Who Am I ?
ALOK JODDHA HERNANDEZ
1: Who am I?
Alok Joddha Hernández.
2: What do you do and what project are you currently working on?
I’m a novelist and an event organizer for Ananda Marga, a worldwide meditation movement with a politically radical bent.
Also, I travel the country in a giant grey van you normally warn your children about and sell beads wholesale to places; they varied from mining villages in the backwoods of Wyoming to tourist towns in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
Did I mention I like to write a lot? I’m currently working on promoting my new novel, In the Smoky Air, while I continue to write my next novel at the same time.
3: Where are you from and where are you going?
I’m from Long Island. I’m going forward, in any and all ways I can.
4: Who is your biggest hero?
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, a little-known figure (in America, at least). Do YOU know anyone else who wrote over 100 books on philosophy, economics, and linguistics, survived seven years of being a political prisoner and assassination attempts, fasted for the next five and a half years in protest, started a worldwide, grassroots meditation movement AND composed 5,018 songs in the last eight and a half years of their life at the same time? No? Then surely you can understand.
5: What book is your bible?
My favorite novel is by far The Brothers Karamazov, by the mad Russian himself, Dostoevsky. I also love Moby Dick and The Sound and the Fury. In terms of books that guide me in a more spiritual sense, I would have to say almost anything written by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, whose basic teachings were that we exist both to liberate ourselves and to help empower others so that they can do the same. I try to take those ideas to heart every time I sit down to write.
6: What are some things you love? And some things you hate?
I love literature that I would consider consciousness expanding, and I don’t mean that in an ideological or dogmatic way. Authors as diverse as Don Delillo, Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami, and Marilyn Robinson all do this for me. What bothers me of art and literature is that–hiding behind the idea that it has no moral or political imperative–is allowed to be self-indulgent, pretentious, and stupid.
7: What is your raison d’être?
I’m interested in writing novels that help nudge people out of the mundane into a more interstitial space where things kind of shimmer with a hidden, inner significance. My point, of course, is that this is the way the world really is–we just don’t notice it all the time.
8: What is your favorite color?
Red is the most dynamic color.
9: Who is your favorite comic book superhero?
As a kid, I used to worship Superman. Looking back now, he’s too perfect and therefore not captivating. Still, that kind of makes him fascinating to me. What part of human psychology makes us dream up a flawless Superman to solve all our problems for us, and how did this uninteresting character become the most iconic superhero of all time?
10: What is your favorite NYC hotspot?
I generally avoid anything that people would characterize as a “hotspot.” My favorite thing to do in New York City is leave it for the mountains somewhere.
11: What turns you on?
People coming together, doing well, and seeing if I can be a part of it, myself.
12: What would be the last question of this questionnaire be if you were the one asking?
“Who are you, really?”
A young new writer with a surreal style, Alok Joddha Hernández left the country at the age of nineteen to undergo intensive training in Germany with the yogic monks of the Ananda Marga meditation movement. Since that time, he has spent the last seven years both writing fiction and organizing yoga and meditation seminars. Having taught meditation classes in places as varied as the United States, England, and the Netherlands, Hernández received his formal education studying literature and creative writing at the State University of New York at New Paltz, in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Today, Hernández continues to make his home in upstate New York, living in Albany with his soon-to-be wife, Briana. He is currently writing a second novel exploring his own multi-ethnic heritage, as well as a non-fiction work exploring the difficult, esoteric philosophy behind Yoga and meditation.
Questions by PMc Magazine
Edited by Meaghan Coffey
Photography by Mike Battaglia
Design by Jillian Mercado
Contact Jillian Mercado if you’re interested in becoming a “Who Am I?”
Alok Joddha Hernández, 2011, Photography by Mike Battaglia