June 16th, 2011 / 2:25 pm

Have you ever read something and thought, “This is not writing.”? I’d like to hear about it if you have.


  1. Lincoln Michel

      Most internet blog comments leave me thinking “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” 

  2. Drew Lerman

      Pretty sure Super Sad True Love Story was not writing, but just a weird dream Gary Shteyngart had that accidentally got recorded.

  3. Scalise

      Yes. Mostly self-authored. 

  4. Blake Butler

      Can you define the difference between writing and typing?

  5. Ben Roylance

      Most instruction manuals. Most things not in the language that I speak, too. 

  6. Samuel Sargent

      That was my initial reaction to Tao Lin. I’m considering reconsidering that position, however. (That is, to say, I’m in the beginning of a personal project that may or may not cause me to reconsider my opinion of his work.)

      I’ve had the reaction of “This is not poetry.” to a lot of things that I’ve read recently. Most of it seems as if it could very easily have been computer generated at random without losing anything. (And it seems that the authors of such works inevitably bristle at the idea that someone can define poetry, to which I say “Just because you’re too stupid to understand something doesn’t mean that those who do understand it are wrong.” (Which, of course, could be used against me as well, but I’m pretty sure I could beat up most of the “poets” I have in mind, and I’m not afraid to whip my dick out in the process so as to squelch any suggestions that I’m compensating for anything. (I will defend to my death your right to say stupid shit but I’ll defend to your death my right to ignore it.)))

  7. letters journal

      That poems in helvetica website thing that was written about here awhile ago.

  8. drew kalbach

      lk;dsfj lkajwefkjwqiefjasef  – writing

  9. Guest
  10. postitbreakup

      I consider anything that the author considers to be writing, “writing.”  I may not think it’s good writing.

      Why, Blake, what did you read that fell below your standards?

  11. postitbreakup

      well as long as the dream was “vivid and continuous”….

  12. Laurachristinecarter

      If it fails to be writing, it’s not writing. And everything fails. So it’s a half-empty/half-full equation.

  13. postitbreakup

      I will probably never come around to enjoying Tao Lin’s writing, but I would never consider it “not writing.”  It’s just “writing I don’t like.”

      The example of seemingly random words is interesting, though.  I think I would consider poetry that seemed to be random words to be writing if composed by a human (who probably at least has some subconscious reason for selecting those words, or a subconscious reason for selecting the method of randomization) vs. a computer that is literally outputting the randomized results of a database.  Another similar example: I consider a Burroughs cut-up is “writing,” but the output of one of those online “cut-up generators” is not “writing” until it’s been passed through a human filter who tweaks it, etc.

      But again, as I said to Blake, it seems almost like a “straw man distinction” or something.  If you don’t like a text, the way I don’t like Tao’s work, just don’t like it… but why try to say “This is so bad it’s not even ‘writing,'”?

      Like I don’t like a lot of techno, and only like some rap… but I would feel like an incredibly pretentious tool if I said to one of those artist/performers, “I dislike this so much that it’s not music.”

  14. postitbreakup


      (I suppose you’re saying that “writing” is this Platonic-like, idealized gold standard and everything necessarily fails to live up to it so nothing’s writing, but what’s the point in even holding that kind of definition? …other than trying to get a “whoa dude, and did you ever say a word so much it loses all meaning? and what if my colors aren’t your colors?”-type of reaction)

  15. Laurachristinecarter

      I think where speech is concerned, and writing is often “speakable,” our sense of making it “full” of meaning or even, to the converse, “empty” as a strategy of failure, is bound to fail. Blake’s question implies that a standard exists; the “gold standard” is not necessarily gold, maybe it’s shit. But if we are capable of judging “writing” not to be “writing,” that question implies a high standard. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that all writing is measured against an ideal, but some is, and the strategies of failure and exhaustion that are so common today are part of emptying out this standard. In that sense, that type of “not-writing” would be measured against itself, or against the base of gold, which is nothing. And then everything would be writing….

  16. Ryan Call

      and moral!

  17. postitbreakup

      Bah, as much as I loved his dream idea, I loathed his moral one.  So ambivalent about that book.

  18. postitbreakup

      Can you?

  19. Tummler

      About the “human vs. computer” binary in regard to randomized writing, I’m interested to know why you feel that a piece of “random” literature ought to be considered writing when the output method is exerted by a human but not by a computer/machine/program. Even if the content of the work is generated completely algorithmically, it is still a human who takes the computer’s product and attaches a sort of literary context to it. Jukka-Pekka Kervinen and Timo Tuhkanen’s “it’s late now for volcanos” is a prime example of such a balance between the writing of man and the writing of machine. Two human beings, each with their own “subconscious reasons,” combine forces with computerized outputting in order to create a work of verse that, in my opinion, very much deserves to be called “writing.”

