Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An arctic fox interviews the very influential writer and mountain lion Andrea Coates

On the surface, the lit scene seems pretty nice. It’s nice to play nice, right? It’s nice to play nice when you’re satisfied with the state of things, because not playing nice would upset the order. But sometimes we need a kid in the sandbox to kick some toys around to remind us that things are pretty fucked up. No matter how fun the new swing set looks. No matter how big little Danny was able to build his castle.

Andrea Coates is that kid. Love her, hate her, you probably have a strong opinion on the Canadian writer so discontent on the state of things in the writing world, even the language she uses on her blog is dismantled and reformatted to bring greater meaning.
And it’s greater meaning for a greater cause. Andrea Coates’ struggle is not a personal one, though she has used her self personally as a sort of bait to prove her point: the writing industry is inherently sexist. This is something a lot of us realize but can’t always articulate. Coates calls for accountability, the dismantling of our existing sexist infrastructure. Let’s get more excited about women and their writing and less excited about what writer dudes they’ve slept with.

This is part in parcel of Coates’ mission, based on my reading of her work, and my personal interactions with the writer. Some may not agree with her methods, but I think it is clear that she is trying to do good work.

When I was in Nashville during my poetry tour, I was approached by an Artic Fox. Well, actually, I was approached by Josh Spilker, because the Artic Fox came to him first to ask if he would publish an interview, and Josh pointed to me and said, ‘ask her, she has a bigger following,’ or ‘ask her, she writes for HTMLgiant,’ or something like that, sorry if I’m misquoting you, Josh. So the Arctic Fox told me about this interview he did with Andrea Coates last year and I was like, ‘yeah, send it to me.’ I like Andrea Coates. I think she is a fascinating mind, so of course I jumped to publish the interview. Here it is, live and uncut.

Arctic Fox: I’ve been reading Your Blog, and I how you feel about T-Lin. I’m pretty curious about whether or not you’re familiar with Mira Gonzalez and or Moon Temple also sorry if it’s not cool to message u as a strngr

Andrea Coates: Its Fine. I have heard of Mira Gonzales and her book of Poetry – I haven’t read it – it seemed like More Tao LinTM minimalism. I have heard of Moon Temple but dont know a great deal about her work.

Arctic Fox: A major curiosity about it is her Alleged TL TM morphology. I’m about to do some investigating of my own. But i thought might have some insight i could have! I feel suspicious of what’s going on with these two so far. I am only just beginning.
Thanks for responding!

Andrea Coates: My bit on Mira Gonzales, who seems inOffensive enough, has noThing to do with her and a Lot More to do with VICE, my Enemy / BoyFriend – A Few Months ago VICE published an Article on Alt Lit, Really slagging it, Mira was mentioned as Banal and Solipsistic, which I have found her work to be, along with Most EveryThing else in Alt Lit, so I’m not in disagreement with VICE there …. but then a Few Weeks Later there’s a Whole Article about Mira that uses as its xcuse for profiling her her Familial Relationship to One of the Members of Black Flag …. this Article is by the Same Guy who published Marie Calloway’s Book …. Marie Calloway was published in VICE …. A Couple of Short Stories about having Sx with People that also appeared in her Book, but VICE couldn’t publish her without taking a Shot at her too … so …. my Impression is that VICE gives Considerably Less of a Fuck about Women’s Talent as Writers and Considerably More of a Fuck about their Relationships to Famous Men. Which … vomit.

Arctic Fox: You were also upset at the Marie Calloway for kind of (seemingly) unwittingly playing into that in order to get Internet Famous, Right? Like rather than exploiting it, became the demonstrative model of it? Or maybe even if it is exploitative and purposeful on her part it is still lamentable for its perpetuation of the model? I’m kind of amazed at the phenomenon of alt-lit. It seems like a platform that the broad scope of writers has always wanted and that is to be abel to talk about being a writer–to have the means to discuss being published over the dedication to the content of their material/ without having to BE writers in what i guess i would have to call a sort of elitist/spiritual sense of the word. This lack of content being a sort of abstraction from the lack of self (cultivated) [maybe abstraction isn't the right way to put it] while trying to maintain or achieve the title “writer/published writer/internetfamous w/e” that presents the illusion of inherent content. So i guess what I”m finding interesting, is that VICE, as you’re pointing out, is feeling (threatened?) a need to point out that the content is only existing in the title (i.e. the relationship to the important men [i think they serve a similar purpose here]) among the women writers versus the men writers who manage to Capture The Nothingness. I guess I’m trying to ask you about motivation, like why you think this is happening, while also trying to work some things out for myself!

