“ultimately beautiful”: an Interview with Steve Roggenbuck
I saw Steve Roggenbuck read at Stephen Dierks house during AWP week he stood on top of something, I can’t remember what, he is small, his physical presence not very dominating. But he stood up there and took control of the audience, yelling 666 and Justin Bieber and all kinds of weird shit. The audience stood there, completely enthralled. People were yelling and screaming during the whole reading, people were extremely excited to be at a poetry reading.
According to AD Jameson Steve Roggenbuck would be considered a New Sincerist and the question has been asked, if writing in such a sincere manner can be prolonged over a long career. I think it can, because sincerity is transitory. The writing is Buddhist in that way, an acceptance of endless change, the impermanence. We can be convinced of truth at times/later/that truth becomes false/we forget those beliefs. For three years we read one type of books/then move onto another/then move onto another. We move from the country/to the city/we fall in love/we fall out of love/do it again/we don’t have sex for two years/we meet a sado maschocist and get choked/we have kids/watch them grow/we wash diarrhea off her our naked father because he is sick and dying/we become concerned about insurances/it goes/on on on. Roggenbuck’s first book I am like October when I’m Dead were short little poems with a tibit of sentimentality. Helvetica was this blitzkrieg of weird ass flarf lines. And Crunk Juice was an intensely designed chapbook with longer poems, using more poetic devices with a higher emphasis on sound. These changes, are not just the changes of a writer, but Steve Roggenbuck changing before us, we are getting older with him. He asks us to join him, on his journey through life, seems a little like reality television, but who wouldn’t want a reality television full of really emotional well-read people.
NC: I think what you don’t do is one of the reasons you have made such a ‘big splash.’ Like you didn’t go down the depression road when writing, which I think invited a lot more people into the alt-lit scene. Because not everyone is suffering from depression and existential crisis all the time. Did you consciously reject the depression route or just find it not your style?
SR: i just never connected with the focus on depression in others’ writing. the first writers who deeply influenced me, e.e. cummings and walt whitman, were both very positive and energetic, and my most recent influence lil b is also positive and energetic. in early 2010 when i was first discovering tao lin, my writing became a lot more minimalist and neutral, but i never really followed him all the way to writing about depression
i’d hope that my writing and videos are emotionally powerful for people, and they seem to be, but usually what im trying to convey is a kind of profound moment of sadness that seems like, “ultimately beatiful,” not a stagnant ongoing depression
i have been deep into vegan activism in the past, and i found that keeping a positive outlook in my work was even a practical issue of effectiveness. if you constantly focus on the terrible things that’s going on, it wears you down, and after a while, you cant even help anymore, the terrible things have won
also in my personal life i’ve found that the only way i wil actual achieve what i want is by sincerly believing that i can, and putting in the work every day. idk its cheesy but i truely believe it. most people give up before they even try at something. if youre going to do something awesome it probably won’t be easy, u have to be willing to work hard for a long time. will smith (hehe) has said you shouldnt have a back-up plan because it distracts from the main plan. u see? i truely believe this stuf. i will never stop. i will build something gigantic while tons of people sit around thinking it is not possible. 666
NC: Why did you drop out of your MFA program?
SR: i think if my life conditions were different, i never would have gone. i never had any illusons that it was going to magicaly transform my writeing, or that teaching was the perfect career fit for me. after undergrad i was in a long-term relationship, and we were planning to have a family in the next ~5 years. i felt like i needed to pursue a “career” that would bring in an income big enough to support a family. but i am also very stubborn about doing what i want with my tiem. i hate having a job, last year i maxed out my credit cards instead of getting a summer job. the mfa was kind of a compromise between what i really wanted (to be an artist all the time) and what was expected of me (standard middle-class career path)
i gained some things from my mfa experience.. i now have an acute awareness of what i don’t like about academic/lit culture, for exampel. i started fully embraceing my identity as an “internet poet” only after my workshop teacher left me a condescending comment on my poem, “save this stuff for your blog.” with my misspellings too, i was fueled by my teacher’s disapproval
i never really liked the progam too much, but when my long-term relationship ended, i felt like i finaly had other options. i could live with my dad for free (or with various friends, as i eventualy decided), or i could at least split rent with more roommates in a cheaper neighborhood, without bothering/disappointing my partner
also my school started grating on me in more fundamental ways this past fall. my core audience is not poets in academia.. so why should i be seeking feedback from (only) poets in academia? i would get comments from my teachers, for example discouraging my misspellings, and i would kind of just dismiss them because i know they arent realy my main audience. but if i they’re not my audience, why am i asking for their feedback in the frist place? the feedback ive gotten from friends online has been much more valuable
NC: You seem to be living some kind of life of traveling now, blogging, and just being creative. How are you surviving doing this? Do you suggest this life to other people?
