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Finally! After years of toiling in the disgusting machinery that is Alt Lit, I’ve become a contributor to HTMLGiant!
SO LET’S BURN IT DOWN.
And I am going to do so in the most fitting way that I could conceive.
I could first tell you how this webbed site gave me a chance to connect with some amazing people across the world at a time when I was otherwise surrounded by toxic people in a small, dying town — but I won’t, because I don’t feel like burdening the world with another story of an awkward white male using the Internet, as that is not fucking interesting at all.
I could also talk about how the filth that washed up on this site (meaning, the pieces of shit written by larger, animate pieces of shit) was surrounded by posts written by people who truly cared for one another, posts where they shared their feelings, concerns, and insight in the hopes of making a connection, but I don’t feel like defending a corpse. It’s not my job to champion some abstract thing’s legacy. I’d prefer to spend my time living.
At first, I thought I could talk about a number of individuals I’ve recently disassociated myself from, both professionally and socially, but I couldn’t, because of my rage.
I had forgotten the unique feeling that comes with this kind of rage — one that stems from having your core shaken; distrust seeps in and boils the blood. It’s a woozying sort of anger that I hadn’t felt since I was in middle school, when my father was revealed to have molested multiple children over several, if not dozens, of years — an anger that was compounded by the lenient treatment he received from society and the justice system because he had been a police officer. Looking at someone who is a criminal, or something worse, and knowing that justice will never come summons something inside me that I try hard not to look at for too long. As such, I felt if I wrote another sentence in that train of thought, I was going to explode. (To be fair, this is the first time I’ve shared any of this information in a public venue.)
So ultimately, I’ve decided that the best way I could honor-kill this site would be to write about something that means so much to me, in the way that HTMLGiant does, or did, or whichever tense you’re supposed to use with dead things, and so, I present to you READ MORE >
Does Not Love
by James Tadd Adcox
Curbside Splendor Press, 2014
275 Pages / $14.95 Buy from Curbside Splendor
I recently married someone. We drove to Vegas to get married. This is to say, we drove together through the desert.
We drove together through the desert to a city filled with neon signs, designed to distract from the fact that on all sides, the city’s surrounded by emptiness.
We drove together through the desert, and we got into an argument. I don’t remember what started it, but I remember driving down the strip at 1am, me squinting and crying, him slamming his fist on the wheel.
I looked at him and thought, how did this even start? He looked at me and said something that made the fight feel finished.
I felt an overwhelming warmth. I thought, this is the man that I love and the man I am going to marry. We’re staying together through strangeness, and that is what matters.
I also felt an overwhelming corresponding chill. I thought, he could have left me. I too could have left, in a burst of adrenaline.
We could have left each other standing in each other’s emptiness. Instead, we stayed together in the desert.
Every marriage is built of moments where two people stayed, but could have left. And all the moments in between. And all the emptiness between them.
James Tadd Adcox’s novel Does Not Love is a beautiful compendium of these moments within the fictional marriage of Robert and Viola. It is a study of ways that the couple makes meaning—and, trying and failing—attempts to make something. Appropriately, Adcox sets the novel within an alternate reality Indianapolis—a city which, to me, has always felt like something akin to a giant parking lot. Robert and Viola live in a blank space where people put new things. I feel that Does Not Love is about their unease with this space, and what they do to live with that unease.
READ MORE >
October 23rd, 2014 / 2:50 pm
in response to my Twitter calls for HMTLGIANT obits/curses/whatnot I received this reply from Drew Smith:
HTMLGIANT is ceasing operations on October 24th. I wish it wasn’t. I’ll miss it.
When I mention how much I love HTMLGIANT, people often react the same way they do when I tell them how much I love Reddit.
Wait, isn’t that a just a bunch of child molesters? Isn’t that a bunch of teenage hackers and trolls? Isn’t that where internet weirdos post nude pics of celebrities?
