“But the poet or artist has to face an altogether different experience; the progress he makes in his art divorces him from popularity; it is ordinary sentiment in ordinary jingle that pays; every step the artist makes of comprehension and accomplishment removes him further from the mass of men and from success. His growth leads him inevitably from the praise of his fellows to their disdain and hatred… Fancy giving every Judge three thousand pounds a year retiring pension, and allotting Davidson a hundred and Middleton nothing! The handwriting on the wall is in letters of fire.” – Frank Harris
Whereas a writer once wolfed the news through a mask of their own tenuous citizenship, shaking hands with the catering (readerships either mostly gone or barely present), transposing their vague sense of revolt at being born over a byline or two so the page might be mistaken for something human (salt through a premature gill), muckrakers (meaning ninety-nine percent of journalists / propagandists swaddling the public since moveable type existed) have successfully reduced the language to a torporific quelling via whichever political dither inspires frowns. While the celestial debris above this planet sits heavier with our clickbait, anyone arty has had to marry their scraps (fair enough), yet, those with the savvy to pedal through the squall and into some just promotion, are now, it seems, using their leashes to masturbate too vociferously. One assumed a social crutch of left wing bric-a-brac-met-with-journalistic-knowhow had been fairly accountably stamped in place since, perhaps, the civil rights era, allowing a vague, ultimately unnecessary, quarter of a muse to back one’s reaction against the system (as the impetus to versify, long ago, involved any ratio of genitalia). Free speech can demand a lethal amount of alimony from her go-between exes (execs), and deploy it, right genital or left, to stomp out art. Those pundits who profit under the guise of literature are easier to diagnose than ever before. The only reason that responsibility has fallen to commenting trolls (and mentally ill poets, as bad as the truths we inadvertently correct) is because the internet is a real career-ender if any uncouth sentiment gets saddled with your name. Asocial libertinage (and bohemianism) is no longer a property of the left, if it ever was. The right has no use for niche kinks because money is not a factor. Politics cousins its light-hearted countercultures, swapping ass-cheeks twice a century: the old villain of the religious right went over to the new inverse of the same moralist hysteria (Jerry Springer’s audience stumbled through the hive to take charge of Twitter, a democracy on stilts) camouflaged as the (politically correct? buzzword offense takers) left, and the censorship became somehow worse, an amorphous void that can judo all your defenses into a populist bracket of privilege versus victimology so complicated it makes you miss the unintentional advertising of: “this godless book, this evil satanic filth!” My adult undergarments are curiously alight anticipating the body of Baudelaire’s work being condensed into an emoji (stand the pyramids on their point; may future archeologists spit on our hieroglyphics (how do you black pill someone who already used their prescription to overdose?) – no worries, any immoral or nefarious supposition will be considered as passé in a hundred years as the metered line is now). Good thing I squat all day in a subterraneous ectoplasm of my shortcomings on playback, because, concerning this soon (hopefully) forgotten generation (of which I almost partake): I aim to effectuate the meanest and most sublime revenge against the contemporary crossing guards of lit, figurehead whistleblowers to their own bloat, one and all, for reasons both psychotically personal, and intending to certainly not save my expired darling (the spectral and delicate Madame Artasia McAestheticia), but to provide a gnarled tunnel for the six or so of us who miss her dearly, a dumbwaiter to the casket we all envy and belong within.