  20. postitbreakup

      I would consider that writing:

      I think I would consider poetry that seemed to be random words to be writing if composed by a human (who probably at least has some subconscious reason for selecting those words, or a subconscious reason for selecting the method of randomization)

  21. Troyweav

      No, I don’t think I have ever read something I didn’t think was writing. But the other day I looked at a painting for hours, and, I swear to god, there must have been at least six novels in there, among other things–some of the best I’ve ever read, felt, listened to, carried home.

  22. jose Alvarado

      There are times with Burroughs where I feel like, this isn’t writing, it’s just energy, or violence…something torrential.

  23. Hyruledungeon

      There are times with Burroughs where I feel like, this isn’t writing, it’s just energy, or violence…something torrential. 

  24. postitbreakup

      I’m trying to understand your point.

      This is the closest I can rephrase it in any way that it makes sense:

      “Writing comes from speech.  We can try to make it full of meaning or have no meaning at all–in either case, we’ll fail.  Blake’s question assumes there’s a standard for writing (maybe Blake is talking about gold/high quality, maybe about shit/low quality, although the standard is high either way[?]).  I don’t think it’s fair assuming that all writing is measured against an ideal, but some is.  Writing purposefully to not have meaning [I don’t know what that means, exactly, but it seems to be what you define as “the strategies of failure and exhaustion,” whatever that is] are part of removing the meaning from this ideal.  That type of writing without meaning would be measured against itself, against the base of gold [what happened to the shit?].  And measuring it against itself is a contradiction that renders everything to be writing[?].”

      That was as close as I could get, and I still really have no clue what you’re trying to get across.  I guess a “strategy of failure is bound to fail” by design, but I have no idea what you’re saying about failure in regards to writing.  And I did try.  And what’s the difference between a “strategy of failure” and a “strategy of failure and exhaustion,” anything?

      What are you trying to say…?

  25. postitbreakup

      So it’s energetic, violent, torrential writing.

  26. postitbreakup

      So it’s energetic, violent, torrential writing.

  27. Janey Smith

      Blake? Writing is not writing–thankfully, it never is what it is. 

  28. postitbreakup

      I hate to be all, “citation needed,” but what the hell does this mean?  It’s even more vague than Laurachristinecarter’s nearly incomprehensible statements below. “Writing is not writing.”  Then what is it?  What does the first “writing” in that sentence refer to, and what does the second?  

      “It never is what it is.”  Deeeeeep. Oh, wait.  Fortune cooookieeee.

      Janey Smith? Comment is not a comment–thankfully, it never is what it is.

  29. kt

      I have two folders on my computer for generated text.  Writing.  Typing.  

  30. postitbreakup

      By which you almost certainly mean, “Writing that is a solid draft/more polished/better” and “Writing that I put less thought/care/polish” into, in other words, “Writing I consider good [or on the way to being good]” and “Writing I consider bad.”

      But I love “I have two arbitrarily named folders on my computer, so these categories exist in the real world in exactly the same way” as an argument.  I have a folder for “films” and a folder for “porn.”  Hahaha.

  31. Guestagain

      medium and message, jeez

  32. postitbreakup

      OK, I’ll play along.  The content/message of writing is not the same thing as the physical act of writing/the medium of the written word.  OK, I agree.  But I highly doubt that’s what Blake was referring to, since I don’t think that anyone would argue that the verb “writing” is the same as the noun “writing,” and I don’t think that’s what JS was saying, either, but I have no clue what she was saying exactly, because it was written in esoteric faux-wise fortune cookie style.

  33. johnselvidge

      Dig it, Laura. I think I hear you. If so, Beckett’s good here: “Fail again. Fail better.” It’s all writing but then again it all fails (eventually) because that standard never arrives or is being constantly emptied out.

      Back to Blake’s question, I’ve had the experience of “this ain’t writing” with a few things that don’t seem to care if they fail or not, that don’t seem to intrinsically adopt or generate a standard within themselves of what success or failure might be. And even if there’s an artful, will-to-failure going on (“I’m going to fail spectacularly, gloriously with this, so enjoy the show), it’s still a standard, btw. And that can be lots of fun, for sure.

      I think of Frederick Mark Kramer’s _Ambiguity_. Two hundred pages or so but only ten paragraphs written at what seem like quick bursts, and a great read. I like the book and think it’s good (yeah, it’s “writing” and a worthwhile project) but several times I objected along the lines of “Dude, did you even read this part after you wrote it? Before you submitted it to your publisher? Did you read this part even once?”. With that reaction, I had the “this ain’t writing” sense and was a little pissed. I want someone I’m reading to have read the book I’m reading and demonstrate this with a little care taken.

