October 24th, 2011 / 1:42 am

an excessive pointlessness beyond terror and despair: why do i write

today i was thinking, ‘why do i write things.’

i don’t know what the answer is. i mean, at least in general. i write things on this blog because i feel like it’s an outlet that forces me to concretize, to some extent, theoretical implications of things in life like experiences and books and movies instead of just letting the ideas float around in my head where they eventually either fizzle out or find their way on twitter or end up via some twinned form in poetry or fiction or whatever it is that i’m calling my own ‘writing’ at the moment. i could write things for my own personal blog but the fact that htmlgiant has a built-in audience (whereas any attempt at a personal blog i make doesn’t), sort of, i don’t know, provides the motivation to make myself deal with my own thoughts.

like does that make sense? i don’t get paid to write here, as far as i know none of the contributors do. i’ve basically stopped submitting stories and poems to journals in the last year, yet i still post here. i’m sort of wondering why that is. i mean, the idea of someone else reading your own words makes it feel like more of a utile activity, writing that is, i guess. it’s a particular kind of egotism, or narcissism. but really i often feel more of an obligation. i don’t mean to a public, or to an audience, rather, like i said above, the idea of ‘people’ actually reading my hazily constructed ideas on art and literature and whatever-the-fuck i end up posting about here, i think, makes me actually try to think harder about what it is that i’m writing. obligation in that sense. like: don’t be totally fucking stupid and absent here, otherwise someone will call you out on your bullshit.

the obtusity of that sentiment is bullshit in its own right; no one in the entire world is obligated to pay any attention to me or to call me out on my bullshit. i’m tired of ideas of fame because i don’t think they make any sense.

in this post i am ignoring that self-defined obligation and not really thinking about what i’m writing ahead of time at all. did you know that i have gone back in my posting history here and deleted several posts that, in retrospect, seemed excessively dumb and annoying and, i don’t know, contributing to entropy? i didn’t do this recently. i did it a few months ago when i finally figured out that it was possible. i like subscribing to blogs in google reader because deleted posts will still show up for a while after they’re deleted. i like catching blog posts people make before they delete them. i feel like they’re secrets. blake had a blog post a few weeks ago or something that he deleted after an hour. i saw the link on twitter and “opened it” in a new window to read later. then i read it later. it was partially about watching natural born killers which is a really stupid movie and it was also about being drunk and just kind of rambling. a lot of the post, i thought, was stupid but there were also really awesome parts. i mean i guess i got why he deleted it, i probably would have deleted it too, but i really liked that i got to see it before it was gone. it was funny.

i think i started writing this post because i had some vague desire to talk about how the ‘inside publishing’ shit that circulates among the ‘internet literary’ zone has become so frustratingly boring to me. i understand the desire to know about this shit. i wrote a post about how i really wanted to know about this shit and had no idea how to figure any of it out. there’s no questioning that these sort of tidbits are helpful.

the thing is, publishing as an industry is still an industry. i love books, i love reading books, i love thinking about books and reading about books. but in the scope of things, “the world”, there’re relatively very few books i care about.

i don’t think this is a post about how ‘it’s all about the writing’ or something, because i don’t think it is. “it” here being “life” or whatever. this whole issue of “being a writer.” this issue of identity.

a friend of mine works at an all-male sex club. “biologically,” they are female. their preferred gender pronoun is they. when interviewing for the job, a space that is normally relegated exclusively as male space, my friend was asked how they identify. they answered, “as a human being.” when asked if they could be more specific, they answered “as a badass.” they got the job.

what is the use-value in identifying as a writer? the idea is to own it, of course. i get that. but i don’t know if i get the necessity. when asked what i “do” i will say that i write, that i ‘make art.’ but if someone were to ask me “what are you” i would probably not say “i am a writer.” maybe this all goes back to my naive insistence upon opening up the world into something with far more variation. i don’t know what i am. the famous rimbaud quote, arguably fuckT within translation, is, of course, “I am an Other.” [ed. note: this is my preferred translation]

there’s a lot of misery on the internet.

