May 20th, 2013 / 12:04 pm
Massive People

Dressing Up Seth Oelbaum


[I was going to post something else entirely today—something light and fun—but I ran into some technical issues, and in any case this past weekend’s comments and page views indicate y’all would rather talk about Seth Oelbaum. So let’s talk more about Seth Oelbaum! As well as talking about Seth Oelbaum.]

Mike Meginnis’s recent post, and his follow-up comments below, clearly express his desire to pronounce some final word on “the Seth Oelbaum question” (as Reynard Seifert so cleverly phrased it), and put it all behind us. I have the highest respect for Mike as a writer and as a friend, and I understand his frustration, but I don’t think critique works that way, or should ever work that way. The price of being able to criticize is constant reappraisal, and not being able to declare conversations over.

In my comments on Seth’s last post (here, here, & here), I stated my concern that I’d said all I had to say about his writing here, was starting to repeat myself. But Mike’s post and the ensuing conversation caused me to return to certain aspects of it, and think up some new thoughts. (Surprising, I know, that I would find I had more to say.) So this is my attempt to lay out my thinking as clearly as I can. I hope you’ll add your own thoughts in the comments section below, if so inclined.

First, let’s agree that Seth’s writing is (perhaps deliberately?) somewhat inscrutable. Seth’s penchant for opacity hasn’t made it easy for people to figure out what he’s up to, even as near everyone agrees that the writing is offensive. Seth has also demonstrated little willingness to engage directly and openly with his growing ranks of critics, preferring instead to double down on his shtick.

I’ve read everything Seth has posted here (multiple times), and many of his posts at Bambi Muse, and a fair amount of his poetry. (Peter Jurmu just gave me a copy of Artifice #5, which contains some sonnets by Seth.) And while I certainly may be wrong in my interpretation, I think I understand part of what Seth is up to. (I’ve said some of this already, but please bear with me.) Forced to summarize, I’d say that Seth is appalled by how the suffering of certain people is privileged over the suffering of others. Thus he was enraged when the US media devoted extensive coverage to the Boston bombings, while it has remained relatively silent regarding the ongoing bomb-heavy conflict in Syria. He’s also enraged when Hollywood regards the Holocaust as an atrocity the Nazis did exclusively to the Jews, ignoring the simultaneous slaughter of the disabled, homosexuals, the Roma, among many others.

If this is indeed Seth’s point, then I don’t find it controversial; nor, I imagine, would you (at least in general—let’s acknowledge that Seth is not one for finer details). If one opposes massacres, then one should oppose all massacres. As such, the US media deserves criticism for privileging certain ones over others. Similarly, we ourselves are at fault when we disregard the suffering of others. We would do well to wonder how and why the world got to be like this, and what we can do to change it.

Meanwhile, we might also say: “Seth Oelbaum, you’re barking up the wrong blog! We’ve already read Karl Marx and Hannah Arendt and Noam Chomsky, and we know what you’re trying to say and already agree with you (even if we find repulsive your way of putting it)! Go post at Little Green Footballs or some other conservative blog, or at least change your shtick to acknowledge that we’re not the audience you’ve mistakenly judged us to be!”

The problem, however, is that this is not the entirety of Seth’s message. The fact that Seth keeps posting here—doubling down—indicates that Seth does not believe that we are “the wrong audience.” Furthermore, from what I’ve heard (and this is hearsay, but I’m inclined for now to believe it), “Seth is always like this”—anywhere he goes, anytime of the day, he’s always “on.” Seth has responded to total war with total abhorrence to war. And while that might not make him the most charming dinner companion (or party guest, as Mike put it), it does suggest a bit more about his motivations. Because I think Seth’s primary goal is to make other people suffer.

Seth wants to make others suffer because it would be wrong for them not to so long as other suffering exists. It is immoral, Seth is arguing, to take pleasure while others are denied the capacity for pleasure. You wake up and you visit HTMLGiant in order to read about indie lit. Well, you could have gone and read Z Magazine, you insensitive asshole, you! While you were reading a post about Alt Lit, 100 more people just died in Syria. So fuck you, and fuck Alt Lit! Fuck the 1% who get to live in comfort and security! Spend every waking moment thinking about the 99% who suffer daily, or else you are complicit in their suffering!

