My first contact with Philip Jose Farmer was when I was in high school. I found Venus on the Halfshell in a used bookstore, with Kilgore Trout listed as the author. I recognized the name from Vonnegut’s books and thought I had made a profound discovery: Vonnegut’s character was a real person! Afterwards I realized that Farmer had written the book with Vonnegut’s permission, and that later editions had appeared under Farmer’s name. Twenty-five years onward I got interested in science fiction again and discovered Farmer’s other books. I realized that, in a way, he captured what I had always loved best about Vonnegut: his campy-Kilgore Trout-science fiction side. In fact, the worlds that Farmer created were even more fascinating than those created by Vonnegut.
In Inside/Outside the image of Jack Cull going to work at the Theology Exchange, naked with a briefcase in his hand, was particularly powerful, so I decided to make a song about it. As Kevin and I worked on it, I began to think about the enigma that Farmer’s “automatic prophet” repeats over and over again in the novel, which is essentially a more extreme version of the Binding of Isaac in the Book of Genesis. This is really a central theological problem: is God answerable to an external ethical standard, or does he set the standard himself. In fact, it’s a problem which extends beyond the limits of religion and the belief in God. It is quite simply the question: does anything mean anything?