      I mainly had that experience with the Kramer book because of all of its low-grade, high-school errors in grammar, punctuation, etc. that kind of embarassingly weren’t edited out and weren’t accounted for otherwise in what I could read of the aesthetic he was setting up. Maybe a bit priggish and I ended up calling myself on it because I thought the book was fairly brilliant on the whole. It maybe even made what seemed like “oversight” part of its mode by the end, but I’m still not sure about that.

      So I get the “not writing” sense when there’s no evidence of revision. If a writer’s not concerned how something reads or doesn’t want to treat the text to some tweaking in order to either “succeed” or “fail better,” why should I care?

  34. postitbreakup

      Exactly, people want to consider something “not writing” when it’s just “writing they consider poor/not thought out/not revised enough/not looked over again/put out without concern.”  But I’m saying, it’s all writing, some of it I/you just value/respect more than others…

      Since your post was a lot more comprehensible to me than hers, maybe you can parse what Laurachristinecarter was trying to say…? You mention you agree with it, but (even though I feel like I “got” the rest of your comment) I have no idea what she was getting at in her longer comment.

  35. Laurachristinecarter

      Why are you looking for a point? I simply wrote and said a few things. Point de capiton?

  36. postitbreakup

      You’re right, why was I looking for a point in your comment?  Haha.

      I used to get in arguments about philosophy with this former roommate from college, and every time I wanted him to specify what he was saying in remotely less-ambiguous and inconsistent terms, he would just freak out (basically admitting, like you, that he doesn’t have a point exactly and just likes the way the words feel coming out, like a good bowel movement) and say “uh uh uh well you can make your words mean anything…  I know what I’m talking about, and that’s all that matters….”  

      And I guess for some people like you, it is, but I don’t get why (if you don’t care to make sense) you would bother posting at all.  But I don’t need to, I suppose.  

      You were just practicing your ability to be speakable… but of course that can’t make the gold standard… measuring against the gold standard makes everything measurable against the gold standard… it’s the strategy of failure, [French]

  37. 34b9uhbsdf

      Happens every time I fail as a reader (not to suggest it’s always the reader’s fault).

  38. Laurachristinecarter

       Hi, John.

  39. MFBomb

      I feel like I have read something and thought, ‘this is not writing,’ but I can’t remember his name and wish I could remember it but feel like I can’t because I was too busy having sex with Megan Boyle. Sweet.

  40. postitbreakup

      Man, I like a lot of your posts, and I obviously don’t mind bashing someone’s writing or online personality, but even I (in the midst of my terrible rage right now) feel like the sex comment was a little over the line.  I know you were just joking, but.  “Dude.”

  41. Ken Baumann

      Artaud. It doesn’t feel written.

  42. NLY

      The posts of people who insist on taking the phrase as literally as possible, in order to explain to us in precise detail the nature of the paradox which is already deliberately being made use of, so that we may stop using it and be better people and/or logicians.

      Also, Dan Brown.

  43. postitbreakup

      It’s not about taking the word literally, like some kind of prescriptivist argument… it’s not about the word, it’s the pretentious implication behind it… it’s about not being a big snob and saying “since I don’t like this, it’s not writing at all.”

      The “writing” vs. “typing/’not writing'” [non]distinction is just a way to privilege the kind of writing you value, and discredit the kind of writing you don’t.

      You can’t say it’s just about taking a word literally when it’s all about value judgments.  

      Blake could have just asked, “What’s a book you read that you didn’t enjoy, or didn’t think it was as good as others thought?”  But instead he phrased the question (and many people replied to it) in a way that establishes this ridiculous class system in which there’s “writing” and “not writing.”

      That kind of false distinction removes the personal responsibility when you disparage something like Dan Brown or those Helvetica poems or whatever else people have mentioned.  Instead of saying, “I don’t enjoy this book and here’s why,” you get to avoid thinking altogether and just say “This is not writing. He/she’s not a ‘real’ writer. Only I and what I like are legitimate.” It’s lazy and arrogant.

  44. NLY

      “It’s lazy and arrogant.”

      No, but baiting you was.

  45. Tummler

      Yeah, sorry about that. I was in a rush while typing that first comment and I guess that the crux of what you were expressing outright escaped me.

      Even though I didn’t read your comment very closely, I’m nonetheless happy that you addressed the field of algorithmic literature and brought it into this discussion. It seems to me that much of algorithmic/computer-generated/randomized writing (or at least that which incorporates more visually reliant, purely abstract forms such as mojibake and the like) possesses asemic sensibilities, developing and presenting an end result which rests upon the continuum between visual art and writing, I.E., between what is seen and what is read and how they intertwine with one another. Numerous people today look at works of post-literate ideology and think, ‘This is not writing,’ and I am 95% confident that that reaction will remain as it is for centuries to come.

