[Originally published almost a year ago.]
SOME TIME AGO I had a breakthrough: I discovered I could hate my food. I was at a bar and ordered a burger I knew was a good one. I’d ordered it before and had every reason to look forward to it. I was in a shitty mood tho, so when it arrived, I made it the object of my disdain and aggression. I h(ated) the fucker GONE, right out of existence.
You always hear people say things like, “I demolished that pizza,” or, “I murdered that salmon mousse,” but how often does the appropriate emotion coincide with the act of eating?
Boldly I say, Fuck Sustenance.
Nutritional, cultural, social, or otherwise.
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
1. Criticize, condemn, complain.
2. Don’t give any appreciation. (You are ‘Just being honest.’)
3. Arouse in the other person the desire to retweet you and ‘like’ your personal page on the Facebook.
Six Ways to Make People Like You
3. Ask ‘What was your name again?’ even if you remember.
4. Be a good speaker. Encourage others to talk about you.
5. Talk in terms of your interest, always.
6. Make the other person feel unimportant –do not stop until they feel so.
Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
2. Show utter disrespect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “I was wrong.”
3. If you’re wrong, deny it consistently and fervently.
4. Begin in a daunting way.
5. Your questions are always rhetorical and not to be answered.
6. Completely monopolize the ‘conversation.’ You are a go-getter. You know what you want.
7. Let the other person–as well as everyone else–know every idea is yours.
8. Disregard the other person’s point of view.
9. Be dismissive of the other person’s ‘ideas’ and desires.
10. (Define ‘nobler.’)
11. Make a PowerPoint with moving images and as many Clip Fart images that may be used.
12. Make everything a challenge. You are a perfectionist.
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
1-8. Lol, yeah, okay. Miss you Steve.
9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggested, but let them know it could have been better.
I’ve head-faked on this essay for several months, hesitant that writing such a piece will only result in a comment-lashing from peeps telling me what I failed to include and highlighting the void of female and minority writers. Also, who cares what I have to think and why fill this space with this? But I can’t stop thinking about these books and their importance on me not only as a writer, but a human being functioning in the day-to-day. I think it’s interesting/important/worthy to create this list of twenty bigs. I’m putting it out there for the all love and all the shit. Simply put, the following texts have all altered how I view the world and radically shifted some mysterious inner workings. We all have this list of twenty bigs inside us, we’re all walking around as a compilation of our most beloved books – it makes us.
‘Hello Nature: How to Draw, Paint and Find Your Way’ by William Wegman
Artipelag, Värmdö, Sweden 2013
In Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer’s meticulously investigates the circumstances of modern agricultural industries. Foer’s methodology accounts for the cultural paragons that shape human behavior, linking personal memories to certain gastronomical experiences. The writer proceeds by contemplating the ethical limitations that determine our consumption of animals, introducing a provocative question to illustrate the subjectivity of what we are capable of viewing as food: why don’t we eat dogs?
To the popular conscience, William Wegman’s art encapsulates the compelling etiology of the gut-reaction the canine question propels. Wegman’s mass recognizability resulted from his vibrant photographs of dogs. The artistic depiction of the generous companionship dogs offer to their owners is a sentiment that vastly appeals to mass audiences as the foremost point of reference. Wegman’s photography of his pets functions as a catalyst for most people to draw from their personal experiences to meaningfully engage with the oeuvre. READ MORE >
The Penis List
by Jim Behrle
Jim Behrle has a half inch penis
The Kill List Kid has a three inch penis
Vanessa Place has a six inch penis
Billy Collins has a four inch penis
The Poetry Foundation has a $100 million penis
But Poetry Magazine has a two inch penis
Your iphone is a mile long penis that’s
Always secretly fucking you
When you look at your iphone think “penis”
Google is a huge penis sticking out of
And where ever you go you bump into them all
Poetry is a huge warm wonderful vagina
But everyone treats it like a narrow
Tight, unbreakable asshole that only
One penis at a time can fit in so
You’ve got to out-penis everyone else
Manhattan and Brooklyn take an inch off
America’s penis is old and gross
But we’re working on it now
The internet takes a half
Inch off your penis, snip, snip
Let’s just cut off all penises
Or yank them all out by the root
What will survive is love
And penises usually fuck that up, too
Kafka once wrote “We are incapable of loving, only fear excites us.” Behrle quotes this all the time, it is the only thing he’s ever read from Kafka. And he wants to sound smart. This poem began as a long list of poets and their perceived penis lengths but once he got to the line about Billy Collins penis he lost his stomach and turned it into something else. Vanessa Place’s penis on the other hand kills poetry every night, aw yeah. Behrle. . .