Andrea Coates: Its interesting, you’re Right, that the Internet is a Medium so Many Writers of the Past would have delighted in, and yet it is being used to say so little of Lasting Relevance – the Technology appears ahead of our Conception of how it should be used to affect Politikal Social Change, etc, or even to make Unique, Deeply Personal Art. Instead we have Herd Solipsism – bonding with Others over Mutual Naval Gazing and Self-Absorption. The Phenomenon of Marie Calloway is as you say: her Debut Short Story made the Mark it did because it appeared Feminist and Contrarian enough ( because Marie Calloway thinks of herSelf as Feminist and Contrarian ) to mask the Fact it is regressive, and I think this can be said of Most of VICE’s Feminine-centred Content. The Relationship between Men and Women in Alt Lit is Consistent with Feminine oppression, with Women as “Second Sx” – the Men are Xpressing the Philosophies of the Movement, the Women are elevated insofaras they meet the Sxual Needs of the Men. What is Most interesting about this though, to me, in Alt Lit Generally and VICE Specifically – this Favouring of Women who offer SomeThing Sxually to the Men – is that it has at its Nucleus my unConventional Relationship to Shane Smith, which is rippling through Time and through his Employees: Shane Smith is letting Tao Lin, Specifically, as the Literary Writer of Highest Rank in the VICE Cotterie, get away with suggesting his Wife / GFs / Crushes for Employment @ VICE over Women of Notable Literary Talent because Shane Smith himSelf harbours a Fantasy of forcing a Literary Woman into the Position of having to Sxually please him for his Attention as an Artist, but SS cannot act on this Fantasy with the Ease Tao can as a Mere Peon of his, because what with Technology xposing People as it does, EveryOne would know about the Affair and it would reflect Poorly on SS as a Boss: so he lives the Fantasy out Vicariously, through Tao Lin, and in doing so attracts the Attention of the Woman he wants to force into this Position, who is me, the First Person to pick up on the Trend @ VICE and get Angry about it, who will subvert the Fantasy and make it reflect Well on Shane Smith and I as opposed to Poorly, by coming up with the Apology Idea: if SS apologizes for VICE’s Misogyny Generally, the Public will forgive him for taking a Mistress, and he can go on accumulating Power in CEOland with Moral Impunity. Coming to an Understanding of how Hierarchy works has been Vital to my figuring out how to subvert Feminine Xploitation : Once Hierarchal Power Relationships are made Visible, it is amazing how Much More Human Activity makes Sense, and how Much Clearer where to apply Pressure to promote Change becomes.

Arctic Fox: I think I’m a little unclear on this. did ShSM ltrly try to exploit u Sexually as a worker for vice/ thus u picked up on it? And also, you’re saying that ShSM is contained by his title, without the artistic liberties Of T-Li to Do and promote those he Does or ‘Terry Richardson’ women writers?

Andrea Coates: You’ll have to xcuse me: I’m a Bit unMoored in Time / Space. Me and SS have Never met, we’ve Never had a Conversation. But I am Very Sensitive to Energy. If we look at VICE as a Pyramid, Energy is allways flowing up and down. SS represents the Pinnacle of the Pyramid, the Alpha Male, and in his Life is xpressed All the Hopes and Dreams of his Staff, and in his Staff is xpressed All his Thoughts and Feelings. Repressed Thoughts and Feelings are not destroyed, they are displaced, so when SS wishes that he could Sxually manipulate a Young Writer who is dependant on him for a Career, but rejects this Fantasy as below his Station ( because if AnyBody found out, SS would look like a Sleeze, a Bad Boss, would lose his Wife, etc ), it is xpressed below his Station. SS hires Women Writers that Tao Lin is Sxually affiliated with, Women that Tao Lin has alterted SS to as Writers by Tao’s being Sxually tied to them, so that SS can live his Casting Couch Fantasy through Tao Lin. If this were not going on, SS would say, “It is Wrong to hire Women from Alt Lit on the Basis of their Sxual Tie to Tao Lin, lets hire Somebody who shows Initiative AS A WRITER.” Megan Boyle would not have been hired: her Column is Pointless outside of her Fame as Tao Lin’s Wife. Marie Calloway would not have been hired: when they ran her Story about trying to have Sx with Tao Lin, VICE prefaced it with an insult aimed at Marie’s Talent and Relevancy as a Writer. Why did they do that? Why the Preface? Why did VICE publish Marie’s Story if they think she is irRelevant? SomeThing Misogynistic is Clearly going on. But noOne is getting pissed off @ VICE for its Attitude towards Female Writers. NoBody but Andrea Coates. Andrea Coates is getting Really pissed off. Why is Andrea Coates getting so pissed off about the Way VICE is treating Female Writers? Is it that I want to be hired? Well, VICE has given me the impression that fucking One of their Staff is a Good Way to get hired. Who @ VICE should I fuck to get Hired? Tao Lin? Or the CEO? I’m going to go with the CEO. And does SS have the Right to tell me not to proposition him? After his Magazine gave me the impression this is how to get a Career @ VICE? Doeshe have the Integrity to admit that he lured me in? I am Curious, so I write this Story on my Blog, to see what happens.To see if I am Right.