  46. Phil

      Can somebody explain to me how Tao Lin’s superficiality project is not watered down, much belated Warhol expressed in writing (or typing?) 

  47. postitbreakup

      Well as long as we both agree that your post was lazy and arrogant…?

  48. MFBomb
  49. postitbreakup

      I remember reading that.  It really did kind of make me want to throw up.  But then I read her original post that he was riffing on about all the guys she’s been with.  It seemed like a really uncomfortable situation.  Like in any relationship you have to deal with the shadows of all the people that were there before… but when there’s an article on the net literally enumerating/describing it…  Anyway.  I need to take a shower now.

  50. gueist

      yo you’re missing the point maybe. the original post invokes the distinction only to turn it on its head, to where ‘not-writing’ is desired, not disparaged. seems blake wants words to hit him as objects

  51. guest

      looksm lkike gthe begingn of anothet shitr storm alberto or somet8hig

  52. postitbreakup

      That’s really interesting.  I did assume that he would mean “this is not writing” in a negative way, since that’s how I’ve heard it before, and since he’s almost always negative.  But you might very well be right.  

      I guess we’ll never know, since he hasn’t replied to anything except to bring up the “writing/typing” point, and probably won’t.  Unless it’s to say “what the fuck are you guys doing? please no more”  (after all the page views of course)

  53. MFBomb

      Yes, well, I don’t think Lin really cares about creating art; if exploiting his GF will his help PR campaign, then he’ll exploit his GF.

  54. MFBomb

      *help his

  55. postitbreakup

      I don’t know if I agree with all that necessarily, I was just saying it seems like a potentially rough situation to be part of a couple who have both publicly written about all their exes, but anyway, I truly don’t know much about Tao other than the little I’ve read, but he has at least never been incredibly obnoxious and dismissive to me directly, so I’ve kind of let it go.

      So… more to the topic of the thread, what do you think of the writing/not-writing thing?  (Outside of Tao and all that)

  56. postitbreakup

      “I can’t think of something ironic enough so I’ll deliberately add typos”

  57. MFBomb

      This sounds really interesting, and most of us (including Blake) probably prefer writing that doesn’t feel “written,” but it seems like you’re giving Blake’s post more depth than it deserves.  I just read it as another drive-by type question like he’s written in the past.

  58. postitbreakup

      Yes. And “drive-by question” is the perfect description.

  59. MFBomb

      I didn’t read the question as some subversive way to get at the idea that the best writing doesn’t feel “written.”

      For one, given Blake’s posting history, it’s difficult to assume that those were his intentions when posing the question.

      Two, it seems like such a thing would be commonly accepted on a site for writers and literary types.  Who doesn’t prefer writing that doesn’t feel “written”?

  60. postitbreakup

      I didn’t read it that way either, I read it as “Blake read something that he didn’t consider worthy enough to be called writing and wanted a bunch of other people to make a similar judgment about other things, but he’s not going to say what it was or why he felt that way”

  61. NLY

      We do. It was lazy, arrogant, and directly combative of your particular brand of energetic arrogance, which it certainly finds most distasteful.

      And as for this post, it will no doubt resemble its forbearer in several ways (not the least of which in brevity, we can hope, for my sake and yours): I do not like your tone, demeanor, stance, or mission. Setting aside the question of humor, I think if your posts aren’t jokes then they are deliberately or naively self-righteous, and completely ignore the conversation they’re interjected into, by forcing it to instead conduct itself on your (community be damned!) terms, which you with haste and volume insist on at every turn. My initial post, though lazy and snide, contains the meat of my complaint: all of your dimly logical excursions ultimately hinge on exploiting the bald-faced paradox of calling a piece of writing not a piece of writing, in order to point out to us (shiiiit) that writing is writing, and we’re just being assholes. First, we noticed. Second, here’s a shot of your colon: Blake is using a phrase which describes a highly visceral reaction. By walking in and pretending that we just hadn’t managed to think about these things yet, and maybe you could just convince us otherwise, all you do is state the obvious while ignoring the actual question: which book makes you an asshole? Which book makes you lazy and arrogant? Which book grabbed at your gut and made you declare that this person wasn’t even worth sharing a job description with? Questions of moral imperative in relation to visceral phenomena are both irrelevant and impotent; questions of visceral phenomena in the context of moral imperatives are demanding and exploratory.
      Blake’s questions had one of these two sets of characteristics. Yours had the other.