Well, yeah, it is. And that’s far from the worst of it. But it’s also the place where the “stop smoking” subreddit supported me through my quit. And where someone took the time to teach me how to change the oil on my car. It’s where I get recipes and workouts and shaving lessons and free business advice. It’s just a cross-section of the world at large, where there are almost as many Mother Teresas as there are motherfuckers.
So it is/was/has been with HTMLGIANT, which for the past six years has served as a cross-section—from best to worst—of the world of literature. At least the literature of a big chunk of twenty and thirtysomethings, the ones who aren’t on the Best 20 Under 40 lists, who aren’t publishing in the New Yorker, but who are likely still reading it, half-covetous, half-mocking. READ MORE >
An analytical approach to living, that is a problem. I said it to S, I said I didn’t think that the examined life was the right one. I said it was, well, I could look it up it was on Gmail, but I’d rather try to remember. The point was, I was trying to tell him. I didn’t try that hard. I knew he wouldn’t like it if I put it that way, but the point was what I was feeling, which was that the too examined life lacked the types of brief, transcendent emotions that made it meaningful. If everything was studied very precisely, tried to be understood, attempted to be made into language, something was lost. More thoughts seemed to occur without language. Its usefulness to one’s, like, being could be put in question.
He seemed to think I was an idiot, he might have said so. G said what could I expect, he made his whole life based on that kind of tenet. That way of looking at things—S is a PhD—and trying to put that into some comprehensive explanation. Also he’s a poet. He never talked to me again. I can’t remember if I tried to strike up conversation with him. It must have been in winter. Could it have been during the time I was still doing crosswords? that was obviously a conflict of interest for me. There was a thing where I would always see the same words coming up, which was distracting. They’d be too easy or too hard.
I can find very little middle ground in stuff like that. I don’t know if I’d had the thought, but what if, what if, I had told him that I was more concerned with the exact reality as it appeared from an empirical, outside perspective, and that inner thoughts deflected it… Would it have been a lie? that actually bothers me a lot. How when you pose a question in writing (not a question in terms of “idea” but in terms of, like, a person thinking a question, I often think one vies to answer it), I always want to answer it immediately.
It was sort of a great relief, one less force to fear incurring—is it incurring?—my madness. My ideology appears, like it had sprung, only through disagreements with people. It’s weak. I felt like I’d escaped from the possibility of living S’s life. Something that required so much attention to the things beyond itself might cease to be substantive. Things are more often than not, I assert, concerned with what is directly, immediately happening.
October 22nd, 2014 / 12:33 pm
This new thing is a style that we have come to call the Bossa Nova, an elaboration of the new tradition. Needless to say the Bossa Nova has no plot, no story, no character, no chronological sequence, no verisimilitude, no imitation, no allegory, no symbolism, no subject matter, no “meaning.” It resists interpretation because it doesn’t want to be interpreted, but is very easy to understand once you forget about analyzing it. The Bossa Nova is nonrepresentational — it represents itself. Its main qualities are abstraction, improvisation, and opacity. (pg. 211)
— Ronald Sukenick, In Form: Digressions on the Act of Fiction (Southern Illinois University Press, 1985)
I’ve had this power quote in draft mode for a long time. Since the end is nigh, I thought I’d go ahead and post it.
Also, I wanted to say thank you to Blake for bringing me on board — I began writing for HTMLGIANT on July 16th, 2009 — and to the other contributors for their consistently engaging work. This site has meant a lot to me. It opened many doors, introduced me to many new writers and new ways of thinking about writing and publishing. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to have been a part of this community.
Thinking about how literary historians of the future will write about this place and its people, I smile. While it did get ugly around here from time to time, I think Giant succeeded more often than it failed.
If you haven’t read it yet, Peter Tieryas Liu wrote a thoughtful piece about us at ENTROPY where he says, “There were many orbits and star systems within HTMLGiant. When people made comments like, HTMLGiant this and HTMLGiant that, I wondered, which HTMLGiant?”
For me, that nails it. We were never one thing. We were a spot where a bunch of different book-passionate voices came together to clash and splash and share ideas.
This place will be missed.