If I may excuse myself (or choke you trying) with a pin cushion theory of writing: the plumage of any decorative line must leap out like hemophilic acupuncture, a gust of air misapplied between one’s lungs, pneumothorax, or a cardiac tamponade, fluids inoperably compressing an organ, and an appetizer of sundry bacterial infection as a consequence of the display. This malpractice will anchor anything direly abstract or conceptually-theory-driven with the pain of its saying, a breath condoned above proclamation and sentiment, yet tethered to the blood of its composure, sipping that slog off the tip of an angled blade. Your fluids are blocky enough to choke down, after an effort or three. No hiding razors in a child’s Frisbee, something that simple only requires numbness (like a coming attraction for diabetes – if violence gives you that cold of an impression maybe have some bloodwork done). Melodrama needs an excerebration with Silly String to triumph (too much trauma merely breeds a saint). The artist always performs friendly fire on himself. Disorders fulminate throughout a society (cells, houses), aggravating blank reciprocation. The inflammation is kept at bay with a hydrant that shoots icing, established before you were sperm, snatching you back there, knighted big and bossy by priapism. Plastered twofold inside the final purchase, people rot spaciously (our one eternal factor), a sanctuaried possession (it never wears off, your decay will only upgrade, hands free, mankind as the vain syllabification of a universe stalling to enunciate) enduring us as soot etched into an impression and blinked away, a rendering of fatality, poorly done (and worst of all effortful). Best to be nudged over the railing before catching a glimpse of the unanswerable joke we have stroked numerical. Even our quickly compounding degradation somehow both recedes and remains in stasis, because we keep coming more molds of ourselves cooked medium-rare across time and space (up into royalty, where the A-spot sparkles). Some smug beasts gobble life to such an extent that excuses fail me. May we not rewrite the dictionary in lunch meat? An autodidactic careen – bunch of pricy do-overs (an artist’s life costs zilch, that’s why the best spend everything)? God forbid the extended riff gets interrogated into an experiment. Squash that shit with the pious falderal thrusting us at our nonstop housing. (At least I sat and shut myself up long enough (years) to futz with, and pour over, and slop around, this terrible bilge in my head. Have any of the following (pretty much) authors ever sacrificed their tongues, their some-goddamn-thing to shut the fuck up outside of a profession?)
The critics of anything-not-status-quo switched domesticities, squawking a timeworn and fainéant moralism, placating a crowd that will never desert them unless they find the unlikely dignity to pass away forthwith (they never will – these charlatans are always drafted into history’s armpit, supernova octopi smearing their eggs like Creatine on a tombstone). Overfed babies (with destructive and ironic implants against the concept of maturity redefined as: health equals normalcy, or worse, parallel parking healthy normalcy across civic trends the market picked to fill its wallet inclusively) have been scratching at the stickers of the human conundrum since we slapped them on the problem of our massive first breath. The rhetoric of this user-friendly bitching utilizes outright didacticism as a fourth estate ingrained in the supposed art itself. Their common waterfowl lamentations include: no relatability = no quality, meretricious plangency, weirdness for weird sake, just to be shocking (shock value, how tasteless, how boring, ignoring that ninety percent of any genre is people failing, their genre’s failures just happen to move copies), purple flowery sugar (as if their syrup skimped the cane), too many modifiers, witty (no utilitarian toolkit purpose in service to a narrative), unreadably innovative (as a slur, and most insidiously employed as a faked, semi-literate exasperation to exaggerate the difficulty of your sentences, backhanded compliments manufacturing bewilderment so they can condescend without retaliation in order to conversely promote their own simple “brand” (and they brand wisely, doing this trick intentionally or not, accusing you of hiding behind a mysticism they have invented and pretend to applaud, logging you into their inventory of patronizing disdain) – this authorite will have written umpteen ten-thousand-paged books expostulating their personally plain minutia, heartfelt confessions of mediocrity sometimes, not always, but too often, flying off the shelves – artless diarists). These strawman arguments devolved into: problematic, oppressive, doesn’t contribute to the greater good, the privileged canon repopulated according to whichever new arbitrary edict (a: the canon can be subverted sans campaign…b: rub your stats on the library willy-nilly, if you can’t locate your shallow identity preference off of the Dewey Decimal System you are functionally illiterate and the problem is education, not literature, but those fields have been painfully blended) – all the flakey Weltanschauungen Max Shulman was satirizing in nineteen forty-three. It’s not my dogma mistaking your hemorrhoids for a free ticket home, not a hipster bought off its parent’s breast with the self-help logic of organic groceries, not a social worker with a chapter between each underwear stain, a factory fetish gone backwoods corporate, nothing grown lyrically anaphoric with presidential carbs until everyone does not pass Go molesting their guilt. The refrigerator is empty and your silence looks like food to me. I’m saying I tweak my bullhorn in the mall bathroom where no one prefers to halt and so it is my great luxury to name some names outside of a bar. The whitest whites alive (metaphorically or otherwise) have told me I’m white one time too many and I hope they bat their stuffing forever atop a Mount Golgotha of internet favs.
