April 16th, 2013 / 4:41 pm
Power Quote

Dear II,


 via Carolyn Zaikowski, who, like, actually writes about this stuff



  1. A D Jameson

      Yeah, anyone who bombs anyone anywhere is a dick.

  2. Gabe Durham

      Ya, pretty much. The first flush of tragedy response, “OH NO! SO BAD,” is the purest and ought not be contextualized away by the big scheme of things.

  3. Mike Young

      yeah, and the conversation about the big scheme of things is a legitimate real conversation that is actually more easy to start on the heels of compassion/empathy and more prone to be short-circuited by that which brings out the worst in everybody

  4. Matt Rowan

      Thanks for sharing this, Mike.

  5. A D Jameson

      Every comment in this thread should begin with “yeah” or a variant.

  6. Gabe Durham


  7. Don

      How could anyone respond to an act intended to kill and maim so many, to the murder of a child, with anything other than sorrow and empathy for the survivors and anger/confusion at whomever did this heinous thing?

  8. Frank Rodriguez

      I prefer asinine comments to “we need to keep going about our daily lives or else terrorists win” comments. The asinine comments are trying to make connections and force people to see things within a larger context.

      While it’s worse for the terror aspect of it, the bombing isn’t as bad as Newtown–in the aftermath of which some people are trying to keep the daily status quo going. (I mean that terrorist attacks make one afraid to go outside or to “hot” areas, whereas massacres seem random.)

  9. alan rossi

      Yes, I want to add that the first response is the purest and not only that, but also: we don’t need the phrase “contextualized away by the big scheme of things.” I mean, what is the little scheme of things vs the big scheme? Small or large, less important or more important? This thinking is just thinking. We are the big scheme of things and the little, the important and unimportant, at once. Who are we? Where, what is the big scheme, the trivial? It’s all right here, where ever that is.

      Any suffering anywhere is with everyone everywhere whether we know it, feel it, or not. We like to pretend this isn’t so or sometimes we just forget.

      Sorry if this comment comes off as a little asinine, it’s not intended to be.

  10. deadgod

      Don’t exploit. Don’t crow. Don’t represent above yourself.

      Don’t be an asshole.

      Always good advice.

      And–strangely unlike, say, cocaine–: more of a pleasure to give than to receive.

      Confusion, rage, grief: each, uncannily a vehicle for compassion and solidarity.

      But demanding of immediate responses that they be self-policed in accordance with the Really Big Picture…

      Do you remember what Malcolm X said (publicly) when he learned of JFK’s assassination?

      And do you remember Rove/Cheney genius Ari Fleischer snarling after 9/11?

  11. Mike Young
  12. Chad Morgan

      Totally agree. The fact is, the violence is sad, the destruction is awful, the loss of life & limbs & all of that turns my stomach. But my stomach is also turned by the implied supremacy of Americans over people in other (read: brown) nations where events such as this are a brutally real and relevant part of everyday life – in a way the majority of Americans can’t even imagine. And they’re largely unreported, and the out-pour of collective American sympathy in the wake of such events in other parts of the world is shameful. Americans, largely, do not care. We have a government who sends robots to blow up schools and civilian homes – killing a lot more than three people when they do. Why are American so surprised when something like happens on American soil? You’re comparison of Malcolm X’s post-JFK-assassination comments is spot on: I think time will show the tragic events in Boston (for it was a tragedy; I won’t (couldn’t don’t, want to) argue that; but are American tragedies somehow larger, more important, more tragic, because they are America’s?) are merely another case of “America’s chickens coming home to roost.”

      But my heart goes out, still, to the city of Boston, to Bostonians, to all those affected.

