When John Ebersole reads work he terms “Grocery Store Poetry” (GSP – which includes also, for John, Linda Pastan, Billy Collins and, most immediately, present-day Thomas Lux) he says “I also get the sick feeling like I’m being groomed.” This quote comes from a little Q and A I recently did with John because when I read his review of the new Thomas Lux book (you can read it here on HTMLGIANT) I was struck by (hello, Paul Cunningham) how upset, how disturbed John seemed to be. And this reminded me of how I feel when I read certain people. Disturbed. And sometimes, for sure also, like I’m being groomed. (shiver, shiver).
This is particularly the case when I read Whitman and experience not just the great POETRY but also the feeling of a clammy arm slipping around me over and over in a cheap movie theater, of a pale tongue in my ear, of a breathy voice trying to massage my entire being into submission. Nice, easy and compliant. And that’s creepy, yeah. And creepy, also, to think (and know) that while I’m reading Whitman and experiencing the tremendous virtuosity of imagination and spirit that a part of him’s masturbating in the row behind me.
But, you know what, it’s ok, because it’s Whitman and I accept the fact that he’s grooming me. That he wants and needs me to surrender to his voice, his work, his divine right (yeah, he thought he was a new Jesus for America). But, for Christ’s Sake, we’re talking now about writing like late-career Thomas Lux!
Rauan: I believe you’re suggesting that “Grocery Store Poetry” written by Lux, Pastan, Collins, etc, isn’t attractive and vital because even though the world’s always been in turmoil “the way we apprehend that turmoil has changed and changed dramatically.” And you’re suggesting then I think that we need more a riskier, stronger sort of poetry (a poetry of derangement?) because “globalization and the relentless whiplashes of information rearrange us.” Your thoughts on this please?
John: Wittgenstein once wrote – I’m fucking kidding. I’m less READ MORE >
This will come around to David Gilmour if you give it a minute, I promise.
When Paula Deen was revealed as a terrible racist it was sort of funny at first. This rich older lady with her crazy over-styled silver hair and her pancake makeup and her cartoonish fantasy life wherein the height of class and luxury was paying black men to dress like dolls and dance for her gathered friends and family. She was such a perfect grotesque. But then the story wouldn’t die, and on the one hand I don’t like to judge anyone for a prurient interest in anything, but on the other hand I got pretty sick of seeing her face. And more to the point, I got sick of how much other people seemed to enjoy seeing her face. They loved to look at her and hate her.
I’m not saying she didn’t make it easy. She did.
But I think the root of the pleasure we took in Paula Deen’s fall was the pleasure of feeling superior to her. And I will grant you this: the odds are decent that you are not as bad a racist as she is. Probably your racism, like mine, is pervasive and ugly and embarrassing, but probably it is not garish. You have a little class about it. (So do I.) When you have a racist thought, you don’t immediately recognize it as such, but when you do recognize it, you have the good sense to feel really bad. (Me too.) So maybe, in this sense, you and I are better than Paula Deen — perhaps narrowly better, perhaps a lot. It’s hard to say. But what we probably aren’t is uncommonly good people.
I guess the thing is this: why was it so much fun to find out that this particular human being was a bit of a scumbag? Did you have a lot riding on Paula Deen before you found out she was a racist? I am willing to bet you did not. She only became valuable to you, if you are one of the majority who took such pleasure in her collapse, as I will freely admit I initially did, when she became a resource — when she became a fuel. We burned her and felt better for the smell her burning made.
But it’s not as if you didn’t know there were cartoonish, tacky racists out there, right? Please tell me that you knew. If Paula Deen was cause for joy, then you will have cause for joy until the day you are dead: there will be people like her so long as there are people like you and me.
The larger problem, though, is really you and me. Because we keep it quiet. Because no one has caught us yet. Because we’ll get away with it for the rest of our lives.
I have been working up to a question. The question is this: why is my Twitter feed, and why is the Internet in general, so excited to discover they are better people than David Gilmour? Furthermore, by what definition can they reasonably argue this is true? READ MORE >
okay, so, Franzen’s been toasted again:
“Every woman must decide how not to sleep with Jonathan Franzen . . . how best to escape his sexual clutches if (she) ever encountered him on the path that led to the nearest market town” —
(from The Toast)
“for he shall be riding on a white steed, and his right hand will bear no glove. When you see him, you must rush at him, and throw your kirtle over him, and hold fast to him –”
(from The Toast)
But is it funny? In poor taste?
Is the comments thread of a post eulogizing Seamus Heaney the place to be snarky and to attack Blake Butler?
