I’m a sucker for a person who reads Yeats. So I’m certain to love a person who bases his novel on an obscure Yeats play.
“When I used to be at Yale in graduate faculty, a pal of mine introduced me to see a play that the undergraduates had been doing and it was ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer,’” David Duchovny recollects one wet day over lattes at Tavern on the Green. “It’s a verse play, so it’s kind of unwatchable. But I got the gist of it, which was a very cool wager about love, and it stayed with me forever.”
Naturally, since that is Fox Mulder of “The X-Files,” there’s a supernatural component and a parallel universe. And since that is additionally Hank Moody of “Californication,” there’s some ingesting and womanizing, too.
In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Emer and the warrior hero Cu Chulainn fall in love and marry after buying and selling cryptic riddles.
The Yeats play conjures a second when Cu Chulainn inadvertently kills his personal son in battle after which, distraught, begins combating “the deathless sea” and virtually drowns. A demonic Irish fairy, known as a Sidhe, seems and gives Emer a merciless discount: If she offers up her fondest hope that the warrior will tire of his mistress — additionally at his sickbed — and develop outdated along with her, the fairy will let Cu Chulainn dwell.
“He’ll never sit beside you at the hearth,” the Sidhe tells Emer, “Or make old bones, but die of wounds and toil, on some far shore or mountain, a strange woman beside his mattress.”
After agonizing over the selection, Emer lastly says, “If he may live I am content.”
In “Miss Subways,” revealed by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Mr. Duchovny modernizes this delusion into the story of Emer Gunnels, a 41-year-old New York schoolteacher who likes to take the subway and eat ice cream and make love along with her boyfriend, Cuchulain, a author often known as Con.
But a troublemaking pint-size doorman, Sid, who’s a Sidhe, exhibits up at her residence one evening with a merciless discount: Emer can save her boyfriend from being hit by a automotive outdoors Nobu, the place he’s out flirting with one other lady. But Emer has to present him up, alongside along with her dream of strolling arm in arm with Con on the seaside when they’re outdated.
An ‘Anchor Baby’
Mr. Duchovny, 57, says the toughest factor about placing out a novel within the age of Trump is Trump. Or, to purloin a line from his novel: Are all of us characters in a Beckett play directed by Sartre?
“Every time I’m talking about something that’s not politics or Trump, it feels insignificant, like child’s play,” he says, calling the president “the single most reprehensible human being I’ve witnessed in real time.”
Perhaps since President Trump prefers hiring handsome individuals he has seen on TV on the Fox channel, Mr. Duchovny could also be in line for a job. “The first internet sex symbol with hair,” as I once called him, is sporting stubble, a black cardigan over a striped T-shirt, black pants and footwear from the Canadian firm Roots.
“I’m waiting for a call,” he says. “I could be the next director of the F.B.I.”
In one of many exhibits in “The X-Files” reboot on Fox, an alien comes down an escalator and broadcasts plans to construct an important, magnetic wall to maintain people out of the remainder of the universe.
I observe that the president will be the solely one who is extra paranoid and conspiracy-minded and fearful in regards to the Deep State than Spooky Mulder.
“I do have a Deep State hoodie from the Samantha Bee show,” Mr. Duchovny says.
The president and Mr. Duchovny have yet another similarity: Both have Scottish moms. (The actor refers to himself as a “macaroon,” as a result of his mom is Scottish and his father was Jewish.)
“I talked to my mother about it. I said, ‘Can you believe Trump’s mom is Scottish?’ and she’s horrified,” he stated, including that since his mom got here to New York by marrying his Brooklyn-born dad: “I’m an anchor baby.”
He says in regards to the man he calls “Orange Julius”: “I don’t think it matters if there’s a pee-pee tape because that’s not what makes him unfit to be president. Nor does his horrible attitude toward women make him unfit to be president. His attitude towards human society and the environment and everything else makes him unfit to be president.”