note: I’ve started this feature up as a kind of homage and alternative (a companion series, if you will) to the incredible work Alex Dimitrov and the rest of the team at the The Academy of American Poets are doing. I mean it’s astonishing how they are able to get masterpieces of such stature out to the masses on an almost daily basis. But, some poems, though formidable in their own right, aren’t quite right for that pantheon. And, so I’m planning on bridging the gap. A kind of complementary series. Enjoy!
November 8th, 2013 / 9:24 am
Recently a friend accused me of not listening to any music that is not rap. Of course that is totally untrue, but in a social context it is somewhat correct: publicly the music I am most likely to enjoy is rap. Privately, I have always listened to different music as well, especially while working/ writing.
When I was in college I used to do most of my work in a very claustrophobic, constrained space to avoid all possible distractions. It was a lab that was equipped with a large Mac desktop and a bunch of equipment that I never used, because the lab was actually intended for the “New Media/ Critical Theory Studies” kids and during that time I was learning different stuff I am no longer using today. It was around that time I first became obsessed with Aphex Twin’s music, definitely starting with ’Selected Ambient Works 85-92.’ I loved the combination of the productive/ manic energy of the beats and the simultaneous soothing effect of the majority of the melodies in the album. I remember listening to “Ageispolis” after–and during– sleepless nights of meticulous studying, sometimes watching the very ravey video as a study-break.
I have been thinking and wanting to write on Aphex Twin for a long time, but my wish proves to be a somewhat impossible task. Richard James–also known under his pseudonyms: AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Caustic Window, Smojphace, GAK, Martin Tressider, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Q-Chastic, Tahnaiya Russell, The Diceman, The Tuss, and Soit-P.P–is someone who definitely chooses to be an enigmatic figure. James has spent a great deal of his career creating an unflattering image of himself intentionally. The point behind his dedication to making the world see him as an unattractive individual remains unclear to me, but that is part of his enigma.
Initially, I was planning on doing a mini-series of sorts on “The Way Every Richard James Album Makes Me Feel.” Ultimately, I am deciding against proceeding with that idea because it might be relentlessly self-absorbed and perhaps even too-revealing for no-reason. Instead, I present you with my deepest wish of someday writing the absolute Aphex Twin profile after spending a month with him, observing his daily life, work habits and nightlife activities.
This 7-minute MTV interview is maybe the closest the artist wants us to get in understanding Richard James.The interviewer asks him what he means when he says that he builds his own instruments, and he states that he uses software, computers and the net to create. Often, he uses the help of others to perfect his sound. Questions about the way he releases his music continue, and his laidback attitude makes me admire him even more. It is particularly interesting to me to see the vibe between him and his enthusiastic interviewer. The interviewer clearly recognizes his genius and tries, at points perhaps too hard, to instigate a more intricate interview. Richard James seems humble, composed in a careless manner, soft-spoken and completely unaware of how brilliant he is.
Happy Halloween, if you care!
I am going to a party for a magazine tonight. I am very excited, I think. When I described what my expectations for the party are to a friend, I simply said: “It will be very Internet.” So, I am not too sure what magazine parties are like. Do websites throw them? (When is the annual HTMLG party, Blake?)
You know who else is really into the internets right now? The Pynchon. Proof: Bleeding Edge. (Yawn, last month’s news, you know and I am sorry!!) But here, two good things on last month’s news:
Christian Lorentzen’s “In the Cybersweatshop”-Featuring delicious intro, and the incredible revelation my favorite gross/amazing dive-bar is joked about in the book (the in/famous Welcome to the Johnsons of $2 PBRs).