If I’m correct about this, then Seth is a fundamentalist, and hostile to all discourse other than the discourse he deems worthwhile. His self-appointed mission here, there, and everywhere is to put an end to the frivolous fun that others are having, and steer the conversation to what he considers appropriate topics. The fact that others are posting about other things—Mike Meginnis followed “Dear Everyone” with an interview he conducted with some game designers!?!?! Rather than an interview with an orphan killed in the Congo!?!?! Well, this will only motivate Seth to continue posting.

Assuming that I’m correct. I may not be. Because complicating any reading of Seth is his obstinate elusiveness, and his steadfast commitment to all things babyish. As it turns out, Seth does have some different subject matter besides Syria and the Congo and vulgar Marxism: his mummy and his teddy and his tummy and the pretty clothes he wears, and all the yummy foods he wants to eat. These topics are of course often entwined: hence, Seth pals around with the Baby Dictators, whose misadventures he describes in various degrees of “baby-talk” (including frequent misspellings, which I read as deliberate, or at least not problematic for Seth’s project. Sorry, Grammar Police!). This infantile aesthetic is a significant part of Shit Seth Says, and Seth is consistent in it. It would be wrong for those who read Seth to disregard it.

What is the value of acting like a baby? Immediately the word “acting” stands out. Babies act like babies because they are babies, and cannot choose otherwise. And babies are not moral agents, not the way adults are. We don’t hold babies entirely responsible for their behavior, and don’t judge it the way we do adult behavior. Babies can crap their pants and wail their heads off and gobble greedily, but we don’t condemn them for that the way we would an adult who did the same. We tolerate baby behavior, even when it annoys us. And if a baby were to somehow kill another baby, we would regard that sad occasion as an accident. Babies can’t commit murder.

Seth’s baby dictators, then, pose something of a puzzle. They’re murderers—mass murderers—and yet their being babies would seem to excuse their crimes. (A baby can’t be a dictator, except perhaps metaphorically.) Baby Hitler is not responsible for genocide; Adult Hitler is. Baby Hitler has not yet become Adult Hitler, which Seth acknowledges when he describes the character as “the boy who will one day kill six million you-know-whos and five million other oh-who-cares.”

But at the same time, Baby Hitler remains Baby Hitler. He is unlike other babies. It would be wrong—and I think Seth wants us to remember this—to therefore treat Baby Hitler as we would any other baby: to pinch his chubby toes, to coo and gurgle in his face, or to indulge his incessant screaming for attention and for treats. Because Baby Hitler will grow up to murder all of those people! He is a grotesque parody of a baby, monstrous and disgusting. Inasmuch as Baby Hitler’s cuteness may lead us to treat him like a baby, that cuteness is horrible. (I’m reminded of Maurizio Cattelan’s sculptural installation HIM.)

If I’m correct here, then Seth might be critiquing cuteness as something that can cause us to overlook or forget or even indulge murder. His baby dictators, unlike other babies, bear the responsibilities of adult selves (their adult selves), and must be regarded as the moral equivalents of adults. Being a baby is no excuse.

Is Seth then critiquing adults who would act like infants? That would sync up with his critique of the bourgeois Icky Whitey, who wants only to disregard wars and massacres, or at least insist that death and destruction keep elsewhere, out of sight. Like babies, they are concerned only with themselves, and with having their greedy needs met. We have met the baby, and it is us.

What then of Seth’s own persistent babyish antics? Here he might be demonstrating his own complicity, perhaps even parodying himself? Is this a manifestation of his guilt? Does he castigate himself for every time that he (like Baby Marie Antoinette) has wanted, and therefore bought, and therefore eaten, a soft cherry cream cheese croissant? That croissant, the money Seth spent on it, the attention he paid to it, the space in his tummy that it commanded—all could have been better used, used to save innocent lives! Purchasing a croissant makes Seth—makes anyone—complicit in a croissant-making industry that is no doubt intimately connected to the military-industrial complex and to some extent responsible for every bomb that has fallen on Syrian civilians. CROISSANTS = BOMBS. By this logic, one cannot drop out—one cannot avoid making war by making love—because everything is war. Total war means “nowhere else to go.”