SR: i had a bit of money when i started–from selling most of my possessions and telling my parents i wanted money instead of christmas presents. and then i’ve been able to keep an almost-steady amount in my bank account since then, from selling t-shirts and books
i’m living very cheaply. many people think it’s expensive to travel, but if you do it right, it can be cheaper than living in one place. my rent was $500 when i was living in chicago; i could’ve probably gotten it down to $300 if i tried.. but so far, my transportation has been (far) less than $300 each month. for march it was $210, for april it was around $125 and for may only $16. i don’t have utilities to pay, and sometimes i get free food depending where i’m staying. i printed and sold about 110 t-shirts in dec/jan, making about $8 profit from each, and i’ve sold about 220 books so far with a similar profit per sale
getting to meet all my internet friends is awesome. all the events and stuff can make it harder to get work done, but being able to connect people and build community is very rewarding and fun. im getting to experence a lot of the world and geting a better idea of what i want in my lief. i think my recurring loneliness, from not having someone to hug after six years of having someone to hug, is heightened in some ways by traveling..
as far as whether i suggest it to others… it really, realy depends. this has been very very satisfying for me. i am very happy with the decision i made to live like this. but i think im positioned particularly well to suceed with it. my work ethic, my natural interest in community building and branding, my flexibility in terms of living very frugally.. it wouldnt work this well for everyone. but i mean. if you know what you want to do in your life, i feel like you have to try to find some way to do it, whatever it is. you only have so long to live. .. living like this has allowed me to do what i want with my life, every day.. i literaly wouldnt trad that for anything
NC: Do you an ultimate goal with this massive amount of output in the last couple of years, do you want to be famous somehow, do you want just to make people happy, or is there no goal. That this is some kind of Buddhist experiment and there is no goal at all, but someone just having fun?
SR: i think making a lot of people happy is my ultimate goal, but in terms of the massive output in the past year or so, i’ve also been driven largely by my desire to keep doing this work. like i have been pretty driven to grow my following rapidly, because i dont want to have a different job
i feel so deeply fulfilled by what i am doing.. i can’t count how many times it has been 4 AM and i’m about to go to bed after like 6+ hours of interacting with people on social media.. and i’m just so profoundly happy, like im lying in bed or staring out the window and i can’t stop smiling, and i feel so excited and so content at the same time. im not tryig to paint some unreal picture of perfec happiness–other days i feel like shit. but this work really fulfills me, and i know it’s boosting others too because i get messages all the time saying so
also, my prolific output has to do with my desire to create a potentially very deep, holistic experience for the reader, and create a sort of cultural movement. i wil explan this more in my response to your question about style (below below below)
NC: You haven’t been published in many places, like it seems you aren’t concerned with the submission publishing experience. I remember in the early years of Internet writing writers noticed that submitting to The Paris Review or the Kenyon Review seemed futile. And we realized that publishing online would lead to the same amount of readers, but maybe not the right readers, the kind of readers that made you famous. But readers none the less. But you seem to have taken it even farther, that all a writer needs is a few places to social network (tumbrl, facebook, their own website) and they have a place to reach readers. Do you think eventually webzines will even be phased out?
