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Craft Notes

25 Pieces Of Writing Advice To End All Writing Advice

Most writing advice comes off as watered down and lacking both bark and bite. I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it has something to do with the writer being hesitant to have his or her name attached to something potentially offensive. Very few seem to crave the public attention of being a curmudgeon spitting on the idealistic novice.

I’ve spent the last month contacting authors (both major house and indie; critically acclaimed and up-and-coming; big names and small; cock wavers and VIDA junkies) and a few influential editors, asking each to submit their most heartfelt, brutal, and honest writing advice they could think of. I promised to publish what they wrote anonymously. The following are the results.

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Craft Notes / 49 Comments
April 8th, 2014 / 10:51 am

Sifl and Olly on poetry

(The poetry starts around 1:23. Make sure you stick around for S&O’s “Beat Poets” song.)

Craft Notes / 9 Comments
April 1st, 2014 / 4:00 pm

Stuck in the Middle: Second Person and You

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Ask ten people what they think about second person, and a good seven or eight of them will say that McInerney did it once, sure, and did it well, but outside of Bright Lights, Big City, second-person’s just a gimmick, is best left trapped in all the choose-your-own-adventure series from the eighties.

I can kind of understand this, too.

With stories, we have default settings: first- and third-person, with third really being the deviance from the norm, the deviance from first-person. First-person is our natural delivery method, isn’t it? If you’re telling somebody about the amusement park last week, you do it like: I was standing in line for like ten hours, and then this clown laughed at me and it had to be eight thousand degrees and on and on, I’ing your way into some perfect punchline of a conclusion. But you, if your name’s Jimmy, say, never go Jimmy was standing in line for ten hours, and then this clown laughed at him and it had to be like eight thousand degrees.

Note too with those examples that part of our natural mode for fiction, it’s past tense. This is because fiction is narrative, and narrative is selection, and selection is from pre-existing events, and events only pre-exist if they, you know, happened before.

It’s complicated.

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Craft Notes / 12 Comments
March 20th, 2014 / 12:31 pm

FRESH OFF THE NEUE GALERIE: “THE ATTACK ON MODERN ART IN NAZI GERMANY, 1937″

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Last Saturday I went all the way uptown to Neue Galerie to see the first American exhibition on the topic of “Degenerate Art,” which will be available through June 30, 2014.  One of my favorite subjects during my ultra-brief academic career (aka “undergrad”) was the exploration of the factors that made the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich possible. Above all other realms, that of culture was the one that appealed to me the most in my studying of how the German people were capable of gradually dehumanizing “non-Germans,” and to what extent this process was a political construct smoothly created by the Nazis. Reactively responding to German people’s despair and economic insecurity, Nazis built an ideology that made it possible for Germans to replace fear with hate for anything different. I am still fascinated by the institutional curating of art performed by the government, and what it translated to in political terms to have government authorities declare the validity of certain art, while condemning the existence of other art.

Maybe you should go see it if you feel like it and happen to be in New York, even if the security staff is  unnecessarily rude. Especially if you are not familiar with what was presented as “Degenerate Art” and how it became a key tool in spreading Nazi propaganda.

My favorite thing about the Neue Galerie exhibit was the curatorial decision to dedicate the lower level part of the exhibition to a mourning ritual. Specifically, the curatorial team conveyed a sense of cultural loss by presenting empty frames in the place of artwork that was intentionally destroyed by  Joseph Goebbels’ Commission for Disposal of Products of Degenerate Art, the government body responsible to preserve the German identity.  An inventory which chronicles the status of what was labeled “Degenerate”  can be also found downstairs, listing more than 16,000 artworks the Goebbel Commission would destroy, exchange or sell.

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Craft Notes / 2 Comments
March 20th, 2014 / 10:00 am

On Coke Poetry

The well-respected, finically solvent and totally fun-to-chill-with advertising agency Droga 5 created these outdoor ads for the Coca-Cola Company, which recently appeared on the streets of New York City. They have a poetic quality, seeming to evoke certain characters and a unique Manhattan headspace. Longer than most written ads, and with an obvious, weighted subtext, they speak in a slippery psedo-literary voice.