Well my long-time (and still) friend Philip Hopkins thought it was:
“Oh, did Heaney die? I guess that’s cool”
“…I thought clarity was outré. Heaney hasn’t written a magnum 700 page spooj-laden opus on tennis and corporate sponsorship has he? Has Blake Butler’s blog lost its edge?”
And in reply to those comments ZZZZZIPPP (who only writes in ALL CAPS) asked: “DID BLAKE BUTLER HURT YOU IN SOME WAY” ?? (Perhaps ZZZZZIPPP had also seen Phil’s comment to my post about who is the best tweeter amongst us writers:
“Blake Butler is the best person at everything in the world all the time because he’s so literary. Always. Especially when he’s not.”)
To clear the air now (ie, to stop the trolling, silly and embarrassing–and it’s happened before) and because, also, I am sure many people actually agree with his opinions, I asked Phil to flesh out his ideas, passions and grievances in an intelligent, civilized way (while I don’t agree with Phil’s strong positions I’m fine with his having them.) And, so, this, is what he sent me:
by Philip Hopkins
To clarify some of my recent comments on HTMLGIANT.
Blake and Rauan have said on this site and elsewhere that they find ethical considerations trite READ MORE >
In this mini-series the saga of redemption, as frequently manifested in the form of “comebacks,” is investigated. REDEMPTION ONE is here. and REDEMPTION TWO is here. Read REDEMPTION ONE before REDEMPTION THREE, inserting REDEMPTION TWO between them.
John Galliano, redeemable or not, is alive.
II. EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE
b. Better Off Dead? Two cases of Dubious Post-Mortem Redemption
As the example of time illustrates in the case of Adler, exogenous elements factor in whilst public figures are on a path towards redemption. Interestingly, the most practical way to pursue redemption might be dying. The death of a public person continues–to this day of non-secular dimensions–to make the majority of media consumers feel a predominant desire to respect their deceased status. This theory effectively extends to the redemption of some of the most controversial individuals.
Margaret Thatcher’s death sparked a discourse on the very topic of the appropriateness of global media industries using unnecessary euphemisms following the passing of public figures. The mentality of “one must not speak ill of the dead” looms as a dangerous approach when it pertains to political leaders. By picking and choosing the legacy of politically-engaged people, those who pick and choose create a false record of the events that carved the lives of others.
Thatcher’s individual saga as a leadership paradigm certainly includes grand successes. She was elected thrice as the Prime Minister of the UK and was both the first female PM of the UK and first female leader of a Western country in recent history. Additionally, she actively introduced her set of conservative, nationalist political beliefs, widely known as Thatcherism.
Heated debate surrounded Thatcherism, as well as Thatcher herself. For media outlets to neglect the heavy criticism she received–and often persuasively argued against–because of her death appears callous, but also oxymoronic at its core subject, because it contradicts the nature of the person Thatcher was: a self-proclaimed “conviction politician.” Her priority was staying true to her values, despite the anticipated reaction her values would yield. It seems highly unlikely Thatcher herself would hesitate to speak ill of the dead. READ MORE >
[ I’m sorry, everyone, that it’s taken me this long to join the Cloud Atlas conversation. And I’m talking the movie Cloud Atlas which made a tremendously profound impression on me–so profound, in fact, that just the mention of the words “Cloud Atlas” (by tongue or in print), causes, usually, something in my brain to short circuit. And I start to sweat, and to drool, and, within a second or two, pass out on the spot. But this morning I have, miraculously, been able to overcome the beast of those two simple words, “Cloud Atlas,” and, laboring in a kind of inspired, biblical and epic fervor/trance, have organized my thoughts into a complex, intricate and classical analysis of the movie, Cloud Atlas. ]
1. Boring. READ MORE >
[ Just as Shakespeare jauntily lifted and displayed pieces from his great store load of words pertaining to and characterizing people’s privates (including “nothing,” a favorite among feminists!) I have decided to whip out here some closely guarded tidbits about famous people’s pussies. So, come on, slap your thighs, crunch peanuts in the pit, and gaze up, all forlorn, at the sultry clouds.
And, above all, enjoy. ]
A non-pregnant Kim Kardashian’s is a furry teacup pig on its day at the spa. Showing off its nails and gleaming skin. The clit’s a snout and it makes gorgeous and empty little squeals that no man can resist.
Paris Hilton’s is very much like a starved Flamingo curled up into a sad ball on the fringes of the high-acid waters of some South American crater lake. The sky’s filled with hotels and jails and at night the stars crowd in like ghoulish paparazzi. . . And the starved flamingo shivers like a scared Chihuahua that pees on Paris’s marble floors whenever it’s afraid or excited.
(Cormac McCarthy’s trying to work this dish into a new disaster novel). READ MORE >