by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: September 12, 2016
Name: Alex Tebleff
Location: Washington, DC
If you were an underwater sea creature which one would you be?
Well… I’m currently falling in love with someone whose spirit animal is the sea turtle. So I’m going to say a sea turtle because that’s what I hope to identify with.
What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.
People can do whatever the hell they want if it makes them happy. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, including the people that they are involved with. So I think transparency is really important. As long as you’re transparent and honest, you should be able to do whatever makes you and anyone you’re with happy. I like monogamy, personally. I think I’m at my happiest and healthiest and most fulfilled in monogamous situations. But I’m also… I think it’s important to feel open to other kinds of romantic or sexual relationships. I’ve been in love a few times, and each time I felt like I could handle it better to the point where now I feel comfortable and confident in it. I think that Leonard Cohen said it best, “Love is the only engine of survival.” I think that is actually true. I think a lot about love.
What do you think you’ve learned from those past relationships?
I think it’s made me a much better person. Taught me how to be truly reciprocal with other people. I think it taught me what I really want out of life. And it allowed me to learn from other people in a lot of different ways. It’s really amazing because it allows you to experience, or at least have a better understanding of things you could never experience on your own. For example, being in love taught me how to be a feminist. Before my last two relationships, I was definitely ignorant about women’s issues in our society. I used to say, “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.” And in my last relationship, with the last person I was in love with, she pushed me in a number of different ways because of her life endeavors that showed me it’s actually the other way around. You can’t be a humanist without being a feminist, because of the nature of the way women are treated in most societies around the world. Love is incredible, it’s an engine for personal growth with openness and kindness.
What are you passionate about?
Music. Food. Music and food mostly. I think music was originally attractive to me because there is something sublime about it, sublime and otherworldly. But that’s changed and… I now see it from both sides. The more grounded rational aspects of music and the otherworldly aspects of music, it’s the dichotomy between the two that gets me excited now. I can’t think of anything that has more of the sublime because humans are so visual that music can feel like it takes you to another world. We don’t focus on our ears very much in our daily lives. It’s usually just THERE. Most humans focus on words and their eyes to understand the world versus pure sounds. So when we do use our ears, we think about it through more… conventional language other than the abstract language that music can be, but doesn’t have to be. As I get older, I appreciate that music can be so many things and I think it’s cool that technology is allowing it to go in different places. That’s something I’m really excited about. It’s something that makes me feel so fulfilled to explore. Food, I like because I’m very interested in the sensual. I try to approach it in a way that is not indulgent. It’s not that I don’t indulge sometimes in music and food, I do, but I don’t want that to be the focus. I am interested in food, both as a means of expression and culture. I think you can learn a LOT about a culture through it’s food. Just the same as you could with music or art, or anything lie that. I think the arts and food and language are the best ways to learn about a culture, so I continue to be interested in all of those things.
What are you most afraid of for the world?
I really think that Donald Trump lacks basic empathy for other human beings. He is maybe the most insecure person I’ve ever seen. And, if you look at most of the sociopaths that have fucked up the world, if you look at Mao or Hitler for example, and you look at their background, they are almost always really insecure people. Mao killed more people than Stalin and Hitler combined and his whole thing – you know, you look at him beyond just the general populations and into his personal life and his treatment of women in his life in particular, and he just seemed like someone who lacked basic empathy, the definition of a sociopath. And I think that Donald Trump is a legit sociopath. I’m not sure that we would be able to get through a Trump presidency without some extremely brutal activity going on, at least from the dangerous people he has newly empowered. And I would be afraid for many groups of people who he’s demonized for power, and I’m terrified about the damage he has already been done through his rhetoric, but if he wins…
What are you most afraid of for yourself?
I’m afraid that I’ll look back and be on my deathbed and think, “I didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to do.” Especially with music. That I didn’t get to accomplish the goals that I set out for myself. They may be ambitious, but I believe they are grounded enough that I think they’re possible, because they depend mostly just on me in the end. I want to make great art. I want to make something that I could show my kids one day and have them say, “Wow, you made something really worthwhile.” I’m happy to gamble on myself. Most of the great artists I love are gamblers.