Mr. Duchovny has known as Fox Mulder “the worst F.B.I. agent of all time” as a result of he by no means solved one case in 9 years. What does he take into consideration Mr. Trump tweeting that James Comey was “the worst F.B.I. director in history, by far!”
“Comey seems like an honest guy, maybe too honest in a way or maybe too proud of his honesty,” Mr. Duchovny stated. “He’s like a Joseph Conrad hero from the 19th century. He’d be a tragic figure in another time.”
Since Russians are amongst Mr. Duchovny’s greatest followers — he made an advert for a nonalcoholic Russian beer known as Siberian Crown a number of years in the past, taking part in a cosmonaut — I’m wondering what he makes of the Trump-Putin relationship.
“I don’t think Putin needs anything on him,” Mr. Duchovny stated of the blackmail rumors. “Putin just needs to strut around in front of Trump and do the horrible things he does and Trump is going to admire that.”
He doesn’t get into politics in his e book as a result of he thinks it may possibly slide too simply into propaganda, though he has some zingers. He refers to President Trump as “a hybrid monstrosity,” Rudy Giuliani as “that lispy, hissy, death’s head of a mayor” and Sean Hannity as “that pinched-faced thumb in a real-hair toupee.’’
He makes a slighting reference to “Penceville” within the novel, so I ask him in regards to the vp’s draconian angle towards homosexual individuals and the unusual method he calls his spouse “Mother.”
“I could sit here and try to be Mike Pence’s armchair psychologist, but clearly something happened that he hasn’t dealt with, and I wish him luck,” Mr. Duchovny says. “I wish he didn’t use the United States as a canvas upon which to work it out.”
I’m wondering what Mr. Duchovny fabricated from the story broken by The New York Times in December, revealing that the Pentagon had a shadowy $22 million U.F.O. program, with a lot of the cash going to an aerospace analysis firm run by a billionaire who stated he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and have visited earth.
“When it happened,” Mr. Duchovny deadpanned, “I said that I was finally really impressed by the Fox publicity department, that they were able to plant a story like that to sell the show.”
The Female P.O.V.
He dropped out of Yale earlier than writing his Ph.D dissertation, which was to be “Magic and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction and Poetry.” (His senior thesis at Princeton was titled “The Schizophrenic Critique of Pure Reason in Beckett’s Early Novels.”) Like his 2004 film, “House of D,” which he wrote and directed, his new novel is a meditation on his hometown — “So a lot of New York concerned wanting away” — and his heroine, Emer, has most of the similar traits as Mr. Duchovny.
Like her creator, Emer has inexperienced eyes with different-sized pupils, which replicate “some charismatic, universal, lighthearted melancholy, like she saw things at a distance, a gently ironic remove.” She’s a reader, “it defined her.” She doesn’t “prefer to kill something and has been an on-and-off, semi-strict, nondogmatic, occasional vegetarian since faculty.’’ (But she makes an exception on the killing ban for mosquitoes and actually good sushi.)
She thinks Twitter is the top of the world. And she is a schoolteacher, like Mr. Duchovny’s mom, Meg, who was a cherished instructor at Grace Church School in Greenwich Village and his sister, Laurie, who’s a instructor at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn.
The e book is devoted to his 88-year-old mom, and he has Con inform Emer a narrative that truly occurred to Mr. Duchovny and his mother when he was a boy wanting to see the dinosaurs on the Museum of Natural History. They missed their subway cease and ended up, flummoxed, in Queens. As Mr. Duchovny writes in his dedication: “Our curiosity and incompetence taught us it’s not the vacation spot, it’s the trip … keep on the prepare, the surroundings will change.’’
The writer, who has written two earlier novels, has no bother slipping into the feminine voice. He was a jock who dreamed of taking part in basketball at Princeton, which he did for a 12 months on the junior varsity staff earlier than “the heartbreak” of now not being on the staff.