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Craft Notes / 11 Comments
March 12th, 2014 / 9:00 am

Tunnel: Fourteen Thoughts On Writing

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Tunnel

1) This is a tunnel I walk nearly every day. It connects via underground one office building (where I work) with another office building (where I bring things). I’m not sure how long the tunnel is, but I imagine about a football field or Walmart parking lot in length. There’s a narrowness and low ceiling height that’s suffocating. I’ve imagined the tunnel dug by a giant beaver consisting mostly of gnashing yellow teeth, the beaver’s body large enough to eat its way through the space I walk daily. Someone you probably know and want to slap would call the tunnel, “Lynchian.”

2) When I walk the tunnel I think about writing and submitting writing because there’s something about the tunnel that leads to a metaphor I don’t want to talk about directly.

A few other things about the tunnel:

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Craft Notes / 12 Comments
March 6th, 2014 / 10:00 am

ALL THE TEXTS I’D SEND YOU IF YOU WANTED TO GO TO A SERGIO DE LA PAVA TALK WITH ME ON DEAD RUSSIANS

…but then got ran over by a bus and died. No im totally kidding! but you really did get the flu and couldn’t join me.

The talk was at Housing Works, and it included two other speakers: David Gordon and Michael Kunichika.Your expectations were unclear: talk about Russian writers who, though they left us long ago, remain potent presences for readers and writers today. From Dostoevsky and Tolstoy to Vasily Grossman and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, we’ll learn about obsession, madness, realism, fables, and more, in an event with all the drama and pathos (well, at least some of the drama and pathos) of the great Russian novels themselves.

sergiodelapavaresize

Here are all the texts I would have sent you, in chronological order and without clarifying who said what, because color-coordinating via SMS goes a step too far:

truth-seeking urgency intrinsic in russian lit

antithesis to beckett & writers who focused extensively on beauty of language

falling in love w/ english language, less plot driven urgency

dostoevsky similar to conrad in terms of truth-seeking urgency

multivocality of dostoevsky

there is no right, just different truths

dostoevsky threw the best literary parties (metaphorically speaking, as a creator)

proust s parties were too long, and maybe the guests were wearing better clothes

abstract psychological curiosity in motives, including abnormalities–>russian approach

going in depth for big questions, characters not being introverted

serialization of lengthy works, such as ‘war & peace,’ adds towards creating a broader debate. they become part of the broader debates occurring during their time

some compare the creation of microcosms of russian lit to ‘the wire’

comparing to british office, where they look at the camera at moments of despair but the viewer cannot do anything to help // to embarrasing dostoevsky characters

nabokov disliked dostoevsky for his “bad writing”

dostoevsky had a v diff approach to writing from nabokov: almost got executed literally, then was told he had another five years

that is also why dostoevsky did not pursue inanimate writing, unlike tolstoy (?)

nabokov didn t like music!

neither did dostoevsky !! (probably diff reasons)

saul bellow s ‘dean of december’–>similar urgency in truth-seeking (someone from the audience)

can reading a book be so vivid it appears like a different life?

if yes, it depends on willingness of writers to go to great lengths in creating characters who go too far, embarrass themselves/ are visceral

perhaps a key element that helps bring about the urgent truth-seeking: religion s role for the writers

religion, like their fiction, was trying to explain what goes on beyond the physical

nabokov s direct ancestor was dostoevsky s jailor. weird how he was not willing to cut him any slack, considering

dostoevsky was crowd-pleasing oriented bc he lived off writing

MONEY!!!

 

 

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Events & Haut or not & Random / 2 Comments
February 11th, 2014 / 5:20 pm

oops!…i did it again: i cant remember to forget you (FKA MEANINGFUL)

I. Two Days After Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear

 I was taking about sex with a new person when I said I was annoyed choking is not on the table as an option. Then I said my ex’s name and remembered how she loved it.

“Oh, I know,” came his Freudian drip. I then punched him pretty hard on his arm, but without being violent. I was kind of upset, but I also knew he didn’t mean to hurt me, his tongue just worked faster than his brain in that moment.