SR: i think the established way of publishing will sustain itself for a long time, because a lot of people are invested in it and there is a huge community of people who do believe in it. the scale of AWP and the number of MFA programs in the US, for example, illustrates the amount of people invested in this system
but yeah, you dont need approval from anyone with “expertise” about good writeing. to have readers, all you need is readers
i think what’s helped me is that i dont really distinguish between readers and friends.. i have about 400 contacts in my phone now, and most are people i’ve never met in person. im willing to interact with people on an equal level as a friend, without trying to be above them or distanced from them as The Artist or somthing. there are hundreds of people who comment on the writing blogs you like, who post about your favorite writers on twitter (twitter has search), who contribute to your favorite lit mags. u can reach out to all these people.. with goofy comments if youre like me, or with plain conversation if thats more your style. making friends and building community improves ur lief in so many ways.. and most of these friends will also go check out your full-on writing. if your writing is awsome, some of them will help share it
it takes a while to build an audience this way, there isn’t as much of a “big break,” it is very gradual. but your community will also be stronger and more invested than if they found your book in a store and never talked to you
NC: I recently learned that you are from what could be called a cowtown/hicktown. Personally I am from a small town and found the experience nice in terms of its sense of community and the access to nature. But I did not enjoy that I loved literature so much and no one cared about it but myself. But it wasn’t like in a movie, where I was a dork or nerd, everyone thought it was cool in my town, they just thought of me being really emotional, which I was. How was the experience of growing up in nowhere Michigan, how has it affected you as person and your writing?
SR: i think i was oblivious to a lot of youth alt culture. as a vegan who was interested in buddhism and avant-garde art, i felt like there was nobody similar to me alive haha. it was really strange eventually finding tao lin and reading some articles about “hipsters,” and then moving to chicago and realizing there was actually a whole bunch of people with similar values and taste as me. it was really encouragin to me actually
NC: There seems to be a lot of rules in your writing and in your life, for example you don’t just stick to one simple size of text, you are picky about what font you use, you don’t concentrate on depression, you don’t just wrote in simple verses, concerning your life you are vegan and wears certain clothes that your philosophy condones. Do you consider yourself a legalistic person or just a stylist? Why do you think you are so consumed with style? Do you enjoy writes and artists that also love style?
SR: style for me is a kind of content, and one that is more valuable and interesting than specific statements or individual beliefs, because it’s holisitic and more pervasive.
my favorite books are ones that can plausibly be your favorite book, because they embody something, because they are an icon of something. sometimes being an icon is in a thesis statement or something, but often it’s in the overall style. style and ongoing memes, repeated stylistic moves, allow the memeplex to spread to countless contexts, and countless people
people start using scare quotes like tao lin maybe for its humor, and soon enough they start to really feel the skepticism that is embodied in it, they start trying to be more precise with their sentence and not relying on cliches or vague abstractions.. the surface-level style is a gateway to the deeper worldview
i have been interested in branding because it is about creating holistic culture around something. of course corporate branding is often just an empty shell used to sell products, but the most effective branding is not just a catchy slogan or something, its about capturing the essence of some core values in the external presentation
i’ll admit that i don’t care about individual poems or writing craft as much as a lot of writers. i care about culture broadly. i care about the attitude and personality that is behind a book. if i become obsessed with this book, how will it effect my personality?
everything we do is set in culture. even people’s frendships are made stronger because of shared culture: inside jokes, shared memories, slang that people outside of the relationship don’t understand. and we can each help create/alter the culture in our communities. this is especially true for writers and artists.
some of what im about to say might seem surprisingly political, and ambitious, but i realy want to change world to make it better for people. i hate that so much of culture seems like it just exists to make someone money. companies aren’t concerned enough about what will actually help people long term. and i mean actual health issues like companies selling cigaretes and fast-food, and things like pesticides and sweatshops.. but also just the lifestyle branding and advertising. companies want you to equate buying their products with having a happy life. and they have to know they are lying. everyone knows buying more stuff won’t make them happy. but people keep doing it because so much of our culture encourages it
in order to create an alternative way of living, there has to be culture around it. we need something to celebrate, something to enjoy and share. having occasional critical debates about “the issues” or writing occasional “political poems” isn’t enough. there needs to be a new, better way of life that is embodied in the main work. something that isn’t just criticism of the past way, but something new to sustain people, something that makes people say, “fuck yes, i identify with this. i am proud to be part of this.”
specific debates about “the issues” are still helpful, but i think a lot of changing culture is making the new way more enjoyable. my ex-girlfriend never fully embraced veganism until she discovered a community of vegan food blogs. we can criticize television and mainstream media all day, but if we don’t create something else to enjoy instead, we are eventually going to feel deprived and fricking depressed.
style is very valuable i think
NC: Concerning your poetry, on page 66 you write a poem that emphasizes the long vowel sound, the line, “on you and/my hands on you so” is so beautiful and quiet and endearing. Do you think a lot about sound when you write, what other modern writers do you consider good at making the words into music?
