June 7th, 2012 / 1:12 pm
Blind Items

Marie Calloway’s google docs pieces

I think I really like the pieces Marie Calloway has been publishing via Google docs & sharing as links on Facebook & Tumblr post-“Adrien Brody” & “Jeremy Lin.” They are surprising and create a feeling that seems like a secret private virus or a window. There are people in the world.

Insufferable by Marie Calloway

Cybersex by Marie Calloway

Criticism by Marie Calloway

Men by Marie Calloway

Seems significantly more “sincere” in an actually vibrant way than a lot of the other things people have been pointing at as “sincere” lately. Not that I think sincerity is important, but I’m confused as to how people can point to repurposed internet-speak tumblr-timez poise as not of an extremely orchestrated intent. It’s not very interesting to watch the same buttons being pressed over and over. I like mutation. I wish there was less obvious fear.

If nothing else, these new works by Marie Calloway seem singularly her, and rapidly feedbacking at themselves in a way that wakes something else up, which is refreshing.



  1. Ethan

      Marie’s work and particularly that “Cybersex” piece reminds me of Laurel Nakadate’s work, in that it’s got this theme of exploitation, and of making the audience wonder who is exploiting whom. Thought provoking stuff.

  2. rawbbie

      Agreed. If you have a hard time deciding if they’re being ironic or sincere, it’s probably not sincere. We can tell Marie is real, that she really puts herself out there. It is sincere.

  3. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I like them because it might be the only time I’ve read something where in my old self-confident age I’ve felt vulnerable. In all of my time reading predominantly male writers I have not read one male writer admit to such behavior, unless it’s the focal point of their work, which seems self-inhibited.

      Also I like that this stuff is happening on Facebook chat, because Facebook chat feels so public. The idea of parties involved liking statuses at the same time they are talking dirty to each other is great.

      Also reminds me of this, but better: http://www.shortandhappy.com/amber/about.htm

  4. Anonymous

      I agree – they’re surprising and vulnerable and honest. There’s something really urgent about them.

  5. Roxane

      I just really keep thinking, “Are you serious?” These read like a cry for help. This looks like emotional spiraling in the wake of disappointing experiences with men.  I love work that blurs the line of exploitation. I also love intense female confessional. This does not seem like that. This seems….troubling but not in an intellectual sense. I read these and want to call her parents or friends and say, “Your loved one needs help and kindness and counsel.” Are these pieces sincere? Absolutely. But are they more than what they appear to be? No. Facebook chats and Internet comments laid over sexually explicit images? Surely the bar is higher. Maybe I just need to open my mind, but… I find this kind of positive critical response astonishing.

  6. tao lin

      “But are they more than what they appear to be? No.”

      to you they aren’t

      “Maybe I just need to open my mind”

      thought ‘maybe’

  7. Victoria Trott

      i like these a lot

  8. Anonymous

      Some of my favorite works could be described as “emotional spiraling in the wake of disappointing experiences with men” that has somehow been interpreted as a plea, as opposed to analysis – it becomes philosophical to take this abject experience as its subject, to document and negotiate it in its specificity (and I think it’s interesting how these pieces use the Internet)- this is confessional and perhaps case study but not the psychoanalytic confessional, i.e. anything dealing with redemption. I’m reading all of these works now that I would describe as an abject confessional, maybe – rereading Chris Kraus’ I Love Dick, the book Making Scenes that Emily Gould just republished at Emily Books – and I think of Marie’s new pieces within this context. From I Love Dick: “When women try to pierce the fake conceit by naming names because our ‘I’s’ are changing as we meet other ‘I’s’, we’re called bitches, libellers, pornographers, and amateurs.” But I think of Marie’s new texts kind of more in the realm of performance art – like a Sophie Calle sort of thing. I don’t know. I felt something when I read them. I haven’t been able to really analyze why yet, but there’s a LOT of writing that doesn’t make me feel things.

      Also, I’m really curious what you would think of Making Scenes, Roxane.

  9. Blake Butler

      what does “surely the bar is higher” mean?  higher than what? you like safe confession? or confession once the person has gone beyond the point of harm? are you certain she is being earnest? how many levels are there to “sincerity”? would you have called artaud’s parents? is it ok for someone who really does need help to make art, and have it be considered art even at the same time it is frightening? is something like the Sugar column more compelling to certain people because it doesn’t have this level of danger to it? can the feeling of danger be manufactured? can real danger be presented to the world in another way besides seeing the person through therapy? where does art end?

  10. Anonymous

      This is pretty much just not-anything to me. Not interesting or bad, pretty boring. Like reading facebook with all the contrived utterances and platonic-idea-of-myself profiles. Good job, or not, if that was/wasn’t the thing.

  11. drew kalbach

      i think these work in much the same way as reality television. which is interesting.

  12. lorian long

      rlly ‘bummed’ there’s not a picture of her squatting over facebook profile page and taking a kale-induced solid shit on her computer screen, woulda been sweet. 

  13. Stephen Tully Dierks


  14. Roxane

      You ask good questions, Blake, great questions. I don’t want safely delivered confession but I simply cannot wrap my mind around this. I tend to believe most people who make art need help or at some point needed help. I do not see this as art, not because of the content or the presentation but because I don’t think it’s very good. And I also look at this and see someone who… needs help and I can’t get past that. Maybe this is real, maybe it’s all an elaborate performance, I don’t know. Whatever it is, I don’t think this is in the same universe as Artaud, or Chis Kraus, or Kathy Acker or others who create frenzied, disturbing, explicit, art. 

  15. Roxane

      I am not familiar with Making Scenes, Kate. I will definitely check it out because (I just googled it), it looks awesome. I’m actually writing something right now about abject confessional, so I’ve been thinking a great deal about all this. I would agree that these pieces have a performance art feel to them, but I see more performance than art. 

  16. alan rossi

      danger or higher? 

      safety or lower? 

      there are seven levels. 

      can the feeling of anything be manufactured?

      where does life end?

      “The time when the moon appears in not necessarily night.  Night is not necessarily dark.  Do not be limited to the narrow views of human beings.  Even where there is no sun or moon, there is day and night.  Sun and moon are not day and night; each is as it is. 

      The moon is not one moon or two moons, not thousands of moons or myriads of moons.  Even if the moon itself holds the view of one moon or two moons, that is merely the moon’s view.” 

      that i’m commenting here means that i found the pieces affecting.  as for anything about the person behind them, i don’t know and neither do any of us.   

  17. Giancarlo DiTrapano

      I met Marie Calloway at the St. Mark’s Muumuu reading. Right when I met her she said some very honest and personal things to me and seemed like a pleasant person. It was refreshing. These Google doc things are pretty hard to take your eyes off and turn away from. Looking forward to more.

  18. Anonymous

      I’m writing an essay on the abject confessional too Roxane! More about boundaries/oversharing. Cannot wait to read yours!

      I think you’ll find Making Scenes intriguing – I know I did…but it might bring up some issues you have to Marie’s pieces. Although it is framed as a novel.

      But to me I don’t think the issue is whether it’s real or a performance. It’s certainly real – in that there’s real experience, real emotions behind it.

      I have to agree with Blake and others though – for me it gets totally dangerous to try to place a work or an artist in a therapeutic context. Personally some of the most interesting/writing is dangerous/”high risk”/or skirts that territory. And I definitely see Marie in a tradition of women writing of intense vulnerability and high-risk behavior (sex work, stalking, sadomasochistic love affairs) but through the writing or documenting of it philosophizing it and taking back the narrative. Chris’ work and her Native Agents series esp. I mean – has MC written I Love Dick? No, but she’s definitely I think churning out progressively interesting and aware stuff. But, fuck, I don’t think I’ll ever write a work like I Love Dick or Blood and Guts in High School – it’s not about whether she or myself or any of us reaches a bar, I hope.

      And in terms of the relationship of performance art and risky behavior –  Marina Abramovic switching places with an Amsterdam
      prostitute! Karen Finley covering herself naked with yams in a bar! David
      Wojnarowicz picking up tricks in Close to the Knives! And yes Laurel Nakadate taking to her apartment lonely men and having naked  dance parties with them!