Picture 1

The weird thing is, Billy was probably the victim in all of this. During a time we were trying to be over I surrounded myself with friends who weren’t shared, friends who didn’t let me respond to her manic pleas for reciprocity. So I saw the blocks of texts arrive, and I ignored them, but not because I wanted to ignore them. I was still forcing myself to not respond. That’s when it happened. I know because we eventually got back together and she never told me. But one day I went through her phone and saw her bragging texts about Billy and how he fucks like a rabbit and how the best part of it was that Billy was my good friend. She was bragging about it, but how unfortunate was that? She, who I successfully ignored, intentionally turned to someone else to hurt me for ignoring her. “Positional play is the maneuvering of opponents into the forced clarification of their (but not your) tactical lines of action,” and that was what she was doing. But we all got played in the end, thankfully including her.

Sometimes we do things for unclear reasons. Maybe because they feel good. Is that a reason? I think so, especially when I do the things. Is it worse when the sex is perfect with an idiot or when the sex is boring with a genius? I dunno, but I hope to have less of it and try to make it meaningful.

There is this mix I was listening to recently and it is very good, but I have a problem with it: it closes with a juxtaposition of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” and Britney Spears’ “Everytime.” Hopefully, I need not clarify why that poses a problem, but if I must let me say I have a problem with myself for feeling sorry for Britney, when she was the one doing things for unclear reasons because they felt good.  ”This song is my sorry,” is a fucked up lyric to be used in a pop song when it is truly personal, and in Spears’ case at that time it was. [1]

You might remember my friend “Billy?” You probably don’t, so here. We grabbed lunch together last week, it was pretty fun. We got Ramen and talked about stuff on a broad scale: the things we are doing for money, the people we have been getting naked with and, naturally, cultural ephemera. An ephemeron we addressed for example was the Grammys ceremony and how we felt about some of the performances and awards. Of course neither of us was able to watch past the first half, or perhaps nothing of note happened in that half. We shall never know!

What we do know: Billy is dating someone seriously, and she is taking him a lot more seriously than he is her. She is “intense” and “confrontational.” She senses what they both know. Basically what he is saying is that he is not up for it. He likes her, but she feels for him in ways he doesn’t. I tell Billy to tell her that he knows her intuition is right. To stop playing along and pretending he doesn’t see what she is right to notice their “thing” is missing.

Must we pass over in silence what we cannot speak about? 

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II. Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear

THE *REAL* GRAMMYS, HAPPENING EONS BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL 

I watched them with my friend who will not be told when she must cease thinking about Beyonce’s net shorts. (“i hate how everything moves so quickly. it’s like just because a few days have passed doesn’t mean i’m not still thinking about the grammys.  sure, not MOST of the grammys. but i’ll be thinking about her netted costume for a WHILE.  why does the internet want everyone’s brains on fast forward?”)

I could not believe how fortunate it was that I happened to be near a television! I was casually complaining about life to a dear friend on a Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear when all of a sudden… Beyonce! I never fully get how award shows work, their purpose and how the selection process works for who gets nominated for what. But if they start with Beyonce, I am totally mesmerized and willing to watch with full attention and the occasional loud “OH MY BEYONCEEE!” There were multiple of those, and people on the receiving end of Beyonce’s electric chair were electrified, as expected, jumping up and down their couches everywhere, unless they lived on the West Coast, and thus were penalized for their decision .

The *Real* Grammys seem to be organized by a panel of Ladies… who Love Cool J. Why is he the presenter? Why do they keep Doin’ It (feat Leshaun)? The sartorial negligence of the Cool James was apparent as he momentarily shared a stage with an immaculately dressed First Husband of America. Let’s just say there were no ZZZs in Jay-Z’s perfect outfit, and even less ZZZs were there to be found in the way the Presidential couple looked like while performing together during the *Real* Grammys, intoxicating everyone with their intoxication.

The deep blue sea of sartorial hmmms deepened further when our favorite Neptune decided to hide his crown under a hat, and all of humanity wondered: “Pharrell. Why!” He was still perfect, and at least wasn’t being ridiculous like those dudes who must have been sweating balls in their anonymity protecting helmets.