SR: that poem specifically was influenced a lot by e.e. cummings, who does some cool things with sound. i used to read a lot of poetry aloud (i used to consistently read 20+ pages/day, usually out loud), including some really sound-focused writers like gerard manley hopkins. i’ve really appreciated the use of sound in robert fanning’s work, a poet who i had as a teacher in undergrad. usualy sound is not a main (conscious) concern of mine anymore, but i definitely appreciate it in some work, and have specificaly focused on it more in the past
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Noah Cicero’s Best Behavior was recently rereleased in new form.
Tags: crunk juice, Noah Cicero, steve roggenbuck
Awesome. Steve’s a great guy and a great writer and I’m glad he’s
getting attention like this, which is the attention he deserves.
I’m going to write a quick post that hopefully clarifies my thoughts on the New Sincerity.
sweet interview, you guys! love your intro, esp the / / / part, Noah, and your questions. nice answers, Steve. liked reading this
Steve is on the road to glory
steve *is* the road 2 glory
Excellent interview, guys.
Wow, Steve says some super-smart stuff in this, especially in the answer about style. Really makes it clear/persuasive what “Steve Roggenbuck” the brand means.
I REALLY LIKED THE / / / PART TOO
My quick post, unsurprisingly, turned into a long post, and will go up next Monday morning.
Great interview, you two. I find myself sometimes looking at words not nowing if this is how you spel it or not and then i realise i saw this in one of your posts. “i hate that so much of culture seems like it just exists to make someone money.” is spot on, cannot say this often enough. strength on your journey, mate, may the White Goddess be with you.
I can’t think of another poet that has made such a conscious and sustained effort to build an audience outside of the typical poetry circles. At least since modernists like Eliot and Pound, poetry has tended toward esoterica and opacity. They accepted a priori that poetry was for a small, distinctly knowledgeable audience.
This issue is occasionally fretted about in poetry circles (shrinking audiences/poets writing for one another) but no one ever does anything about it except for weak, schoolmarmish efforts (poem in your pocket day, y’all!). Because most poets/academics don’t really give a shit about writing for an insular audience and sort of prefer it.
I think Roggenbusck’s #yolo philosophy of life and wandering spirit are very Rimbaud-like, as well as his symbolist inclinations (dead children, dark trees). Roggenbuck has the same sort of child-like/innocent seer vibe as Rimbaud but without the poete maudit baggage. And more altruism.
Anyway, it’s very exciting stuff. This is a great interview–thoughtful questions and answers. Roggenbuck is the first post-Tao Lin poet I have seen doing something unique and exciting (that doesn’t feel so heavily indebted to Tao Lin). Interestingly, it’s having much the same effect as Tao Lin– legions of well-meaning, excited imitators.
Is the entire phenomenon of “alt lit” really just variations on Tao and Steve? Has Steve created a counterbalance to Tao that alt lit desperately needed in order to grow from a fan club into a legitimate literary movement? Can we even connect Tao and Steve in a useful way as part of a coherent “movement?”
Really enjoyed this. Remember the first interview on wwaatd. This one I feel is more focused but both engaged me. Frugality appeals to me most too, being intense on working toward what you think is right, good, making the most of your life while you have it. Thanks Steve and Noah.
right rite write wright
r aye-aye-aye t
r ah ee t
I like Steve’s positive eye. I like the young chutzpah. I’d like to see a farmer in his 80’s chutzpah too.
the image macros interspersed with the text of this interview are so funny
great interview, truly
I logged out and turned off the machine. I took a shower. In the shower, I thought of another misunderspelling. I have to log into DISQUS to post an edit. I have to make a comment to log into DISQUS. This comment is that comment.
Edit post-edit: Now, I want to scrub this comment so that even its ‘packaging’ disappears. And people in hell want ice water. (Except traitors, who might regret ever whining about hot weather.)
i’m fascinated by everything steve roggenbuck does and says. this guy is the epitome of charisma. good interview, too, noah. even if it probably is misogynistic in some way i’m too dumb to figure out. bros!