Joshua Cohen’s “First Family, Second Life”-the Lorentzen piece addresses the prominent role of paranoia to extreme effects in the novel. In a similar tone, Cohen recognizes the pivotal role of chance as a narrative mechanism in the book: it seems like the paranoia almost yields meaning, when chance is investigated.
You know what is NOT awful, besides “The X-files?” The soap-operaish tv-show Scandal. I think I even figured out why I like it: the key romance is “like emotional abuse.” Though my personal favorite is the comedic genius of Cyrus, which is SOO internet. It just feels amazing to watch Kerry Washington be big culturally after being a sidekick to Julia Stiles in a 90s dance movie about the struggles of whiteness. (Julia Stiles is that girl from the vodka ads, btw.)
The beauty of today, some claim, is that we are consuming a lot of trash critically or knowingly. I certainly agree, to an extent, but I certainly do not fiscally support books that are catering to that very gross internety quality. (“It shouldn’t be about the book but the money you can make from the book,” said Ruby-Strauss’s boss, Jennifer Bergstrom.)
Recently, I was talking to my friend who is going to the magazine party with me about non-internet greatness. So let us now praise famous men who are worth it, and talk about the possibility of getting a tattoo in honor of James Agee, which we actually did-sorry mom! Or let’s just embrace the art of fucking up, and think about how to do it beautifully.
Read this epistolographic piece if you might approve of my Agee tattoo. It is very good.
The interesting thing about the internet is the notion of “information” we have broadly reached. Is our understanding of “history” too skewed and subjective? Whether it (the “information”/”history”) matters (or not) and why it matters (paranoia? chance?) seems to be the key theme of all these reads, but they are only here *if* you want them.
The way people handle information defines them. Look at Paul de Man, reconsider him. Things are culturally slippery, sure, but will you buy Jenna Jameson’s new book, which she didn’t even write?
(It’s very common in horses.)
I was going to write Resistance / Resistance, but then I thought, No, every refusal has a fuse in it. A charge in the middle of every one of its bodies.
(In a room with a Berryman forehead overlooking it)
A figure is questioned. This is the third time the figure has exhibited a writing like this, that goes on like this, that exhausts many of the other figures in the room with a Berryman forehead overlooking it. Is it sustainable? Is it excessive?
One of the other figures is questioned. What was it like, reading the writing the figure has exhibited? It was an experience, the other figure replies.
A figure is questioned. How many more experiences will they have to go through? Is it productive?
The figure replies. The figure wants to figure a female trickster, to re-figure a deflated Baubo (the original dry nurse we know from Romeo & Juliet, night demon, goddess, servant, bearded lady) for the crowded that has gathered.
This is the figure of Baubo.
(A scene from Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters), a film by Jean Rouch)
My left eye is fucked. It isn’t the first time. I’ve mentioned its swollen episodes everywhere: in poems, on the phone.
Because I think it’s hysterical. Because I really can’t get over it.
LOLOLOLOL. A POET. WITH A SENSITIVE. EYEBALL. FUCK ALL THAT.
Lately, there are tiny, irritated dots that have been piling up in the corner. My roommate gives me clay and DMSO, which is HORSE LINIMENT. She dabs it on for me. The eye’s anger ebbs and flows.
I like that my own body keeps haunting me from this particular room, always from this left eye, trying to get me to deal with or acknowledge some part / stress deposit of myself that I’ve neglected / buried. Your own body interrupts you. It unexpectedly cuts you off. I feel more than slightly disembodied when I look at it in the mirror, when I touch it. Ghosts are red.
