By Jeff Doherty
The first time I met Jason Dalaba was when he read aloud poems of conjuration and esoteric musings at the Quoth the Raven event on Halloween. I got to talk to him after the event, and learn about the man who stood behind the mask of Hex’m Jai that mysterious night. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Jeffery Doherty: When you were reading for Quoth the Raven, I could tell, I could tell the esoteric style that was emanating off of your work. I was wondering where did that come from?
Jason Dalaba: That’s more of my own personal philosophy and my own personal spiritualism. It is very esoteric for lack of a better term. It isn’t really esoteric; it’s not hidden. It may have that mystique. As someone who is reading, I’m gonna use whatever I can as a weapon in my arsenal to help, so I will use the mystique of esoteric or occult marvelousness to my advantage, to convey what I’m trying to get out. In a way, I guess that’s being a showman, but at the same time my own personal beliefs are definitely not Judeo-Christian. I’m definitely a heathen, not a pagan. A pagan would be unenlightened.
Jason D: I’m more essentially thelemic.
Jeff D: I was looking up Jack Parsons, and I was like, ‘hmmm, I see what he was going for.’
Jason D: I kinda threw him out there as a hook. To see if anyone would latch on or god forbid even research something and read something. The whole point of something like a poetry reading is to learn something new, not to watch people mentally masturbate in front of you. That’s the thing, in a sense it totally is like, “oh my God, you have no idea the ego boost I had gotten from that was fantastic!”
Jeff D: I guess one of the things I wanna ask you is, is that the aim of what you write? Or the kinds of poetry you write? It’s about freeing the self so that the ego can go do its work, while also the mind doesn’t nosedive into the pavement?
Jason D: Honestly, my method is kind of archaic.
Jeff D: This is perfect, perfect. Tell me the method.
Jason D: Okay so, the way I will write something is... It is not always this way, there is not a formula. I’m trying to make a formula trust me, but if I want to make it really poetry, I can't give it a formula, if I give it a formula then it’s garbage. A lot of times what will happen is this, I will experience something. Something that will grip me one way or the other. I’ll see things in words, I’ll see things in pictures, and write them down. I may have a purpose at first where I’m like, “I wanna write about this thing,” and then I’ll put brain on paper, and brainstorm for pages. Or I may have no purpose at all and just let whatever happens to be coming to me come to me, and almost do like automatic writing.
Jason D: My thing is I like to be mythical. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the quote, but the quote is, “Live mythically.” Have you ever heard that?
Jeff D: I have not.
Jason D: Alright, I’m gonna give you a funny story. I was walking to Cumberland Farms from my house. I was going to grab a pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee. As I’m walking, I’m messaging back and forth with my friend Chris. Suddenly I hear catcalls coming from the street, and I look up. It’s a girl catcalling me. It happens to be my friend Maria, with my roommate Phil, and Maria’s doing it as a joke. Maria said, ‘I never catcalled anybody from my car,’ I said, ‘I’m glad I’m your first.’
We’re all chuckling and having a good time. I’m about to cross the street to Cumbies, and I cut behind Maria’s car as the light turns green. As I do, I see headlights out of the corner of my eye. I go, ‘Oh shit this is gonna hurt.’ I basically fold myself up, and slide up the hood of a car as it hits me, then slide back down, land all Superman style, get up and go ‘I am so sorry,’ because I didn’t really hurt myself. Meanwhile the driver and the passenger go, ‘Oh my God, are you okay?!’ I said, ‘I’m totally cool, again I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to ruin your evening. By all means, go do what you’re gonna do.’ I then went to get my pack of cigarettes and coffee.
Jeff D: You were saying about what you do to survive?
Jason D: Workwise I used to, for about 16-17 years, work for the Center for Disabilities Services. I was essentially a teacher for the before and after school and school break programs. I absolutely loved it. Nothing I ever went to school for, but it was a fantastic job. I was doing something to help people, and it was awesome… I had to do something different because at that point I started getting burnt, where I wasn’t really helpful. I ended up doing more mindless stuff, not human interactive type of stuff. For a while I worked at Adirondack Beverage in the lab. That was great. The hours were garbage and it ruined my life, but the pay was fantastic. When I went home, I didn’t have to worry about the soda having a seizure and dying when I wasn’t there.
Jeff D: Right.
Jason D: Right now, I work for a telecommunications company and I supervise a department, and we’re downloading code into cable boxes. Monotonous nonsense. But out of that there is also stuff to pull experience wise. It’s not like everything is lost just because it is not what I want to do. There’s stuff there that I’m like, “Oh wow, there are little nuggets of awesome that you can harvest out of that.”
That is Jason Dalaba, the man behind the masquerade. He has traveled between conjurations and his own tribulations; he lives by the motto “Live mythically”. The name Hex’m Jai is a portmanteau of Hexed Them, and ja’i, French for I Have. The name suits the man who lives a life of myth and thelemicism.
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