      That being as much arrogance and brevity as I can muster for a subject as out of the way as this one, I’m going to let that stand, so in your next post you could call me a fag, too, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Good night, sweet prince.

  62. MFBomb

      Hmmm…how long have you been reading this site? It probably took Blake two seconds to post that question.  I don’t think he had any intentions other than asking a question that would generate a lot of responses. I don’t think he wrote it as some sort of passive-aggressive attempt to take a swipe at a book/writer he just read.

  63. shaun gannon

      mfbomb did you just make another alternate disqus account or something

  64. Janey Smith

      There is depth in a fortune cookie. Just as there is depth in an asshole.

      Just because writing doesn’t have a meaning doesn’t mean it isn’t writing. Writing may also be vague and still be writing. But I prefer writing that isn’t what it is–no matter what it is.

      So, it seems to me that you want writing to be something and I want it to do something. Also, it seems to me–based on your comments above and below–that I am much more comfortable with thinking about writing as being something else, that is, as something that’s not itself–whatever that means. In other words, I don’t have to determine what writing is to think about writing. And when I do, it is entirely provisional.

      Also, the question before us “This is not writing” is different from “This is not literature.” Literature is a certain kind of writing. But, writing–that’s a bit more uncertain.

      So, for me, a computer generated poem does something, is writing. A telephone book does something; it, too, is writing. A novel by Tao Lin does something, is writing. Steve Roggenbuck’s helvetica poems do something, are also writing. Even the writing on your blog does something, is writing. My phone bill is writing. As is my bad credit report. These are all acts of writing. Instructional manuals, typing randomly, shitting on a plate and serving it for breakfast–all writing. 

      It seems you are uncomfortable with paradox, with that which is indeterminate, especially in relation to the problem of what constitutes writing. Why?  

  65. MFBomb


  66. postitbreakup

      Hey, you got me.  That was an excellent reply.  And I’m not being snarky.  You got me.  The question was trying to say “which book makes one make the lazy & arrogant statement that ‘this writing is not writing and this person doesn’t deserve to share a job description’ etc” (you put it very well).  I missed that point.  Blake Butler pisses me off so much (first in general, but moreso after his fucking obnoxious comment directly to me–when I wasn’t even speaking to him–that I can’t get out of my head, and I know that’s stupid, but I still can’t get it out of my head) that I didn’t think he would consider it in terms as sophisticated as yours, so I didn’t either, and I just wanted to shout at him.  

      I see what you’re saying.  

      I don’t know that everyone does, I don’t think everyone falls into that “we noticed” camp you describe.  I think some people, maybe in this very thread even, do actually see nothing “lazy and arrogant” about saying “some writing is not writing” and that some people literally have the awful notion of classism I was arguing against–but you’re not one of those people.  

      I don’t know whether Blake is or not, and so I assumed the worst.  In the same way that people have been suspicious of me being a performance artist or joking or some bullshit on here, I’m suspicious of his intentions, since he didn’t give any context at all, since he didn’t say “what book” the way you were wanting me to.  I still think that there’s a possibility that you might be reading too much/giving him too much credit, the way “gueist” did–but that doesn’t make your point less right in general, only right in how much BB ascribes to it.  And I’m admittedly blinded by both a terrible life situation right now and by being extremely [internet comment forum] pissed at him.

      I wish that instead of his two sentences, the post had been what you just wrote to me (minus the “fag” part).  His initial post was a lot more like your first, admittedly “meatless” comment to me than your second, very excellent comment.  It was, like your first comment, simply “baiting.”  And it worked.  And there was no point to it.  It’d be great if there were more posts like the one you just wrote than the “drive-by questions” that this thread started with.

      Great job, great take-down, great comment.

  67. MFBomb

      But I’m not sure you should be cracking such jokes, considering how all of ‘you’ have the exact same style.

      I mean, damn, none of you are original at all, other than the progenitor.

  68. postitbreakup

      Yeah, and he went back in time and used this handle on DC’s for years as well, just so he could agree with himself in this thread, today.

  69. shaun gannon

      who are you including in ‘you’
      just so I can get a sense of how inaccurate you are

  70. postitbreakup

      You’re probably right, but it seems like most of these questions have some mysterious antecedent, so I figured this one did as well.  