MERCEDES S SERIES COUPE 2012
I SEE THIS SHIT ON BUSHWICK AVE; NOTICE THE V12(?) ENGINE DECAL AND HOW FUCKING SMOOTH IT HOVERS AT THE CURB BELOW THE OLD GREYSTONES NEAR MYRTLE. IS IT A DRUG THING OR JUST A BAVARIAN STEEL LOVER, WHO WENT ALL IN? WHO KNOWS? WHO CARES? – IT’S A HEAVY PUSHED-OUT RIDE. YOU IMAGINE THE STREETLIGHTS BOUNCING OFF THE BUBBLE GLASS EVEN WHEN IT’S STANDING STILL.
CHRYSLER 300 2006-2014 (Above)
EVERY DAMN MODEL YEAR THIS ONE GETS MORE LEGIT. PEOPLE LOVE THIS CAR FOR IT’S BULK, I GUESS. THE WHOLE THING LOOKS HEAVY, SERIOUS, AND A LITTLE BIT BAT MOBILE. YOU SEE EM WITH THE MATTE BLACK RIMS. YOU SEE EM WITH THE AFTERMARKET BENTLY GRILL. THEY ROLL REAL SLOW AND PARK REAL NICE. JOHN VARVATOS EDITION WHO? I GUESS PEOPLE ROLL THROUGH IN THE DODGE VERSION OF THIS, THE CHARGER, BUT IT’S NOT REALLY MY PREFERENCE AND SEEMS WAY WAY LESS EMPIRE STATE OF MIND.
I like Christopher Wool’s artwork. Wool became famous for his paintings of strong, provocative phrases in black letters, primarily ALL CAPS. Wool’s works are of an abstract nature, sometimes intricate in presenting an idea, other times arcanely elusive. In October’s Vogue Dodie Kazanjian scored a rare interview with the media-reclusive artist. The format and presentation of the arguments the writer provides to the text more closely resembles that of an essay, but many intriguing themes come up.
By introducing Willem de Kooning’s approach to artistic work–who worked “out of doubt”–as a starting point, the writer reveals the artistic intentions of Wool to be consistent in their omnipresent questioning and doubting. They are works defined by what Kazanjian calls a “perennial ambiguity.” This ambiguity may also be viewed as the proclamation of the honest confusion of an artist. Thus, the refusal of adopting an authoritative style should not be considered the result of limited intellectual rigor, but rather should be respected for its humility.
Discussing his artistic aspirations and how he managed to become a significant part of the modern art world, Wool asserts that his path was somewhat coincidental. “It just kind of happened,” he states. A key to his success was possibly that his early years in New York coincided with a legendary era of NY nightlife and culture: CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. The intersection of nightlife and the art-reality that was being created was evident in the 1980s, and shaped the public’s perception of artists’ role.
Upon revisiting his old work, the artist himself confesses: “They were offensive, funny, and indelible–you had to pay attention.” Consequently, it is not surprising that the critical response to his work varied. Some thought it populist in its negativity, while others observed in it a radical stance: a cacophonous harmony, or a refreshing pathos. What is predictable in his work is Wool’s lack of “conclusiveness” or the absence of artistic closure.
“I firmly believe it’s not the medium that’s important, it’s what you do with it,” the artist clarifies.
[ ...touched and overwhelmed by all the letters I get bemoaning the travails of getting published I spent the last few days locked up in my laboratory boiling my thoughts and advice down to the basics. The essentials.
Stick to my program and you'll likely be a Bestseller before the cows come singing on down through their skulls full of rice (results not typical)... ]
1) “It’s all about the writing”—well, you know, that’s absolute crap.
If your nose
Aint brown, this book’s
(like the Titanic, fire & Ice, blah, blah)
These sorts of mantras and reminders are vital. Tape this one on the wall over your desk. Engrave it on your sad, desperate brain.
3) Lie, beg, borrow, steal, squeal, bribe, flatter, romance, fuck, suck, READ MORE >
Last week was particularly weird. It was–is?–New York Fashion Week. This always means there is a lot that is happening in which I am not particularly interested in partaking but will end up doing anyway, because I am interested in the act of mistake-making. Every year and season I have a different approach to the fashion weeks, but usually it is a combination of excitement and confusion for what might possibly happen. 