Arctic Fox: I like this kind of high-low pressure osmose of humanity and the idea of prioritizing and manifesting them via hopes/dreams &thoughtfeelings–where the former is ideally attained through manifestation of the latter, but instead the latter has been relegated to the lower portions of the pyramid to maximize the allotment of the former at the top. if Not “it is wrong too hire…” then at least there is recognizable some sort of “anomaly” in priorities, where like if we can avoid saying “it is wrong” to avoid using an abstraction, but then replace it with what would be the typical priority of a prestigious magazine where “it is ideal to hire qualified writers, some of whom are women,” and that this certainly seems to be within their capacity is telling. “we are instead interested in women writers with this given experience/tie”–so I’m kind of working through what you’re saying for myself–that this avoids meriting women as qualified writers and instead spectacles them for their phenomenon as women who have slept with tao lin, which seems like an almost sublimated homosexual desire to understand Tao Lin’s sexuality on the part of SS, and in that process, neglect women that are not sexually affiliated with T-Li due to Vice’s lack of interest in the Writer that is also a woman? So we have a case here of men being in love with men? Also, I guess I’m asking you, do you not see this as symptomatic? Like where do you see VIcces’ volition coming into play here, like why @Vice when it’s occurring allwhere? Does vice pretend that it’s #swag-equalist?

Andrea Coates: Definately sublmited homoSxuality plays a Big Role. SS is a repressed biSxual who apes Traditional Masculinity ( Guns, War, Marriage, Money, etc ) to impress Men. In Partirachal Society, Men value the Respect of Other Men More than they value the Respect of or bother to show respect to Women: they put down Women so as to feel Superior as Men among Men – this Patriarchal Phenomenon was clearest among the Greeks, for whom Love was considered a Feeling between an Older Man and a Younger Man – Relationships with Women were relegated to the Domestic and Reproductive Realms. Nowadays, biSxual Men are in a Tough Position: the biSxual Man wants to be loved by Men, but to be loved by Men the biSxual Man must be heteroSxul: he is in a Double-Bind where in Order to get the Love he wants he must pretend he does not want this Love. And because his Culture looks down on biSxuality, SS will Only get up the Nerve to being xperiementing with Men when I give him Permission: when I am there to orchestrate the enCounters: if a Woman is Present he will feel More Comfortable, even if the Woman is Only watching, acting as Mediator and Xcuse. Of course I am Happy to do this. subConscious Sxual Stuff is Easier to detect @ VICE, even though it goes on Everywhere, because VICE, as a Media Company, wears its Sxuality Moreso on its Sleeve than Other Companies: Most Other Companies scrub Any Reference to their Employees Sxuality from their Publications. Because VICE is “the Crass Magazine”, its Company Fetishes and repressions are Easy to read. VICE’s Biggest Flaw is Shane Smith’s Biggest Flaw: he thinks he is More enLightened than he is. He thinks his Company is Fair to Women and it is not. He thinks Guns and Naked Broads is the Ultimate Xpression of Masculinity and it is not.

Andrea Coates: Would you mind if I screen cap this Conversation for a Collage I am making? I can block your name and Photo if you’d prefer that

Arctic Fox: I don’t mind at all, I was als0 thinking to use this for a piece. I don’t want my name/photo blocked, but if it serves your purposes that’s fine!

Andrea Coates: Arctic Fox you will remain. Very Cute Animal. Sweet – yes, feel Free to use this Convo as Well – being that !~OPERATION FUN~! is a Sadomasochistic Game, I have to xpose / embarass SS to the Point his Pride / Professional Credibility requires he respond.

Arctic Fox: I LIKE that! I guess it’s the kind of something you have to play by ear.

Andrea Coates: Totally. One of the Reason I have a Hard Time with Linear “Time” is I “feel” through Situations – our Feelings are connected to Timeless NOW of Quantum Reality

Arctic Fox: I definitely feel that. I’ve been of the mind that “Knowledge” Empirical knowledge only exists in the present and therefore is essentially non-existent. While emotion and self-knowledge/ understanding, i prefer exists threaded through ‘time’

Andrea Coates: Yeah. And that we have forgotten this, in our Scientific Age – and that is what the “Primitive” Peoples have over us

Arctic Fox: I am pretty grateful i get to know what the fuck is going on in space with Stars and Shapes! But it’s a huge barrier in reaching people for up-and-coming Gurus of Selfhood and #swag.

