I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death
by Heiko Julien
Civil Coping Mechanisms, Nov 2013
Book Page at CCM
In I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death, Heiko Julien presents to us a kaleidoscope of images, ranging from the suburban, to pop culture references, memes, and the internet, presented through a meditative narrator questioning everything they see, while at the same time doubting what they are saying. Ironically the writing is both positive and self-deprecating at the same time, mirroring the multi-faceted life we inhabit online through different personas; we are both the nice, tolerant and compassionate person, and we also want to die a violent death, alone, so we can feel something that is real in a physical sense, not just through social networking.
What strikes me first of is that these pieces began as either self-published e-books, Tweets, or Facebook posts. This way of sharing ‘content’ online seems to be central to ‘Alt lit.’ Heiko has already begun a dialogue with his audience before the book has been published; I had read most of these pieces online before coming to read this book. This is quite a unique trend that is happening in the publishing world; there isn’t one way of ‘being a writer.’ And the idea of publishing itself has become quite flexible. I feel that Heiko is aware of this, and the writing in this collection reflects the continued dialogue he has with the Alt Lit community, which he seems to be a major part of.
“Facebook is the void that talks back.” (facebook post)
Heiko is well aware of the power of memes, in a similar way Steve Roggenbuck talks about the memeplex, which he defines as “a grouping of associated memes that are consistent and which support each other.” And that a “meme” is a unit of culture and/or anything that is spread by imitation (stylistic moves included). Heiko also uses the language of memes to project this view; via different forms of online language, be it advertising, tweets, Facebook, or blog posts.
I am afraid of men but I am a smart boy so i intellectualize my fear in the form of Cool Shaming and Tight Blaming. If I’m being honest, I would like to be the Number One Dude. I admire strong guys. I like to watch them play sports. I relate to the idea of a Buff Bro. I like a dude so top heavy I can topple him with a good push. I like to push dudes into pools in the summertime.
For Heiko, as well as others in the online community, memes also constructed through online ‘brands’ or ‘personas’, where ones identity becomes a meme. This feels like one of the central themes to not just Heiko’s writing, but to the ‘genre’ of Alt Lit. What makes Alt Lit a unique genre, however, is that it feeds into the aspects of an online community members and environment which Heiko references a lot in his writing, and the online community all construct different personas, or identities, through different social media outlets. In this way, Heikos writing puts a mirror up not just to himself, but the community he responds to. The writing does not just reflect the community that is Alt Lit, however, it also stems from something else, something more ‘human,’ or ‘natural‘, whatever that may mean in the ‘internet age‘ that we all live in. Social stereotypes become crystalized through online media, which in turn become memes, and a part of the online language that Heiko channels in his pieces.
But I guess what I most want is to be in actual love with a woman who actually loves me back until we die painless, unexpected deaths simultaneously, but someone told me this was already done in a Bad Movie.
There is a strong sense of irony in these pieces, that the only meaningful things that can be said have already been said through media, and that is all the narrator knows. Memes have become our ‘language,’ our way of communicating in our ‘environment,’ and these pieces show the point of where a meme stops and the human being typing them begins. The writing is a projection of the narrator’s own inner dialogue, while at the same time being mixed in with memes and other online jokes. In this way, we are constantly reminded that there is a person behind the writing, a person who has their own desires, goals, and emotions.
and we are dancing
like we know people
want to take our money
and kill us
and we still think they are beautiful
Notice how “Out There” has been capitalized, this “other” could possibly mean something like a world free from online content, something more ’real’, but the narrator, by calling it the other, has no idea what this could be. In doing so, we are shown a crisis the narrator is having, and one that we are all aware of; all we are becoming aware of is our online presence, then what is our ‘real’ identity?
You can see a lot of Rare Vids of Young Dudes hanging out at home and doing funny voices if you search Just Chillin on YouTube. Go ahead and try this and maybe then you will learn how to love without needing to receive anything in return.
November 8th, 2013 / 11:00 am
Hey gang, just wanted to spread the word that Heiko Julién‘s 3rd ebook, There Is No Reason for Tigers to Be Beautiful, They Just Are is now online. It’s the first thing from Pop Serial 4 (which is available in print) to be put online. The rest is coming soon, thanks to Chad Redden. Heiko is one of the rare contemporary writers I’m consistently excited about. I vibe with him real hard and maybe you’ll dig him too. An excerpt:
The secret to my Decent Quality of Life?
I spend every moment I’m not eating thinking about the next time I will eat. Creates and maintains tension. This is how I have cultivated bliss within, and yet my greatest strengths are alternately my biggest weaknesses. For instance, I died in a house fire in 2004. Tried to make four toasts in a two-toast toaster.
You need to know: You are in the fight of your life. If you don’t Grow, this fucked up hellscape of a reality we inhabit will ravage your mind/body/soul.
It is no wonder I’ve been a Bad Person and so have you. We’d like to think that’s all in the past now. We are getting older and wiser and less terrified but the stimulus that scares us is getting stronger.
So let’s talk about Bad People: Bad People betray their friends and themselves for no good reason because they have too much fear they’ve chosen to ignore rather than confront. On a seemingly related but unrelated note, this world has betrayed me, so I am commenting on youtube vids, lamenting the death of Good Music. Forsaken by a world that has abandoned me, I wander into my bathtub and drown. It was already filled from a previous bath. (Cold and gross.)
The fact remains that the majority of my youth is gone and I spent a lot of it being upset. Considering suicide as a means of avoiding future work and general discomfort, yet I look at you in your cargo shorts and think, “you are not going to make it, probably.” I think this because I am a survivor and am also into men’s fashion.
Animals are doing all kinds of crazy things to survive and so are you. You bought your daughter a Justin Biebre CD and listened to it to try to feel Good. Incidentally, I still cannot get over the fact that there are animals that live underwater.
You aren’t allowed to commit suicide until your mom has died. These are the rules. I don’t make them. Living is better than not living, even though it’s painful a lot of the time. Just make plans for the future. You don’t even have to do them.
When you are having a serious problem and there’s no one you can talk to about it because they wouldn’t understand, that’s when you’re You.