But looks and looking supa dupa fly are not all that matters in music these days. The young musicians have set up the bar mad high, where only Lordes can fly, and your prepackaged Dark Unicorn won’t fly you there despite its hypnotic beat (gah, this hasn’t happened to my brain (?) since when Gwen Stefani was cheerleading) that encourages obsessive repeat-play.

If the producers of your album aren’t Illuminati, you might have to join a circus. In the words of pop-princess (does she keep being princess until Madonna dies?) Britney Spears: “There’s only two types of people in the world: the ones that entertain, and the ones that observe.” Pink misunderstood the distinction and thought being observed was synonymous to entertaining, but acrobatics are all the ZZZs Jay-Z was missing that night. Except for her thigh strength, which so wow, very anti-ZZZ!

[*serious-y chunk*]

Anyway, time to get serious-y. Let’s address the thing that agitated most of us about the *Real* Grammys: Kendrick Lamar—who was, is and will always be objectively the best in everything for which he was nominated—didn’t win anything. Then the band (is Macklemore a band? or just that dude with the two-year old Freeman’s Alley barbershop hair a solo thing?) made the crass, gross error of trying to recognized their (his?) inferiority by sharing the thought with all their fans. This literally felt like a violent slap to everyone: (1) the people who might have thought Mackleduders deserved to win stuff, (2) the people who wanted Kendrick to win stuff and were frustrated he didn’t, and (3) let’s not even think about all the other very sensitive and insecure artists who were both nominated and lost and not even publicly recognized by the true winner of stuff they lost as the ones worthy of winning.

To think this band (or dude? I really have to find out at this point!) would even consider considering publicly sharing a private message he sent which should have been private, because eww band or dude, get a publicist! The negative criticism they (or “he,” whichever is correct!) have received is totally deserved. Bad apologies are in poorer taste than not apologizing at all, and this one was a very selfish and self-aggrandizing one. The reason this “apology” really sucked was the way it was portrayed and whored out via social media. There is a Kendrick song called “Real.” It is greatly introspective and reflective, further showing where in the “real nigga” doctrine Kendrick falls: he is not obsessed with appearances in a way consuming his music’s production.

The song stresses the importance of showing up, of being “real” in a way that is vulnerable:

The reason why I know you very well/ cause we have the same eyes can’t you tell?/ the days I tried to cover up and conceal/ my pride, it only made it harder for me to deal

[*end of serious-y chunk*] 

Speaking of #Unapologetic, sources close to the Barbadian queen of pop Rihanna have revealed to TMZ the star watched the show at the comfort of a new planet she recently purchased. While she is considering Stay-ing there a while, TMZ has learned that Rihanna used telepathy to support her bestie (hmm. Cara?) close friend Katy Perry during her Grammys performance. “Where have you been?” thought Katy in the secret illuminati witchlanguage she shared with Rih, and then she felt the transcendental high-five from afar.

Then everyone bought things and companies were so, so happy! Well, almost everyone bought things. Mostly women who wanted to wear all the beauty products that made their stars look like stars. Men would have to wait for a sports event, like last year’s Beyonce performance at the sports thing which made Janet Jackson a star.

In conclusion, the *Real* Grammys didn’t really change anything, but that’s okay. Because the Grammys rarely do that. It is mostly public opinion that shapes who the big figures are in culture, and all the individuals who are nominated for these awards have acquired a level of respect as artists significant enough to see Taylor Swift going hard to Kendrick live, which is fine and great and super, but remains besides the point. When our cultural curators shift our attention to something silly, even if this silly something is endearing and well-intentioned, they (the curators) have taken our attention away from something else.

Who chose the direction to focus on Swift—and more extensively—before showing us an enthusiastic Hova? Probably the same exact person who gave Macklemore the award. It wasn’t me. But if it were me directing, I would have focused on the performance exclusively, out of respect to the person on stage. If a majority of the population only likes stuff because other people like it, then please save the stuff I like from getting Grammys! 

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III Nine Days After Whateverdaythegrammystookplacethisyear

He felt sad, he said. It was the morning after he stopped hating himself for being kinda in the gray area for so long in private. The night before he had send me a text: “It’s over. A little back and forth but we both agreed it was checkmate. Broke up in Central Park, lol. It went so well/ was our first real convo. Probably the best convo we ve ever had. I feel surprisingly sad.”