Andrea Coates: I think we are, at Present, at the Pinnacle of Scienticific, Objective Nihilism, and the Pendulum is about to swing in the Other Direction, the Result of which will be Much Majik and Fun and Frivolity. Have you read / heard of the Book bolo’bolo?

Arctic Fox: No I haven’t! Can you debrief me? Also, I really damn hope so. Like really bad. And i have to wonder about the time i am subject to, what i still allow myself, or am not devout enough to disavow myself of, it seems like it’ll be more than decades before the pendulum reaches it’s zero gravity, it’s peak of inertia and swings otherwise. I pray.

Andrea Coates: Here’s the Amazon Page. Bolobolo is basically a Blueprint for anarkist Utopia – its what I based ‘FrECotopia’ on – I just gave the Concept a Name I thought was Catchier and Easier to understand

Arctic Fox: I haven’t read Frecotopia! Thanks Ill be checking both of these out in the NEAR future!

Andrea Coates: FrEcotopia’s not a Book ( too bad ) – its just a Concept I came up with I refer to in my Blog – Free Ecosystem CoOpertation Utopia. bolobolo gives all the details – its Truly Xcellent

This interview was originally posted on the now defunct htmlgiant.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dianna Dragonetti’s Response to Janey Smith/Steven Trull’s “Fuck List”: The “Art” of Rape Culture

Dianna Dragonetti is so fucking brave. He’s younger than me, but I am constantly amazed at his strong spirit and often look to him as an example for how to best handle difficult situations. I stand with Dianna, one hundred percent. This is a piece written by Dianna and originally posted on htmlgiant.

In November of 2013, Janey Smith (“alt lit” alias of Steven Trull) published his now-infamous “Fuck List”—subheading, “A List of Writers I Want to Fuck (Or Get Fucked By)”—on this very site. Though the post has since been removed (as of today), it has left its destructive impression. The fact that it was published at all is important and disturbing, especially granted that it gave way to the recently rescinded “We’re Fucked,” a book authored by Peter BD and published by Plain Wrap Press. Smith/Trull viewed this, writing in the preface of “We’re Fucked,” as his “Fuck List come to life.”
What was the purpose of this list but to indulge Smith/Trull’s own sense of toxic masculine entitlement? Regardless of any assertion that this was some kind of “joke” or “celebration,” as Plain Wrap’s sole statement of apology reads, the post was explicitly sexual in nature i.e. “A List of Writers I Want to Fuck (Or Get Fucked By).” 

Smith/Trull did not seek the consent of those whose names were included prior to publication, or inform anyone of their specific involvement. Smith/Trull mentions in the first paragraph of his preface to “We’re Fucked” that the list “got [him] laid right away.” Perhaps most obvious of all is the motivation Smith/Trull himself states was behind his “List,” namely, “the fact that [he] was intimately involved with one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century,” Kathy Acker—Janey Smith/Steven Trull wrote this list to brag about his conquest. Further misogyny is evident in context: the post contained a number of images of women in pornographic poses, edited to obfuscate what was unpublishable (mostly male genitalia).

Janey Smith/Steven Trull considers the list a “celebration of writers and the people I love”—a “celebration,” as if his sexual interest in these 200+ people (myself included) is valuable, as if they should be honored to be someone he “Want[s] to Fuck.” The implication here is gratitude, reminiscent of a touchstone of rape culture, the idea that one harassed (namely women) should receive the projection as complimentary. He states he “didn’t want” his one-sided, sexually-charged announcement and story of alleged conquest “to be ignored,” suggesting that it is deserving of attention. This masturbatory superiority is furthered by the fact that the manuscript of “We’re Fucked” places these likenesses in imagined sexual encounters—entirely the fantasy of Peter BD and Janey Smith/Steven Trull—often attaching elements of their works and careers to graphic, belittling contexts.

The juxtaposition of the likenesses of prominent minority writers (Acker included)—many listed are female or trans/NB (such as myself)—with this presumptuous premise and out-of-context porn clips is demeaning and explicitly misogynistic. It is also crucial to note that a number of people on this list are outspoken victims of sexual abuse and violence (again, myself included). Due to the power structures of kyriarchy, female and trans bodies are coercively objectified and sexualized; it is difficult enough for these oppressed to find voice, let alone be taken seriously in a professional sense. That the book and list were made publicly available, potentially viewed by peers and colleagues, furthers the damage, reducing complex, talented artists to two-dimensional peep shows.