This year the surprise came to me as I was sitting on Houston eating the Whole Foods pizza slice my friend Brenna bought me. I looked like I smelled and was wearing my favorite hat, which no longer exists because of this beautiful dog I was dogsitting. Three short figures approached me and started talking to me about doing a runway show, and I definitely did not say yes and I was trying to be fully uninterested but maybe I wasn’t convincing. Initially, I did a stellar job at ignoring the email I received following the proposition, a message that emphasized how much they would love for me to stop by for the casting.  But then, two days later I got additional strongly-worded texts and voicemail messages. “We really want you!” read an SMS my ego believed, and there I was in an ugly white room with fluorescent lighting in Midtown.
Unfortunately, I had shaved and they liked me much more with facial hair and stinky, so in the end this was a waste of energy. But I was also rolling and attended the casting underwearless, swiftly adhering to commands such as: ‘Take your pants off, please.’
Perhaps I self-sabotaged, but at least I didn’t have to wear cowboy gear in public.
THE BRIEF HISTORY OF HARPER’S CLUB
Six days ago I received an email with the subject: “HARPER’S MAGAZINE RENEWAL.” The line of argumentation the email included was constructed by the magazine’s “Circulation Director.” I never read it, because I believe everything it said: I didn’t need to be persuaded in regards to the absolute necessity of my continued subscription. 
The motive that initially made me subscribe to Harper’s was my desire to intellectually engage on a more personal level with a friend from college, Dan. We both agreed that the depth of our homosocial rapports was not adequately profound, and because we enjoyed discussing with one another we eventually came up with the idea of what we jocularly referred to as “Harper’s Club.”  Dan’s academic interests were very different than mine, but we both enjoyed challenging various points of view in our pursuit of forming an informed opinion.
The planning of The Club’s meetings became impossible and our friendship never deepened. Regardless of this failure I could not be happier for the epiphenomenal ramifications of our failed initiative. By encouraging me to think about familiar subjects in different ways, “Harper’s Club” regularly challenged me as a thinker. This held true even when I was the solitary member of the Club, and continues to be valid to this day. Every time a new issue arrives in my mailbox I expect to encounter articles that serve this mission. My expectations are pleasantly surpassed consistently.
THOUGHTS ON ADS (ATTN: MIGHT BE FEELINGS!)
Janice brought this up a few days ago, but I think it bears repeating. Johannes Göransson continues to mash blueberries and puncture orchids while juggling swords and cacti over at the Harriet blog this month with his “Corean Music” posts.
I’m not one of those people who feels the need to write all the time, as you may have guessed, from reading my other shit on this website.
I frequently turn over the possibility of permanently ceasing all writing outside of my job. It’s not unusual. I think other contributors have mentioned this impulse. I’ve considered announcing this in some kind of horrifically boring final post. It’s obviously not a palatable idea, because who gives a shit? Certainly not someone similar myself, the self-audience, who is probably too lazy to every submit a single piece of writing to micro-press, let alone establish a relationship with an agent or editor. It doesn’t fit with the frozen vibe. I don’t fear rejection at all. I fear wasting people’s time. I fear over-sharing. I fear talking to an empty room.
Th end of publishing is kind of like a party thrown by a really unpopular kid.
My French hasn’t happened, barely has my English. What might allow me to translate Baudelaire any better? Have you seen the poorly Christian way being had with some of his lines?
Ses cris me déchiraient la fibre
Her screaming would drive me crazy
Her crying knifed the heart in me
Her screechings drilled me like a tooth
Her crying upset me horribly
Her crying tears me apart
Her nagging tore at every part of me
Save for contour, pasteurization, cluck by region, I know my reek, but this line from Le Vin de l’assassin or The Murder’s Wine or The Assassin’s Wine or The Wine of the Assassin or Sippy Vindicator is rarely caught right. Why should it be? Can we span our whip from known to felt? I’m saying it doesn’t wow to take a nineteenth century dandy with a peanut head, and of such a floral, copulating rigor, and pinch him to “drive me crazy.” He’s not young Britney batting curls. Baudelaire consistently scarfed his wig. What is the direct UN transcript of this lovely purple? The hissy fit runs deeper into Satan. He’s not workshopping; he’s pissing blood. I don’t care, because I’m translating the poem right now, out of French and without rhyme. I’m going to say Michael Robbins and few others on his level have by their genius made rhyming their property. I keep very afraid of my betters. Especially Robbins. I chose my last twenty dollars for his book when I was starving in Austin. It gave me a lot of meals to look up to, so if I rhyme it’s just a glitch in the word salad, sir. Please. I berate my own underneaths. I live in fear. Ariana Reines having brilliantly done legitimate work translating Baudelaire – let me distinguish, too: This is simply an act of poetic necrophilia, mid-lobotomy.