  13. Mike Young

      i totally agree, chad, which i think is one of the reasons it’s so important to talk about this stuff in a way that isn’t shock-jocky or designed toward local reactions or buried behind meringue-like layers of theory, especially when—speaking from behind—we are talking from behind the safety of computer screens. i mean, i don’t even like boston, which i joke about all the time, but true things get complex: for example, the event in question is one of the most diverse gatherings in the world, one of the deaths wasn’t even american, etc.

      i mean, speaking personally, i think it’s fucked up that diane sawyer makes her face go crazy talking about “heroes” and nationalism and nobody reports the uglier side of nationalism (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html) that (always) happens at literally the exact same time. i feel like if we can’t talk about all these things happening at the same time—the help and the hate—we’re not giving ourselves and our talking capacities enough credit, and if we start with petty, local goals in that talking, we’re just going to get into cycles of tiny highs and tiny glees and tiny rages and alienation and reduction.

      another part of the reason i wanted to post what carolyn z said here on HTMLG was not to admonish or scold or finger-wag—even though, yeah, i admit i was annoyed when i saw seth’s post and the space it was taking up and much of my initial motivation when i asked CZ if i could post her comment came from kneejerk annoyance/anger—but really i don’t want to bully anybody, i just wanted to present a different model of response, one that wasn’t shock-jocky or elevating what happened in boston over any suffering that happens anywhere else. a response that is instead saying that all suffering matters and is building a way to hold and carry what that means.

      and is part of a track record of building such, which is to say feel like i maybe ultimately did CZ a disservice to wedge her into this HTMLG moment/context, which is why i put links to other things she’s written about these exact same problems and questions in the part where it says “via Carolyn Zaikowski, who, like, actually writes about this stuff,” which i admit was probably too snarky. but i think those are smart/relevant pieces and should definitely be read by everybody interested in this line of wrestling.

      in any event, i am really happy that people are having thoughtful things to say in this thread!

  14. deadgod
  15. deadgod

      [Your Davidson link ends with an impeding “)”.]

      That Davidson article is expert. (It’s also linked to at the end of Greenwald’s piece, itself linked to below (by me).)

      The links in your blogicle to that handful of Carolyn’s blog posts offer fine context. Her remarks are a reasonable and useful part of the Large Conversation–as, I think, are the raspy reactions they might’ve occasioned.

  16. Mike Young

      weird, it won’t let me do a link inside parentheses at all! thanks for the catch, and i’ll read that greenwald piece.

  17. Mike Young

      rasp is good!

  18. alan rossi

      kind of think you missed DG’s point (or maybe i did, but i definitely don’t remember what X or Fliescher said/did), but anyway: what Mike said. any thoughtful/mindful person doesn’t need reminded that there are “worse” atrocities in other nations when some suffering occurs “here.” it would be like reminding someone when they’re looking at a flower in their backyard: dude, you do realize that there are stars out in the universe and they’re much cooler and more beautiful and bigger than flowers – it’s just the same as the american supremacy idea just reversed. the starting point is getting rid of our ideas of here and there.

  19. alan rossi

      yeah, thanks for the link. moving in a better-ish way, i think. and makes a clear, if not obvious point. but still: there is something beyond this, which is difficult if not impossible to express and which we’re all already a part of.

      i don’t know.

  20. Seth Oelbaum

      Dear Carolyn,

      Your FB status has been presented as a calm, considered reaction to what occurred in Boston when actually it is reification of the American ideology that privileges its own dead bodies while conversely purporting to possess empathy and equality for human beings everywhere.

      “Everyone’s suffering matters.” But it is the Boston bombings that provoked your outpouring of supposed compassion, not the ones that take place on daily basis in other countries.

      “Boston is my home…” This could be declared by any number of subjects in the Congo, Iran, Palestine, &c. Your voice towers over them since the system you subscribe to grants you access to myriad communication devices. It’s capitalism and your concomitant consuming of wifi, smartphones, &c, that emphasizes your plight. You have the resources and the choice to render your situation intelligible. Others can’t or choose not to share what they’re going through on FB.

      I believe in courtesy. If I were having John Milton over for cupcakes I’d be very polite. But Americans aren’t Milton. They, like you, don’t think. When Eve ate the apple, knowledge shattered into millions of little pieces. According to Milton, the good Christian’s task is to collect as many of those pieces as possible. Your request — to examine only one piece and submit to the consensus of the majority — endorses confined thought (i.e stupidity).