<3 br0ggenbuck <3 go bb go
“the mfa was kind of a compromise between what i really wanted (to be an artist all the time) and what was expected of me (standard middle-class career path)”
well said. damn.
not how much you make, but how much you spend.
Is it though? Doesn’t make much sense. Maybe 2% of all MFA-holders will ever teach full-time in an MFA program, and the only people who can be “artists all the time” are people privileged enough not to work (who are these people, btw?) If he’s defining “being an artist” more broadly, as in, noticing things, paying attention, being sensitive to the world, creating and consuming art, well, anyone do that–from the pan-handler to the corporate executive. What I really take from this comment is, “I didn’t like my MFA program, nor was I a good fit for academia, so I left, but in order to make sense of it, I’m going to make it a class issue, even though there are working-class people in MFA programs and/or people with working class backgrounds teaching in MFA programs.” It’s yet another example of people in the online lit blogosphere making mountains out of molehills.
i understand that view, too.
what i took was more like that he wanted to be an artist full-time–whether that means being able to write 8 hours a day or to be sensitive to whatever emotions/actions/settings bode well to writing–and that a program might give him the time (and loans) to do that, because that’s awesome, enjoy two years of that, surely (and then maybe, oh, no, you find out that what drives your writing is living not such a structured life, class to class, but something a little more permeable to deviance and longing), and the realization that maybe what comes out of it is not teaching in an MFA program but rather it’s teaching intro. courses in some random liberal arts college, because it’s gotta be hard as hell to get those legit gigs, and maybe that’s another thing he didn’t want–knowing how those things happen only after 2 or 3 books well-received and given major-ish press and having to work not so awesome adjunct jobs etc etc…
i don’t know, i feel ya, though. hard to talk about class issues w/o sounding like a dick.
I can see how class might factor into his personal decision–I just hate the implied binary of mfa=middle class, stuffy, him=hero artist. I just don’t think it’s that simple.
agreed. nothing ever is
hey deaders –
you don’t have to make a comment in order to log into DISQUS, – when at HTMLG you can log in by prompting a drop-down menu from the little DISQUS logo at the right margin, due east from the post’s ‘thumb’s up’ Like/’thumb’s down’ below the end of the post, the line directly above the ‘Showing __ of __ comments’ line, – – – the ‘US’ in ‘DISQUS’ turns yellow! – on my laptop, that is
– or –
you can login at the DISQUS homepage ( http://disqus.com/ ) then you’re already logged in when you get to HTMLG
then you can edit as you wish – editing a comment can be done either at HTMLG or at DISQUS
happy commenting! and happy friday, kemo sabe
i think there is something sort of tacky in it all and, i don’t know, kitsch; he is becoming sort of exhibitionist. the poster child of a new sincerity movement, who constructs bio-info and propaganda that resembles the contrived mechanical arrangements of an internet phrase generator. i guess perhaps the machine is emulating human qualities, and roggenbuck is transmitting its preposterous messages, unabashedly searching for the shining hidden laurels that eluded him so harshly in college.
my next post at nothing to flawnt will be about steve roggenbuck. i dreamt the entire post last night.
hay thank u for the comments. i wasn’t intending to make/invoke a generel statement about mfa=middle-class or stuffy.. just in my specific situation– i felt like i had to “choose a career” from a list of aceptable careers or something (based on the expectations of my gf and parents). full-time poet was not on that list, but creative writing teacher was
thank’s everybody for the comments and engageing with my work :)
met steve last week in portland and pretty much loved him. i agree with the person above who talked about his charisma. this was a really enlightening and enjoyable read, especially because sometimes i’ve wondered where he’s coming from and felt sort of “outside” his work. great job steve and noah.
THANK YOU BASED GOD.
Interesting interview, really enjoyed it.
there are people, artists, who do not work, or rather who work as little as possible, in the sense of work for someone else for money, and for whom it isn’t a privilege but a choice and one that’s difficult and takes a lot of sacrifice [as most life choices life do] and commitment. i don’t mean the people who have some source of money outside themselves, i mean people who structure their life so that they are artists all the time, most of their waking energy, with bits of ‘work’ around the edges to feed themselves etc. the guy around the corner, a mosaic artist, scraped along for years and years that way though then he recently blew up after having a show at a jewish community center [he’s african american and christian] and got some nice grant. i admire that guy and i admire steve for making that commitment too. it’s often a hard road [though no harder than many roads] and takes a lot of will.
jus’ tryin’ t’ be helpfull
That last is an important point: most life-style Westerners who enjoy middle-class comforts and luxuries struggle to get and maintain their place(s) in such political-economic strata. Art routes are selfish and generous, crooked and decent, in something like the ways that bank teller, nurse, teacher, gardener, mechanic, driver, etc. etc. routes are, and more ‘professional’ (= ‘richly compensated’) lives, too – lawyers, docs, engineers, managers.