Rauan Klassnik already wrote a little bit responding to the first of Johannes Göransson’s recent ‘Corean Music’: Art and Violence posts at the Poetry Foundation blog. Part 3: “The Autobiographical Account of The Diabolical Music of Translation and Kitsch,” starts with the lines:
Every immigrant knows that it’s impossible to translate.
Every immigrant knows that it’s impossible not to.
As the post introduces some of JG’s own autobiographical context into the discussion, these opening lines push me to immediately delve into my own autobiography and the troubles of translation, translating between languages, yes, but also between cultures, histories, philosophies, beings. (Also I’m taken back to Bhanu Kapil’s Incubation: A Space for Monsters…)
He also quotes Kim Hyesoon from an interview:
Yes, poems are ways of saying you clearly remember the day of your death and your tomb. When I am writing poetry, I relive my days when a woman inside me dies many times. My body is full of graves. A sepulcher is dug up, and a young girl comes out of it with her dusty hands in tears. A lady who is a young girl and an old girl at the same time feels the presence of the young girl. I feel that the 15-year-old me and the 50-year-old me come out of the sepulcher through an illegal excavation. Time is not a straight line, but just a flat hell, like a desert. I am a tomb robber who is robbing my own tomb. Things from my tomb are exhibited under the radiant sun. Every time it happens I feel crude.
This feels really apt to me. The sort of violence of extracting different versions of a self, extracting memories and translating those memories, a thousand lives and deaths trapped in the strange balance of a body, like a fucked up game of Operation.
Recently I found some of my mother’s old photo albums, an old yearbook, photos of her as far back as junior high, some from before she met my dad. I had never seen most of these photos before. I looked through each album with my dad, recording his thoughts, recollections, questions as we picked her out in group and class photos, speculated on her age and context. My dad had also not seen many of these photos before. It was a strange piecing together of an identity, an identity that is altogether very clear in our minds. She was his wife. She was my mother. And an identity, that instead of becoming magnified, clarified, starts to become shattered and fragmented. It is a violent and uncomfortable process. Who is this woman at the beach in the photos? What version of my mother is this? How do I extract her ghost, my ghost, from these old images?
It is strange to think about the violence of translation. JG writes:
It was an abusive translation project.
It was catastrophic translation.
I haven’t recovered yet.
I haven’t recovered from the violence and I haven’t recovered from the beauty of being drowned in a foreign language, a language full of strange and alluring words like “faggot” and “weirdo.”
I’m not doing a full response of JG’s posts, and regardless, you should head over to the Poetry Foundation and read them yourself, but mostly I’m currently too self-absorbed to make any connections that aren’t related to my own peculiar and particular situation. JG’s posts are full of interesting questions, including circling around an ancient one about the potential of art. I’ll stop here for now, but curious to hear from others who might be engaging with these ideas in different ways…
Here’s all one needs to do:
- Flip to any random page on the foreign language side of any foreign language dictionary*. For instance, I just opened my Cassell’s to page 593 (in the French half).
- Copy down all of the English on that page, ignoring the French. (Republicans should totally love this technique!)
*You don’t need to use any particular language or dictionary. And the more dissimilar the other language is from English, the more varied the English-language results will be—see below for more on that. And of course you can use this technique using any dual-language dictionary, not just English–X, but I’m assuming English as our baseline since HG is (mostly) an English-language site.
Here’s all of the English on Cassell’s page 593: