Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Following up on the pixelated camo thing...

In 2010 I asked why camouflage is pixelated. ("Why is camouflage moving backwards, becoming lower-res?") It turns out the whole pixelated camo thing was a massive mistake:
Whereas pixillation is usually very successful at obscuring images otherwise unfit to be seen, the US Army is $5billion in the hole, with its pixellated camo uniform (introduced in 2004) being dubbed a colossal mistake. 
The Daily reports that soldiers have "roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it's been worn." 
"Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment," an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq told The Daily. 
Now, Army researchers and textile technologists are working feverishly to design a new, less conspicuous camo pattern.
Incidentally, Jeff Eaton called bullshit on 8-bit camouflage two years ago in a comment:
"In theory, it is a far more effective camouflage than standard uniform patterns because it mimics the dappled textures and rough boundaries found in natural settings."

Personally, I don't buy it. I can understand wanting to exploit a dappled effect, but the isolated pixels are just way too square to be natural. They always stand out loud to me. Why can't they do micro-blobs?
Another link of interest: Are you reading Timothy Moore's blog? You should be! It's called Read My Blog Please. I love this post on "The Friendship Zones":
Friend Friend Zone  
A friend friend is a friend that you see at least three times a week! You text each other like five times a day and you guys always are the first to comment on each other's Facebook statuses. Your inside jokes are so inside that you forgot where they started from - people are jealous of you because you two seem to have your own language! Everything here is wonderful! 
To get out of this zone: Why would you want to get out of this zone? I'll tell you why! Because it's a sham! Because you still haven't seen the bad sides of each other yet! You haven't even gotten into a fight yet or seen each other upset! You're not even calling each other when you have a bad day because you don't want them to think you're weird! SO, when you are friend friends for about, say, three months, manufacture a crisis and see how they react! Will they comfort you? Will they check up on you? Will they wake up at two in the morning after your frantic call and meet you in an empty part of the city and take you home without asking questions? If so, you have successfully left the friend friend zone! 
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha." - Me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

10 Hot Tips: How not to lose on Chopped

I watch Chopped a lot and it often seems that the chefs who end up on the show have never actually seen an episode. People are always making the same dumb mistakes. Are you a chef? Are you planning to compete on Chopped? Well by God at least read this blog post which should take you less time than watching one damn episode of the show you are going to appear on. Here are some super-actionable tips on how to win Chopped, or least not to go down in flames like a chump who happens to be on fire:
  • DON'T USE TRUFFLE OIL! It's a trap, it's only there to separate the flaming chumps from the chefs who are not on fire. Every single time a contestant grabs the truffle oil off the shelf, the judges release a collective groan. They hate it. Aaron Sanchez once said it's a product that should be incinerated. 
  • Lay off the molecular gastronomy already. I've never seen a chef who made something like "walnut powder" or "pea gel" win an episode. The judges usually say something like "I applaud your creativity but it just didn't taste very good." And they're just being nice. What is creative, exactly, about putting your ingredient in the food processor with a bunch of maltodextrin? The results of these experiments always look totally gross.
  • Don't try to make lentils. Same goes for anything that generally takes more than half an hour to cook (see non-instant polenta; tagines, stews and other long-slow-braise applications on tough cuts of meat; paella, etc.). It doesn't matter how good a chef you are, you can't bend space-time through sheer force of will/ego. 
  • If they give you pancake mix, don't make pancakes. It's mostly flour, "Chef." You can make almost anything with that. One of the three judging criteria is creativity. 
  • Don't make crostini for your appetizer. Actually the judges don't seem to have any problem with crostini; this is what Anne Burrell made on Chopped All-Stars and she won that episode. This just personally annoys me. Dullzville! The only thing lamer than throwing your four ingredients onto a piece of toast is making them into a gel-powder first.
  • If Aaron Sanchez is one of the judges, use a jalapeno! It doesn't matter where or how you use it, no matter what, he will say that he is glad you applied some heat because it's absolutely crucial in (octopus salad/hollandaise/bread pudding).
  • If you cut yourself, put on gloves. The judges aren't going to eat a salad you tossed with your leaking, bare-ass, potentially-hepatitis-infected hands. Also don't cut your cooked meat on the same cutting board where you butchered the raw carcass. Chris Santos gets especially pissy about health-code-type stuff. Time constraints or no, keep it sanitary. 
  • Don't stick your spoon in the blender while it's on. Same goes for home chefs.
  • Use lots of salt. The judges complain about food being underseasoned 10 times more than they complain about it being too salty.
  • Keep your egotastic shit-talking to a bare minimum. This probably won't actually keep you from losing, but trust that if you do lose, the show's editors will have a field day making sure every obnoxious comment you made about being awesome and knowing Anthony Bourdain ends up in the episode. The irony of your hubris will be on FULL display.
Follow these tips, folks. Don't let this be your theme song (via Elizabeth):


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oddly specific memories

I remember being at my grandmother's house for some holiday party in the mid-80s and hearing my uncle or somebody say that the Bangles were playing. I excitedly raced to the TV, but what he meant was the Bengals. (Isn't childhood just a string of disappointments?) This was triggered by seeing the word "Bengal" in an article about zoos I was skimming over lunch. Funny that this memory was never triggered by any of the many times I have seen the word "bangle" in the past 20 years (e.g. reading the J.Crew catalog). I also remember being at my friend Krissy's house, probably in kindergarten or maybe first grade, with her older sister Shannon and one of her friends, and Shannon crying out "I get to be Susanna Hoffs!" In lieu of actual dress-up, Krissy and I would often just declare who it was that we looked like and what we were wearing; Jennifer Connelly in The Labyrinth was a popular choice, especially in the ballroom scene where she's dolled up in the sparkly-poufy dress and, come to think of it, Susanna-Hoffified hair. (The teased-up-rat's-nest look was big then.)


I often remember exact lines of dialogue from past conversations. Is it crazy to believe with 100% conviction that they're accurate? (You can't prove me wrong!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Against authenticity

[Trigger warning: This post contains yet more speculation on the New Sincerity.]

There's a post on Montevidayo, by Carinna Finn, connecting Chelsey Minnis to the New Sincerity, or the "New New Sincerity," via her use of melodrama. At first, I thought Finn was saying that a lot of the artists associated with the New Sincerity aren't sincere at all, but rather melodramatic; but in fact she seems to be saying melodrama is sincerity, or a kind of sincerity:

And when [Chelsey Minnis] says “It hurts like a puff sleeve dress on a child prostitute,” it’s because that is what it’s really like, and there is no other way to say it. Her signature “this is like that” construction is an exercise in simile that is both ultra-transparent and extremely dense; like Bishop says in her poem about metaphor, “cold dark deep and absolutely clear.” CM and [Lana del Ray]’s melodramatic tendencies are not trying to obscure or costume anything – they are being absolutely clear.

As I responded in a comment, it seems to me that Minnis’s poetry is all about costume, dressing up, playtime, theater. A celebration of silliness, of the tantrum. I’m not sure what we gain by calling it transparent or sincere. In fact, what I love about her poetry is that it doesn't seem to care about reality ("what it's really like"), or this reality anyway; it takes place in an alternate reality that looks very much like a child's playroom but is freakishly sexualized and often violent (but in a non-threatening way, because it's so stylized and unreal). As such it fits right in with the "Gurlesque" aesthetic. As I wrote in a review of Poemland a couple of years ago, "Her poems are subversive, but they’re delivered in the voice of a naughty little girl who defies 'god’s wish.'" Minnis's poems, like Tao Lin's, are completely distinctive in style and tone, and in both cases it seems to me that there are many better ways to describe them than in terms of their "sincerity" or lack thereof. I don't really care if they're sincere – or, insofar as I do, I actually like them better if they're not. 


Katy Henriksen (in a remark to me on Twitter) drew a compelling parallel between the idea of "sincerity" in poetry/fiction and "authenticity" in music, which reminded me that I'm not sure I've ever posted my ready-rant about the word "authentic" as it applies to food culture. Which is to say, I hate it. Something I heard people say over and over in Boston was that such and such Mexican restaurant had "authentic Mexican food," AKA "not Tex-Mex." This pissed me off deeply because even middle-of-the-road Tex-Mex places in Texas are generally ten times better than Mexican restaurants of any stripe in the Boston area. And anyway, Tex-Mex is no less "authentic" than Mexican food; it's a regional cuisine like Cajun food. Tex-Mex isn't trying and failing to be Mexican food; it's authentic unto itself. And anyway part 2, I don't even care if something is authentic to any one region, as long as it tastes good (see the Korean taco craze). And something can be authentic and bad, because there's bad food everywhere. (I prefer most of the tapas restaurants I've been to in the States to the ones I went to in Spain.)


So, basically, if you want me to read your poem or eat your taco, don't tell me it's sincere or authentic. Tell me what it's like.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If your poem's not working, put an ant in it

I was emailing with Adam Golaski yesterday about poetry whatnots and he told me that he used to joke with some writing buddies that if your poem wasn't working, just put an ant in it. I have a dead squirrel poem (as Rauan Klassnik well knows), but I think the only ant poem in my greater oeuvre is "The Hunt," which appears in That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness. (The last line is "The ants had become one body, / moving forward in a trance-like state." And I think I'm to blame for it, not Kathy.) Sawako Nakayasu has written several books about ants. I tweeted "Put an ant in it" is the new "Show don't tell", and Tao Lin sent me an image of an old poem of his about ants. This must be extreme juvenilia; look at the couplets!



Have I mentioned that I love exclamation points in poems?

This seems like a good occasion to talk about why I don't think the poems in you are a little bit happier than i am (Action Books, 2006) are especially sincere, by which I mean they don't even "seem" or "feel" sincere. A D Jameson has said on several occasions that the New Sincerity isn't about true sincerity but devices that create the appearance of sincerity. But I'd like to avoid going down the garden path of trying to distinguish between true sincerity and fake sincerity; that way lies madness.

Instead, let's focus on the effects we can all agree on: a cultivated artlessness, flatness of tone, extremely simple word choice and syntax, "childishness" in terms of both voice and attitude or mentality. I think what's amazing about the book is how that flat, childish voice is both totally hilarious and, somehow, simultaneously affecting. Reading a Tao Lin poem, you ride on a high created by the dissonance between the elevated language expected from poetry and the ludicrous banality of what's actually on the page; but there's always a risk of being suddenly sucked down by a moment of real devastation.

Let me illustrate with an example poem from his first book, because it's very different in style from that older poem above, which you could almost mistake for a Karl Parker poem. Here's one of the shorter ones from the book:

it'll get different
at work i wonder
if i should take anti-depressant medicine 
finally, i decide, no, i shouldn't 
later i am feeling depressed
do it, i say, take anti-depressant medicine 
still later i feel better
anti-depressant medicine, i say, ha, ha
ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha 
an hour later i catch myself thinking extremely hard
about a bright green apple being where my heart should

I think this veers very close to the stated definition of flarf: "deliberate shapelessness of content, form, spelling, and thought in general, with liberal borrowing from internet chat-room drivel and spam scripts, often with the intention of achieving a studied blend of the offensive, the sentimental, and the infantile." Or, as Gary Sullivan put it, "A kind of corrosive, cute, or cloying, awfulness. Wrong. Un-P.C. Out of control. 'Not okay.'" Note how close this is to Ana Bozicevic's definition of the New Childishness as "a cultivated artful artlessness." The phrase "anti-depressant medicine" is funny because it is wrong, redundant, sounds misinformed in a Bushism way (a la "the interwebs"), an effect that's enhanced by its being repeated three times. There's also the implied understanding of antidepressants as something you take on demand, like a painkiller for a headache ("do it, i say, take anti-depressant medicine").

The end of the poem* is a caricature of a sentimental ending; what's more sentimental than equating your feelings to your actual physical heart? It is still surprising and strange -- the sudden image in this poem that has consisted entirely of straightforward reportage of thoughts and feelings. It's also weird ambiguous: would having a "bright green apple" for a heart be good or bad? It's a bit surreal, and Tao Lin poems aren't usually surreal. Is it moving in any way? Eh, not really. I think a poem like this works largely on the basis of self-mockery; if the real Tao Lin ever had these feelings, he's mocking them by writing them down, and if he didn't, he's mocking the mentality by proxy. It's an anti-poem. It could be called, "Poem About Depression." Oh ha ha ha.

Perhaps a better example of a poem that is, to me, both really funny and paradoxically affecting is "4:30 a.m." I was going to say "I don't want to type this poem out in full" but then I remembered that copy and paste exists, so here it is:

4:30 a.m. 
i am biting my fingernails in bed
i am fucked existentially
i am not an okay person
i am nervous in my bed alone in my room
i am fucked existentially
i am just a normal person
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
please keep reading
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
i am fucked existentially
thank you for reading my poem




I think I actually copied that the right number of times but don't hold me to it. The poem occupies one full page spread in the book (i.e., you don't have to turn the page to finish the poem).

This is funny for all kinds of reasons. There's the "wrongness" discussed above; what does it even mean to be "fucked existentially"? It sounds like something a kid would say so you can't take it seriously. Also I love the visual trick of the repeating line; your eyes know it's the same line over and over so you don't actually have to read it each time; it becomes more like visual art than a text. And the hilarious deflation of the final, self-referential "thank you." It's all so over the top, you see; that's why I don't think it makes sense to say that this poem seems sincere. To me it seems ironic, meta-poetical, and conceptual first and foremost.

The line that achieves that peculiar paradox, though, is "please keep reading" -- he's acknowledging that it's obvious at first glance this poem is mostly ~50 iterations of the same line, but he wants you to really read it anyway, as though by taking in each line individually you could come to understand his suffering. It's so silly, but it's sort of the plea of the author in general, isn't it? I know this has all been said before; I know everyone suffers; I know the particular form my suffering takes is laughable; but please keep reading.


*At least I think it's the end; there's a stray, seemingly unrelated chunk of text on the next page that may be an untitled poem or may be the last stanza of "it'll get different."


Monday, June 11, 2012

Readings at the Lighthouse Book Fair

John and I are both reading at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop Book Fair this weekend, capping off its seventh annual Lit Fest. I'll be reading from The French Exit (the book, not the blog!) on Friday, June 15 at 3:30 p.m., and John will be reading from Under the Small Lights on Saturday, June 16 at 1 p.m. We'll both be doing Q&A's after our readings and our books will be available for purchase. Do swing by if you're in the 'hood.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The case of the inscrutable euphemism, or things that blew my mind part 3

Six months or so ago, I heard the phrase "come over all unnecessary" for the first time and was unable to determine what it meant. The SERPs have improved slightly and I see now it means "to become sexually excited." You can "come over all" other things too, as in this passage from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne: "So with these words he unhooked it, and carried it back to Eeyore; and when Christopher Robin had nailed it on its right place again, Eeyore frisked about the forest, waving his tail so happily that Winnie-the-Pooh came over all funny, and had to hurry home for a little snack of something to sustain him." This example seems like a case of illogical causation but I guess Winnie the Pooh's response to all kinds of situations and stimuli was to eat something.

Anyway, we can gather that "come over all X" means to be suddenly overcome with a feeling or emotion. (According to Mary Ruefle, "Neurobiologists have distinguished emotions from feelings.") I find it quite peculiar that "unnecessary" should mean aroused, but maybe this expression is only used in situations where the stricken can't do anything with their arousal, because, say, they're in the middle of a multi-course dinner party.

This reminds me of a guy I met a year or so ago, who told me that he had always thought the word "undertaker" was very dark, as though it referred to the literal process of taking bodies down, under the living and into the earth. It had always had those grim connotations for me too. But he realized, he told me, that in fact it was just "the ultimate euphemism" -- an undertaker is engaged in an "undertaking."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I went hiking today

One of my favorite things about Colorado is that it can be 91 outside but there's still snow on the mountains.


PRETTY.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My favorite tweets of all time, part 2

Much like reading any Jeeves and Wooster story, going through my "favorites" on Twitter is a guaranteed good time. These are just some of the tweets I have favorited since the last time I did this.

Mark Peters (‏@wordlust): Do these guys with ironic mustaches also drive ironic vans and commit ironic molestation?

This is funny because it's irony week.

Adam Peterson (‏@AdamWPeterson): If you can't spot the crazy person in the coffeeshop then you are in your apartment.

Comedy fact: Crazy people are always funny until they threaten to slit your throat.

Gaby Dunn (‏@gabydunn): It's always weird to see a nerd smoking a cigarette. Like, aren't you supposed to know science, nerd?!

Making fun of nerds was always cool, but it's meta-cool on Twitter, where nerds are king.

nadya lev (‏@nadya): Just won "pants before noon" for the first time in weeks. This game is hard.

The only time I win this game is when I go to brunch.

Matthew Simmons ‏(@matthewjsimmons): If there's only one other person on the bus, it's impolite not to sit with them.

It's funny because it's the opposite.

Nick Moran (‏@nemoran3) Shout out to indigo for trying to convince everyone it isn't the same color as blue.

Ha ha! Indigo. (Real talk: This episode of Radiolab on why the sky isn't blue is pretty rad, and I hate NPR.)

rob delaney ‏(@robdelaney):  ?? RT @BarackObama: How many sausages do you think there are, total? I guess the # changes... people eat some, new sausages get made. Hmm.

I don't know if Rob Delaney invented the form of commenting on a fake RT of POTUS, but he certainly perfected it.

Molly Laich (‏@MollyL): I saw a coyote with a crow in its mouth. Guess what; it was awesome.

I'm the only one who faved this tweet? Bullshit.

Mister Simian (‏@MisterSimian): I may not be human, but if you bleed me, are you not a prick?

You know what they say about monkeys and typewriters.

Kelly* (‏@kellyasterisk): I really wish palindrome was a palindrome. Someone really shit the bed on naming words that day

Words that aren't autological can fuck themselves.

Steve Himmer (‏@SteveHimmer): I don't like to think the worst of people, such as they're ignoring my emails on purpose. So I just assume they're dead.

Oh yes. Is it just writers who do this? Or all assholes?

Here's Ari Weinberg, in response to me:


I still think it's fucked up that he only has 6 or 7 sons. EXPLAIN.

And this from Daniel Nicholls after getting a notification from LinkedIn that "Sky Ram has indicated you are a friend":


And speaking of Zizek:

Sommer Browning ‏(@VagTalk): 50 bucks says Zizek is eating a donut at any given time.

Honestly, I don't even know what that means.

Carrie Murphy (‏@carriemurph): god, bad tomatoes are bad.

They are SHIT, right?

Carissa Halston ‏(@carissahalston): Why isn't midnight referred to as low noon?

Because people are overall idiots.

Dana Tommasino ‏(@figmentspot): Oh. RT @lit_hum: The self forms at the edge of desire, and a science of self arises in the effort to leave that self behind. - Anne Carson

I love Anne Carson the most, but no matter how many times I try to read this tweet, understanding-wise, I never really get past the "Oh."

Mott Romney ‏(@MottRomney2012): Put a gun in space. That's all i'm saying.

Nearly indistinguishable from the actual Republican platform, am I right??

Michael Robbins (‏@alienvsrobbins): Well, you can't expect competence from a company that would greenlight the slogan "what can brown do for you"

My response was "UPS prefers the term 'brownlight'"

Rotating Skull (‏@rotatingskull): The Bible is very clear on the matter. Marriage is between one man and about seven or more women. A sheep trade may be involved.

Again, nearly indistinguishable from ... something.

Eric Raymond ‏(@pontiuslabar): "At the job after the job after this job," is probably the wrong answer to the interview question "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

There are no good interview questions, just stupid interview questions.

Sandra Simonds ‏(@SandmanSimonds): i just won the walt whitman award, the yale younger, the "prize", just got published in the new yorker, poetry, boston review, yay!!!!!!!

No joke, EVERY TIME I read this tweet I almost pee. The "prize"!!!!

You all win the prize of my heart.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I really hate Google sometimes

It would appear that something I shared in Google Reader in 2010 now shows up as a "Buzz" post somehow attached to my Google profile. (Click to enlarge.)




I don't necessarily agree with everything I share (or shared, since Google Reader no longer allows sharing) or link to or quote; sometimes I just think it's amusing or interesting. I don't remember why I shared this particular post but it certainly wasn't because I had or have any beef with Adam Fieled; I don't know him personally and I'm not even familiar with his work, critical or creative. It's probably because I liked this sentiment, abstracted from whatever it originally had to do with Adam Fieled:
If Fieled wants to see a different kind of poetry in the world, all he has to do is write it, or spread it where he finds it in the writing of others ... Seeing poetry you don’t like isn’t a reason for a revolution; it’s a reason to go read a different book. 
The problem is that Google makes it look like I wrote the thing, which I most certainly did not. It's from Critique Manque, the blog of Morgan Myers (I believe).

I've now heard from a couple of sources that this is being passed around on Facebook and attributed to me. If any of my dear readers happen to see this thread, could you please point out that I am not in fact the author? I haven't yet figured out how to wipe those Google Reader shares from the Internet without deleting my whole Google profile, which I can't do because it's linked to something I need for work.

In sum: I didn't write "The Conspiracy Against Growing the Hell Up Already." Google sucks.

UPDATE: An anonymous friend just sent me this screenshot:



Hi, Adam Fieled. All you have to do is click this link to see the original source of the post. Or check the Google results for the title of the post, in quotes. Pretty easy to verify. That's the source. I didn't write it. Check your meltdown.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Open City, The New Sincerity, &c.

I finally finished Open City, which I have been recommending since I started it but can now recommend without qualification. The narrator, Julius [spoiler alert, sort of] is easy to like and to trust, so it's surprising, if not shocking, if not disturbing, when we learn at the end that he can't be trusted after all, not entirely: we learn indirectly, via reported speech rather than outright confession, of a past transgression, which Julius does not attempt to atone for or even acknowledge. James of Pur Autre Vie recently wrote of this book:

Teju Cole's Open City is one of the most effective examinations of privilege that I have ever read. [...] Open City reminds us of the disturbing fact that one of the features of privilege is that it is not required to recognize itself. To a large degree, privilege consists of things that don't happen to you, choices that never present themselves, facts that don't seep into your awareness. Not only will the privileged be spared the horrors of war, they will not even have to confront their own abdication. 
It's a disgusting lesson, so Open City is not always an enjoyable book to read. But in a way it is its own antidote: it sheds light on privilege, stripping from it that character of self-ignorance that is so repugnant.

I think privilege is a good lens to view the book through; I might have said instead that it's about culpability. But of course they are closely related; privilege is so easy to shrug off as "not my fault."

Anyway, there is some very beautiful prose in the book; I found this passage on pg. 192 to be almost Forsteresque:

Whether it expressed some civic pride or solemnized a funeral I could not tell, but so closely did the melody match my memory of those boyhood morning assemblies that I experienced the sudden disorientation and bliss of one who, in a stately old house and at a great distance from its mirrored wall, could clearly see the world doubled in on itself. I could no longer tell where the tangible universe ended and the reflected one began. This point-for-point imitation, of each porcelain vase, of each dull spot of shine on each stained teak chair, extended as far as where my reversed self had, as I had, halted itself in midturn. And this double of mine had, at that precise moment, begun to tussle with the same problem as its equally confused original. To be alive, it seemed to me, as I stood there in all kinds of sorrow, was to be both original and reflection, and to be dead was to be split off, to be reflection alone.

~

AD Jameson is one of several incredibly smart and nice and interesting poets I have met that are currently studying under Jennifer Ashton at UIC, who, according to her bio page, "is currently at work on a new project that examines the historical formation of the so-called 'lyric subject,' tentatively titled: Sincerity and the Second Person: Lyric and Anti-Lyric in American Poetry." I have it on good authority that a snippet of text I wrote on the old Pshares blog before it died a spammy death has ended up on her syllabus, so I've seen a few references to that snippet on the Internet even though the original post is gone. There's a new post up on HTML Giant by ADJ with some historical background on "the New Sincerity," which I'm not sure I've ever been convinced exists or existed, though I do still think "the New Childishness" (a term I attribute to Ana Bozicevic) is a useful category. I've also never really grasped why some readers think Tao Lin's writing is "sincere." I admit I haven't read his novels in full, but all the poetry and prose by Lin I've read seems to be dripping with irony. If there was something new about his first book, you are a little bit happier than i am, when it came out, it was a new form of irony, not a new form of sincerity. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next post in this series, addressing what's been happening with TNS since 2008.

~


In other news, I just managed to unintentionally offend someone I have followed/been followed by for some time on Twitter: story of my life. But what compels a body to go so far as to block someone, rather than just unfollow? This is not the first writer who I've discovered has blocked me. I don't know how to feel about this. I mean, the only "people" I have actually blocked are spambots. I don't expect everyone to like me anymore, but apparent mutual admiration turning suddenly and without explanation into vehement dislike makes me kind of uncomfortable. One of my least favorite things about Twitter, in fact, is that it highlights a fickleness I find distasteful. (I almost wrote "in humans.") Does "following" someone have to entail liking or agreeing with everything they say? To a degree I can be tolerant even of intolerance, which is to say, if someone I already find sympathetic, interesting, etc. says something that seems mean or wrong or dumb or ignorant, I will probably give them the benefit of the doubt. In fact I usually unfollow people when I realize they're no longer following me, if I had followed them mostly as a gesture of good will in the first place, rather than deciding they suck on the basis of a single tweet, which seems to be common practice (among humans).