No one wants a worm’s eye view of themselves. No society would pay for the whiplash of that endeavor. Careerists tend to build a neck brace into their prose, throw people a snow cone of tongued braille. We scarf their plastic empathies, their single teardrop anchovies. It would take another industrial revolution to backwards engineer the cream they come from, and, sure, in the interim, literature managed to rub much algebra on the poem, cross-pollinating the discovery of the atom with linguistics, turning speech into a theorized science by the unit, no longer corresponding with god, gods, or the communities underneath, ricocheted alien speak the stars dictate (according to ditzy Jack Spicer), academic gibberish macerated and compartmentalized beyond the human subconscious, the wholesale cult of psychology tumbling through our alimentary sphinx. The gears are no longer in order, every phoneme has a satellite, take from them what you will, build Frankenstein by the sentence, but don’t sob to be let out of the room once he’s had you, don’t blow in his chest and call your phlegm a heart. Being corny won’t flavor the entire goddamn twentieth century out of your hustle. Life is barely significant now, nor in retrospect (especially your life), and I refuse to accumulate, like a pseudo-revolutionary jelly seeded with timeliness, these vapid faux pas from the civil and counter-civil, the sponsors allowing all of you to pass in collectivist complaint through the corral of likeminded Samaritans disguising themselves with a keyboard. Art is a church independent of practitioners. The pews may fill or empty accordingly. The cosmos turns foreign from itself. Stamping your commiserate eye-wet onto a page, gobbling and gobbled by the pity-party souls you have arranged across a publicist, spanked to fruition by the randy phantom of some misperceived tyranny that goes boing through the far reaches or your home (or homes), eked out tosspot memoirs for the donators of NPR, self-imposed traumas borrowed from a hyperglycemic memory, a parable with the power to drain Kafka of his dad, right through a fluffy cloud, and set magic realism’s formerly glorious wand aflame (we’re walking bombs of guilt saying pow pow to our painfully huggable environment) – or fling a wrench at the epoch and declare those messages in reverse, via watered-down, Dukes of Hazard episodes floating like a piece of shrimp Bukowski puked. The rarely abstracted, guilelessly proclaimed sentiments of Roxane Gay, Mike Meginnis, and Sheldon Lee Compton, bow (and hog)-tied finger foods of overhyped (save perhaps Sheldon, who is so square that literature will never fully digest him, thank his family’s parish’s town of a heart) incompetence who live in such terror of their own otiosity that they must pathologically deem themselves the grand inquisitors of any congregation’s dunderheaded altruism – Gradgrind bred with Cerberus.
Roxane Gay’s Hungry a memoir of my in parenthesis body is a sequel, of sorts, to Knut Hamsun’s masterpiece about a starving artist losing his mind at the turn of the century. If you’re half the Nazi he tripped into being, less in the facetiously bestowed sense of the word (and unlike how misanthropic writers flirted with this dangerous, hypothetical horror in the twenties, bailing once it revealed its bureaucratically banal evils – price of risky, miscast thinking, but there’s no risk today), more seriously dedicated to the cause, sticking with it, a real political go-getter, even, I imagine (like the book’s namesake) past the camps in action – then Roxane Gay’s identity politicking, journalist-sponsored issue-bait indoctrination (the factions slowly build on either end of her) might oil your boil. Hungry a memoir of my in parenthesis body is really a sustained intonation of defiance against a rape culture threatening to, for instance, bracket a gal’s ooze, or fix that stutter with a stern dicking, and it stokes the mass it pretends to stroke. A scoriaceous polemic in Saturday morning cartoon stream of consciousness, an ersatz lyricized call to triple chins, circling the clock-face of its author’s patience with herself, this piss-wept shower squeaked across grocery store shelves – of course the denouement is in a restroom (fortified double-decker