      Also, I’m pretty sure MC is not only aware of but conversant with artists like  Nakadate and  Kraus. Even if she wasn’t – I would find these pieces fascinating. But I also find a lot of what goes on with girls on Tumblr fascinating in terms of public/private performance (as Kate Durbin has so wonderfully theorized and documented ), and I think MC is also firmly within that tradition as well.

  19. Roxane

      I agree that it is dangerous to place work in a therapeutic context and armchair diagnosis is silly but I suppose, ultimately, I look at these pieces and my first thought is, “Oh honey.” My first thought is not anything else. When I look art, even uncomfortable, confessional, abject explicit art, I don’t think that should be my firs thought.  I appreciate your thoughts, though, because I know how much you know about this tradition and I’m just being exposed to it in many ways. 

  20. Randy Randy

      whatever she’s doing, she’s dividing smart people down interesting lines 

  21. Anonymous

      I’d like to read a male Marie Calloway.

  22. Dena Guzman

       There must be a better way to criticize an artist’s work, or to say it is not in the same universe as more respected shock-art, than by basically calling the artist crazy and implying that someone should call her parents. 

  23. Anonymous

      I think sometimes the experience of confronting a young woman/girl making art out of her life with such intense vulnerability can trigger that maternal feeling, or that feeling of discomfort and maybe that feeling of discomfort is interesting, which is why I’ve always been drawn to works that foreground the body in all of its messiness. I think it’s interesting.I like work that is about life and skirts the high-wire act. I think though a woman has a right to make art out of her own frailty and vulnerability – Breton’s Nadja seemed like a hot mess but we dont’ get her narrative. I think we’re less likely to want to save these male artists who engage in high-risk behavior-  like Chris Burden shooting himself (and with that example, I’m just parroting Chris K. in her Video Green, who has written and writes about our attitudes towards oozey female confessional art much better than I ever can) or yes Artaud or Gerald Nerval super-obsessed with some actress.

      Oh, I’m just being exposed to the tradition too. Just learning and reading and trying to learn and think about these things. But I guess I’m saying is that your feelings of protection perhaps can be part of your feelings about Marie’s work – and I think in some ways highlights the transgression of these pieces – this sense that something is thrust in public what should be private, an emotional fragmentation. But I also see a defiance in these pieces – like in her first two stories – a quite juicey and interesting revenge. And it’s unclear who is being exploited.

      I just don’t think a work should be read or viewed in the context whether the artist needs therapy – I don’t think many of us would be safe.

  24. Stephen Tully Dierks


  25. Dena Guzman

      Also, whoever accused Marie of being autistic, like that is a bad thing, is a disablist, ignorant jackass. From her piece “Criticism.” 

  26. Guest

      I’m just going to say this…some of you are goddamn morons. There is no nice way to put this. I’m past the stage of critiquing MC, as she herself has basically admitted that she’s just fucking around, but the elevation of this stuff by some of you who are older and should know better–people who should have some perspective–to some form of transgressive art is just laughably stupid and downright embarrassing. Even dumber is the lazy insertion of identity politics by a few of you. Newsflash: in 2012, nothing in those “documents” qualifies as a big or innovative feminist statement. 

  27. Mike James

      Has anyone noticed that she looks fucking great nude? Like, A+.

  28. Nick Mamatas

      I thought “Insufferable” was fantastic. More creative and vulnerable than I’ve seen, and with a stronger theme than either her earlier prose pieces or the other collages.

  29. Christopher Higgs

      I am extremely interested in what Marie Calloway is doing. 

      There seems to be so much written about her work already that I have not sufficiently familiarized myself with, I’ve felt unprepared to write about it; but I have intended and do intend to write about it at some point because I think it’s captivating and provocative.  And contra Roxane, I think it demands positive critical response.    

      Reading the negative comments from Roxane makes me think of one of my favorite passages from Gertrude Stein’s “Composition as Explanation,” an essay that I read and reread as religiously as religious people read their religious texts: 

      “Of course it is beautiful but first all beauty in it is denied and then
      all the beauty of it is accepted. If every one were not so indolent they
      would realize that beauty is beauty even when it is irritating and
      stimulating not only when it is accepted and classic.”

      When Roxane writes above, “I read these and want to call her parents or friends and say, ‘Your loved one needs help and kindness and counsel.’ ” I want to say to Roxane: YES!  Don’t you see!  That is exactly the reason why Calloway’s work is so noteworthy! 

      Of course, I’m also going to disagree with Roxane when she says, “I do not see this as art, not because of the content or the presentation but because I don’t think it’s very good.”  That statement has way too many problems to tackle in a comment box, but suffice to say, it’s exactly the kind of response conservative critics routinely use to justify aesthetic conformity. 

      Unfortunately, it is also the language of patriarchy, the language of enforcement, the language of oppression.  When Roxane starts talking about a “higher bar” my alarms go off like crazy.  That sort of rhetoric is exactly what Helene Cixous writes so passionately against in her essay “Laugh of the Medusa” (and elsewhere) where she writes, “Woman must put herself into the text–as into the world and into history–by her own movement.”  This is not to accuse Roxane, whom I know well enough and respect highly enough to know that she does not intend to wield the language of patriarchy, but is simply to draw attention to the ways in which we talk about what we talk about.  Bars are set by those in power.  Those in power have a vested interest in maintaining power.  By excluding, negating, or denying the validity of certain voices we become more intensely complicit in the power system that benefits from enforcing “higher bars.” 

      I’m of the opinion that we should do all we can to affirm and promote voices that do not conform, that challenge our notions of “good/bad,” and that affect us in uncomfortable ways.  Thus, I am an advocate for Marie Calloway’s work.  

  30. jtc

      ‘If you’re a circus clown, and you have a dog that you use in your act, I
      don’t think it’s a good idea to also dress the dog up like a clown,
      because people see that and they think, “Forgive me, but that’s just too
      much.” ‘

  31. Roxane

      Interesting commentary, Christopher. You invoke Cixous, and I would suggest Calloway isn’t putting herself into the text by her own movement. I feel like she’s being put into the text by the movement of others.

      In terms of a higher bar, I am perhaps being conservative but not in the patriarchal sense nor as a means of silencing experimental work. Surely there is room for discussing quality as much as there is room for appreciating sincerity, vulnerability, etc.

  32. jtc


      no i’m jk

  33. shaun gannon


  34. NoContactChamp

      I felt many different
      emotions as I read these things. I’m still thinking about the relationships and
      interactions in her writing.  When I read
      most literature I’m usually bored and uninspired and stop reading almost
      immediately, because most literature is just a bunch of second-hand ideas and
      emotions repackaged and delivered in layers of literary bullshit. The same critics
      who dismiss MC’s art seem to prefer that kind of thing.  And that’s fine, because different things move
      different people… obviously.

  35. Anonymous

      True. Then again, I’m also wary of the way “these writers” attempt to address “depression” (and mental illness) in their work–basically, reinforcing all of the tired and lazy stereotypes about clinical depression (and Bipolar), like conflating it with teenage/20-something angst and ignoring the larger and more complex social conditions of disability (and mental illness in particular). Several of these writers talk about how important depression is in their work, yet engage it in ways that are so vague that what they’re discussing could just as easily be general malaise, not an actual medical condition located in the brain that contributes to discriminatory things like, the lack of housing, jobs, and suspicion from police and citizens, and overall stigma.

  36. Marie Calloway

      i thought that if i made collages and not stories i wouldn’t have to deal with htmlgiant articles. :(

  37. Anonymous

      Maybe a better question is: do these documents return us a world transfigured? If so, how?

      You write: “It’s not very interesting to watch the same buttons being pressed over and over. I like mutation. I wish there was less obvious fear.”

      But that is what these documents give us a look at: more sad and lonely people reaching out through the web. They tell us that the author is one of these people. She has demonstrated this before in other ways. So she is reaching out in many ways. That you “think” you “really like these pieces” (instead of “really liking them” without qualification) also causes me to wonder whether your list of rhetorical questions, which avoids actual discussion with Roxane by pointing in so many different ways, does not become in places sincere in its requests for information.

      You write: “where does art end?”

      There is no telling, but I believe it begins with the least ripple in the mind of its viewer.

      “There are people in the world.”