Remember what the Misfit said, at the end of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”? “She would have been a good person […] if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” Seth would be The Misfit. Shut up, Bobby Lee. It’s no real pleasure in life.

So what then?

Can Seth be placated? No, I imagine not. The poor will be with us always, and Seth’s insistence on being “always on,” always acting the provocateur, would indicate a total commitment to his cause, or a deranged inability to do otherwise. His desire to call humanity to account has, perversely, rendered him somewhat inhuman. For someone who has made it his mission to condemn others for their lack of compassion, he demonstrates little himself.

Obviously the man embodies some pretty basic contradictions. Who appointed him this site’s scourge, let alone the world’s? By what right or logic does he hold moral authority over anyone else? Especially since his reading of Marx / Arendt / Chomsky is unburdened by wit, sophistication, or all that much understanding.

Furthermore, what would Seth have others do? For all his complaints, for all his critiques, what solution can he offer other than recognition and misery? Does Seth possess some concept of atonement? Because it’s true that as I sit here in my Logan Square apartment, I am complicit in many ways with all kinds of suffering. I have long known this, and I am, I think, willing to accept this. Recognizing the ways in which my being harms the being of others is important, and necessary—but what lies beyond that? What awaits us after awareness?

And now, Dear Reader, we’ve reach the point where we must talk about ourselves. Because as Christ once said, “Whenever thou makest a gun of thine own hand, and pointeth it at another, three of thy fingers point back at thou—and one at God, you stupid fuck.” And as Nietzsche put it, “Take care not to watch scary monster movies at night, lest you become a slobbering fan of monster movies.”

It’s been curious to read so many comments suggesting that Seth’s posts are somehow “killing” HTMLGiant. While the “death” of a blog remains a vaguely metaphorical concept at best, Seth’s supposed role in this site’s passing would seem greatly exaggerated:

The AWP Should Stand for Something Very Vulgar Because It Is Very Vulgar”: 97 comments

Dressing Up Anne Frank”: 184 comments

American Humans Are the Least Specialist Thing in the Universe”: 52 comments

Dear II,” (by Mike Young): 47 comments

Dear White Race”: 83 comments

Dressing Up Maya Angelou”: 101 comments

Maybe if…”: 63 comments

Dear Everyone” (by Mike Meginnis): 54 comments

Also, in terms of page views, over the past 90 days, Seth has landed six posts in the top 25, as have the two Mikes. That’s seven out of 25 (24, actually), or 30% or something. And it’s something.

In other words, over the past three months, writing by and about Seth has proven exceedingly popular at this site—nearly one-third of its discourse. And it’s possible that Seth is pulling an Objectivist-style trick, and registering all those page views himself (furiously refreshing the page at NYC public libraries), and posting all those comments under a variety of Disqus accounts that he’s created/hijacked … but we all know that isn’t the case. Seth’s writing is popular because the people, one way or another, like it.

I like it, and you like it. We read it, reread it, comment on it, argue over it. Seth’s writing has if anything invigorated this site, given it a new and different life. Our comments, when studied closely, actually say: “That’s it, I’ve had it! I’m never reading this website again! … at least until the next time Seth posts.” So Mike M. can try to pronounce the Seth Question finished with and forgotten … but I fear that’s wishful thinking.

Because we can’t help ourselves, can we? Roughly 700 comments and counting would indicate that the man who one day grew up to be a baby has given us a great deal to discuss (and discuss so pleasantly—truly, Seth’s been successful in inspiring compassion).

From where the implacable Seth Oelbaum sits, this probably looks like validation. You, me, HTMLGiant—we need him after all.

[The image at the top of this post is taken from the article “Pregnant Congolese Refugees Face Enormous Risks when Delivering.”]

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  1. Bill Hsu

      That’s pretty funny, Adam. Were you wearing your bear suit when you wrote that?

      Let’s get back to raving about the new Jodorowsky trailer.

  2. cwinnette

      The man has a point.

  3. cwinnette

      Just for clarification, the man here = AD… I’m not entirely sure what Bill is trying to say.

  4. mimi

      all the attendant discussion Has been interesting, and fruitful, i think

      (also, sounds like Bill is picturing you in your bear suit)

      : )

      good post!

  5. A D Jameson

      I think he’s trying to mock and dismiss me.

