This too is a beautiful day,
sun’s glory straining through cloud fortress
more lovely for its scarcity,
like any jewel or private press record—
sad to think it’s gloomy for some,
but hopefully no more than half—
many of us love all things overcast,
whether by aesthetic fancy
or contrarian revenge,
our father in the weak sunshine’s whispers,
our mother the grey, tumbling mass
and their love in the storm
or the storm never coming—
"I love you, but, inexplicably, I love something in you more than yourself, and, therefore, I destroy you."
looking for drugs,
preta looking for hugs,
make-ups and hiccups
preta with wrong bodies
preta cowering at night in tears they can’t stand crying,
they whirl around now
greater and greater
and their howling is a horror
and there is a goosebump for each of their howls
on the skin beneath my arms,
and they cower in fear and cry,
and they cry
and they make love with the monsters in their closets
and they cry,
and their friends are all betrayers
and they cry
not girl not boy
keening at the end of the world,
mourning their births
passed out in puddles of lubricants
and numbing agents,
dreaming of their original face
before they were born
you shot peanuts out of cannons
and brief blowing winds are about
the toadstool hearts of seaworthy men and women
and cloud cake layers dissolving before fido’s graveyard—
oh but that a burnt toast could be fired in me,
oh but a little burnt piece of toast,
on a ledge,
on a muffin,
on a seaworthy man or women,
oh seriously leggo my ego
summer stretching smooth fingers into one last weekend
sun backlighting the still green leaves
and insects illumined also
or are they seedpods tossed about
i could lay like a baby in the grass
i could curl up with earthmother like a hippy
this privilege is killing me inside
my life enjoyed on the backs of unknown dozens
and for each like me
no time to stop and love the lengthened summer
god help them
my life is their sickness
i want you in a music box snowglobe
we’ll dwell there in the candycane house
warm ourselves in the lightbulb firelight—
i am asking your permission not demanding
i am an enlightened romantic requesting your permission to dwell eternally with me in a music box snowglobe
i will let you choose the song it plays on repeat
if someone shakes it we’ll hang on to each other
but most of the year though it will be stored in an attic
so that shouldn’t be a problem
it is the end of september
i love you with the turning leaves
i feel like the two minute breakdown of a five minute emo song
in me are two vocalists and their lines are running over each other enunciating your sunlight
you don’t like emo
i’m sorry you don’t like emo
one of the vocalists is a screamer and the other is a screamer
the autumn leaves are screaming
i am inexplicably warm for you like this 80 degree late september day is inexplicably warm
In middle school,
in the early days of AIM
Tristan used to lol a lot,
and I said, you’re overusing lol
and he said, “I don’t laugh when I lol,
from me, it just means a smile,”
and I loved imagining him smiling
every time i saw the lol,
so much less violent than laughing out loud—
Laughter is kind of traumatic—
tickling is terrifying—
the Greeks believed you could die from laughing—
they called it fatal hilarity—
Tristan lives in North Dakota now.
I haven’t seen him since 2011.
His family was on the Cape.
We met at Provincetown.
We walked around the beach and Commercial St.
We climbed the tower.
In high school I fell in love with Tristan’s girlfriend
even though by then he’d moved to Erie, PA.
I used to talk to her on AIM.
She was beautiful, heart and all.
She liked me but wasn’t in love with me.
I never told her I was in love with her.
He was furious that I was meddling with their relationship.
He chastised me about it like I was a child.
He forgave me after a while.
Later he said there was no room for him in her life.
She was already in love with her pain.
I don’t know why I do the things I do.
I don’t know why i feel the things I feel,
or what to do with them,
or how to feel about them.
And the people I love, why I love them,
I don’t know,
and whenever I try to make verse on the spot,
the first lines always popped into my head
are “I don’t know.”
Living is a lot of not knowing.
There’s so much more I could tell you about Tristan.