      This is your response to this work? It is time to shut off the computer.

  38. Anonymous

      This coming from the guy who makes a living off “setting bars.” You truly seem to lack any self-awareness whatsoever. 

  39. Anonymous

      I truly can’t see anything “good” in these. That some of you can intrigues me. This is about female vulnerability as far as I can tell. It’s not about literature or empowerment or anything surprising. It seems sadly same old, same old.

  40. Roxane

      As would I. That has crossed my mind several times.

  41. Anonymous

      I’m interested to know if people would be so interested in Marie Calloway if she was an obese 50 year old woman. I suspect not. It’s every lit guys fantasy to have a young, hot girl begging to have his jizz on her face, right? Or, not every lit guy, but some. Maybe it’s an elaborate joke on that. Still does not make it “art”.

  42. Evan Hatch


  43. Marie Calloway

       i feel like the majority of people who like my work are women.  men tend to find my work boring or gross.

  44. j orloski

      i don’t have the attention span for this

  45. Mike James


  46. elizabeth ellen

      i like these for the same reason i like dennis cooper’s stuff. it makes me uncomfortable. and it makes me think. unlike eat, pray, love shit. safe shit. oprah shit.

  47. Mike James

      Yeah, no. You’re projecting. You have to internalize the concept that for every person there is another who will find them attractive. It’s nature. I believe people would be interested. There are enough people on earth w/ enough access that someone somewhere will find something interesting if there is merit/quality in it. It ends up being the individual who decides how much quality/merit actually exists for them. I’m not gonna tell you how much water is in your body.

  48. alan

      “I don’t think this is in the same universe as Artaud, or Chis Kraus, or Kathy Acker”

      I said, “You know they refused Jesus, too.” He said, “You’re not Him.”

  49. Nick Mamatas

      One can discuss quality without suggesting the perceived low-quality art is not art at all.

  50. shaun gannon

      well now i feel like she was just hoping to use me when she talked to me on fb chat

  51. Nick Mamatas

      I’d be extremely interested in checking out collages by an obese 50-year-old in which jizz on the face was a theme.

  52. Anonymous

      There are plenty of things that make me “feel uncomfortable” that I wouldn’t compare to other works of fiction, because they don’t really qualify as fiction. I’m not sure I understand your post, or others like it on this thread. These are Tweets, so it’s like saying, “I like watching elephants at the zoo defecate, because it makes me ‘uncomfortable’–more so than reading a Jane Austen novel.” I also find it interesting that you would compare her tweets to, I’m guessing what you perceive as, “domestic” literature. Interesting to say the least that both of your examples are pejoratively gendered in this way…

  53. postitbreakup

      i don’t know how i feel about these, but i read them all, and that’s more than i can say for almost everything ever written, so i guess that means something

  54. Roxane

      Fair enough.

  55. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Maybe this is confirmation bias working here, but I think the world transfigured is the one where the quotations are removed from “chatting with people privately on the internet” to reveal “chatting with people in a very public and vulnerable sphere on the internet because there is no such thing as real privacy on the internet.” This I think is a good transfiguration, it teaches people a little more intelligence/discretion in an inevitably open and public forum.

      “But that is what these documents give us a look at: more sad and lonely people reaching out through the web.”

      That sort of implies any attempt at creative innovation through the internet as a medium is futile because, arguably, EVERY SINGLE THING ON THE INTERNET is reflective of sad and lonely people reaching out through the web. Sort of the same way every piece of fiction/poetry put out for the public ultimately is a call for attention from an ego-hungry sad and lonely person. Your argument is reductive to the point that you make the discussion’s counter point become “Why do anything, then?”

      I won’t be able to respond to a response if there is any till later; it’s time to shut off the computer.

  56. Anonymous

      I don’t want to get into a big argument with anyone, but I’ve really been enjoying reading these pieces she’s put out there…they’re something new, and from my point of view Marie is much braver than many other writers who would be too embarrassed or ashamed to put such deeply private material on display.  I think many more people can relate to the things she’s talking about then they might be comfortable admitting.  Even if they’re extreme and socially controversial, she’s talking about real things that real people do every day.  Part of what our culture reveres about artists is that they can be uninhibited and do things/say things that ordinary people would never do.  Of course that’s a total cliche and only describes a small segment of the entire artistic spectrum (the outsider artist…the “insane” poet…the scantily clad or bizarrely dressed pop star…) but that uninhibited nature of art definitely has a valuable role.  What I most strongly respond to about Marie’s writing is that she’s willing to go there, to stretch herself, and I feel like there’s a genuine risk she’s taking when she sits down to write.  Some of her stories are scary and worrying to me, but they’re also extremely human.  She’s showing her heart and guts to anyone who will look, and to me that’s not only a completely justifiable artistic gesture, but also admirable in many ways.  

  57. jtc

      i did not read them all, which is…as much as i can say about almost everything ever written. i did read about 16 stories from high school students in a creative writing class i was leading a workshop in for though. the stories were longer, and were okay i guess for high school students. they appeared to be ‘trying’ though.

  58. Christopher Higgs

      Hi, Roxane.  You know you can call me Chris. :) 

      First let me reiterate, I am woefully ignorant of the conversation surrounding Calloway’s work, so my comments arise only from this post and the comments here.  I know you and others have considered her work in more detail and have written thoughtfully about it, so I acknowledge my perspective is limited.

      Second, I disagree with your assessment of Calloway’s work vis-à-vis Cixous.  I believe it is precisely the movement of an unauthorized body that has, at least in part, engendered such interest in her work.

      Next, I didn’t connect Calloway’s work with experimental literature.  Though, I can understand how you might have inadvertently made that link because I jabber about it a lot.  My point regarding the language of enforcement stretches well beyond the realm of experimental literature.  It is not so easily assimilated to the binary antagonism you suggest by bringing the term “experimental work” into the conversation.  Instead, the act of policing what is and isn’t art based on an ethics (good/bad) poses much deeper, systemic problems.    

      Also, for the record, I’m uninterested in “sincerity” or “vulnerability” because those terms depend on committing the intentional fallacy.  Unlike Mr. Jameson, who has written much about it lately, I don’t see the benefit in considering an author’s intention, sincere or otherwise.

      Finally, although I am sympathetic to Nick Mamatas comment about discussing quality without invalidating an artwork, I personally find negligible benefit in discussing “quality” at all.  Typically discussions of “quality” tend to do little more than rehearse debates similar to those you might hear between staunch atheists and staunch religious persons.  Since I contend that “quality” is a contingent term, not a transcendental signifier, the only way to fruitfully engage in a discussion about it would be to first mutually agree on a definition.  Of course, if we could mutually agree on a definition there would be no need to argue about it, because we would agree.

      Seems to me that Calloway’s work poses much more interesting questions than “is it art?” or “is it good?”  Those questions go nowhere.  Instead, I’m interested in examining what the texts do, how they do it, and why that seems to be significant.  In other words, I think it’s crucial to suspend judgement, to consider the affects produced by the texts, and describe the ways in which they imbricate various other discursive fields.  How, for instance, do Calloway’s texts connect and disconnect with Andy Warhol’s writing?  Sylvia Plath’s writing?  Sophie Calle’s work?  Peggy Ahwesh’s work? Carolee Schneemann’s work?  Anastasia Klose’s work?  And on and on.

  59. Nicholas Williard

      Just got really excited reading men, the conversation: 

      “do the guys who you cyber with know who you are? like do they know your a really good writer and blog about sex and stuff?”

      That was me!!!!!!!!!  But I do think it’s admirable the Marie keeps people’s identities somewhat veiled in her work. 

  60. Stephen Michael McDowell

      i recommend myself

  61. S

       Yeah, so veiled that you recognize yourself.

  62. Alexandra Cole

      I find Marie Calloway’s work intensely interesting.

  63. Alexandra Cole

      I find Marie Calloway’s work intensely interesting.

  64. Anonymous

      Why do you always use Calloway to essentially assert your own interests? It makes me think that you’re more or less interested in hearing yourself talk than offering any sort of coherent and clear analysis of Calloway’s work. Basically, what we get from you whenever Calloway is a topic is a bunch of name-dropping to show how much you know about this particular genre and/or genres. It’s always, strangely, about YOU–not Calloway.