when i was living on htmlgiant contributor reynard seifert’s floor a few months ago, we had several conversations about the ego of a writer. there is this idea that unless you are some truly special exception (that is often perhaps carried via a small insanity, a la henry darger) you want people to read your work. so many people say they write for themselves, but nobody would have to say that if that were entirely true, because nobody would have asked the person why they write in the first place. like, if you show someone else your writing, if you put it into the world, you cannot try to pose some humble idea that “it’s just for you,” that “you don’t care if no one reads it.” yes you do. of course you do.

why have i ever submitted work to a journal or _____?
1) because i want other people to read my work
2) because i wanted my work to be printed inside of a book that i could hold
3) because it offers some sort of, however mild, validation that there is some level of interest that others can hold in something that is so inherently self-centered.

i edit and design and pay for the hosting of an online lit journal and i run and print and pay for and ship and design and pay for the website of a small press. my motivation for these things is that i want to find work that i really like and i want to show the work to other people. but there’s an egotism here too; i think that my taste is good enough that i want other people to know about it. i think we all do.

i don’t write every day. i don’t even necessarily write every week. i have basically two modes of working: either i write something in its entirety in one or two sittings, sometimes 6-8 hours at a time [ed. note: and sometimes it only takes an hour; i feel like including this note is important b/c the amount of time you spent on something is a moot point when examining the final product], or i take months and months and months to finish something. pecking at it. i always feel like the pieces i write in a single sitting are stronger than the things that aren’t. i don’t know if this is true. who cares.

why do i write? i write because i want things to exist in the world. because there are things i am looking for in writing in fiction in narrative in poetry in whatever that i want to exist that don’t yet. if there was already a plethora of queer experimentalist literary horror erotica, or what-the-fuck-ever, i probably wouldn’t need to write. i’m writing a book because alain robbe-grillet wasn’t gay and because he objectified young girls instead of old dudes. if alain robbe-grillet had been obsessed with his sexual attraction to men who look like fabio testi circa 1974 it is highly unlikely i would feel the need to write anything. i don’t know if that’s true. there’s this finitude in an author’s body of work. if bataille’s sexuality had extended into a sexual queerness maybe i wouldn’t write.

i don’t necessarily want to write. i’d rather the things i write already existed, i’d rather they had been written by someone else. i’d rather i could read them and be excited by what i had discovered, i’d rather i could read them and they would be new. i think that might be insanely self-centered, but i’m not sure. it’s the truth though.

i’m writing a book because while i write it the book is reality. flash fiction as ritual, an invocation, a rite. not escapism, but projection. this is the poetry of jon leon, i think. other poets and writers too. sometimes narrative is the only way i can even begin to deal with a question. sometimes i’m just horny and i’m too much of a fucking weirdo to be sexually and intellectually satisfied simultaneously unless some insanely complicated shit that i plot out happens. why do i write. this is why.

at the beginning of this blog post i said i don’t know why i write. i guess this isn’t true. i think i’m just tired of this idea that anybody writes out of anything other than self-interest. i’m not saying that’s the sole motivation for anybody writing ever, that’s stupid. nothing is that cut and dry. the phrase “binaries do not exist” finds its way into 50% of my htmlgiant blog posts. i changed my “profile” on the about page from “looking for the impossible, or whatever” to “reject reality, live forever.” reality is easy to reject because it’s not real.



people say that in a perfect world they would be making enough money off of their writing they could quit their job. this seems insanely impossible to me. not because it doesn’t happen, but because for me at least that would ruin everything. the function of the writing would have shifted. in a perfect world i would be able to live and exist without having to make or have money at all. the dream of ‘i want to be rich’ is a fucked up dream. i don’t want money, i want freedom. freedom to experience new things without the imposed financial limitations.

