I tend to get lost in the trees so I like to check in with Jereme Dean because well I think of Jereme as a wise man, an oracle, a modern day version of Ikkyū the 15th century Zen Master:
they used sticks and yells and other tricks those fakes
Ikkyū reaches high low like sunlight
Jereme, furthermore, sits outside of writing movements, fashion, allegiances, etc, and there is an authority and a confidence to Jereme that I really respond to:
I live in a shack on the edge of whorehouse row
me autumn a single candle
And because Jereme will tell it you straight, a true oracle, I’ve decided to start up this new feature, “Ask the Oracle,” where, periodically, I’m going to put crucial questions to our modern-day Ikkyū.
and so, here then, now, is the first installment of “Ask the Oracle”:
Rauan: I’ve seen you poke fun at (or be scornful of, i guess) “Alt Lit” and, specifically, i think, Steve Roggenbuck. But are you really against these positive, energetic DIY youngsters? (& plz elaborate)
Jereme: Alt Lit has nothing to do with online writing, really. It’s a clique. Some have tried desperately to associate writing with the term, like people who feel their worthwhileness is minor and desire to be part of a movement–something remarkable!–or publishers looking to categorize their books for sale. But, don’t be fooled, alt lit is to writing like a cafeteria is to school education.
Internet literature isn’t new. There are plenty of people who’ve been around before the term was coined, and still are around, writing: Blake Butler, Sam Pink, Tao Lin, Daniel Bailey, Mike Young, Jimmy Chen, Brandon Scott Gorrell, etc.
True positivity is anchored and unafraid of negativity, it actually welcomes it. While asserting yourself as a Haitian mongoose, regardless of emphaticism, doesn’t negate being a human being who hates himself/herself.
Unsure where the idea of ‘positivity’ comes from though. I don’t see it. Feel like most people online make great efforts creating a fictitious identity, one which counters their insecurities, and the only way to actually believe the fantasy is to be chill/stay positive/chant affirmations. Because of this, the dissenting voice seems to be enemy number one to alt lit. They react ferociously and vehemently to remove it from the ranks, which is the easiest way to see the facade of positivity for what it is.
A truth I’ve noticed throughout life is the guy who won’t stop talking about what he is, has done or will do, is bullshit. Why is alt lit desperately trying to assert itself as a presence. The general mood is reminiscent of a fat virgin who doesn’t want people to know his abysmal dick hasn’t ever penetrated a woman by telling everyone and anyone how much pussy he’s destroyed since his balls dropped.
We all get it. You guys are young, dumb and full of internet cum. Pretty cool. It’s just… it’s just that any person/group/movement declaring itself as the new generation of beats ensures it isn’t.
The Bizarro group of writers is the model alt lit is trying to be. The paramount difference being Bizarro’s dearth of smarmy sermonizing from digital mountain tops. Probably because they’re too busy dressing up in costume, going to cons or writing about dragons, krakkens and dragonkrakkens.
I do think there are some talented writers coming out of the alt lit camp, authors who will become greater voices in time, and I look forward to reading their work.
Here’s a story about Steve Roggenbuck: after a reading, at an apartment, someone jumped on Steve’s unattended laptop and posted on his facebook. Ol’ boy discovered what had happened, came severely close to shitting himself, while seizuring, then admonished the person in his shrill voice because his “brand” had been tampered with.
OMG! HIS BRAND…
So, yeah, fuck Steve Roggenbuck. He’s not a person or a poet, he’s a billboard advertising $1 sodas and 100pc nuggets. Why wouldn’t I dislike something like that?
His videos are on par with the shamwow guy: here’s a dude selling a piece of fabric–not even a large piece, just a small one–who knows if he doesn’t fatten the presentation, line the motherfucker with jazz and high-fives, nobody will notice or attribute value to a dumb piece of orange rayon.
If feigned intensity/screaming and mock humanity was purposeful, Wally George would be considered more than what he is. The Roggenbrand is no different.
I’m unsure if people actually take him seriously or not. I mean, I recently read an article about how inspirational Steve, the internet poet, is for the internet generation but the way it was written led me to believe the author was a stick of butter.
Steve is the roach motel of motivational self-help. If he wanted to help people, well, dude would actually be helping people.
A person looking externally for inspiration could follow ken baumann’s blog, read aaron gilbreath’s interviews with homeless people, hang out with some winos near a liquor store, write a felon, burn down an apple store, visit a high kill shelter or search for the eyes of hunger.
Roggenbrand enjoys lecturing about better life choices while claiming to be straight edge. Which bothers me. A lot.
Straight edge is an affiliation. It’s not the same as saying “hey guys, I’m vegan!” In high school I knew some straight edgers. They liked to post outside of house parties and hospitalize anyone found really drunk and alone. Roggenbrand on the other hand does readings in bars. Which is a great example of everything wrong with current culture: the only belief is ego. I mean, finding a genuine hypocrite in the 21st century is harder than hearing a nun’s queef at an Alice Cooper concert.
In an alternate, but similar, reality, Steve is a coked-out amway salesman who just wants to help his friends and family get fricken rich.
The only noteworthy quality of Roggenbrand is how unoriginal he is. Not in a common way, more like in nearly 90% of what he screams, writes or does is “borrowed” from successful artists, pop culture and corporate marketing.
Modern society will largely accept anything as long as it’s encapsulated in a joke, conveniently delivered and doesn’t threaten the fragile sense of self-worth.
I’ll give him credit for exploiting people. You figured it out. Good job.
I recently saw him begging for money on Kickstarter for his ‘press’ Boosted House. The 10k he’s soliciting for is supposed to change the world through printing of books, creation of tshirts and stickers, vegan food, rent and tour costs. Apparently, working a job isn’t achievable when you’re an internet poet.
If tshirts possessed the ability to change the world, Dukakis would’ve been president back in 1988. Really curious to see these artifacts. Seriously.
Boosted House is concerned solely with advancing Steve’s vegan, drug-free, fake positivity agenda. It feels very cult, to me.
One of their future endeavors is to target “alt youth”, which shouldn’t be confused with “nazi youth”.
He’s targeting the young because they are, have, and always will be, easily manipulated. What he’s doing isn’t interesting or unique. I liken it to Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” campaign.
5-10 years from now the roggenbrand will be a vague, derisive memory followed by a chuckle and head shake, very much the same way people reminisce about that old lady and her quest for palpable meat.
For the record, I don’t consider Steve part of “alt lit”. I know people do but I don’t. A scene is the easiest way for a sociopath to feed his/her egotistical needs and alt lit just happens to be the largest right now, one almost any person can join. He’s an interloper, more akin to David Koresh, hustling the weak minded to fuel his ascension.
Anyways, if my feelings aren’t lucid, like, fuck Steve Roggenbuck and his attention whoring, fake guru, pubert brand. When, and if, I ever meet the actual person, I’ll let you know what I think of him.