      Once, you even found a way to compare the reaction to her to some random negative review of your book. I don’t doubt that these are serious artists, and that you know something interesting about them, but you’ve yet to actually relate them (and others in the past) convincingly and clearly to Calloway’s work.

  65. Zac Zellers

      THAT WAS ME!!1!

  66. dl.flsxzkmrkyrzk

      What do you normally think when you look at uncomfortable /confessional stuff? I thought all confessional art was meant to make you feel first. It made you feel something I’m sure. And then to think “HUMANS HUMANS I AM ONE OF THEM”. That’s where you have missed out perhaps… because you see Marie as someone whose sanity you are responsible for? But every adult human is only responsible for their own mind. I actually don’t find this work very uncomfortable though, I wonder why. I don’t relate to Marie but I feel comforted by her humanness in these pieces.

  67. dl.flsxzkmrkyrzk

      lol oh no exposure

  68. Anonymous

      Every single thing on the internet?

      The internet is used for many forms of information exchange. For instance, I email and change documents on the web for work. This has nothing to do with loneliness or sadness. It has to do with my need for income. Sometimes I have a good time while doing this work.

      You make a similarly simplistic overstatement about literature: “Sort of the same way every piece of fiction/poetry put out for the public ultimately is a call for attention from an ego-hungry sad and lonely person.”

      Good fiction and poetry are much bigger than calls for attention. If you want me to support that last statement with evidence or reason, then I pity you. If all writers wanted was attention, they’d go into some easier, more public business, such as… just about any other business. If you are still unconvinced, you will have to trust me. Good writers (and thinkers) can tell a work of art from a MySpace page.

      My argument is not reductive. It is a criticism based on very visible images and words. Your response has all the spirit of an argument without any of the logical bones. Because it is simplistic and misses the point of what I wrote, it is itself reductive. 

  69. amber kennedy

      i missed the boat on adrien brody when it appeared & hadnt heard of marie calloway but i love her now. her writing just makes sense to me and reflects the person i am/people ive been in sometimes painful ways. and i love the straightforward journalistic/observational style & as a writer myself i think in terms of contemporary lit she’s a couple of steps ahead of most writers.

      thanks for these marie

  70. amber kennedy

      vulnerability can be radical

  71. Anonymous

      these bits of text, image, screenshots etc have been edited, arranged, manipulated. you might think it’s very bad art but how can it not be art? there is intention through material and process to create an effect in the receiver. the effect is rhetorical and thus constructed. art.

  72. mimi

      bush league

  73. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Ok, good work, you pointed out one way the internet is used aside from creatively/socially/striving for attention-ly. Does that carry any bearing on your argument? Or is the simple satisfaction of pointing out that my argument was a clearly very big generalization? To go back to what you said:

      “But that is what these documents give us a look at: more sad and lonely people reaching out through the web.”

      What is creative work on the internet supposed to do? The whole point of displaying creative work on the internet is in hope that someone else sees and likes it, or else we’d just save it to our hard drive and never attach it to an url. We use it to reach out to others to help fill up that empty lonely feeling we all get sometimes. Because the Internet is public. Are people supposed to make a tumblr, say “I don’t care if people see it or not”, and we actually believe them? And for the people who actually make a blog but keep it completely to themselves, is that the next step we need to seek out in creative innovation online? I mean, what other goals can a person have when they are making creative work online aside from seeking out the attention of others? This is a sincere question.

      Good fiction and poetry are much bigger than calls for attention. If you want me to support that last statement with evidence or reason,
      then I pity you. If all writers wanted was attention, they’d go into
      some easier, more public business, such as… just about any other
      business. If you are still unconvinced, you will have to trust me.
      Good writers (and thinkers) can tell a work of art from a MySpace

      Hey, nice paragraph, let’s break each sentence down.

      “Good fiction and poetry are much bigger than calls for attention.”

      I always wonder about responses like this. Of course I know this. But
      as you admit in a very roundabout way, a “call for attention” is
      always part of what makes fiction writers and poets create fiction and
      poetry. How much it fits into the formula depends on the writer. Now,
      I see your counter-argument coming in advance, so let me respond to it
      here, save us some time:

      “Yeah, but you said that ATTENTION CALLING is fiction and poetry’s
      ULTIMATE GOAL, which suggests that ATTENTION CALLING is the most
      important part of poetry and fiction.”

      There is what drives a writer to write, and there is the reception the
      public gives it. I posit that Yes, attention calling is the number one
      drive in making a writer write, be it attention to his or her self or
      attention to his or her work. But once that piece is out of the
      writer’s hands and placed in the public sphere it becomes something
      much larger than the writer’s desire for attention.

      If you want me to support that last statement with evidence or reason,
      then I pity you.

      If you wrote this sentence and did not once think in the back of your
      mind, “Hey, this reads kind of snobbish,” then I pity you.

      If all writers wanted was attention, they’d go into some easier, more
      public business, such as… just about any other business.

      What? What? Dude. Wait. What?

      If all writers wanted was attention

      This is an incomplete statement. Writers want attention for something
      they worked very hard on and believe in and love to do, much like a
      parent to a baby. So let’s rephrase:

      If all writers wanted was attention for something they worked very
      hard on and believe in and love to do, much like a parent to a baby,
      they’d go into some easier, more public business, such as… just
      about any other business.

      No they wouldn’t, because they don’t love selling pillows as much as
      writing. Being a great writer is a lot sexier than being the number
      one pillow sales person in the nation, plus when you’re a great writer
      you change the way people think about live, whereas pillow salesmen
      just changes the way you sleep on pillows, I don’t know, I shouldn’t
      need to explain this.

      If you are still unconvinced, you will have to trust me.

      Yeah. Blind trust. More intellectuals need to pick up on this habit.

      Good writers (and thinkers) can tell a work of art from a MySpace page.

      Good writers (and thinkers) can find art in a MySpace page. They can
      find art anywhere, because that is their job. They find the beauty in
      something and use it in their work and it becomes art. Creating rules
      for art is fascistic. We got enough fucking rules to worry about in
      our regular day to day lives. Don’t tell us how to categorize art.

      My argument is not reductive. It is a criticism based on very visible
      images and words.

      And my argument isn’t based on image and words? What’s the difference
      between an image and a word? Isn’t a word something you see? And,
      conceding that images and words ARE different, to avoid parsing, isn’t
      my argument based on words? Your words? Words that are very visible?

      Seriously though: have you ever looked at a piece of art on the
      internet and thought: This person does not want some attention.

  74. Broah Cicero

      This would have been more potent if released closer to a book release.

  75. Anonymous

      Dear Kate Zambreno (“francesfarmerismydaughter”):

      I saw that you reposted my deleted comment on your blog:

      Frankly, I deleted my comment because I shouldn’t waste much time here, on a site that elevates such nonsense like this and archived cyber sex sessions. Here is the original post that “made you cry your fucking eyes out”:

      “Why do you always use Calloway to basically assert your own interests? It makes me think that you’re more or less interested in hearing yourself talk than offering any sort of coherent and clear analysis of Calloway’s work. Basically, what we get from you whenever Calloway is a topic is a bunch of name-dropping to show how much you know about, supposedly, this particularly genre/genres. It’s always, strangely, about you–not Calloway. Once, you even found a way to compare the reaction to her to some negative review of your book on Goodreads. I don’t doubt that these are serious artists, and that you know something about them, but you’ve yet to actually relate them (and other in the past) convincingly and clearly to Calloway’s work. It makes me wonder about your motives”

      Let me tell you…that’s some hardcore bullying right there. Typically, when people challenge me intellectually, I retreat to my bedroom and commence sobbing, hoping that my significant other will “come home and look at me with sympathetic eyes and give me an encouraging pep talk.” I mean, are you serious? If this post caused such a reaction, you might need to seek professional help, and trust me–that is not me diagnosing you with “hysteria” or playing Freud–that’s me saying that no one should have such an over-the-top reaction to the above post, one that involves uncontrollable crying and shaking. That’s like something out of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” only Gillman was being ironic, and you appear to be serious!