the internet can be a really terrible place, but so can the world.

the last time i remembered, fully, the narrative arc of my dream was over 20 days ago. right now i’m halfway finished writing a long-short-story that steals this narrative. i’m doing this because the experience of the dream felt so great that i want to recreate it.

i don’t really like writing “for things” but i like writing. most of the themes that LIES/ISLE has had throughout it’s three year existence are themes that i chose because they are themes that i am interested in exploring via writing myself, they are themes i am interested in reading. that’s all. it’s really easy.

i really like works of art that make me cry. i cry almost every time i watch l’important c’est d’aimer which is probably why it’s my favorite movie. i cried while i was reading cassandra troyan’s manuscript that she asked me to design the layout for. when i cry that’s how i know i’m at the impossible. a zone. affect.

why do i write why do i write. i wrote this blog post because my life is really weird lately and i’m working a soul-draining seasonal retail job for minimum wage and it’s literally sucking up all the energy i have. i forgot to eat for most of this week. all i did was go to work and get drunk. i went to a bar by myself on thursday and that’s something i hate to do. i went to the bar and ordered whiskey & sodas and for a while i was re-reading nick land’s book on bataille as a pdf on my phone until i realized that was incredibly ridiculous. so instead i just drank faster and started texting people who don’t live in the same city as me. later i went and bought three slices of pizza and apparently was so charming that i earned 7 punches on my punch-card, which means i can now get a free slice of pizza from the ‘escape from new york’ pizza joint on 24th & valencia the next time i’m there.

i had forgotten to eat that night too. i slept like shit the night before because the couch i’m crashing on is not something that should be slept on & because i don’t really eat cheese and had terrible heartburn. i puked the next morning while brushing my teeth. i also spent a good ten minutes dry-heaving once i got to work. the buses were running late that morning of course. if i didn’t have to wake up early every morning i’d probably be going out and making myself available. if i get picked up i can at least sleep in a bed.

i don’t know what’s going on i guess. things change and move quickly.

neither of the above two paragraphs offer an explanation as to “why i wrote this blog post” which is what the first sentence two paragraphs above suggests that it will do. i think i wrote it because i didn’t know what else to do for the hour and a half i’ve been writing this. oh well, welcome to life.


  1. M. Kitchell

      this is a really good thing to read:  http://wornoutjoy.tumblr.com/post/11835654104/how-can-i-continue-to-call-myself-a-poet-when-i

  2. Anonymous

      Please don’t delete this

  3. Landolakes

      wow creepy

  4. Anonymous

      I’m a proud recipient of one of those drunk texts.  Unfortunately I only really know the first Pains of Being Pure at Heart album, so I wasn’t much help.

  5. John Minichillo

      There are a lot of genuinely humble artists, an so there’s more to it than ego. I think there’s this sense that art/story/Poem can be larger than oneself and it’s worth striving to be true to that.

  6. Meghan Lamb

      i feel bad for not responding to those drunk texts. i am really afraid of my phone because i was developing all these ocd rituals around checking it/ignoring it for certain periods of time because of jobs and not having one.

      i would really like jobs to not exist too. i feel like it would make it a lot easier to be a human being and not have people say things like, “well, honey, you are married.” i am torn between feeling like the shittiness of this is something i should just “get over” or continue to be fruitlessly mad about and construct a retaliatory identity “in response to.” which feels like a bad thing to build an identity out of. which feels like the maybe unfortunate reason i write. (check out the weird artificial rhythm of that sentence! ok, yeah, good post mike. now i gotta shower and go to an interview…)

  7. Meghan Lamb

      i should post comments more often. when i do, it feels really weird. i’m here more often than you think though. (spooky hands)

  8. werdfert

      “But seriously, it mattered, he added, what people thought of his work. In fact, he sometimes thought that to feel real, to have a sense of personhood, depended on whether readers approved of him.” from And So It Goes, new bio of Kurt Vonnegut

  9. jesusangelgarcia

      I’m reading Djinn. I’m loving the pacing. I think it’s just about to get weird(er). Turning off computer to turn more pages.