To me, the difference – well, one of them; one that’s unusually visible to historical consciousness – between a renaissance and a dark age is the argument about whether the art and scholarship rackets are productive — whether they change material life so that the blood and sap of living flow more (and more happily).
(Something like Prop. 13–that is a dark age, far more than a creepy MFA program (out of (probably) many (?) that are pro-beauty).)
I think, from only superficial contact with it, that Steve’s act is a pro-joy way in the world, a microrenaissance to set against the darkness of joyless, unenlightened toil and mere combat.
Dionysus v. the Inquisition!
KNOWLEDGE IS A SYMPTOM OF IGNORANCE
THAT IS WHAT I MEAN BY ‘THE PARADOX OF SENSITIVITY TO THE UNINTELLIGIBLE’
I’M SHOUTING BECAUSE I CAN’T HEAR MUCH THROUGH THIS TEA KLAN BURQA
‘EWE NO EYE AM BUTT…’ WHAT??
I get that, but unless you have a really narrow definition of the “artist’s life,” such a lifestyle choice isn’t necessarily more “artistic” than selling insurance 40-hours-a-week and writing off [the man’s] clock–it’s only more artistic if you buy into bohemian cliches. What I find troubling here is the notion that a lifestyle choice is inherently more “artistic” than another. One can be “an artist all the time” and still work for someone else, especially writers who–no matter the circumstances–spend most of their time writing by not writing. If this lifestyle makes Steve R. happy, then good for him–I think it’s great that he’s being himself–but he’s not the working class artist hero some of you make him out to be.
oh my goodness! a TEA KLAN BURQA!
sounds horrid, no wonder you’re shouting!
me, i’d have a panic-attack and lose my already-weak voice altogether
Edit: altho i understand, we are all trying to hear through that TEA KLAN BURQA, aren’t we?
If a person chooses to live a “bohemian cliche” it also must put an unbelievable amount of pressure on them to create something that is of a supreme quality. The person who wittingly does this needs something more than time – they need some trump card that separates them from those that hack out some story as a hobby after grading papers and before heading out to drive some balls at the country club. Ha! I just want to add to the culture war.
It’s funny to me how often people on this site crack on teachers/educators and imply that they’re rich or something–playing golf at the country club with their jobs teaching creative writing at some state university. Yeah, if you’re some big shot you can make six figures, but the average asst. prof teaching creative writing isn’t making much money. The average beg. salary in English is close to what plumbers make.
This flew over my noodle.
That implication was for humor only. Although a lot of writing teachers I had were serious jackasses that always crafted – always were crafting and plotting – devious characters! I really don’t know how much they earned. I did work at a country club and was surprised that some of my high school teachers belonged to it. But they weren’t English teachers or anything. I don’t think they wrote stories but I could be wrong. I don’t know what teachers make. It doesn’t interest me. It wasn’t the point of my post.
Well, for the sake of clarity, I never said dude was living a “bohemian cliche”–if that’s what you were assuming and responding to with your humor.
No and no and no! I give! UNCLE!
i’m sorry. i really don’t like slandering anybody. i just find him to be so imitative and… i don’t know… so planned somehow, that he loses that vital spark of awareness for me, that teeming brightness of existence, and then the words fall flat for me, like novelties. as he has become more present on the internet, his ever expanding ego boundary, that big memeplex, becomes a kind of flashy attraction. meanwhile the real world waits at the gate with their real problems, and roggenbuck dismisses them as flat, as uninspired. i don’t know how he relates to me at all. in fact, i don’t think he can… at least not now, not yet. he isn’t whitman, and he isn’t really sharing poetry, so much as imposing a brand. i find it really dreary and distracting. when i think of the great poets, you know the really meaningful thinkers, sitting there occupying a dull page with these deeper intimations about the human experience… about life… than i, my soul is deeply gladdened, my sense of wonder is enriched. roggenbuck is a poet of the mind. i think he is a great talent and all, don’t get me wrong, and a hell of a guy, but a squanderer, a scamp, a kind of vandal… a rival of life who think it needs to be fixed and restructured, and i sort of take offense to that. roggenbuck tries turning private human events into global trivia, and it bothers me.