I run over my memories like how in Church
I used to run my fingers along the pews’ wood grain,
and try to discern shapes, like with clouds,
and trace a shape, and then look for a different one,
but this process isn’t poetry,
because it has no end.
i actually believe we should be privileging untold experience over talent in art. any non white cis male is inherently a more valuable voice
even if they aren’t as “good” an artist
the idea of a pure “timeless” art ambivalent toward social realities is an idea of the ruling class
art is not about the art itself as object, but the artist’s communication of something. privileging art over artists is anti-social, not to say sociopathic.
beware of anyone who likes ideas more than people. his love is the root of all evil.
our interests and loves and passions and needs and handicaps are not the same. the idea of a common humanity is the first principle of totalitarianism.
humanity only constitutes a unified species insofar as we can breed with each other and not produce sterile offspring.
your identifications with your race, your country, your sex, your gender, your aesthetics, your religion, whatever—they’re all illusions. you are alone.
we are all alone, we are all aliens, and we can’t be together in any productive way until we realize that.
empathy loves for sameness. compassion loves for difference. be compassionate.
My girlfriend Molly smokes American Spirits. Not because she thinks it’s cool or something, she just likes them.
Once in 2004 I went to a Wilco concert with my college friends and one of them went backstage to tease/harass the members of Wilco, his favorite band. At first the only guy out front was their piano player Mikael Jorgensen, who this friend referred to only as “Laptop” because up until that point, he’d mostly just played laptop computer.
"Hey Laptop," he said, "Smokin’ American Spirits, huh? That’s a pretty hip brand." My friend smoked Camels.
Laptop tried his best to ignore my friend. Later on Nels Cline, the genius guitarist of the band, told him something like, “You have that sense of humor that’s popular now with younger people, which I neither understand nor appreciate”.
This morning Molly pointed out that they have to write “No additives does not mean a safer cigarette” on the label, and she thought it was funny, because there must be some people, presumably, who actually associate “natural” with “healthy”, even when it comes to deliberately inhaling smoke into one’s lungs—it’s called the naturalistic fallacy.
I told her American Spirits was a good subject for a Zizekian analysis, and she told me something like “Well I don’t want to hear it.” She hates my half-baked intellectual excursions, so I thought I’d type it on Tumblr instead, where I can be ignored while feeling like I’m being listened to.
The Indians gave us tobacco—the ones in Virginia, anyway. I don’t think everyone used it. They were completely hooked on it, of course, and soon we became hooked on it too. Until tobacco came along, it was impossible to be truly cool. Coolness has always been connected with tobacco use. The first person to protest tobacco use was Charles II of England, because he was an inveterate nerd and jealous of how cool people looked when smoking it.
In the late 70’s, a dreadful public service announcement began to run. It was called “The Crying Indian” and it showed an “Indian Chief” standing, inexplicably, by the side of the Interstate (he was actually played by a Jew from Brooklyn) with a single tear streaming down his face as the Pale Faces littered his landscape with more and more of their capitalist garbage. It was a great sign of the total romanticization of the aboriginal American races. If they’d been more honest, this Jewish Sitting Bull would’ve been crying about the encroachment of corporations on reservations, the disgusting poverty on reservations, etc. etc. Littering? Whatever. Why don’t you give my kids a reason to hope for the future and not to just become bitter alcoholics?
No doubt some of that garbage over which the Chief shed his single tear was cigarette butts. American Spirits also has a label chiding its smokers for littering their butts. “Cigarette butts are one of the most littered objects,” it says, suggesting smokers keep their butts until they can find a place to dispose of them.
I wonder what the real purpose of this message is. I think it’s that the intended market for American Spirits is already environmentally conscious. “We know you’re the kind of person who doesn’t just throw your butts out the window. Keep being that good, definitely-not-white-trash person you are, and also keep buying American Spirits.”