      There is nothing in my post that attempts to “discipline” you or “keep you in the kitchen” or “shame” you or any other such ridiculoussness. Can you respond to any provocative inquiry without resorting to gender politics? Like, just once? Or, better put: if you use gender as an analytical tool–which I’m all for–can you do so in a way that’s intellectually honest, rather than as a way to shutdown or, ironically, shame the inquirer? You are the one who defends Calloway’s work so ardently on the Internet by mentioning her alongside hordes of names and suggesting that us critics just can’t handle a sexual, provocative female artist. Asking you to draw clearer and more thorough connections between those artists and Calloway’s work–in a clear, non-tangential way–isn’t asking too much. 

  76. deadgod

      Must “value” and “meaning” only be referred to, and discarded, as ‘transcendental’?  Ethics and aesthetics and critique of political economy can all be talked about philosophically without resort to mystical explanations.

      “Sense” is not either perfect or absent, and error doesn’t mean ‘nonsense’.  “Error” depends on relation, on the relation of ‘true’ to ‘false’; to call something ‘erroneous’ is to say that it’s ‘not true’ – it is to refer knowingly to “truth”.  Error is also relative in another way:  its presence admits of degree.  It doesn’t need to be a reference to absolute truth.

      I think the Tractatus – and analytic philosophy generally – is fun because it’s so wrong-headed.

  77. Anonymous

      ^Excellent post, as with your other one. Good to see that are, in fact, adults here. 

  78. Anonymous

      Interesting that Kate Zambreno would “like” a comment that basically disparages female “domestic” fiction. Everyone knows what “Oprah shit” is code for. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Toni Morrison is “Oprah shit.”

  79. Edmond Caldwell

      I’d dismissed Calloway’s work the first time I encountered it, but it was Kate Zambreno’s eloquent defense of it that compelled me to go and take another look.  That’s got to be one of the premiere roles of effective criticism, no?  So so much for Zambreno’s interventions really just being “about herself.”

  80. Anonymous

      If the bar is merely to “have another look at it,” then I guess so. Others might want something a little deeper, especially when the critic starts dropping heavyweight names left and right. When you do that, you raise the bar for yourself.

  81. deadgod

      Chris excludes “quality” but draw attention to “effect” and excludes “art” so as to turn to “work”. 

      a)  “Effect” and “work” are contingent terms, in that neither refers to a stable, perspective-independent transcendentality.  (“Effect”, in particular, ineluctably entails perspective.)  Are they to be talked about “fruitfully” without “first mutually agree[ing] on a definition”?

      b)  Defining terms so as to underpin a fruitful discussion:  must agreement on these definitions be perfect for the discussion to be fruitful? or can that agreement itself be non-absolute and there still be a fruitful discussion?

      c)  Agreement on definitions of terms leads irresistibly to agreement on… what else? the application of those terms in judgements?  That “because” hews closely neither to philosophical discourse nor to everyday life.

      d)  How is the policing done by these exclusions emancipatory and not an aggrandizement of the excluder’s power to police?

      e)  Discussion of ‘is it good?’ is shut down because it “go[es] nowhere”.  Instead, the discussion is to be of the “significan[ce]” of what and how texts work.  What’s the difference between a text being “good” at what it does and doing what it does “significant[ly]”?

  82. JSA Lowe

      I can’t answer any of these questions (though I think Roxane is absolutely right and there’s an important difference between the alleged confessional mode of MC versus that of, say, Chris Kraus); but I *am* going to write a poem called “Would You Have Called Artaud’s Parents?”

  83. JSA Lowe

      Hello, it’s our old friend Derailing 101: “You’re Being Overemotional“! Not very original, SlutShamer. a) It’s Zambreno’s blog and she can react on it, and in her life, however she damn well pleases. b) When you start out using a word like “always,” your argument was never really merely innocently “asking you to draw clearer and more thorough connections”—it was aggressive right out of the gate. Consider making a concession or acknowledgement *before* you carve into your interlocutor; it’s more rhetorically effective no matter what the gender or social status of the person you are addressing.

  84. Anonymous

      Um, the “it’s-her-channel-she-can-do-whatever-she-wants” red herring/strawman won’t work on me. Nowhere in my post do I say that she doesn’t have the constitutional right to express her opinion on her blog, so what does that have to do with anything? Get back to me when I write a post advocating for the removal of the 1st Amendment. I can’t believe you, the rhetorical expert, would resort to something one would expect from a Faux News commentator. 


      “Always,” in the way I used it, was clearly conversational and colloquial. Give me a damn break (e.g. “Dad, why do you always sleep in on Sunday mornings” doesn’t literally mean that Dad always sleeps in on Sunday mornings).


      I did make an acknowledgement/concession in my post–read it again. 


      This is a blog, and we are discussing a provocative topic. What you read as “aggressive” is silly, since we’re all here to discuss a provocative topic. This means challenging people, and expecting to get challenged back. After all, some of you don’t mind feeling “uncomfortable,” right? Well, then, surely my post isn’t too “aggressive” for you if you can handle pictures of some young woman with jizz sprayed across her face.

  85. deadgod

      I think “Criticism” is well-done.

      I do wonder, of the other material, whether using abjection as a tool of ownership, perhaps as a way of somehow re-capturing of one’s story, isn’t easily folded back into perspectives (and narratives) of one’s subjection.

      –but I can’t tell, as clearly as others seem to, whether Marie Calloway is making herself ‘abject’.

      A woman taking a picture (or having it taken) of herself drooling cum and (she) publishing that picture:  is that masochism? mental illness? slavery?  Or do those predications say more about their predicators?

  86. Anonymous

      Oh my god. How do you know what part of that phrase I am “liking”? But for the record – I liked all of what Elizabeth Ellen wrote- and nothing I’ve written in fiction or criticism has ever been pro female “domestic” fiction of the corporate eat, pray love variety.

      Since I’m obvously not coherent enough to comment on HTMLG anymore, Slut Shamer, I’d like to invite you to read my critical memoir, Heroines, that’s coming out through Semiotext(e) in October, edited and published by Chris Kraus, who has also published many of the “heavyweight names” you had a problem with me namedropping. Fuck. I’m namedropping again. Sorry. It brings in ideas like pathologizing women writers, suggesting they seek therapy, which us hardline feminists sometimes call “wallpapering”. Oh, is that too much self-promotion for you? So sorry. I won’t be able to send you a review copy, however, because it doesn’t exactly seem like you’re a published writer or critic.

  87. Anonymous

      Since I’m obvously not coherent enough to comment on HTMLG anymore, Slut Shamer, I’d like to invite you to read my critical memoir, Heroines, that’s coming out through Semiotext(e) in October, edited and published by Chris Kraus, who has also published many of the “heavyweight names” you had a problem with me namedropping. Fuck. I’m namedropping again. Sorry. It brings in lots of these ideas that I’m obviously inadequately communicating here, ideas like pathologizing women writers, suggesting they seek therapy, which us hardline feminists sometimes call “wallpapering,” a reference to “Gillman”‘s story. Oh, is that too much self-promotion for you? So sorry. I won’t be able to send you a review copy, however, because it doesn’t *appear* that you’re a published critic. Unless you’d like to, you know, reveal your identity when you’ve obviously got a personal grudge against someone.

  88. Anonymous

      Why would I associate my real name with this site, given its regression and descent into pornography and juvenilia? You don’t know who I am. I’m sure plenty of published writers and critics post anonymously on the Internet for various personal reasons. Besides, I never asked for your offline qualifications, nor did I suggest that you needed to be a formal critic, so your request to send me a review copy of your critical memoir is bizarre.

      And why wouldn’t you be “pro-domestic” fiction? There is a lengthy history of progressive female domestic fiction in this country, one that persists today, despite  “corporate influences” that, btw, impact all genres to some degree. Unfortunately, such fiction is often disparaged as “quiet” and “safe” because the “quiet” lives of women in the domestic sphere are apparently not transgressive enough.

  89. Anonymous

      I wasn’t actually offering to send you a review copy.

  90. Anonymous

      I find two things funny:

      1) You don’t seem to understand my point that it’s possible to “play a gender card” and expose yourself at the same time as narrow-minded. Again, why would any feminist—given the undeniable historical link between domestic fiction and women’s right–NOT be “pro-domestic” fiction and play along with that such rhetoric?