But he was professionally gender-fluid earlier than that time period turned common. He prompt a plotline to his pal Garry Shandling for “The Larry Sanders Show” by which he performed himself hitting on Mr. Shandling, doing the Sharon Stone opening-the-kimono reveal. On “Twin Peaks,” he performed an undercover detective in drag named Dennis who favored it a lot he transitioned into Denise.
“High heels and tights and underwire bras are painful,” Mr. Duchovny says with a grimace. “I had marks, I had bruises. It’s not fun.”
His father, a publicist and author, left and moved to Boston when Mr. Duchovny was younger. The method he, his brother and sister had been raised by his mom, he says, made him suppose that “there was no distinction between women and men — not mental, emotional, religious. I’m conscious that I don’t perceive what it’s prefer to be a girl, be attacked as a girl, to really feel endangered as a girl, to be abused as a girl. But I really feel like I may hear Emer’s voice in my head. And I do know ‘appropriation’ is a grimy phrase today, however that’s all an artist can do. I imply, there is no such thing as a artwork with out appropriation. You take what you discover and also you make a collage and also you think about the remaining.
“You need me to think about what it’s prefer to be a girl, to place myself in a black man’s footwear or a black lady’s footwear,” he says. “That’s actually what we all should be trying to do, whether or not we come up with a nice work of fiction from it or it’s horrible and you got it all wrong. I really feel like the wrong way to go about it is to try to imagine that there are some movies that should be told by women as opposed to by men. And so a woman can direct any movie and a man can direct any movie and you hope you can get it to a meritocracy at some point. If you say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ then you’re shutting down exactly the impulse that you want to come out of this bomb that went off in our culture.”
After the Harvey Weinstein revelations, he stated, he needed to “re-educate” himself. He stated his perception in equality between women and men and blacks and whites skewed his notion of the elemental nature of the issue.
“So my education has been to acknowledge that even if I didn’t perpetuate it, it has to be dealt with — if I’m not being part of the solution I’m being part of the problem,” he says, including that witnessing all of the hatred and division that has cascaded because the creation of Trump has “reopened” his eyes to misogyny and racism.
Gillian Anderson has complained that after struggling for years to get equal pay for taking part in Scully — initially, as a newcomer, the actress was even instructed to face a number of ft behind Mr. Duchovny in scenes — she was at first provided half of Mr. Duchovny’s wage for “The X-Files” revival.
When I point out that solely four % of girls directed the highest 100 grossing movies, he shakes his head, murmuring, “That’s mind-blowing.”
For a very long time, Mr. Duchovny was touted as the subsequent George Clooney. “I envisioned a career more in movies, but we all did at that point,” he says. “Now the enterprise has modified, the place all people’s doing tv. I felt like I may have collaborated higher. I may have sought out individuals extra who had been higher than me. I may have gone to extra events. I may have been extra social.
“I’d by no means complain a couple of profession like mine as a result of I really feel like that’s foolish, however definitely there have been occasions the place I used to be simply feeling like, rattling, you already know, ‘Why am I not doing that?’ or ‘Why am I not getting this?’ I want that ‘House of D’ would have been accepted otherwise. I really feel like I’ll proceed to direct.” He plans to direct a movie of his second novel, “Bucky Dent” (the complete title features a profane center title for Dent), one other one impressed by his personal life, a couple of son making peace with a distant father who’s dying.
Jesus in a Man Bun
Mr. Duchovny, whose Twitter biography at one level was merely “Dilettante,” has additionally gotten a band collectively and he has made two albums, “Hell or High Water” and “Every Third Thought.” Rolling Stone described his first album as “lyrically tart” and “vaguely Wilco-ish.” Critics had been much less form to the second album. A Jezebel post was headlined: “I Wish Aliens Would Abduct David Duchovny’s New Rock Album.”