ambulances required), where it should be read with a pang of white guilt osmosis by women so married that answering the doorbell has become a challenge. Gay is an agent provocateur for conglomerate concern on a tier of paycheck I can only speculate about, a living motivational backdoor, assembled by handlers for clandestine far right vindications (my vindication is ordained by Satan, whose tail wags in no legislative direction, keep conjuring your asinine, nationalized devils) against every non-wantonly ginormous hetaera since we coined oppression. Phew, nympholeptic sleaze was finally squelched (a glans-free zeitgeist). We’ve been breeding in hock to Pangea anyway. A salient piety mixed its martial arts, shuttering crotches worldwide, thank Oprah. A clear, concise, utterly paper-thin manifesto that can lay an egg on its own view count, conceived over a weekend by the glossiest of Home Alone headshots (also in triptych) getting high off her trolls, Hungry a memoir of my in parenthesis body (three stars for a stout, federal prank) stands on its own hammock of merit, imperative proof millennials (were cowardice not the orientation) must kickstart their (my) redundant suicide. Who knew redemption could be fertilized, a compost omen shouting ya! from disability to direly-reined-in-page? Many a hen needs a circle to cry in. To oppose Gay is to enlist yourself in a non-existent aristocracy, the type of blueblood who dissipated centuries ago, expounding quite nasally that her ethnic ilk must eat cake. The problem is Roxane Gay “happens to” have eaten it all and there’s none left for the rest of the underprivileged rabble she non-consensually avatars. That chimerical landed gentry got replaced by everything she stands for, a persiflage of monopolized controversy paid for before it was written. The cars her book’s hasty composition purchased should stall out on a rickety bridge. Pitying her self-neutered, cynical path to fame would leave you as loftily chill, as officially threatened as any hemispherical talking head. No part of her is of the people. Her blithe testimonials brought halfway aware, her phlegmatic, anti-capitalist capitalism (knuckles deep in celeb finger-wags, the dullest gavel), her store-bought life with an appetizer of tragedy: Andrea Dworkin-lite at best (or baddest – the few occasions during which her puritanical delirium becomes amusing), future president at worst (I might break my arm voting when that day arrives (it has, it did, we do – daily), and I’m only a citizen at gunpoint). May Anna de Koven take a broom to her prose – May anyone! May she be tailgated by the collateral of her movements. If the aesthetic bar keeps plummeting maybe Gay will wind up strangled by the same retroactive censure she advocates. Let an assistant cross my fingers on this subject, if they still fit around each other.
Mike Meginnis innovated the male author duck walk (big jowls duckbilled in their slump over a wily and Weebil-shaped bod – food suicide’s too protracted a death, I find) and all of the incumbent clichés against art at large, the internet era’s rotund snitch against malevolent intentions in the field. White knighted (net jargon is so wonderfully apt because cruelty fuels it) into rotund armor, clanking by the waddle, this purveyor of a pernicious benevolence enforced by the sweat it takes him to move up a staircase, or a paragraph, released his sneeze of apologia for the atomic bomb (remember?) a few brave years ago (thank goodness those Japanese babies twisting in a fryer can bank their injustices on his mole-strewn shoulder), patenting the man-boy parable. The novel, overpublished (as it has been made available), arrived with a modicum of potential, considering how he’d completed an Eggers-esque (esquire jr.), quirky-smart (genuine, sincere, folksy, downhome, sincere), tale of video game nostalgia predating Ready Player One, that more famous pseudo-inclusivity slob who bested Meginnis’s diapers. They both (Cline and McG, McG and Cline) live (and love) one step ahead of their platitudes (like the platypi they resemble), stalked by the plainest of pens. Neither headshot-for-a-grand, Publisher’s Weekly putting-out system of Kyle Minor-ian gall will staunchly admit his intention to lull a book club into dormancy.
Sheldon Lee Compton, purveyor of the rural belly flop, with his instant oatmeal version of a drawl, excites proletariat rage (fetishized by colleges), the Tourette’s of a bad workday, the brain’s ecstatic steam (mad for action), popping off its divinely (if unfortunately) stacked pressures (white man’s wheatgrass burden, like a folk song recorded in a porta potty), is hence converted into a sigh. I easily might take any percent solidarity with a working class southerner (if I factored identity into my pee stains), as I have a somewhat tangential relation to being raised in a gutter, and share a similar, if inverted, doofiness for everything anti-PC, but such is the Bukowski tradition, to drunkenly, insecurely (I ain’t a homo just cause I write, ya’ll, and will be rather Spartan toward my “brethren” till they bow proper) challenge your contemporaries (and I would consider him a contemporary, if it weren’t true how he’ll soon get famous toting his boring and responsible messages) – alas, I, too, have fallen under his Budweiser-infused scope, for some reason (a rare notice: weak, roundtable public comment as it was blurted) – ‘nother freedom fry smacking the hirsute floor of yonder greasy spoon), so I dare not muster much past a first peak at his old-fashioned storytelling (I guess sentence-masters Lewis Nordan and Barry Hannah aren’t his fam (even if they scolded artiness, they had the nerve to hypocritically put a high degree of torque into practice with amazing skill), because Compton has blown his aorta so far out of any worthwhile voice or style that my time quickly becomes more valuable than his sprained effort to show zero effort. I regret if, by his big dick standard, we have to wrestle now, but this sixty-year-old counselor (“Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!”) of the stillborn deserves anyone smarter than me fathering him meaner than I am capable. Please, though, no more occasional tries at modernist stanzas, you gumpy trinity of names, or Jean Toomer’s coffin will bench press you.
If you have to strap the buttocks of your muse, maneuvering cramped-up school marm logic and concentration camp grammar, at least stumble through your ear and cough a sinus up intact. Try language like a dog with peanut butter on its lips, with poor rhetorical dubbing, till your genitals sign off on you, and you’re not reduced to a generic huddle, addressing the ever-gathering retinue of idiots in place of whatever diseased fetish led you toward art in the first place. See how many careers have dried the novel out? Canst you forestall being trained into a benevolent shape, a jolly quack-contour, crooning down your own gestative empathy, becoming a human carbohydrate, a magnitude of sugar grains elected into office via book, facebook, embodying (whose bodies, our precious bodies, and their incumbent, emphasis on cum, rights!) the living opposite of art. Before you rebel against order by hurtling over the pathological impasse that keeps people from looking like a balloon god popped (some of us have the dignity to remain unfuckable without the need of a bakery, thank you), try stomaching a consummate lack of quality that doesn’t replace atonement overall, some trumpeted contention displaced and sanctified across the confessional of a platform, nickel-plating the spear inside Christ, organic smoothies horked into stigmata. Every generation fosters its Nessies and Bessies, embarked from on high (Ms. New York Times, for example) to recomplete what the church decried this Sunday – every generation is ultimately reduced to its most lithe retail, and this is generation retail. How might a literary town crier salvage the globe? Don your strap-on in the bath so you can outbleed the bleeders? You can bust the bed of art in a thousand places till the cartilage spills underneath, gagging her prettiest monsters, but those fangs (a million maggot metaphor) shall scatter in your drapes and wind up jostling the pillowcase. You will shuck your enamel to be chewed again. There is no citation above a root canal. Too late, no chance, the horizon got whittled by its own support. My response has been to iconize a mural, devoting more art than love to memory so I might blot out the people I’ve endured. Eschew the day-to-day basis. Sad as the familiar bias labels this line of freedom, I conflux my love, as each god occurs to me, sicker than any chemically dependent newborn was ever enlightened with a case of Munchausen by proxy, curating the slipper down its throat. Perhaps Americana pelt-obsession will footrace its scabies past an ailment, but the hospital’s grown too wide for death’s confectionaries, and I am a pretzel gone adrift, yoga-ing between the hang-down, Ahab chugalugged into arrest by the copious ambergris he seeks to squeeze. The beadledom of savior cogs is only as hopeless as the peruser bowed beneath their penance. How much adrenaline can god siphon off his clutch before heaven locks him out? There is no big enough cast, no scab to raft on, no gimlet-eyed demeanor ventured past its hush: the best humanity (has, can, and) will do is stick the idea of freedom in a shopping window.