  6. A D Jameson

      You mean … this bear suit?

      I never take it off. :)

  7. mimi

      and You, A D Jameson, are one of those what they call shameless HTMLGIANT self-promoters, that picture (Obviously Photoshopped!! Shamelessly!!!!) is proof incontrovertible

  8. A D Jameson

      It’s true, I confess. I’m selling signed prints of that pic, should anyone want one.

  9. AndrewWorthington

      Nick Antosca

      Ken Baumann

      Jimmy Chen

      David Fishkind

      Brian Foley

      Roxane Gay

      Evelyn Hampton

      Christopher Higgs

      Lily Hoang

      Kristen Iskandrian

      A D Jameson

      M Kitchell

      Catherine Lacey

      Mark Leidner

      Sean Lovelace

      Amy McDaniel

      Kyle Minor

      Ben Mirov

      Alec Niedenthal

      Alissa Nutting

      Alexis Orgera

      Nat Otting

      Adam Robinson

      Reynard Seifert

      Matthew Simmons

      Jackie Wang

      Andrew James Weatherhead

      Mike Young

  10. Diana

      I was totally on board with this until the end. Seth’s posts do make me never want to read HTMLGIANT — in truth this is one of the first posts I’ve read in a long while. I know friends who boycott the site and *won’t* shop their reviews to HTMLGIANT because of him. He is a misogynist, racist, and a reductive writer (to put it kindly). No one with these qualities should have any kind of platform.

  11. Jeremy Hopkins

      !? It’s like god had sex with god and the result was a 25-hour day. ?!

  12. deadgod

      I don’t think Oelbaum is as obscure as you say (and have said several times); your take seems mostly accurate to me: a fundie–in intention–of anti-bourgie critique, compulsively provocative, with one rhetorical tone, self-implicating in a crazed way, committed to his taunting obnoxiousness. A would-be giggling regicide. (Actually giggling, but the ‘king’–HTMLG’s privileged readers (or those who’ve commented)–have nearly uniformly puked up the poison.)

      I think you’re right, too, about the content of his media and political slant: Chomsky-poo.

      –and the O’Connor is an inspired call. I don’t think anything anyone here has said in rancorous disapproval of Oelbaum should’ve pierced the Icky Carapace more lethally than failed Misfit.

      I think you’re off–or putting on your bear costume?–about the “invigorate[ion]”. There’s got to be a smidge of genuine anger in the din of denunciation (and not just rote gnashing). (Mike Meginnis expressed real dislike, as far as I can tell. I doubt mimi’s secretly pleased by Anne Frank’s ghoulish dress-up. You’re not digging a frisson at the implication that gay marriage is keeping Syria off the nightly news because gay couples are bourgeois assholes?) But you’re right: harrumphing off from HTMLG might be irresistible for many people who say they don’t come here (anymore) (anyway).

      For myself, I commented on what I took to be factual carelessness in a couple of Oelbaum’s earliest blogicles, as I remember, but most of my comments, and all the recent ones, I think, have been in dispute with claims of “misogynist”, “anti-Semite”, and “homophobe”, which I’ve only seen substantiated by some form of it’s obvious.

      I also don’t think anyone actually interested in, say, Anne Carson would skip a review–even if they hadn’t read the book–because of Baby Oelbaum’s Molotov Shirley Temples.

  13. mimi

      ‘dressing up’ at its best

  14. Richard Grayson

      Sweet alphabetizing.

  15. A D Jameson

      I think it’s a hit list.

  16. A D Jameson

      Hi Diana,

      No matter how much people have been saying things like that—”Seth is driving me away from the site”—the facts appear otherwise.

      My point was that this site is a community, and if that community allows one person to dominate it—well, they bear some responsibility for that. Every single one of us decides every single day how to deal with the Seths in our lives.

      Plenty of HG posts get put up and totally ignored all the time. Happens every day.


  17. A D Jameson

      Hi deadgod,

      Seth’s purpose has definitely clarified (or congealed?) over time, but I think it’s taken some time for his intention to become clear, and he’s made confusing comments about it here and elsewhere. Still, that should have been more precisely stated.

      As for my point in the ending: I didn’t write this post for Seth. If I’m right in my read of him, then the guy can’t be reasoned/communicated with.