“I think people like you to stay in your lane and it’s easy to take potshots at me for dabbling, I imagine, but that’s O.K.,” he says, including that he’s ready for the “Not bad for an actor” opinions of his e book.
After his divorce from the actress Téa Leoni in 2014, he realized to play guitar, asking the writers of “Californication” to weave in Hank’s taking part in “so I could get free guitar lessons from the show.”
He has gotten factors for being humble and accepting that he’s placing out what A.V. Club’s Sean O’Neal calls “perfectly serviceable famous-dad-rock.”
I ask if a music on his first album that mentions a 12-step program — “Three thousand steps, forget about 12” — alludes to his 2008 stint in a sex-addiction clinic, an try to save lots of his 17-year marriage to Ms. Leoni, with whom he has an 19-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son.
“Yeah,” he says. “I think there’s wisdom to be had in looking at any kind of behaviors that we do to manage our unease and make ourselves feel better or to alter our consciousness.”
He has, nevertheless, given up remedy, as a result of shrinks are inclined to shrink, as he likes to say, a line he says he borrowed from his outdated Yale professor Harold Bloom.
Poignantly, his ring finger nonetheless has a marriage tattoo, of the letters AYSF, which stand for At Your Side Forever. “But people think the AYSF is American Youth Soccer Foundation and I tell them, ‘Yes, that’s it,’” Mr. Duchovny says. “I’m a big fan of the game.”
Two totally different males who’re consuming lunch on the restaurant cease by to say they cherished “Californication.”
I ask if he has any similarities to Hank, whom Mr. Duchovny has described as a man who is aware of the proper factor to do however can’t get himself ready to do it.
“What I loved about that character is that he was a truth teller,” he says. “He was a fantasy, the guy who always speaks his mind and that’s a fun character to play.”
I ask Mr. Duchovny in regards to the affect of pornography within the tradition. He began his profession because the narrator and occasional star of Zalman King’s “Red Shoe Diaries” on Showtime, which popularized erotica on late-night cable.
“I’ve got kids and they deal with the explosion of porn and the internet, so I’ve had to think about it for sure,” he says. “I believe it’s harmful as a result of there’s no extra innocence. There’s no probability for a kid who has had no sexual expertise to not have seen essentially the most excessive sexual experiences that human our bodies can supply. That little one now not has the choice of figuring his or her method by way of that themselves. When you may have the porn dialogue together with your children, it is best to say: ‘You’re actually good at science, however I wouldn’t need you training mind surgical procedure at 14. Those guys are professionals. There’s the explanation why I wouldn’t need you watching that — the identical motive I wouldn’t need to put you within the working room proper now. You’ve received to develop your self to get to a sure level.’”
I strive a query on Mr. Duchovny that was requested of me lately.
Who would you prefer to collaborate with, have a drink with and have a dialog with (alive or useless)?
“I would pick Paul Thomas Anderson to collaborate with,” he says.
He wish to have a drink with René Girard, the late French thinker who can also be a favourite of Peter Thiel’s.
“Girard was talking about mimesis, that humans are monkey see, monkey do,” he says. “That makes sense to me.”
And he wish to have a dialog with Jesus. “When Jesus said, ‘Turn the other cheek,’ it was a revolution in human consciousness,” Mr. Duchovny says. “Did he just wake up and think of that? I’d like to know.”
I can really visualize Jesus assembly up with Mr. Duchovny in Los Angeles for some yoga and vegetarian fare, hitting a juice bar on Melrose Avenue.
“He’d have a man bun now,” Mr. Duchovny says.
“And washboard abs,” I say.
“And he’d be doing that P90X workout, that factor that Paul Ryan does,” Mr. Duchovny provides.
The solar has lastly come out. And Mr. Duchovny goes out to have his image taken among the many brilliant yellow and pink blossoms in Central Park. But he nonetheless manages to look noir.
Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and writer of three New York Times finest sellers, turned an Op-Ed columnist in 1995. She additionally writes for the Times journal and Styles part.