I was really proud of him. And of me, for challenging him to be upfront about his lack of genuine want in his relationship. But I also felt meaningless. I wasn’t even able to arise in my person the decency Billy was finally able to come up with for his new ex.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent, I guess.

FKA-Twigs

 

NOTES

[1]  I know this with certainty, because this was the first song Spears wrote. She wrote it with a woman named Artani, who then went on a Greek reality-talent show, called “Fame Story,” which everyone in Greece watched at the time because we were trying to not focus on our faltering institutions as a nation.

Artani was dealing with a breakup while Britney was trying to face the new Justin Timberlake as an ex, who had released “Cry Me A River.” The song was personal, and “Everytime” was a vulnerable response to it, but how vulnerable was it really, when it was a pop song and it was created for everyone? Doesn’t that take away from it in serving a purpose as being a meaningful apology? I think it did/ does/ forever will. 

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Haut or not & Random / 4 Comments
February 4th, 2014 / 2:32 pm

Advice on How to Deliver a Kick Ass Poetry Reading

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-image31641988

Rauan — boils it down

*****

[ ...people keep coming up to me and saying things like "Rauan, I'm a brilliant writer but I don't do well in front of an audience. Help me, Please..."

....and so, because, well, I just can't not help people (it's my calling, god damnit) I've spent weeks in my lab cooking up some wisdom for all you brilliant fucking writers...  so, here, enjoy ]

*****

1) Less is more

2) Just be yourself. Especially if you’re an asshole, then totally be yourself because audiences love assholes.  But if you’re boring then do not be yourself. Absolutely, do not be yourself. (remember, it’s a show, man. yeah, it’s a  show). (sigh).

3) Be in love with the sound of your voice. Fuck #1 (“More is more.” … “and more…and more…and more…”).. Really, just read and read and just keep on reading. If you see people yawning, don’t worry, people are like dogs, they yawn when they’re learning something new and incredible. Just read. And read. And read.

yawning dog

learning from yr brilliant poetry

4) Grab your dick or cunt a lot, point at it a lot, dance around the stage, hopping up and down, howling and moaning like a monkey– but remember, the whole time, to keep your dick or cunt dead center in the audience’s eye. This works great in Brooklyn. And by extension then (of course) everywhere else.

5) After every 3rd or 4th poem pause for a few moments (I mean drag it out…milk the moment) and then confide, to the dying audience, off-hand and smug as you can, that “yes, indeed, that was a nod to Charles Simic.” (Also, bring a bottle with you and in the middle of yr reading sit down and command the audience (yes, they love taking orders) to sit in a circle around you…

…And then everyone should just make out because, making out is the only reason anyone shows up at little shindig Poetry Readings anyways. Blah, blah…) …stare into poetry’s soul… blah, blah

simic

nod to this guy over and over and over and over …. (blah, blah, ….) …..

6) Sail mumbling autistic through the reading portion of the evening (no biggie, really) and on, gloriously, into the Q & A where you can then triumphantly and whiningly bitch about any negative reviews you’ve received. Don’t answer their questions of course. Just bitch.

7) Drink lots of water beforehand and then sail out over the audience like a God and piss on them. (for added effect eat lots of asparagus). (…huh? … I used the word “sail” twice here?? Well, sue me god damn it).

***

ideal poetry reading

an ideal poetry reading

 

and, as always, glad I could help

 

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes / 2 Comments
January 25th, 2014 / 4:42 pm

FUCK YER BRAND, IMMA DO ME (/help me figure out my brand?)

[u shd probably read the NOTE(S) as they come up for cohesion, but do as u wish, obvi]

so there s a lot of things that have been going on here, on our dearly beloved htmlg. there seems to be an even bigger emphasis than ever before on attn. and i won t lie, it is nice to feel that w/e it is i might have written here might have been read or provoked a thought to someone—ANYONE—outside of me. but the reason i am writing this, right now is to set up a personal statement of sorts for how i want to use this site, as someone who regularly (?) tries to put stuff up…

MISSION STATEMENT(S)

I will refuse to care about being “cool.” I reject the notion of a grotesquely narcissistic coolness in an alt lit universe, where we are all nerds, when viewed through the larger lens of people who are not only unaware of this lit stuff, but also actively ignore its existence.