      In Paris Is Burning, one of the boy-girls says, “Everybody’s dream and ambition to live as well as a white person.” When something occurs in White Person Land it immediately takes precedent over all else since it’s depicted as the standard to live up to. But I don’t want to be like a white person’s value system. I’d much rather be like Milton or one of the boy-girls in the movies who believe that they “can become anything and do anything and not be questioned.”

      Your world bulges with compromised behavior. Mine with thought.


      PS, next time please try and avoid terms like “dick” and “asshole.” They are bro terms and offensive to my sensibilities as well as to those of Baby Marie-Antoinette’s.

  21. Brendan Connell

      But you are a dick. Also, you seem to be an American. At least in your youtube videos your voice sounds like a valley girl. And, no, Milton would not go and eat cupcakes with you.

  22. Chad Morgan

      Well, I think there’s something to what DG was doing in pointing out the ridiculous nature of policing anyone’s gut/emotional/initial reaction to situations like these, and how that goes both ways – so if you read my comment/opinion as minimizing the catastrophe or the extent of anyone’s suffering, I apologize, for that wasn’t my intention. My point is, what good does it do to process something like what happened in Boston outside of the context of similar atrocities in other parts of the world, and the intersection of ideologies that contribute to these events? Obviously we don’t know yet who is responsible for Boston, but in the very likely event it was an act of terror, it becomes even more important for Americans to consider what their government is doing in their name overseas, how certain policies of international “diplomacy” might contribute to such events and, furthermore, how the American inclination toward a supposition of cultural/societal superiority or “manifest destiny” and hard imperialist bent are likewise contributing factors. Until terror is eradicated everywhere it can and will happen anywhere.

  23. Chad Morgan

      It’s always great to see separate posts arguing flip sides of the same issue, so thanks for posting.

  24. Mike Young

      hi seth,

      with all due respect—and like i said above, this is mostly my fault for how i contextualized CZ’s post, which is why i feel the urge to bring this up, as CZ can definitely defend herself [tho it’s sort of hilarious how you and i are, like, talking about/for two other people, since i’m assuming you’re not Baby Marie-Antoinette? if this were a movie, this is probably the point i would bring up to my friends, who would politely nod and not care]—but maybe try to dig a little more. check out the links to CZ’s history of talking/thinking/actuallydoing stuff, a history that severely negates most all of what you accuse/assume.

      take care,

      p.s. i mean, i guess, like, assuming you’re interested in level/good faith discussion and not just in hearing/watching yourself construct sweet little bon mots like “your world bulges with compromised behavior,” which (though staggeringly untrue in this particular pronoun-referent case) does sound pretty dazzling and, like, i guess i really hope we are all getting points for bon mots and when we die we’re going to be presented with our bon mot score and prizes accordingly on a sweet gameshow set, but something tells me it will all be a little dustier. =(

  25. alan rossi

      “Self-policed in accordance with the really big picture” was the line I’m thinking of – which would be those who CZ is responding to, right?

      anyway, yeah, I hear what you’re saying and I do mainly agree. also, I didn’t mean to be a dick, so my apologies. Here’s the thing: i just don’t think it’s all that helpful to have our stomach’s turned by mainstream american culture. i mean, look at our culture, do you expect anything more (and this from someone who also has his stomach turned)? my question is: why the surprise (from someone who is obviously thoughtful and intelligent) at a myopic cultural/media response?

      we can think about “America” all we want, but all we can actually do is our small part, which certainly has to do with critiquing the flaws of a culture which is narrow-minded and often grotesquely patriotic, but there’s literally no point in wasting time being shocked or queasy about said culture is all, especially if we already know it.

      there’s something else here, a thing to be done, which i can’t say what is because no one can and which can only be done and also if it is said it becomes prescriptivist: like: make sure to post on your blog how you are outraged at the deaths in Iraq, make sure to show how much you understand and condemn and are egalitarian, make sure to think of the others somewhere else, make sure you give to the poor, make sure…but see, a set of rules?

      the problem with all this is that we need to “process” in the “context of similar atrocities” and “consider” American “superiority.” i’m not saying that’s not necessary and good, but we just love to intellectualize and much of that isn’t a hand in the world. how to eradicate terror everywhere?