I understand what you were saying now. When I first stumbled on Roggenbuck, I thought, what the sam’s hell is this gibberish? Boost, boost, 666 and all that. His fans mimic and he induces me to mimic sometimes because gibberish is fun. It is refreshing in response to what is called an “educated response.” I really get sick of educated responses sometimes. I get tired of people throwing names in there, old philosophers and poets and all to bolster their intellect. It’s a power play. And I get caught in power plays with debates and what have you. Really, I learn more from my cabbage plants. They just are and don’t need to promote themselves anymore than seeking light and water. The cabbage’s idiocy, or simplicity, you really can’t argue with. You could read it the best of Whitman and it isn’t enthused.
I liked this: ”
i think he is a great talent and all, don’t get me wrong, and a hell of a guy, but a squanderer, a scamp, a kind of vandal… a rival of life ”
HA! And that is not an “ironic” HA! but a genuine one.
And to bolster my meaningless writing I have to say: Voltaire! Kant! Plato! Emerson!
Who has “thrown names” around and offered name-drop-y responses w/ no substance? So you’re tired of people who challenge your precious world view?
Haha! My precious world-view? Nam-drop-y? My HoneredGuest, your substance wins. Are you proud of your efforts? Again, UNCLE! You damned bully.
boost, boost, 666, lief iz good and hapyp yay i fucked queen latifah with a cucumber.
Now you’re talking, my brother or sister or what-have-you!
oh fuck off. narrow and cliche. all i said was that i respected a person for making the choices he finds meaningful.
Actually, considering the context of the conversation, that’s not what you said.
i get one version of your responses in my email and then another here. weird. flights of angels, HGii.
i don’t trust your cabbages.
they grew up to be stupid plants. slaw or kraut, that’s the extent of a cabbage worry. whitman didn’t write to cabbages. he wrote to you.
stop reading him to the cabbage.
i don’t know what i should learn. i am like you and everything is convincing. to be as you are, like a cabbage, is a useless idea.
roggenbuck spends a lot of time trying to explain his madness, his poetry, and his truth but I don’t think a man can have these things simply because he desires it. you can’t train the mind to suffer the symptoms of genius. i mean, i guess you can only really imitate, and that isn’t quite as beautiful to me; it’s just endearing. it’s playful to the point of frivolity. it’s fun. it’s colloquial. it’s even moving sometimes. some of it is kind of emotional, but I wouldn’t call it poetry or pastime, exactly. like i said, i hate to be such a critical bastard, but a lot of my friends are in the fever of this guy now, and i wouldn’t care exactly, but their adoration is almost pathological these days. one of my friends spoke plainly about it. “i joined the illuminati because it seemed like a good idea okay do you like crosdresing in front of bill cosby?” i was pissed because i used to really like that person.
This is good and I like it. You have gotten exceptionally clear. And it’s funny about the cabbages. I wasn’t like one other person had suggested, that I was using a cabbage as a “world-view” but just as a random interest of mine that suggests academia sometimes being tiresome. I think you are right though, I think cabbages prefer the works of other genius cabbages of the past and not Whitman (who I like but haven’t fallen in dear love with). It is stupid of me to read Whitman to a cabbage.
Steve Roggenbuck is, like someone else said, a charismatic fellow. It would be a mess if everyone was charismatic. That is spooky. Charisma is spooky in itself. I am wary of it after the initial spell wears off. I think it may have something to do with the satanic rantings of 666! I respond to 666 with “7”. It is a holy number, I have heard. You have to get Legion out of your friends and throw them into the swine! ;) HA!
http://beachsloth.blogspot.com/2012/06/steve-roggenbuck-as-interviewed-by-noah.html A review of an interview within the comments.
I like your criticisms but I think maybe you are looking from a different perspective to me and missing something I am really enjoying. So just in case, I am going to write a response!
