I’m very happy today to be welcoming the talented Tom Halford to my Thursday Themes blog. Tom has joined me to discuss the themes of his newly released novel: enticingly named ‘Deli Meat’
Over to you, Tom…
Colourless Green Conspiracies in Deli Meat
by Tom Halford
Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.
Noam Chomsky created that sentence to demonstrate that a string of words might be grammatically correct but not make any sense. Sometimes that’s how I feel about the world. Everything seems to be working properly, but I sure do have trouble making sense of it all.
Deli Meat, my dark comedy crime novel was released on September 17th, and one of its major themes is conspiracies. Sometimes conspiracies are about trying to make sense of the world. Other times, they’re about deliberately trying to ignore a truth we’d rather not accept.
At their core, conspiracies are about trying to make sense of something that doesn’t appear to make sense.
Take these two options:
- There is a secret group of people controlling the world economy, or
- The world economy relies on chance and cooperation among shifting groups of people.
Which do you think is true?
If you choose #1, then you can identify specific people who are responsible for failing to properly redistribute wealth to the poor and needy. You can rage against the machine. You can feel like you might have some obscure chance of changing the world. If you could just track down that secret group and stop them, then all will be better.
If you choose #2, then you have to accept that control is illusory. You might not be able to identify any one group–any one villain who must be stopped at all costs. You might still be able to change the world in scenario #2, but you might have to do so in a much more boring way. You might have to volunteer with local charities instead of tracking down the bad guys.
My point is that we sometimes choose conspiracies because they allow us to make sense of a world does that not always coincide with the stories that we try to impose onto it. Conspiracies allow us to imagine how we might become heroes in a world where, in actuality, we are pretty average.
The counterpoint to this downplaying is of course that sometimes people do find themselves in the midst of an honest to God conspiracy. There are coverups and misdirections all of the time. For example, in America, if there is a Republican President in office and there happens to be a scandal. There is a good chance that Fox News will not be covering that scandal. Likewise, if there is a Democrat in office, and there is an political incident, CNN will be diverting your attention (even if their tactics are a little more subtle). This is not a wild or outrageous scenario. This is just our daily lives.
In an extremely odd way, we are always inside of a conspiracy; it’s probably just not the one we think we’re in.
That’s really one of the central themes of Deli Meat. The heroes of my novel seem to think they’ve got things figured out, but their realities keep shifting to reveal various layers to the truth. What they believed to be true is false. The people they thought they knew are not what they seem. The past is not what happened; it’s just what they’ve chosen to remember.
Tom Halford is a writer, a teacher, a dad, and a husband. One of Tom’s favourite things in the world is a delicious sandwich. This might sound crazy, but the inspiration behind Deli Meat is Tom’s love of the sub, the hero, the hoagie, the grinder, the classic lunch time meal, the sandwich.