Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Being Correct (and Angry)

There's a big difference between being "politically correct" and "technically correct." Typically, those who complain (read: bitch, moan, and petulantly groan) the most about how they're "forced" to be "politically correct" oftentimes have the most tenuous grasp on that difference. But who am I to expect them to be technically correct about being technically incorrect?

So that's why I like to complain about how I'm "forced" to live in a society that takes such steadfast pride in its own ignorance. I've said it before, and I'll happily reiterate to you conservatives who, while claiming to love America, actively hate every part of it that doesn't look and sound exactly like you; more than anything else, take comfort in the fact that hippie dippie commie lefties like me love peace so much, and don't own any guns.

Consider my frequent and blatant (over) use of the first amendment. How do you think I'd use the second? 

There's nothing funny about this post, because there's nothing funny about the fact that I could make just a select few wrong decisions and end up hurting a lot of people. I won't. But others like me might not be so careful. And it's all perfectly acceptable, courtesy of the gun lobby. 

Thanks a lot, America. Thanks a lot, fat, stubborn, cowardly assholes who have no concept of empathy or any semblance of foresight. 

Even if you believe in heaven, do you seriously think St. Peter is going to let you through that gate with pockets full of blood money? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tampa, Denis...you hurt.

We've done enough free writing exercises by now that you'd think I'd be able to jump right into this with no issue, but I don't know how or where to begin.

I'm back in Tampa, where I've been for the last week, and I'll be leaving in a couple days.

I miss Tiffany, I miss Former President Andrew Jackson, and I miss the not-quite-as-oppressive climate of the First Coast.

I've had wonderful and engaging conversations, both intellectual and sophomoric, with the likes of Brock Clarke, Steve Kistulentz, Mikhail Iossel, Kevin Moffett, Erica Dawson, and many others who are just as worthy of namedropping (but maybe not hyper-linking). Our seminars and readings have been top-notch, as always.

There was, perhaps, more drama than in previous semesters. This had to be expected, due to the increasing size of the program. I also may or may not have been paying closer attention to the social aspects of the residency. There were grievances and issues, but I also felt a stronger sense of camaraderie (which was ironic).

I was in the same room (multiple times!) with Miranda July.


There was the usual fawning over our more famous guests, and such behavior always grosses me out. I was not alone. I was not the only student with mixed emotions regarding the presence of a certain Denis Johnson.

Though he and Miranda were both the most anticipated guests of the semester, the buzz around Denis was amplified by his absence (back injury) during the previous residency. From my understanding of the events, he approached the university, not the other way around, for a chance to try again this semester. That's damn cool. On top of that, Denis' body of work is beastly and diverse. Jesus' Son is incredible. It hurt me, in all the right ways, much like this residency.

However, my confusion in regards to Denis, stems from his standoffish behavior. Writing is solitary. Artists are weird, and many of the greats are pricks. Denis was paid to be with us (and joked about this with a degree of self-deprecation that I will always respect), but as I've mentioned, he is the one who asked for the mulligan. Given the context of the situation, it was odd and unsettling that he showed almost no interest in interacting with students outside of his seminar, and of course, the reading.

I won't go into detail regarding the specific examples of his social disinterest, because again, writing is solitary, artists are weird, and traveling/teaching/performing is tiring. I just couldn't help but think that, had he not been a big name, but still approached us with the same schtick/demeanor, he'd have upset and insulted a lot of people. Instead, because we writers so desperately crave success and validation of our art, most people just laughed it off. We give the successful people a pass.

I'm glad, to an extent, that the events transpired as they did (and this is how I have viewed every less-than-positive experience at the residencies thus far), because it was educational. It also further served to bolster my view that the art and artist, though very much related to one another, cannot be viewed as one and the same.















Saturday, June 1, 2013

More Inhuman Than a Human

I want to be a character.

The problem with being a character is maintaining him. You have to keep it up. The more you draw people into your character, the more you fail them when you lapse into yourself.

The character ought to be a genuine extension of yourself, expressing, however removed, genuine anxieties and absurdities. But he can't be you. He must be a character.

So when an artist seeks to become the portrait, does he forfeit some degree of humanity? To fully embrace the artificial, must the artist be something above and beyond a mere creator?

How much of his humanity must he lose? How detached should he allow himself to become from his authentic knee-jerk reactions, and from the dulled senses of those around him?

Must he become delusional? Crazy?

What of himself is acceptable for him to be rid of? Does the general public ask itself that question? No. What would compel it to? Do artists ask themselves that question? I assume yes. So is it from the authority of other artists, of other mere creators of the artificial, that I can begin to find the mean of acceptable degrees to which I can destroy myself? Is there any way to effectively gauge the consensus opinion?

I suppose just fucking doing it is a start.