This interview originally appears in my book Interviews With the Rauschmonstrum.
The Rauschmonstrum sat down with James Toback in late 1988 for an interview to be included in Toback’s documentary ‘The Big Bang.’ They discussed human nature, the Rauschmonstrum’s book Foreign Policy, Adventurers, and Sex, and the beginnings of the universe.
[James Toback, a bald rotund figure in his mid 40’s sits, at a coffee table wearing a dark trench coat. The Rauschmonstrum sits across the table from him, wearing a matching trench coat. They are both sipping cups of coffee]
Toback: You haven’t done an interview in a long time.
Rausch: Over the last 9 years or so, I decided my time was best used in the shadows.
Toback: When I first met you, I was in my freshman year at Harvard in 1964. You were on campus giving a lecture on diplomatic policy for the modern age.
Rausch: I remember the occasion well. Ian Fleming was giving a lecture on James Bond in the room across the hall.
Toback: Yes he was, and that caused me a problem because I wanted to attend both of them. I decided a way to solve that problem was to attend both. I would spend fifteen minutes at your lecture, and then go into the other room for fifteen minutes, and back and forth.
Rausch: How’d that work?
Toback: Well, it was interesting. I was on LSD, first of all.
Rausch: Oh my.
Toback: Have you done LSD?
Rausch: No, but I’ve observed others when they have.
Toback: Well when I was shuffling back and forth between the two lectures on the LSD, I found the two lectures starting to blend together in my head. Since you were talking about the Cold War foreign policy, and Fleming was talking about James Bond and espionage and writing and coming up with ideas; all of those things blended together into one lecture where the gaps in each lecture was filled in by the material in the other lecture. It ran in my head like a great big creative spy story.
Rausch: So everything I said that night blended together with a Bond adventure in your mind?
Toback: That’s right.
Rausch: Must have been an interested night.
Toback: It was. But anyway, for people of my age, you are truly a Herculean figure. I was thirteen when Jesus & Me came out, and fifteen when you appeared on Mike Wallace’s show, so I was certainly in the meaty parts of my adolescent life, and for you to step in and completely lay waste to the whole understanding of the cosmos and then reshape it in your image, just as you’ve done time and time again in the past, it formulated my own concept of the radical means by which I could and should live my own life.
Rausch: I’m glad to hear it.
Toback: I’m currently putting together a project where I explore the meaning of life and existence with several people. You’ve been around for roughly 100,000 years, so I’m wondering what you have to say about humanity as you’ve seen it over the years.
Rausch: Where does one begin responding to something like that?
Toback: Well, what have been the staple behaviors us humans have demonstrated?
Rausch: For one thing, regardless of what systems you people try to come up with politically, you’ve all always ended up gravitating towards some kind of hierarchy.
Toback: Ah, so there are haves and have nots, and no matter how we may try to disrupt that, there are always going to be haves and have nots separating groups of people.
Rausch: That’s correct, Jim. Now I must say, this doesn’t mean it isn’t good to have certain mechanisms in place so that things don’t get too out of hand in terms of the rich running away with all the money. But regardless of this, hierarchy will always be with us, and it’s actually something to embrace, not to be afraid of.
Toback: This is all reflected in this book you’ve recently released; Foreign Policy, Adventurers, and Sex, in which your main argument is the people put in charge of a country’s foreign policy and diplomacy tend to be very intelligent, educated men, who also tend to have large appetites for adventure, which is why they’re drawn overseas in the first place, and that amongst their appetites for adventure is an appetite for sexual adventure, and they are interested in carrying on affairs in foreign lands with exotic women, and that this behavior is reflected in the policies of the United States.
Rausch: You’ve more or less hit the nail on the head in terms of my book’s summary.
Toback: Funnily enough, I always felt something like that to be true, but I was never able to put it into words before.
Rausch: Currently I’m working on a follow-up book, which will concentrate on these adventuring statesmen negatively effecting the people in the United States in terms of enacting domestic policies which reflect their own high intelligence and high-energy temperament, but which aren’t good for the average and below-average people within the country.
Toback: Could you expand on that a bit?
Rausch: If you’re exceptionally bright and ambitious you are more likely to desire to break out of the traditions and cultural norms of your society, and if you have this desire and you find yourself in a position of power, it stands to reason you will try to alter the culture so that it better reflects your view for how things should be. However, while this may suit you and the people who share your intellect level and interests, it can have devastating effects on those of medium and low intelligence, for whom cultural norms and traditions provide a much-needed structure.
Toback: Wild. You saying that is kind of giving me an acid flashback.
Rausch: If that’s because I’ve really stimulating your thinking, then I’m glad.
Toback: I’m going to read a bit more about those subjects. I think of myself as an adventurer, and many of my friends are adventurers, and quite a few of these friends are in high places. So, I can see all of it being true.
Rausch: Most of my friends fit that description, and it was through observing them that I came up with the thesis of my book.
Toback: The other thing I want to say to you is I have a theory about how the universe began. Would you like to hear it?
Rausch: You’d be amazed how many people have wanted to tell me their theories about the universe over the years.
Toback: You’re the best guy to ask in the world after all.
Rausch: Go ahead.
Toback: I believe the universe began as a kind of orgasmic explosion by God.
Rausch: Is that so?
Toback: Yes, I came up with it while staying in the Shangri Lai Hotel in Santa Monica.
Rausch: Go on.
Toback: That’s all there is to it.
Toback: I think it fits together with your “the American foreign policy is based on sexual gratification” idea. Is there any validity to it?
Rausch: Maybe if you mean God in the Einsteinian “God doesn’t play dice with the Universe” sense, where God is nature, and the cosmos is the result of an “orgasm” of the laws of physics. In that case you may be right.
Toback: Brilliant. Just what I wanted to hear. Thank you for joining me. I’ll catch you at one of the president’s parties in the months to come.
Rausch: Thank you for including me in your movie, Jim.
Toback: Don’t be surprised if I come back to you begging for financing for my next movie.
Rausch: Of course you will.