      2) The person on your blog who a) can decipher the races of posters without actually seeing them and b) doesn’t get that my handle is ironic. 

  91. Michael Martin

      I ask myself: where have all the great menstrual hysterics of 19th century literature gone? 

      They’ve been hiding in blog-comment threads all along!

      Thank you, Lady Calloway.

  92. Anonymous

       oh my god stop baiting me i have work to do.

  93. JSA Lowe

      (Of course you were trying to be ironic. I don’t really think it works, though, and that failure seems revelatory.)

  94. Anonymous

      Okay – FUCK – I’m taking the bait. So: you calling me incoherent and disciplining me like I’m a bad
      student and you’re my professor is actually not
      shaming me, but shaming you? I’m just making sure I’m getting this correctly – I am rather slow. and so because I had an emotional reaction to being singled out when I was only positive in my original comments, to Roxane as well as about Blake’s post and Marie’s work- that that is
      somehow not being “intellectually honest”?

      And also: you
      expected this clear connection – this coherent logical exegesis on Calloway’s work – to
      have happened in a blog comment? This is also not being “intellectually
      honest”? I’m sorry to have failed you. To be such a failure. I will try
      harder in the rewrite – an essay is just that, isn’t it, an attempt.

      one thing I can’t figure out – do I always play the gender card (i.e.
      in a discussion of shaming and disciplining rhetoric, or in a discussion
      of Marie’s work) or am I anti-feminist (in dismissing the
      sentimentality of some corporate memoirs, communicated all through a
      simple “like”)? Or maybe because I’m such a dumb cunt, and sophomoric,
      and write and think in such bad faith, with such a narrow mind, guided by the self and emotions, I’m just a problematic mix of the two? I don’t know. I do have trouble understanding things.

      Obviously I need your  critical
      guidance through logical and clear and sound and sane scholarship that
      never veers into excess or faulty reasoning.

  95. JSA Lowe

      Wait, I know how this one goes! Now *I* say, performing revulsion, “I’m done with you, clueless troll, I’m not taking your bait” and then YOU say, with performative how-predictable eye-rolling, “ha, isn’t that just how people like you are, abandon the debate because you’re being bested,” and then *I* say, etc., etc., etc., repeat play. But honestly why bother refuting these one by one when you’d just feel compelled to rebut those in turn with evident relish, and so on—this dance has already been danced by better writers than we. Shall we then just consider our points made, to the best of our ability given this admittedly fairly crappy medium, and then argue it out on an AWP panel someday while chucking copies of bell hooks and Kristeva at one another’s heads? Happy Friday, everybody.

  96. Anonymous

      Um, wow…

  97. Anonymous

      Honestly, we probably agree on a lot more than you think. I don’t really see where I’m “trolling.” Happy Friday:)

  98. Anonymous

      Nobody is shaming her for being a slut. She’s not really a slut, she’s a vapid moron who took her clothes off and apparently some people find that “refreshing”. Really? You’ve seen the internet, rite?

  99. Nick Mamatas

      Ironic sexism on the Internet? I must screencap this brave new endeavor for posterity.

  100. Guest

      You don’t get the context? It’s really not that difficult…deleting handle anyway, so you won’t have to think too hard about it for much longer. 

  101. Nick Mamatas

      Did you ask KZ to “draw clearer and more thorough connections” or did you just whine that she wasn’t doing so and cast aspersions on her motivations?

      Ah, and also her mental health now (which insisting that you’re not). I suppose here’s another clearer and more through connection—basically both MC and KZ had their psychological status questioned here on HTMLGiant, which is, of course, chockful of trained psychologists as of, uh, yesterday.

  102. Nick Mamatas

       >Where do you draw the line between gendered notions of “overly
      >emotional”–which I understand as a historical reality–and simply
      asking someone >to be more critical?

      I’d draw it a little to the north of this obvious nonsense:

      >>If this post caused such a reaction, you might need to seek professional
      help, >>and trust me–that is not me diagnosing you with “hysteria” or
      playing Freud– >>that’s me saying that no one should have such an
      over-the-top reaction to the >>above post, one that involves
      uncontrollable crying and shaking. That’s like >>something out of “The
      Yellow Wallpaper,” only Gillman was being ironic, and you >>appear to be

  103. Anonymous

       I’m passionately interested in the notion of the confessional, and public/private, and boundaries – that doesn’t mean I’m passionately interested in Calloway’s work, more than a LOT of people are interested in it. This site posts a post basically a day about it. No, you’re singling me out for other reasons.

      I really don’t go through life looking to be offended and oppressed, believe it or not, but that’s a supremely jerky thing to say.

  104. Edmond Caldwell

      By “take another look” I meant reconsider in the context in which Zambreno’s critical remarks reframed Calloway’s work for me — which is obviously what the phrase meant to begin with to anybody but a desperate and small-minded scorer of debating points. 

  105. Nick Mamatas

      Oh, I got it. I just thought it was stupid. As you backed down, clearly you finally realized that it was stupid as well.

  106. Anonymous

      I don’t see what’s wrong with those comments….I thought they were funny and purposely ironic…of course, you might not get them if you don’t know much about Gillman. Touche.

  107. Anonymous

      Fair enough. I shouldn’t have interpreted that phrase so literally–you’re right. 

  108. Anonymous

      No, I’m “singling you out” because–as I make it clear at the top of my paragraph, which contextualizes the rest of the paragraph–you are “extremely interested in defending her work.” You are. There’s nothing wrong with this, either, but I don’t see why it’s some big deal to ask you to do more with what you throw out there…especially when you’re placing her in conversation with established and mature artists. You are the only one I see doing this. The only other person I can think of who consistently discusses her this way is Christopher Higgs, and I go after him too (he’s just too cowardly to respond to people unless they come at him all tepid and servile–he’s a man, btw).

      But it’s interesting that you mention how others–like this site–constantly bring her up. Do you find it odd that a site run by men who stare at the Internet all day are so “interested” in her? Do you trust that they see her as some contemporary Plath or Sexton? I don’t. Until someone convinces me otherwise, she’s basically–as someone said on Twitter yesterday–“the Kat Stacks of the online lit world.” Is Kat Stacks a serious “confessional” artist? I’m just having a hard time seeing how “the confessional” applies here, because–really–in today’s saturated climate, you could apply the “notion of the confessional” to anyone who gets online and makes a fool out of himself or herself. How’s this different than Jordan Castro attempting to castrate himself? I don’t see anything in those documents that does anything transgressive. Copying and pasting negative comments about your work–titled, “Criticism”–onto some photos? Really? That just screams vapid narcissism to me.

  109. J Lorene Sun

      I like what Calloway is doing with form but I can’t find
      much appreciation for her art. She doesn’t do anything but
      expose. I’m looking for redemption in art. I don’t want to feel responsible for
      her…I want her to save herself. That would make her sincerity new, imo.

  110. Anonymous

      Fair enough-I respect y

  111. Anonymous

      This broke a 100 comments and Ray Bradbury’s death is around 4 (as of the moment). 

  112. Scott

      so these are pretty intense, right guys?

  113. Anonymous

      Higgs hasn’t “elevated” anything, unless passive-aggressiveness counts as elevated discourse. I don’t do passive-aggressive. He dismisses people frequently, hostile or non-hostile. And talk about condescending. At least you’re willing to get your hands dirty and fight–I can respect that.

      My tone, in general, is admittedly “hostile” because I’m tired of people championing experimental or avant garde art–however you want to define those categories–by insulting other mediums and creating divisive binaries that are ahistorical and anti-intellectual. Several well-known commenters can’t discuss a work of “experimental’ art or literature without somehow slamming its supposed opposite and implying that those of us who critique, say, Calloway’s “experimental” work are just too stupid to get it and firmly entrenched in our own camps. I’m open to all modes and aesthetics, but obviously, there’s no place here for aesthetic range and diversity here, so you’re right, having this conversation is pointless…me being here is pointless. Later!