      So I wrote this post for everyone else—for the HG community. It’s my version of Mike’s “Dear Everyone.” And I was trying to point out the responsibility that we bear (or bear costume) for the ways Seth’s dominated this site and its discourse the past three months. Someone is reading him and making all those comments. The incessant complaining and declarations of this site’s death look hollow to me. Seth called the bluff. He won. What now?

      Here’s my prediction: Seth will keep posting, and people will keep visiting those posts to comment: “This guy’s an asshole, I’m never reading this site again.” If so (let’s check back on 21 August!), then that will confirm my suspicion that a lot of people are really enjoying the situation. But I’m cynical that way.

      Your comments have been among the best. I don’t get why anyone ever down votes them. I love HTMLGiant and am proud to be a part of the site, but I get the impression that many people here (on all sides of the table) don’t take the time to read certain things all that carefully.


  18. Jeremy Hopkins

      SO’s posts — It’s like someone took a picture of you, cropped it down to just your recent (and totally inexplicable) patch of chin-zits, put it on a billboard, and while he didn’t actually put your name on it, you know it’s your chin. There is no advertisement for a cure, nor even the slightest glimmering implication that there might be some way to resolve the pimplage. It’s not a mirror, but a partial picture of something nobody wants. It’s just a tight shot of ugliness, a portrait of infection: cosmetically unattractive, but absolutely non-fatal. Naturally, some people don’t like it.

  19. mimi

      chin zits i don’t mind
      calling anne frank “lucky” i do

  20. A D Jameson

      Hi Jeremy,

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really “like” Seth’s posts myself. But I don’t think that excuses me from trying to understand them. I don’t think much of liking/disliking, honestly. Regardless of my personal feelings on anything—books, movies, blog posts, people—I try to look past my subjective reaction and look at what’s “really” going on. I think it’s extremely important to engage actively and thoughtfully with the world, and if a person engages only with the things he or she likes, they risk becoming a shallower person. What’s more, a lot of things that I now like I initially disliked.

      Mind you, I’m not accusing you of anything—I’m stating instead why I’m just as inclined to write about my dislikes as my likes. And I do think people haven’t been reading Seth’s posts all that carefully. (Though, to be fair, he would seem to encourage that.)


  21. A D Jameson

      What about calling Anne Frank’s chin zits lucky?

  22. Jeremy Hopkins

      I respect you and your approach. Like/dislike—people can always ignore stuff. But if they intend to cultivate an actionable opinion, (and to act on that opinion,) then they should probably read the stuff for real.
      The guy could come out and say whatever he wants in clear, concise language, but he’s not writing journalism or “calls-to-action,” so why would he? Who would read these things and consider them to be “informative?” And if they are not truly “informative,” then we don’t learn that Seth is a bad person by reading them. (He might still be, though.)

  23. Jeremy Hopkins

      The luck *is* the chin-zit.

  24. Bill Hsu

      I wasn’t. I enjoyed the article. No one else thought it was (intentionally) funny?

  25. Jamie Felton

      If you’re correct, then Seth’s presupposition that we are not already suffering (enough) is awfully presumptuous. No other person can know what goes on inside the minds of other human beings. Just because we are not experiencing circumstances that look the same as events occurring around the world, does not mean that suffering is not occurring. To claim this is fascism (yes, sorry, but it is). Seth does not get to proclaim who should suffer when and how much, to determine the worth and weight of others’ suffering (that’s fucking capitalism). Also, being strange and obscure and mysterious does not automatically/necessarily make you intelligent or worthy of attention or note. The interesting thing is that he is merely creating bread and circuses to rant over while real things should be noticed and discussed. So maybe that is his great irony. Meanwhile, he can giggle about it without understanding that his efforts might be better utilized if he just behaved sincerely (meaning, ditch the fucking smoke and mirrors) and drew people’s attention in a less belittling and condescending way.

  26. Jeremy Hopkins

      Maybe he’s making fun of himself for pretending to care about stuff.

  27. Guest

      Just because people are still reading the site and commenting doesn’t mean they haven’t “given up on the site.” “Giving up on the site” can be interpreted figuratively.I gave up on the notion that eating junk food was good a long time ago, but I still do it sometimes; one might be “giving up on this site” as the site she once believed it to be, rather than literally boycotting it. One can be drawn to trash, junk, car wrecks, etc. while simultaneously acknowledging the trash’s worthlessness compared to non-trash.

