable of having dreams in which your own personality is really almost dissolved. You know, way, way down in the depths of the ocean there are creatures that are transparent. They’re like jellyfish, a lot of very transparent creatures. And I was thinking it’s almost analogous to the human experience of sleep, where when you’re really, really deep into sleep, your own physical self is often not even there. It’s like you’re transparent. And, it may be a process that we just will never understand, descending somehow deep into the primitive brain – like the brain almost at the brain stem – and away from the consciousness. And, somehow running replicates that, I think. I would think that if you were running very fast, if you were in an instinctive situation where you were terrified – say you were being pursued, and your life was in danger – you would be flooded with adrenaline. I would think probably the “I” or ego was almost gone, that you’re just running like a physical entity, the way a soldier might just start [running], or a boxer, or someone like that. But when you’re writing, there’s … as I say, we have this more thickened or more solid sense of the self, because it’s usually in some stationary situation with social definitions.

Interview with Joyce Carol Oates | Arch Literary Journal