The romanticization of indigenous peoples is one of the most obscene strains in modern leftism—I shouldn’t even say leftism. It’s more like white people sentimentalism. It does nothing to help them. The Indian on the American Spirits package, enjoying his tobacco from his long pipe, is a mere symbol of authenticity, not even a symbol of a person, of a group of nations.
The myth goes like: the Indians were pure, they were naturally spiritual. They had a relationship with the earth. They didn’t just exploit it. They used every part of the Buffalo. Some of them even had matriarchies. Wow. They were so much better than us. For the duration of your American Spirit cigarette, you get to be that Indian, not the boring-ass white hipsters you know you are, who grew up in a cookie-cutter suburban home built on an Indian burial ground. You share the peace-pipe with him. Your white guilt disperses into the air with each exhale.
American Spirit. Yes, the Indians contacted the spirits—not the hideous masochistic Christian saints or the angels—no no no, that shit is corny. These are the spirits of the water and the earth and the sky and the eagle. The Indians were deeply in touch with the spirits. You know this because you saw Pocahontas when you were a kid, and she used to talk to willow trees and chill with raccoons, and hallucinate her life plans in the stream while singing songs. She was deep. You wanted desperately to grow up and have her hot body.
The Indians were the true Americans. That’s why the PC term for them today is Native Americans. I think this is a silly term, and I’m aware that many Indians don’t like it either. Us white people, and the black people we dragged over here, and all the immigrants from every country who’ve made their lives here and settled generations after generations, we will never be the true Americans. Never mind that Europeans invented the name America, and that by calling them Native Americans we only entrap them in the abstract political entity we superimposed over their land. This term is not a compliment to this diverse group of nations and ethnicities. It’s the final insult.
We fear additives. We feel alienated by a processed food culture. We remain capitalists but we need to find ritualistic ways of washing our hands of the more openly obscene elements of capitalist life. The new form of anorexia is strange diets—the paleo diet, the raw food diet, etc. etc. These are not silly or wrong in and of themselves, only insofar as they are motivated by a desire to do penance for our continuing participation in capitalism. The old anorexics wanted a slim body, but the new anorexics want a slim soul. American Spirit is the only brand of cigarette that implicitly promises to slim down both body and soul. It’s holistic, like the Native Americans were—excuse me, are.
This fear of impurities is exploited both by tobacco companies such as American Spirits and by the anti-tobacco lobby, with its obnoxious “Truth” ads, where self-righteous hipsters who look identical to the average American Spirits smoker run down a list of “chemicals” in the average cigarette in some invasive “culture jamming” stunt, as an effort to gross you out and make you guilty. Never mind that chemicals are what the Universe is made of. We hear “synthetic” sounding names and we are scared. It reminds of something horrible, like blankets intentionally poisoned with smallpox.
We will not commit the sins of our fathers. Aside from smoking tobacco, of course. When the American Spirits company reminds its customers that the cigarette is not safer because of its lack of additives, it knows very well that it does not harm its brand in the slightest. We know cigarettes are unsafe, even without additives. Everyone knows that. We smokers have already decided we don’t care about lung cancer or heart disease. We care about being cool. Our decision of which brand of tobacco to buy is going to have nothing to do with bodily health. It will have everything to do with ideological (read: spiritual) purity.
What are the impurities, the additives, ultimately, on a psychological level? It’s white people themselves, who were not “naturally” supposed to even live here.
The Indian of American Spirits will always be the unspoken alternative to the “Marlboro Man”, that mysterious, probably in-the-closet cowboy who stalked the remnants of the Old West for so many years, looking for his lost lover, trying to bum a spiritual cigarette from the landscape his blood-kin stole. I can’t quit you, he says to the sunset. And the sunset says nothing back.
No, that is not our romance. Ours is the romance of the Indian, with his elongated peace-pipe, adorned with a single feather. He is the figure who “believes for us”, in Zizek’s terms. Of course we don’t consciously believe that buying this brand of cigarettes will heal our ancestral guilt. The shamanic power of the Indian is not to afford us his authenticity—this would only be another theft of his resources—but to allow us to forget our own inauthenticity. We all sit around the campfire and he tells us a story of clever Brother Coyote, and we listen, and we take another drag, and listen, and we are content.