      That’s probably what a lot of people mean when they say the site is “dead,” that it’s been relegated to junk status in their eyes, like a literary TMZ. But people still read TMZ knowing it’s mostly trash. People still follow Amanda Bynes’s dumbass on Twitter. There’s an addictive value in trash and, in that respect, Seth O is valuable as cultural trash and possessing a junk mind filled with junk ideas. He fits in quite well with most of our tabloid, consumer culture, the one that elevates trash like Kim Kardishan to noteworthy status.

      Another poster put it quite well when he mentioned how the literary world isn’t immune to little Kim Kardashians (or Seth Os) infiltrating it, and that’s all we have here: Kim Kardashian or Amanda Bynes with a penis. Speaking of penis, maybe Seth O will “pull” a Jordan Castro in his next post, no pun intended, which will draw 5,000 comments, as if that should shock anyone that sensationalism tends to draw more attention than genuine ideas. History bears this reality out, so measuring worthiness via number of responses is inadequate.

  28. ASKlein

      Looking at page views as a counter-argument to the killing (or not killing) of this site is problematic. Not all attention is good, I think. Shit-stirring posts and comment threads are their own engines of page views. Take any audience no matter how learned or fundamentalist or apathetic and introduce anything along the lines of moral equivalency, the word “whitey”, criticism of Judaism (I’llt get back to that in a moment) and you’re gonna find yourself with a bevy of page views. Because people want to get on the high horse and pick up a lance and have at it. I think what sticks in my craw the most about SO’s writing (and I think was at the heart of Mike’s Dear Everyone post) is the lack of accountability. Accountability of ideas, of thought. Whether that takes the form of LINKS LINKS LINKS or wading in to comment threads to defend yourself or whathaveyou or SOMETHING that adds accountability to what you’re saying. The internet is overrun with writing just like SO’s. That his writing appears here lends it a legit credibility that isn’t backed up by his writing’s accountability. That is the central issue for me. /two cents

  29. ASKlein

      I think the point is that SO isn’t listed with the contributors on the “about” page

  30. mimi

      you’re not trying to irk me, are you A D Jameson?

      i mean, after all, i’m the one that gave you your high-fashion bear suit

  31. Shannon

      I am not entirely sure of the community aspect of this spot on the internet. Over time I’ve seen that (it could be how I phrase things I dunno) asking questions/talking in any manner that seems overly serious seems to be the uncool thing to do. Seth’s posts aside (I’ve stopped reading them myself) there does tend to be an occasional air of LOL U CARE BOUT STUFF. That is not my jam so often I tend not to comment at all.

      That might just be my read. I’m not super personally invested. I tend to really enjoy the interviews and book reviews but my enjoyment of any community aspect has pretty much withered as far as my own participation goes.

  32. mimi

      hey shannon –

      i pretty much only post goofy comments, because i feel i’m not smart enough or well-enough-read to comment on, for example, susan sontag’s Against Interpretation (haven’t even read it, actually, although i sure would like to, along with a million other things i ‘could’ do in-between work and marriage and children and house* and dog and etc and etc and etc)

      but i learn a lot about a lot from a lot of the posts and deadgod’s comments, and occasionally have an opinion or two that i feel ‘strongly’ enough about and ‘strong enough’ to express

      as for ‘community’ – i’m hoping A D Jameson Appreciates me for the Bear Suit i gave him – if not, i’m going to go hang out with Nick Cave ‘the artist’ instead – he’s hot!

      *disregard, my house is a complete mess

  33. ADJ on the state of HTML Giant | The VOLTA Blog

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  34. mimi

      in other words, i Definitely don’t feel ‘too cool’ or “LOL U CARE BOUT STUFF” (i DO care about stuff!! a lot!!)
      (not that you’re saying that about Me)

  35. Shannon

      Hi MImi.

      From what I’ve seen you don’t seem unintelligent or not intelligent enough to comment on whatever you like. I haven’t read that book either so wouldn’t comment on it specifically generally speaking.