  26. guywatchingbowling
  27. reynard

      i don’t think it makes much sense to compare two tragedies like they are football games

      my knee-jerk reaction to the patriot’s day bombing came many hours after a prolonged period of dumbfounded grief, but it was something like ‘well, maybe we should not name things like ‘patriot’s day’ or ‘patriot day’ (the lesser-known but nonetheless ‘official’ name for 9/11, which passed the house uncontested) or ‘patriot missiles’ or ‘tomahawk’ missiles or ‘apache’ helicopters or any of the other incredibly stupid, nationalistic things we name or do, and i too learned that there had been far more deaths at the hands of terrorism elsewhere, and i happen to hold a hard sympathy for the general business of terrorism, as it has led me to think long and hard of the other side and how, really, what else can they (the disenfranchised other) do that will make most people stop and think in any meaningful way, even if it is just a means to invoke tragedy and, in turn, stoke the flames of hatred and fascism this country seems to pour out like a million melted death masks. but it’s one of those times when throwing words at something seems a lot like trying to draw everyone’s face at once

  28. Michael Martin

      I don’t know why I feel compelled to react to this. Maybe it is the glaring lack of self-awareness. I don’t know. I can’t believe it. So I can only believe you are constructing some sort of career-personality platform. Which is kinda lame. Provocation for provocation’s sake worked for 50cent, so, I mean, it’s possible it’ll work for you. But I wouldn’t abuse your detached nature to things and promote yourself via these tragedies. It’s okay to feel strong emotions, to chill out and just be real. If I’m wrong, I’m sorry man, I don’t mean to clown. But.

  29. Guest

      He’s yet another untalented, controversy-seeking, twenty-something gimmick with nothing to say. He lectures others about their “privileged…American ideology” when his career-personality platform persona thoughtlessly integrates the basest symptoms of consumerism. Hard to believe Joyelle McSweeney accepted this idiot into Notre Dame’s Creative Writing program.

  30. Don

      Articles like that remind me why I am not a leftist.

  31. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      I think sweet little bon mots are very much the point, style trumps ideological coherence in Seth’s performance, I think that is something people have often missed here in how they react to him.

  32. Guest

      How convenient. The, “it’s-just-an-act” cop out.

  33. A D Jameson

      No, I think people have gotten that point exactly, Tim. Seth’s underlying critical ideology is incoherent, fine. Let’s discuss only the style (as though that could be divorced from ideology in the first place—but whatever). The problem there, as many have already pointed out, is that Seth’s not all that compelling an artist.

      Meanwhile, Seth’s commitment to style commits him to ideology; that’s inescapable. For instance, his refusal to break character, his commitment to being always “on,” is completely suffused with ideology—what we might call a false consciousness inherited from 100+ years of “experimental art.” It’s a wonder the man doesn’t parade a pet lobster around on a leash. (Is his teddy bear named Thibault?)

      Seth thinks that his constant performance gets him something, just like you seem to think that his constant performance—his being a “total artist”—gets him something. It’s well worth asking what that something is.


  34. alan rossi

      oh, be nice Guest. tim’s comment isn’t mean-spirited. anyway though, just b/c bon mots are the point (or seem to be highly valued by seth), that doesn’t mean his are all that interesting. all the grossing out over seth’s posts seem exactly what he’s aiming/hoping for to me and also thus, the comments seem, like, just as intensely vapid and uninteresting as the posts themselves, except to seth, probably. which is why i’ve avoided them – b/c who gives a shit once that’s understood.

      and more simply: maybe the reactions are all about substance simply b/c the style (please excuse me: in my opinion) isn’t all that?

      then again, maybe i’m wrong about seth’s style. after all, he does say that his own world bulges with thought, like a giant cock that’s so full of itself it doesn’t know where it ends and the world begins, or perhaps like a swollen vag, so pulsingly inward focused it eats itself. or maybe some kind of bulging combo, that delicious pretzel snack.

      i don’t know. i’m so sick of everyone trying to be something, including myself. like, stop being a poet, a writer, a whatever, just stop a little. we’re nothing anyway in an awe-ful way.