      Like when he said “I can’t believe people actually quote from How Fiction Works.” and it wasn’t until people noticed that there was a book review that criticized his book through How Fiction Works ideas that he revealed/claimed that,

      “someone reviewed me and quoted james wood? i was talking about this http://htmlgiant.com/snippet/jess-row-the-novel-is-not-dead/” 

      (even though that was not linked/mentioned in his initial post, so there was no way of knowing that’s what he was referring to other than mind-reading)

  71. MFBomb


  72. MFBomb


  73. shaun gannon

      capital defense, good sir

  74. shaun gannon

      capital defense, good sir

  75. MFBomb


  76. postitbreakup

      Great first line.  And I’m glad you didn’t start it with, “Postitbreakup?”  I looked back at your Disqus history when I was briefly interested in trying to determine what the hell you were getting at and it’s all “Blake?  Roxanne?  Blake?  ? ? ?”  Weird.

      Anyway, “But I prefer writing that isn’t what it is–no matter what it is.”  is still gibberish–that is, until you define your terms.  

      You can’t have a paradox without knowing what the two opposing but equally true things are, what the terms are… and since you refuse to say what you mean by “it is” and “it isn’t”…  then there’s no paradox here for me to be uncomfortable with, there’s just nonsense.  “something that’s not itself–whatever that means” doesn’t mean anything except to you.  And maybe to Blake, who knows?

      Out of your list, I consider a computer generated poem with human touch, a novel by Tao Lin, those helvetica poems, and blog posts all to be writing.  Maybe instructional manuals–I can’t decide.  Probably not a bad credit report.

      Shitting on a plate and serving it for breakfast isn’t writing…. it’s art!

      Anyway, NLY’s takedown of me was much much much much better, just go read and “like” that.

  77. guest


  78. postitbreakup


  79. bartleby_taco

      Reading all of this really stoned is making me think that the internet is really stupid and petty ahhh make it stop !!!

  80. postitbreakup

      haha i can’t believe you didn’t say “seems sweet” instead

  81. kt

      Not to discredit at all.  I love the typing folder more.  But there is a difference between them.  As you said.  They could be called film and porn.  Red and blue.  Chip and fry.

  82. Janey Smith

      Postitbreakup? Gibberish is also writing. As well as writing in which the terms haven’t been defined. Nonsense included. And if I’m the only one to whom something makes sense, I’m okay with that.

      In other words, I don’t have to determine what writing is to think about writing. And when I do, it is entirely provisional.

      Even your sense of self-importance–as charming and cute as it is, of which you have described at great length in one form or another during the course of this thread–is writing. I guess I wonder why this topic has brought about such a charge in you?

      Anyway, writing will always be what I want it to be. Or not be. You don’t have to like this definition. But, it works for me. It permits me to write. And that’s all I want to do.

      As for the take down challenge I am certain that the only reason you are acting out here on this thread is because you are seeking a kind of attention that your writing, away from this thread, has not been able to give you. That’s okay. But, it’s also peculiar because you never seem to act like such an asshole at DC’s. Why is that?   

  83. postitbreakup

      DC is unfailingly kind.  

      do you just lurk there or do you have a different SN, because i’ve never seen someone named janey smith going, “Dennis? Dennis?”

      I didn’t issue a “take down challenge,” I was saying that NLY did an excellent counter/”takedown” to my posts, that was so awesome and humbling and above the level of most discourse in this entire thread including Blake’s initial post (except for the “fag” part he threw in), that it made me want to stop arguing about all of this. But the replies come to my inbox and I have no self-control, so here I am.

  84. postitbreakup

      as for the self importance….  i think i’m incredibly unimportant.  if i had any self respect i would try to make my shitty writing better like it used to be when i had promise instead of wasting days on gawker or on here arguing and crying but it’s the way i’ve kept myself from ODing, these internet arguments, cuz there’s not anything else i can do but at least i can hit refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh refresh

  85. Janey Smith

      I like you postitbreakup. I like your writing, too. I really do. I was just curious about what was informing your intense responses, which I also happen to like. On DC’s I am not Janey. I am Steven Trull–also a pseudonym.

  86. postitbreakup

      Feel intense in every comment thread right now.  Feel like blanking myself so I just spew at commenters instead, even about things that don’t matter at all, although I do think fiction matters, it’s just not in me anymore.  I got into like a 2 day battle about circumcision in San Francisco over at Gawker.  I don’t live in California and since I’ll be alone forever I don’t anticipate adopting any children, i.e. I’ll never have anyone to decide to circumcise or not anyway.  I drove everyone “IRL” away so I’m attempting to drive the entire internet away, too.  Blake hurt my feelings.  Everything hurts my feelings.  My feelings hurt my feelings. I was funneling all my energy into working and then they laid off our entire building so now all the energy is about shitting online.  I don’t know how much more explanation you want, I feel like every word I write anywhere is dripping with the explanation, “this fucker hates himself and has nothing to do and no one to be with.  he was in love with a guy who treated him like shit and he liked it because at least he was getting treated, so he repeated that a bunch of times with a bunch of guys.  he got published 3 times and was on a roll but then freaked the fuck out, lost his “mojo” and traded all his passion for yet another guy and for a lot of other stupid shit and ruined his life.  he doesn’t have any hope about anything. refresh refresh refresh”