Perhaps I am just the biggest loser in the universe, but I like to care. If I did not, maybe I would not want to write. The reason I started writing was to figure out things I was genuinely curious about, not always in a healthy fashion. It was not to one-up anyone, not to be smarter in a gimmicky sort of way that will fade and might feel cheap in a couple of years.

HTMLG was one of the places online I constantly returned to when I was in a cubicle day after day doing shit I hated, trying to find a way out. To me, it used to be a liberating space, a meaningful forum that introduced me to writing I care for, and still value. Now, it is confusing. I have the hardest time figuring out the intentions behind what is being written. Sometimes I wonder if pressing “publish” was the entire goal of some contributor; I do not think it should be. [1]

Picture 1

An amazing book of poetry was loaned to me, to remind me of my incentives and goals. Ann Lauterbach is brilliant, even though she cares. Or maybe because of it. I do not write poems, but her intentions—as presented in the middle section of “Under The Sign” are ones I would like to have as ideals.

The experience of art

So perhaps caring is not so bad. I will not actively try to not care about writing; writing by those who don’t care does not interest me.

But to care, one needs to put something at risk. One must “open,” perhaps even lose a part of their “security”—usually stemming from exercising a controlled performance of confidence—by showing insecurity. Being clevererererer just shouldn’t cut it if one wants to be true to oneself. [2]

I like the way Lauterbach understands writing. I wish we all agreed on that a little more, but I won’t force it upon you, because that would go against my principles.

Reciprocity


NOTE(S)

[1] It is entirely possible that the reason I feel this way about putting words together in a creative way is because I did not study it. Maybe the excessive studying of something leads some of my fellow HTMLG contributors to an insipid cynicism that is often reduced to “being smarter.” Maybe it has to do with the frustrations of a young writer—or new, actually— as an immaterial existence in a material universe: the rewards of writing are rarely fiscal.

money seemed
So yes, there is a relationship to be noted here that births frustration. But I do not think it should be our driving force. I will not let it be mine. In the Greek language there is no word that accurately translates to “writer.” The options for the translator are either “journalist” or “novelist.” Language depicts “realities,” to a degree. In the English language it might still be possible to be a writer at large. Someone who tackles fiction and/ or nonfiction. But rather than appreciate it, we are all beating this possibility; rejecting it, killing it.

The fixation on rapid success that is intrinsic in late-capitalism has infected our immaterial universe, stigmatizing creative intentions. And I am aware money is—and probably will be—an issue for a lot of us/ you/ whatever you want me to say. But to let it dictate creative intentions would be embracing defeat.

The rewards I value, thus far, are the kind and generous exchanges of ideas I have with individuals I admire and respect. I don’t know if they count as material or immaterial, but I do know that money cannot buy them. An email from Blake casually saying “hey man, i liked that thing you wrote” means more to me than a paycheck. Perhaps I am just the biggest loser in the universe.
integrity
Or perhaps I just prefer losing with integrity over winning without it.
[2] Or if it does, I don’t understand why such a person would turn to writing. Is writing not a resort away from “the real world?” The material world is the one I am willing to fail in with less hesitation; the immaterial one I have “chosen” out of no other choice: because I care.
care

Am I living in the past? Is anyone even reading this. Is “reciprocity” the recognition of who the smartererererer one is?

then fuck “you,” imma do it 4 me

sinister
Author Spotlight & Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes / 14 Comments
January 14th, 2014 / 1:30 am

Let’s overanalyze to death … Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

So far in this very irregular series, we’ve scrutinized Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Macaulay Culkin eating a slice of pizza—preparation for tackling one of the greatest and most beguiling music videos ever made.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” was a single from Bonnie Tyler’s fifth album, Faster Than the Speed of Night (1983), and her biggest hit. It was written by Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf’s once and future collaborator. Steinman also planned out the video, which was then directed by Russell Mulcahy, a man responsible for numerous ’70s and ’80s music videos,  as well as the films Highlander, Highlander II: The Quickening, and Blue Ice. So that’s the aesthetic world we’re dwelling in. (In a single word: overblown.)