— Jacques Lacan (read the rest)
why are people so much more passionate on the internet than IRL? it’s the transference, imo… we think there is some loving mamma out there who will delight in everything we say, and that somehow she will see it all on our blog.
there’s something in the internet for every one of the extremes of psychoanalysis—the hysteric, the schizoid, the narcissist, the pervert, the borderline—but perhaps the hysteric is most in thrall by it. it gives him access, or at the very least the shared illusion of access to the other’s inner thoughts, permitting him to join the other in the reverie of psychic communion from which he derives all his enjoyment. all he has to do is hit the “like” button and the two of them are shooting off to hysterical heaven, united in the fantasy of “mutual understanding”.
everyone has a modicum of hysteria in them—lacan went as far as to argue that subjectivity itself is essentially hysterical. sartre’s famous example, in “being and nothingness” of the peeping tom, who is totally lost, absorbed in the lives of those on whom he’s spying, and doesn’t have any awareness of himself until he’s “caught” for peeping—that’s the birth of subjectivity. on the internet we can “spy” without ever being caught—there is a tacit understanding that what we are seeing is at once private and public. we offer ourselves up to be spied on, and at any one moment we know somehow is looking but not quite who.
some personality types use the internet to compensate for irrelevance or failure IRL, but the hysteric was never invested in IRL to begin with. she was online 24/7 before there was any online to be on.
the hysteric loathes his or her body and on the internet one has no need for a body. she can capture her body in the form of the selfie and thereby attain mastery over it, as well as preserve it for mamma from any defiling—this desire for preservation can lead to a curious sort of angry pro-body stance—even as she hates her body she still will not stand to see it defiled or degraded by anyone else. it’s not a hatred that seeks to destroy, but rather to freeze, to cordon off, to capture.
the prevailing style of internet poetry, favoring the unvarnished stream of consciousness, is like hysterical crack. much of it reads like an IM monologue—sometimes it’s literally copied and pasted from an IM convo. internet poetry of this sort is not about the poem, but about the reader’s imagined relationship with the poet.
steve roggenbuck complained in a revealing post about why he quit his MFA program that his teacher used to write dismissive comments like “save this for your blog” on his work. this teacher was completely missing his poetics, which elevate the blog post to being, if not beyond, then at least on par with the skinny like 12 pt. font times new roman small press poetry book.
in the old days, it was a horror for someone to read your diary. on the internet, it’s a horror if no one reads your diary.
take a twitter feed like “so sad today”, whose persona is a desperate, morbidly depressed female who has perversely assumed her own depression as an identity, almost a fashion statement. she is constantly depressed, but somehow always fine. we are never worried that the author of “so sad today” is going to commit suicide or something. we laugh at her posts, but if she were serious we would be quite wrong to laugh. but we understand that, in a weird way, she’s happy being sad. she is more concerned with whether her therapist still has a yahoo or hotmail account (this is lame to her) than if he can actually cure her. Her sadness is worn on the outside of her like black lipstick. it’s a lure, an opportunity for mutual recognition in the imagination. she is not in rebellion against her despair—she perceives it as a sign of her authenticity—her sadness makes her one of the elect—her despair is a kind of hope.
the hysteric prefers the internet to real life… perhaps the ultimate hysterical statement re: the internet is when steve roggenbuck joked, "I only go IRL so I can have stuff to post about online later."
perhaps the most difficult thing for us to understand about the internet though, but the one thing we must understand, is that there is no Internet. there is only IRL. if our irony fails us, and we fall into the trap of regarding the internet as an extension of our own fantasy lives, the results can be quite damaging. everyone knows what i’m talking about… but everyone’s done it too.