“trying to explain his madness, his poetry, and his truth” I don’t know where the madness part comes from because Steve seems like a pretty grounded person to me. Only he has a really strong philosophy on life that he is putting into practice, as you would expect from a buddhist-type. Because his style is really different I think you have to be careful not to assume all the things he writes are frivolous. Misspellings and watermarked images and that sort of everyman absurdist humour seem to break down the barrier to people who think poetry is irrelevant to their lives. People who never read books for fun because they were having trouble with grammar in the first place you know? Which it should because poetry is just the emotions that are common to every human.
Behind humour another emotion is always communicated. Humans in stock photos seem fake and tacky and planned but they are real people in this world that could be feeling anything. It makes you more aware of other people. umm and I love poetry that says, you can do anything with poetry! The videos are my favourite actually because audio really gets in my brainwaves and there are a lot of words.
As for your friends, I guess it could get annoying if people lost their individuality and did exactly what Steve is doing but I doubt that’s the case, they are just saying they feel moved and motivated.
But maybe you already got all this and don’t like it anyway! Awkward!
Is v good, v sensitive to what’s positive about positivity. But:
‘how many people’? ‘how much time people spend’? or the other way: ‘things they love‘? ‘how little time people spend doing things they love‘?
for me poetry expresses truth, and where there is truth, there is bound to be a little madness. it’s the basic criterion i feel successful poetry is waged. walt whitman was a great poet, but a mad old genius always is.
the thing is, i don’t think roggenbuck communicates a strong philosophy in his work. it’s just consistent, but not necessary. if he wants me to live my life, i can assure him, i have no other plans; i have no alternatives. cindy crabb and underground zine writers specifically have been expounding a similar (but more immersive and interesting) philosophy for years, and spreading it in a much more constructive way. you don’t get the sense that you’re speaking to the persona of an artist when you speak with one, but to the artist directly. for all he talks about being present in his own community and being unashamed of self expression, he remains nonetheless a fully realized mascot of his own design. it is the difference between roggenbuck’s essays and roggenbuck’s twitter account. i get the sense that we are all talking to the myth of steve, a cult personality with shameless ambitions with just enough talent, charisma, and ingenuity to pull it all off.
however, if through his work he’s able to inspire you to begin to see people as active emotional beings and not just static images on the internet, then i guess there’s no harm in it at all. he’s a harmless poet.
i just tune in to a, uh, different range of thought, i guess. i don’t think poetry can do anything. it’s a NICE idea, but it doesn’t last. i am a great lover of people, and if you put poetry in front of them, they’re bound to do anything except use it. i have volumes of poetry, and i have never found a use for any of it. my life is gladdened by it and i cherish it with all my soul, but i know what i need, and it isn’t poetry.
anyway, thanks for the response. i’ll seriously stop criticizing the poor guy now. i did try watching his latest ustream thing, and found it to be conceited and boring as hell. it is really a matter of taste. i’m like an antique!
You have never found a use for poetry! It’s never saved your life? I guess you’re right about having a different range of thought so I won’t try and make you see what I love about his poetry. I have to add that I do see truth in it but I also think that when you read poetry you own that poetry.
I was just listening to those Necropolis tracks up on MySpace, which are actually pretty rad, while reading this interview here while drinking my milked blueberry flavored organic Ikea tea and getting ready to start working, and when those rad Necropolis tunes ended the MySpace auto-selection system or whatever you call it cued in Scorpion’s “Winds of Change” (I shit you not), which I think it’s totally baffling and funny and in a way so much “Roggenbuck”, as in focusing on the beauty and hilarity of randomness.
Is the auto-selection algorithm or whatever it is being sincere here? Is that a new New Sincerity beyond the human factor, or is it all in the mind’s eye of the beholder?
[…] the sublime rantings of Steve Roggenbuck, which is connected to Alt Lit and the constant avatar of Noah Cicero. I would say that because I published Noah’s The Human War back in 2007 and it remains one of […]
This interview is really good. I don’t know how I missed it until now. It confirms and puts into better words what I suspected about Steve.
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ultimately beautiful: an Interview with Steve Roggenbuck | HTMLGIANT
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ultimately beautiful: an Interview with Steve Roggenbuck | HTMLGIANT