  35. Guest

      Where did I say his comment was “mean-spirited”? Please stop with the “icky” be nice stuff when I wasn’t being mean to him in the first place. Also, you’re sick of everyone trying to be something? What does that even mean? You want to live in some relativist world where the bullshitters can’t be separated from the sincere folks? Seems like a rather spineless position.

      And no, that’s not a mean comment–just honest.

  36. alan rossi

      i think it’s clear your comment was fairly aggressive and dismissive. Tim’s making a point, which, instead of engaging with, you’re tossing away with some heavy sarcasm and by calling it a “cop out.” It’s not necessarily a cop out.

      anyway, i don’t know you and if i’m wrong i’m wrong. no problem with that, just sharing a perception.

      anyway, I’m not talking about a relativist world: out the window, I just saw my cat throw up a mouse is what I’m talking about. how are we not ourselves? is what i’m talking about.

  37. Guest

      You don’t need to constantly apologize for your thoughts. I’ve noticed this in several of your comments; many of them are book-ended with little apologies for disagreeing with someone, and/or some shift at the end that’s supposed to make you seem less serious or whatever, like the cat outside your window barfing a mouse followed by some philosophical rhetorical question like, “why are we here, on this earth, staring out our apartment windows watching the grass sway?”

      Look, many of the people who have responded negatively and passionately toward Seth’s posts are highly educated and it’s rather insulting for someone to suggest they’re all missing Seth’s point. Please.

  38. A D Jameson

      Articles like that remind me why I need to read more by Glenn Greenwald.

  39. Brendan Connell

      Well, I think that Seth probably calculated somewhere along the line that this pose would earn him a certain amount of celebrity in and of itself, without thinking that a proper pose should be carefully calculated–should in fact have some attractive facets to it.

  40. alan rossi

      it’s not meant to make me seem less serious nor to question why we’re here. and when i apologize it’s because too many people during things like this act/talk/write with something less than care, so it’s my small way of combating that.

      anyway, i’m gone.

  41. A D Jameson

      I imagine you are right. I hope the experience makes Seth a better artist, and everyone else involved a better person. Including myself; I could use it.

  42. A D Jameson

      I hate you, Alan Rossi.

  43. alan rossi

      Eat a plate of my turds, AD Jameson.

      Sorry man, my bad, you don’t have to eat them.

      What does it all mean?

      (seriously have to go now)

  44. A D Jameson

      Ooh, Alan Rossi, I will fuck you in the perineum with a rusty tuna can!

      Although excuse me for wishing violence upon your person. I am not acquainted with you, and I’m just articulating my limited perception of the world.

      I have no idea what anything means, let alone all the anythings.

      (And I have to go, too! Am dashing to catch a movie at the Siskel. Peace out.)

  45. alan rossi

      in order to balance out the universe, for my accidental vote up of my own comment, i have now also voted down my own comment, which is also something i do with socks and underwear, making sure to give all pairs in my drawer equal wear/play (nevermind holes or threadbareness) lest the universe take all my underwear/socks (and/or up-votes) away, and i suggest we all do the same.

  46. takethisrobot

      Dear “person performing Seth”,

      The whole “artist on all the time” thing others have been talking about seems to give you a lot of credit. I won’t disagree with their conclusions here. However, your posting in response to a reasonable, “real” post by Carolyn regarding a “real” event which harmed “real” human beings seems to show that you lack sensitivity or discipline, and forces me to view your performance as nothing more significant or artistic than “trolling” which is such a “thing” now that NY Magazine did a long article on it recently. Thus, I am now predisposed to see your other output through the prism of this “juvenile” lapse in judgment.

      If this is what you’re going for good for you, but I’m done with you now.

      Carolyn, +1.

  47. Don

      The Shoah is also a real event that harmed real human beings.