The video itself is pretty broad, and rather easy to read—broadly. Simply put, Tyler plays an instructor (or an administrator) at an all-boys boarding school. (I will refer to her character as “Tyler” throughout, for convenience’ sake.) Extremely sexually repressed, Tyler endures a long night of the soul fantasizing about her young charges; this constitutes the bulk of the video. Come morning, she (and we) are returned to restrained, repressive reality. But we’re left with the hint that A.) at least one of her students has magically become aware of her fantasy, or B.) her fantasia has caused Tyler to become mentally unhinged. (I lean toward B and will defend that reading below.)

That’s the basic outline. The devil, however, sits in a straight-backed chair, clutching a dove. He’s also in the details, so let’s delve deeper …

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Craft Notes & Film & Music / 5 Comments
January 13th, 2014 / 8:01 am

NOT SO #DTF, OH NO!!

 

 

 

 

ku-xlarge

Do you ever think that universally all we have in common is our interest in food and sex?

Well in Japan they are over the sex, so check your hypothesis: http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/read/think-pieces/863/i-sex-its-better-than-sex

What I actually mean though is: can you think about materiality today? But in a good way: like touch, not like technology. I will!

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes / 4 Comments
January 9th, 2014 / 12:32 pm

I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM

Rauan3

I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A VICTIM I AM A
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(sorry, guys — just warming up to write my “Memoirs”)

& Happy New Year

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes / 4 Comments
January 2nd, 2014 / 4:50 pm

THE GRATITUDE TRAP (ThXgiving ReduX Y1)

giving

[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.

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Craft Notes & Random / 3 Comments
November 29th, 2013 / 4:04 am

Modernization of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

HowtoWinFriendsandInfluencePeopleCover

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

1. Become genuinely uninterested in other people.
2. Smirk.
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

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to win.
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.
Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes / 9 Comments
November 25th, 2013 / 11:36 pm

Twenty Bigs

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.

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Craft Notes / 11 Comments
November 18th, 2013 / 11:06 am

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & HTMLGIANT Features & Random

POEM-A-DAY from THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN LUNATICS (#3)

poem a day behrle

poem a day nov 8

 

The Penis List

Jim Dead

Jim Behrle was recently featured in “Kill List” as a comfortable poet. It’s possible that he is the least famous poet to earn such a distinction. He lives in Jersey City, NJ. By day he wears a green t-shirt and a nametag at a university bookstore, fetching textbooks for people with bright futures. He lives his broken dreams, a famous internet poetry troll, he’s probably better known for crap like “Best American Poetry: The Cartoon”, “Stone Cold Poetry Bitches” and “What the Hell is Up With Your Author Photo?” Behrle really has to get more of that Ruth Lilly money somehow.

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
Everything everywhere
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

 

poem a day behrle strip

poem a day about this poemKafka 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. . .

poem a day behrle strip

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!

poem a day behrle strip

3 Comments
November 8th, 2013 / 9:24 am

APHEX TWIN: AN ENIGMA

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.

Picture 3

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.

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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.

Picture 1

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.

Picture 2

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.

aphex-twin-i-care-because-you-do-front-thumb

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Music & Random / 7 Comments
October 30th, 2013 / 9:04 pm

A LOT OF READS, *IF* YOU WANT THEM

sexy

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?)

url

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.

gravity-3

Apparently, the internet is our generation’s opium, too. And it is making us dumb. Which reminds me, avoid the film Gravity, it is awful. (1/2 self-promotional, sorry!!)

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.)

scandal---1-1--pilot

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?

 

 

2006.13.1.8 002

 

Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Random / No Comments
October 26th, 2013 / 8:36 pm

TWOCLOSEWORDS: REFUSAL / REFUSAL

(It’s very common in horses.)

Refusal -

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.

Refusal*-

(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.

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Craft Notes & Random / 3 Comments
October 21st, 2013 / 2:20 pm