      I don’t feel too cool either. I may not be cool enough, I don’t know.

      I like those Ted Sabarese photos. His self portrait series is pretty great

  36. deadgod

      As far as conversing with Oelbaum, someone might tell him that ‘the point is not to exasperate the bourgeoisie; the point is to change them’. If it’s so that he’s either Serious or Not, in neither case would he break character, right?

      Pretty sure some of what I’ve said about Oelbaum–failed Misfit–is EXACTLY what some think of my comments generally. Irony wrapped in auto-deconstruction shrouded in undelimitable performative contradiction.

      I’m sure it’s a mistake to take thumbs-up/down especially to heart. Two problems:

      a) A vote (in either case) is ambiguously meant. Is some particular upvote a back-pat, a tiny puff of topical agreement, a mark of enemy-of-my-enemy? Is a downvote a shaming, a jab of impersonal disagreement, a long-running enmity? Especially with punishment (not always down-), votes attract voters; with each vote, potential belongers feel tough about being the next pitchfork in the mob.

      (And, of course, voters can game the one-asshole-one-opinion ratio.)

      b) More telling (to me), every vote (of either stripe) has its content go not just unspecified, but undefended. Nobody’s gonna challenge MY trip–fuck that! I’ma say what I’ma say, fucker! …what’s that word people keep calling Seth Oelbaum because he doesn’t clarify his point of view? or respond to counter-arguments? because he seems just to want to excite rudderless distress? Troll.

      There are people who vote and converse – you, right? If that’s the norm in the up/down, I’m wrong. And I’m a hypocrite, to the extent that I laugh at others’ getting the Caesar down-thumb and love lots of cheering (for me) (and feel the pinch of disapproval (of me)). But the popularity shine… can’t scratch your head too hard about all of that.

  37. deadgod

      There sure is a little trashily repetitive foot-stamping in the comment threads.

  38. Guest

      You would certainly know about that, wouldn’t you, Mr. Apologist?

  39. The Exception | Actuary Lit

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  40. Richard Grayson

      The Oelbaum’s supermarket circular that came to my house on Thursday said the store would be discounting all house brand frozen vegetable mixes this week for 99 cents a bag. But this morning when I went to the Oelbaum’s on Beach Channel Drive, by the Rockaway Park post office, they were charging the regular price, $2.09. They said when they said “frozen vegetable mix,” they meant carrots & peas, or corn, carrots & peas, or corn, carrots, peas & green beans, not the California mix (broccoli, cauliflower & carrots) or Fiesta mix (broccoli, red peppers, kidney beans & corn) or Asian stir fry (broccoli, celery, onions, julienne-cut green beans, red & green peppers & snow peas). I think Oelbaum’s is being unfair and using the word “mixed” in the phrase “mixed vegetables” in a misleading way. If Seth Oelbaum is responsible for writing the circular for this supermarket, I feel he owes me $5.50 for the money I laid out for what I believe are five bags of true “mixed” frozen vegetables.

  41. Richard Grayson

      Also, why is the first Monday of every month the day we shoppers over 60 get our 10% discounts? Oelbaum’s should know that Mondays are hard for a lot of us, particularly those of us really getting up there who may have trouble getting rides to the store on Mondays. I would ask Seth Oelbaum to reconsider his supermarket’s policy and switch the senior citizen discount day to the first Tuesday or Wednesday of the month. Thank you.

  42. Richard Grayson

      And why does the bottled kimchi only come in “mild”? Does Seth Oelbaum think none of the shoppers in his store like spicier kimichi? Well, once again, he is sadly wrong.

  43. Richard Grayson

      I never had these problems when I lived in Bethesda and shopped at the Giant supermarkets there, both the one on Arlington Road and the Giant supermarket on Westbard Avenue. The Giant supermarkets were better run than Oelbaum’s and the stores were laid out more logically and easier to navigate. I would suggest that Seth Oelbaum take a few tips from HTML Giant and run his stores more like they do.

  44. A D Jameson

      I guess I misunderstood, Bill—apologies. I hoped my post was funny, but at the same time I was trying to take Seth’s ideas seriously, and to engage others in discussion—to do something other than dismiss Seth, or rave about the new Jodorowsky trailer. (But if that’s what people would rather do, then they should do that.)