  87. Janey Smith

      My feelings hurt my feelings sometimes, too. But, you will live through this. And you will find someone who loves you and whom you love, too. Make yourself ready for it. Give yourself a chance. And don’t give up on writing stuff. One of the benefits of not being employed is having time to write! A little bit each day. That’s all it takes–I mean, it takes a lot of other things, too. But, a little bit each day is a good start. “See” you on DC’s. And postitbreakup, I’m glad we had this conversation. You got me thinking about a lot of things–writing, logic, rhetoric, life, love, politics, friendship. Goodnight for now. Your friend, Janey.     

  88. Chase


  89. postitbreakup


      thank you

  90. mimi

      “ess eightch eye tea tee eye enn geeeeee on uh pee ell A tea eeeeeeeee” is experimental literature

  91. Sally Jenkins

      I just tried to write this essay about growing up in rural Ohio and the loneliness of discovering punk music and skateboarding on your own. after lots of editing and rearranging and other labors, I read what I had and thought something like “this is not writing. this is just typing.”

  92. Guestagain

      damn, that’s too bad, sounds like something I’d like to read. please endevor to ignore the inner editor, or any editor, and just be free (unsolicited easy to say advice, I know)  

  93. Samuel Sargent

      I will probably never come around to enjoying Tao Lin’s writing, but I would never consider it “not writing.” It’s just “writing I don’t like.”

      In a context such as this thread, I consider effort to be the primary factor that determines whether or not something is ‘writing’. I suspect that I produce a close approximation to Richard Yates while asleep on the toilet with explosive diarrhea, writing with crayon on a roll of toilet paper. I know for a fact that I can clone his style of poetry while playing Half-Life 2.

      But I’ve come to realize that I have to consider the words in light of the author’s experience, not my own. Just because I could write a particular piece while in a coma doesn’t mean it didn’t require considerable effort on the part of the author. (I feel compelled to mention that I’m probably one of the few people who have read more of Tao Lin’s physically published work than his online writing.)

      However, as I already said, I’m in the process of reexamining my opinion of his work as part of a personal project, which stemmed from reading several early reviews of Anaïs Nin that eerily reflected the dismissiveness with which many critics deride Lin.

  94. Kristen Iskandrian

      it’s a good question because some people are approaching it in terms of ‘quality’ and others in terms of form. i don’t know how to adequately answer the question but i think some writing can feel so intimate or suffocating that it becomes something else–a seeping, a soaking, a fever. some writing stays very much outside the body. but it’s all writing–

  95. Trey

      this is funny because it reminds me of when you were posting on the experimental writing thread. in both cases of blake’s snippet posts you are real concerned with what would drive blake to post the question. my response in both cases would be that you should not focus on what blake was trying to get at with his question, but just engage with the question. this is similar to what I think was or is maybe your problem with experimental lit. you explained that you had trouble with it, and frequently (I think you said something like this? maybe not) had problems getting at the meaning of the text, or what the author intended to say. then a couple of people responded telling you, essentially, not to worry so much about what the author was getting at, and to just engage with the words. this is funny to me because it’s like this aspect of you noticeably carries over to other parts of life, like maybe it’s a personality trait or something.

  96. postitbreakup

      most definitely a horrible personality trait.  but it’s aggravated by the fact that there really usually is some reason behind the short posts.  like i didn’t know it was bloomsday on the james joyce one (until i saw the URL–it wasn’t in the text of the post) so i read the whole concept differently.  and the example i gave above.  and some of those posts there used to be more of where it was a screenshot making fun of something.  it just seems absolutely unwinnable on this site, either i’m supposed to somehow get that the context of the post or to get that there’s no context to it, and it varies all the time for no discernible reason.  so yeah you’re definitely right it’s a personality trait as well, but it’s just extra aggravated here like a neat freak in a garbage dumpster flipping out

  97. Ryan Call

      hey postitbreakup, i think, i mean, one thing that has helped me is to not think of a site as winnable or unwinnable. i dont know, thats helped me a lot. think of it as playground, not battleground?

  98. postitbreakup

      that’s a great point as well

  99. Drew Lerman

      While reading it I had an image of Gary Shteyngart blindfolded, grinning and chuckling at his little observations about facebook as he typed. Which makes his Youtube videos about being illiterate ironic in a more interesting way than he intended.

  100. MikeAppleton

      I read this novel recently that was as if a computer took the input text from “House of leaves” and “Notable American Women” and it spat out something, but I wouldn’t call it writing.