  114. reynard


  115. Anonymous

      I think it’s really important and valuable to critique work, Marie’s and otherwise. I think it’s about HOW her work was being dismissed, and what rhetoric was being used to invalidate any claim she seemingly had to write at all. That is when I first waded into the muck, because of the comment thread of the first (maybe?) HTMLG post about it. But I think it’s valuable and important to critique work, and in doing so, not to insult someone else’s position and to assume that we’re all going into this with some knowledge of, say, the history of the avant-garde, but also different tastes. I think there’s a danger in being too superlative, yes, about material that might not warrant it.I’m also however interested in supporting other writers and artists, especially young women writers who are doing risky work. But I do think sometimes that support can undermine critical discourse. I don’t think that being critical is being negative. I would like to more critically engage with Marie’s work – of which I don’t personally feel I’ve been a wholesale cheerleader for – but for me the immediacy of a blog or a comment thread is not the time to do it – I can only sketch out thoughts – to try to more fully form later.

  116. Anonymous

      Okay, fair enough, good post, and sorry for my hostile tone. I swear I’m not like this in real life…I just don’t fit in here at all and have no idea why I continue to allow this place to suck me in, when I know I’m going to be on the defensive and combative. That said, my initial post wasn’t written to “shut you up” at all, or “put you in your place.” That wasn’t my intention. Anyway, I’m done with this topic and site. Now, let’s just drop it (this convo) and enjoy the weekend.

  117. marshall mallicoat


  118. marshall mallicoat

      mike… lol…

  119. Zora
  120. j orloski

       chances are most people figured he was already dead and didn’t want to be out of the know

  121. Anonymous

      But there is a higher bar. Would the Collagist publish Marie’s work? Would you expect to open up page 34 of AGNI and find Marie’s tits next to a photocopied facebook entry? Do you really want Marie’s work to clutter up the literary journals we all love to read? Or would we all prefer to keep her work as a clickable link we like to peruse after midnight when the house is quiet, because literary porn movements are kinda cool for the average literary-type, especially after a Heineken and a pack of smokes? I love boobs, too, man. But, this is low quality art at best.

  122. Richard Grayson

      Old people like myself much prefer insincerity. And no fucking quotation marks, which didn’t exist back in the day.

  123. Christopher Higgs

      Jagabond, while I appreciate your comment, especially because I think it raises important questions, I’m afraid I disagree with you on all counts. 

      Specifically, I feel uncomfortable with your repeated use of the first person plural.  There is no such thing as “we” — as this very comment stream proves.  “We all” don’t love to read literary journals.  In fact, “we all” don’t love to read the same things period.  You may confer some sort of “higher bar” on The Collagist and AGNI, but that is your own personal construction.  And as to whether or not one would desire to find Calloway’s work “cluttering up” those journals, I suppose the inclusion of her work may make some readers quit reading and other readers begin reading, and that’s my point.   

      With regard to your “literary porn” comment.  I think what you and many others are missing is exactly the demarcation Kant explains in his Critique of Judgement between the gratifying object and the aesthetic object.  To view Calloway’s work as merely “boobs” is to perceive only the gratifying object.  It is the same as seeing Duchamp’s urinal as merely a urinal, or Warhol’s brillo box as merely a brillo box.

      That said, there is another (different) argument to be made for the pleasure of “low quality art.”  Remember, whomever confers the designation of quality is wielding power.  What kind of epistemological system resides behind that power, and what other systems does it preclude or negate?  Those are the pertinent questions. 

      I haven’t had my morning coffee yet, but I wanted to reply real quick because while I disagree with you, Jagabond, I think you raise a very important issue about gender dynamics.  Male writers, myself included, who champion Calloway’s work must contend with the accusation of being guided by the appeal of her sexual performance.  As I said to Roxane in a previous comment, I intend to think more about this and write something more well-informed at a later date.  But for now, I’d simply direct those accusations back to Kant’s third critique.  (And for what it’s worth, in the back of my groggy mind I keep thinking about Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography and Jenny Seville’s paintings in terms of the sexual aspect of Calloway’s work, and Gertrude Stein’s Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Andy Warhol’s Popism in terms of the literary gossip aspect of Calloway’s work.)  

  124. Richard Grayson

      You may not need to open your mind, which seems fine as is. Think of your mind as a screen door.  If you keep it closed, fewer insects will fly in and you will still be cool.

  125. Richard Grayson

      One of the dominant values of twenty-first century America is an
      “open mind.”  Nothing is so stigmatized as a closed mind.  To have an
      open mind (as the term is used in popular discourse), however, does not
      mean simply being open to new truths as discovered by science or dug up
      by archaeologists or determined by philosophers or described by poets,
      playwrights, and pundits.  Not at all.  In contemporary America – and
      most of the Western world – to have an open mind means to hold all truth
      claims only tentatively and provisionally and to examine and even
      question every value and every virtue and every reputed “fact” and never
      call anything “the truth.”

      Accordingly, if one has a fixed opinion on virtue, values, lifestyle,
      or God, he is said to have a “closed mind.”  It doesn’t matter if that
      opinion came after years of searching and study and investigation.  It
      doesn’t matter if that opinion can be supported from experience or
      anecdote or historical examples.  It especially doesn’t matter if that
      opinion was reached after consulting “authorities” on the subject. 

      Authorities are confining and restricting and stand in the way of the
      search for “my truth.”  No authority is more important than one’s own
      mind and judgment at the moment of decision, according to this view.

      Another term for the despicable condition called a closed mind is
      “prejudice.”  We are told by the advocates of unbridled intellectual and
      moral freedom that anyone with a fixed opinion on a matter is
      “prejudiced.”  The implication is that his views are not thought-out,
      coherent, and consistent.  Rather, he has not considered all the facts,
      has allowed personal whim to determine his values, and is guilty of a
      crime against nature and humanity when he claims to have ruled out
      competing ideas and values and to have settled on a set of ideas and
      values as “truth.”  

      The horror of such “prejudice” is that it implies that those with
      contrary views are “wrong.”  In a totally democratized system of values,
      anyone who claims to have found “the truth” must be considered a threat
      and a fascist or an aristocratic elitist.  Such a person is to be
      anathematized and shunned and prevented from having any access to the
      minds of our children and college students.  Students must be given
      carte blanche to search for their own truth.  They are not expected
      merely to learn the truths of previous generations or to parrot the
      maxims and philosophies that were foundational to the creation of even
      their own civilization. 

      “Question everything” is the motto of the advocates of an open mind.

      Theodore Dalrymple addresses these issues in his recent book, IN
      PRAISE OF PREJUDICE.  The subtitle states the central thesis:  “The
      Necessity of Preconceived Ideas.”  Dalrymple states the obvious truth
      that, in the real world, we cannot moment by moment decide which parts
      of the storehouse of received values or concepts we will accept without
      further investigation.  Dalrymple argues that democratic families in
      which children from the earliest ages are given choices about their
      behavior rather than directions for their behavior, are producing
      misguided children who become misguided and dysfunctional adults.  

      Our post-Christian culture to the contrary notwithstanding, the Bible
      teaches – and history confirms – that life works right only when we
      accept certain preconceived ideas and prejudices.  To believe that
      humans are more valuable than cats is a good thing – unprovable but
      true.  To believe that marriage is important and that families need to
      eat together and that lying and stealing are bad – these are good
      prejudices.  To be closed minded in the conviction that unwed teenage
      girls having children is not healthy is a prejudice that, if it became
      popular again, would spare many girls and their children and our society
      a great deal of misery.

      An open mind is like an open mouth – you must close it if you are to
      process what you put in.  That is not to say that, once we have closed
      our minds on a conviction that becomes a “prejudice” that we never
      examine it again.   We continue to tweak and finesse our convictions for
      the rest of our lives.  But we don’t face moral and spiritual questions
      each day with blank minds.  Our own experiences, the views of trusted
      authorities, the accumulated wisdom of history – especially, our own
      culture’s history, and, for a Christian, the clear teaching of the
      Bible, all provide us with sufficient information for the formation of
      prejudices that are essential for the evaluation of moral options.

