LAURIE ANDERSON: Our dog Lolabelle died.
THE BELIEVER: Oh, I’m sorry.
LA: Yeah, what a sweetie pie. She was my best friend. When you’re very physically attached to something—not so much mentally, but physically, something that is always at your knee, you know—it’s very different when they evaporate. So in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, for forty-nine days you’re in the Bardo, and it describes in a really fascinating way how you lose your senses and how your mind dissolves as you prepare for another cycle. At the end of that forty-nine-day period, you are born in another form, and, in my dog’s case, what was at the end of that forty-ninth day was my birthday. I’m kind of a believer in magic numbers, in a way. So I wanted to study that particular Bardo, and then I found that that’s only one of the many Bardos. The other Bardo that is happening is the Bardo that we’re in right now—in which we both believe we’re having a conversation in a studio by the river when, in fact, we’re not.
BLVR: What are we doing?
LA: Well, I think illusion is one of the most interesting things that I’ve found to think about. I don’t really know how it works, but I know that in some way we are and in some way we’re not having this conversation. Just look at yesterday, and what you were doing, and how important it was, and how nonexistent it is now! How dreamlike it is! Same thing with tomorrow. So where are we living? Tibetans have unbelievably fascinating answers to that. This is what I’m studying because my dog died.
BLVR: Do you have thoughts about death and what happens after death?
LA: Well, no single person who has ever lived will be able to tell you what happens. Period. Nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong. So what do you do, then? With my experience, and how my mind works, and what I think about—let’s call it “the disappearing mind stream”—when you follow your thoughts and watch them attach to certain things, it makes certain things real and other things unreal, and you realize that this is all created by your mind.