      Re: Why, etc? Why doesn’t matter.

      Also: it gets better.

  10. Guest

      I always read it as “I is another”

  11. lorian long

      oh honey

  12. lorian long

      it is funny to think of you are reynard discussing ‘ego’ across the street from the beach while i pick up grown men who’ve fallen drunkenly out of their wheelchairs in the tenderloin

  13. bartleby_taco

      lol re: “it gets better.”

  14. postitbreakup

      looking forward to reading this, need a new author bio to read after i finish blake bailey’s cheever (which is phenomenal)

  15. Lilzed

      when i read the blog title it sounded funny, like a mountain peak seen between two valleys of extreme experiences that could provide a view of each (horror and despair) … that was perhaps more crushing. when i read the actual post, i felt that you were unsatisfied with books as reality and also unsatisfied with reality as reality, but didn’t get a clear feeling of what could be the funny part … until I read “reality is easy to reject because it’s not real.       haha/ hahahaha”. So there we go. Thanks.

  16. Mike

      “ironic” would probably be a better word than “funny” in this case, lol

  17. deadgod

      Je est un autre.  –‘I is another.’  –though separating the English adjective into the indeterminate article and adjective “an other” both mimics the look of the French phrase and, perhaps, resonates with Rimbawdy’s (and one’s own) sense/s.

  18. deadgod

      In favor of criticism.—  Now something that you formerly loved as a truth or probability strikes you as an error; you shed it and fancy that this represents a victory for your reason.  But perhaps this error was as necessary for you then, when you were still a different person–you are always a different person–as are all your present “truths,” being a skin as it were, that concealed and covered a great deal that you were not yet permitted to see.  What killed that opinion for you was your new life and not your reason:  you no longer need it, and now it collapses and unreason crawls out of it into the light like a worm.  When we criticize something, this is no arbitrary and impersonal event; it is, at least very often, evidence of vital energies in us that are growing and shedding a skin.  We negate and must negate because something in us wants to live and affirm–something that we perhaps do not know or see as yet.–This is said in favor of criticism.

      The Gay Science, section 307 (transl. Kaufmann; emboldening mine)

  19. reynard

      people in wheelchairs are so lazy

  20. deadgod

      not when they’re hungry enough

  21. M. Kitchell

      this is my favorite comment

  22. Landolakes

      ha ha.  hope it cheered you “lol”

  23. M. Kitchell

      the song i was trying to think of was actually an “oh no! oh my!” song anyway so nothing would have actually helped, haha

  24. M. Kitchell

      i agree with this, but like i said, i think there’s a level of ego required to go through with it

  25. M. Kitchell

      i am not a person i am an EVENT

  26. M. Kitchell

      djinn is good. his 70s work is my favorite of course. 

  27. M. Kitchell

      totally understandable and supportable deadgod comment, A++++ would buy from again

  28. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski

      this is wonderful. reading a pdf on a phone in a bar makes me want to attempt to sleep on my couch all alone. i won’t attempt to wonder why. i’ll just attempt to sleep and leave the rest alone. i appreciate your post. 

  29. Henry Fry
  30. deadgod

      ha ha ha the best grade I ever got for typing

      there is a deconstruendum:  “something in us wants to live and affirm”

      is this “something” not a “skin”, but rather a core

  31. deadgod

      “I am an other.”  “[Y]ou are always a different person[.]”

      this path has a history:  panta rei is a gene

      accompanying this history, there is a reduction to absurdity of the argument that every thing changes:

      Cratylus […] censured Heraclitus for saying that it is not possible to step into the same river twice; for he himself supposed that one couldn’t [step into the same river] once.

      –Aristotle, Metaphysics 1010 a 12-15 (book IV; transl. mine)

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