      Paul prayed for the Philippians that “your love will keep on growing
      in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine
      what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ.”
      (Phil 1:9-10 HCSB)  The Greek word translated “discernment” is
      “aisthesis” and means “critical judgment.”  Paul says that this
      Spirit-directed sense of critical judgment will help the Philippians to
      determine “what really matters and be pure and blameless.”  In other
      words, essential to spiritual growth and moral and spiritual
      decision-making is the faculty of thinking critically about moral and
      spiritual options.  The mature Christian will be armed with
      Spirit-informed “prejudices” that encourage him to make the best choices
      at the right time so that he can grow in Christ and so that the church
      can experience blessing and unity.

      It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to allow
      the believer to “close his mind” around the truth, to know the
      difference between right and wrong and even to distinguish good, better,
      and best, and to avoid the agony and the tragedy of a moment-by-moment
      moral quandary that exists when self is king, when the mind is neither
      preconditioned nor prejudiced, and when we live as if each new day and
      each new moral option were unprecedented and unanticipated.

  126. Boris

      This is pretty awful and boring. It’s like a collage of ego, stupidity and cum. I just can’t care.

      But maybe she’ll cut and paste my comment and put it her next piece “Awful and Boring by Marie Calloway.”

  127. mimi

      A+ is in the eye of the beholder

  128. Anonymous

      Agreed, bad construction on my part. But I don’t see this as a gender issue. It’s more of a Howard Stern issue. The journalism of Howard Stern is a genre. Marie Calloway’s work is genre work. I just think it is important to acknowledge the difference between Amy Hempel and Marie Calloway. Hempel is a great writer. Calloway is… what? I’ll let you guys decide what she is, but I’m just noting my objection to you championing the literature of someone who doesn’t respect literature.  

  129. Laura Marie Marciano

      I am a writer, and a professor of writing. I have had cybersex. It has mattered. 
      I have done it in odd places–I have felt weird about it, shameful– i have also
      felt enjoyment. I think that Marie is presenting something that people do, lots
      of people, not just who you would expect to. I think that is the true power of this work.
      You can say it is the “death of literature”–you can compare it to whoeverthefuck you want–
      talk about how you know something about art–or she doesn’t know something about art—-that’s fine.
      That is your right. However, this work came from a real place, a real moment, whether it was intended
      for publication or not. It was a moment—in time–recorded. And that matters. And it moves people to talk about it—and that is art. Thank you, Marie, for your honesty. 

  130. deadgod

      Well, Chris’s “extreme interest” in Marie Calloway’s tumblrs (?) – I think, clearly not expressed as prurient – doesn’t seem to me exactly an interest in disrespecting literature.

      Rather, it evinces an interest in transgression–in the question, for example, of what happens when “literature” is respected and what when not.

      –that is, in some transgressions:  “significant” transgressions… authorized transgressions.

      Whoever confers the designation of ‘significant transgression’ is wielding power, whoever confers the designation of ‘insignificant transgression’ is wielding power, and whoever establishes (however tentatively) that distinction gets power from the authority substantiating that double conference.

      That’s what’s happening with “Marie Calloway” right now:  she’s someone whose work one supports or rejects, by which one discloses the authority that authorizes one’s perspective.

      One’s perspective takes place in a competition – maybe a carnival; some kind of kaleidoscopy – of authorities.

      That’s the significance of Chris’s “it’s captivating and provocative”–an accumulation and expression of power.  What “power”? what does Chris (or anybody) gain or seek to gain by saying this about Marie Calloway’s work?

  131. Pat

      i don’t know if there is a lot of value in being the 130th commenter, but i just wanted to add that i found these pieces paradoxically both extremely compelling and extremely difficult to read. this is a feature of some of my favorite works of art, including the second part of notes from underground and kafka’s best stories, which i suppose is a good sign.  maybe it is just my black turtleneck talking, but i think there is inherent value in forcing readers to confront the type of emptiness and despair i felt when reading these pieces, an effect which is not easy to achieve and, i think, usually evidence that the work in question hits upon some vulnerable aspect of the reader’s psyche, something she would rather not explore. marie calloway’s willingness to candidly explore some of the more sordid
      aspects of sex in the 21st century makes her a braver writer than i.

  132. Anonymous

      So, it’s a power grab? It’s certainly a possibility. But, personally I would like to keep the discussion at the sentence level. Calloway proposes to be an artist. That’s fine, but her paint brush is the written word. A great writer can tell a story in one sentence. When you read Jeremy Lin you find a plethora of sentences but there is not one story among them. Jeremy Lin is a series of events told in a monotone style and the only person affected is the writer herself. You have a few choices when you set out to write something you want read by others. Do you want to produce a dialog between writer and reader, or do you just not give a fuck about the reader because you want to be completely self-absorbed in whatever ethos you find yourself mired in? I don’t think she has advanced her art far enough to even consider such questions, simply because I don’t believe she’s interested in literature at all. There is a romanticism about calling yourself an artist. The point of her work as an artist seems to be a means of seducing herself. Unfortunately, she leaves me out in the process. I cannot become engaged with her catharsis because she doesn’t know how to reach an audience. She can only reach herself. While that makes for good train-wreck television, it isn’t working in her literature. 

  133. HTMLFAIL « The Outsider

      […] ago, Blake Butler (a long-time HTMLGIANT editor) posted links to Calloway’s latest work on HTMLGIANT. With titles such as “Cybersex” and “Men” and executed in a collage style, […]

  134. Steven Pine

      I got a bit of blood in my penis, not much, but enough to think my cock might be blushing.

      All in all I read the links, which is saying something for this site – I did begin to gloss over, but the formatting is such as to become unreadable – yet the major problem has been already stated here: she doesn’t really write, she constructs from the materials of others, like a reporter(of goal of not small merit for a writer); but Marie seems to have followed Tao Lin down a similar hole, only it’s a vag instead of an ass or urethra, trying so desperately hard to make ‘art’ that she’s lost anyway of identifying it. 

      But if I wanted to hurt her I’d say worse things, it’s enough already to be a bit bemused and then move on. Try again Marie, maybe once you suffer enough and try to commit suicide a couple times you’ll pull yourself out of that hole.

  135. politics and poetry: both are kinda dirty « yellow house cafe

      […] M.C. Google Docs – Butler/HTMLGIANT (links to her docs…the comments are interesting to read) […]

  136. deadgod

      Is that possible, though? I feel like much of her writing and persona is so influenced by, aware of, and entrenched within the societally mandated experience of femininity/female youth that this would be essentially impossible.  And we needn’t discuss the extent to which the “male confessional” is often touted as “literature” and “autobiography” and “art” whereas the female version is so often framed as sloppy, overemotional journalling. What does this theoretical “male Marie Calloway” write about, and what is it we find transgressive or interesting or despicable or problematic (however you see her) about his writing? 


      “Do you really want Marie’s work to clutter up the literary journals we all love to read?”

      Perhaps…. not everyone holds literary journals, AGNI, and the Collagist in the same esteem that you do? It seems foolish to assume that someone who is young and primarily writing on the internet aspires largely to be a part of the traditional, competitive, and academic scene of “literary journals.”  And perhaps some of us can find value — or at least something terribly fascinating — in “clutter.”  I went to fancy college and all too, but I couldn’t give a flying fuck about what’s being published in literary journals and don’t think all writing or art needs to be held to those rigid standards.,

  139. mimi

      i agree that “there is inherent value in forcing readers to confront the type of emptiness and despair [i] felt when reading these pieces, an effect which is not easy to achieve” and i believe that some (let’s say ‘half’) of the credit is due her ‘cohorts’ (jimmy chen, ‘commenters’, et al)  

      it all seems as much ‘group performance’ as anything, not really ‘creative writing’, too much is appropriated by calloway

  140. Pat

      i agree. these pieces aren’t really writing, per se. they are collaborative pieces; documents of internet performance art, or something. 

  141. Roxane

      I think it could be possible, though it would certainly have different repercussions and would probably not receive the same kinds of reaction. I can’t quite imagine what it would look like but I know I’d love to see it.

  142. Anonymous

      Sure, I understand. I’m just pointing out that there is a higher bar, and the higher bar usually has more rigid standards, which is exactly why it’s considered the higher bar…


      Right, and I’m just suggesting that it’s worth considering why that bar and those standards are considered higher, or even the ways in which that bar can be construed as confining or even problematic…

  144. Anonymous

      Nothing against Marie, but I’d just rather read a Richard Ford novel than this stuff.