  101. bobby

      If it were a recorded dream it would have been awesome. Instead, it read like a creative index of his old-man-anxieties and his fear of stupid people. 

  102. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Have those weird Viagra link blurb things always been at the bottom of HTMLG’s comments page?

  103. Randal

      dear postitbreakup

      i like you too.  and MFbomb for that matter.

      dont sweat it.  its just the internet.

      remember that 80% of people who talk to you are selling you snake oil

      15% dont know what the fuck they are talking about

      and the other 5% may have a clue, but who the fuck knows unless you can have a drink with them and see the whites of their eyes?

      i have drank with some of the people who post here, and i think i have a pretty good sense of the bullshitter vs bullfighter ratio.

      if you need any further information, please send a blank check for 20 dollars to

      Drunk Thursday night gringo
      The Scorpion Bar
      69-08 Roosevelt Ave
      Woodside, NY 11377

  104. guest


  105. Remyg

      I’ll play.  Caveat:  If writing is about communication, not just expression (because if it was only expression, then why publish), then it does make this quite subjective.  That said, when smart people don’t seem to try, when I feel like there was more effort made for a 3rd grade chapter book, I’m irked.  Here are a few recent books that irked me.  Are these emperors without trousers?:  “Zeitoun”–Eggers, “Us’–Kimball, “Shoplifting…”–Lin.

  106. postitbreakup

      targeted advertising at its finest, haha

  107. postitbreakup

      “bullshitter vs bullfighter ratio,” that’s awesome

      it probably seems like i get down from being on the internet but it’s more like i start out down and try to bring the internet with me.  shower curtain rings snapping one by one, chocolate syrup everywhere.

      that bar sounds cool from the yelp reviews, i hope i can visit one day

  108. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I just trudged through a bunch of comments simply to say: “My penis works fine, though.”

      btw the ads have gone away since.

  109. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I just trudged through a bunch of comments simply to say: “My penis works fine, though.”

      btw the ads have gone away since.

  110. postitbreakup

      When I was in 6th grade I was starting to get erections all the fucking time, and one day in English class we were cutting shit out of magazines for some inane collage project, and I saw the Viagra ad.  I started reading the fine print and it scared the shit out of me: “If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours, go to the hospital immediately.”

      Well I knew that I went to sleep with an erection and woke up with an erection so I was like, “Holy shit, I must have a boner for 8 hours every night!  I should have gone to the hospital months ago!”

      true story

  111. davidpeak

      your handle rules

  112. Remyg


  113. deadgod

      Exactly:  there’s the put-down – ‘that’s not even writing’ – and there are the questions of language and linguisticality of mind that underlie the put-down (and might be questions that the insult leads conversationally to).

      If one reasonably uses the phrase “read something” – literally or as a figure of speech – , then one is saying that that “something” has been, literally or figuratively, ‘written’.

      – so when one says ‘oh, I read that; it’s not even “writing”‘, they’re probably saying that the thing is so incompetently written as to be beneath being read.

      – but one might go one to wonder – for example – , understanding being incommensurable with meaning, whether the failure of reading ever fully to grasp and control a text indicates how writing generates or participates in this ‘failure’.

  114. Guest
  115. stephen
  116. M. Kitchell

      that’s not just being stoned

  117. dole

      hella goofin’

      this question makes me think about construction of narrative (or something else) in (nearly) wordless comics.  When I read Yuichi Yokoyama’s TRAVEL, it struck me as writing that was not writing, narrative that is not narrative.  

      I would like to try to make this kind of sideways narrative with words instead of pictures.  I think it would be very hard because you’d have to somehow expose the mechanics of the words as you use them.  Maybe it could be done with grammatical repetitions, idk lol

  118. adrian

      I could never get into William Gass, as much as I have tried to. While I was attending a certain school in Iowa (umm, not that one, the other one), a writing teacher told me I had to absolutely read Omensetter’s Luck. I did, and it did nothing for me. I felt it was pretentious, and overblown. Of course, I was only 20 at the time, so I was afraid maybe I didn’t “get it” because I didn’t have enough life experience. I tried reading it again several years later, and I was still unmoved.

      I also tried to read The Tunnel, and only made it to about pg. 100. I threw in the towel after that. Complete and utter bullshit. But I’m not totally down on Gass… I did like On Being Blue. Weird, cryptic, and unknowable, but knowing. A house totally built from a batch of bricks that have never seen a kiln again. Then again, books that are totally foreign and seem to reference nothing but themselves, like the monolith in 2001, are extremely rare… 

  119. James Yeh

      I think the difference between typing and writing is the same difference between hearing and listening.