And yet, this can be accepted as “celebration,” justified as “art.” And yet, this can escalate to inspire a manuscript (Peter BD) that exemplifies its absurd extremity, hailed as “a good thing” (Chris Dankland) and “what I love about alt lit” (Jackson Nieuwland). This is but a testament to how easily abusive rhetoric—and palpable abuse, e.g. in the sexual harassment of “We’re Fucked”—is enabled, how Smith/Trull’s desire is allowed to trump even consent and dignity, how empowered a white cis heterosexual man is to violate.

steven-trull-janey-smith-terrible-person

As Janey Smith/Steven Trull writes in the preface to “We’re Fucked,” “If you are familiar with the names on the Fuck List, or even if you’re not, get ready because I am about to have my way with all of them.” This is not art, but a clear and deliberate example of rape culture, and it must not be tolerated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WHAT MAKES BORING POETRY BORING?

I posted this question on facebook: ‘What makes boring poetry boring?’

People responded with a variety of reasons: no imagination, using tired techniques, failure to innovate, failure to obscure, the smack of phoniness, being too safe, being edgy for the sake of being edgy, cliches, the culture of commodification, not making an emotional connection. All of these make sense. All of these are different.
Boring is subjective. I dunno.

I was thinking about Alice Notley, how I was a fan of her work until I heard her read. I mean. I still like her written work, but I was not impressed with her performance and it changed how I feel about the work in toto.

Going to the reading felt like a special occasion. My friend invited me last minute, I didn’t know it was happening, we had just been hanging out and drinking coffee in her apartment, and it felt serendipitous. Like a special occasion, like a dinner party or something. Like we were going to sit at the grownups table. I remember being excited getting ready to leave for the event, rolling a spliff for the walk to the bus stop, feeling lucky I had brought my copy of Mysteries of Small Houses, a book I had already been carrying around for the past few weeks, hoping that I could get Notley to sign it after the show. It was cold and raining as we walked to the bus stop. One of the last times I remember it raining in the city.

So we got there. So Notley read.

After about 40 minutes sitting on a bench inside an auditorium I had had enough. My butt was hurting. I was bored, or at least I thought Notley’s delivery was boring and I just wanted it to be over. No one else in the audience at this particular reading in San Francisco seemed to agree with me. Everyone seemed captivated. I kept drifting off into daydreams, but my fantasies were interrupted by an older woman, supposedly suffering from dementia (or maybe she was just punk as fuck), who loudly shouted out ‘Is this over yet?‘ to her son videotaping the reading (who apparently videotapes a lot of readings but never posts or shows the finished product to anyone).
I was like, ‘hell yeah!’ and in my mind gave the older woman a high-five. This outburst, however, prompted Notley to pause her poem for a moment to say ‘fuck off’ to the older woman, drawing cheers from the audience.

I thought it was pretty corny that telling an old woman to ‘fuck off’ got such a positive response, particularly because I thought it was awesome that the older woman said pretty much exactly what I had been thinking, but it just goes to show that two women’s ‘boring’ can be the rest of the audience’s ‘totally captivating experience.’ Art is subjective. Duh. But it is interesting to unpack why we choose to consume the things we do, and what makes them appealing to us.

I liked Notley’s work before I heard her read because I was reading her poems in my head the way that I thought they should be read, and when I did hear her read the reading did not match up with or exceed my expectations and my preconceived notions of what a Notley poem sounded like. Which kind of makes the work even more intriguing, even if I found the performance to be lacking. Performance is just one aspect of a poem’s poetry. I think it’s an important one, but not all poetry is this way.
I was planning on this post to just be a snippet, but it feels longer than that now.

What makes a boring poem boring? The question isn’t if it’s good or bad, but if it’s boring. Less of a judgment and more of an opinion. Anything that can be consumed can and should be qualified, even if that qualification is personal and not widely shared by others. My boring is your ‘fuck yes.’ Your boring is my favorite Smashing Pumpkins album. Whatever.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

See that? rhythmic bluntness!

Alexandra Naughton’s debut book I Will Always Be Your Whore [Love Songs for Billy Corgan] published by Punk Hostage Press (January, 2014) is an expose of a doting fascination. With rhythmic bluntness, Alexandra confesses her desires to her love and we peer on tipped toes into these confessions. As readers, we are given the option: choose to take her confessions as they are, or read the poems as in a conversation with the songs that inspired them.
“One definition of great poetry is not poetry that teaches us something we did not know, but expresses our deeply seated, unarticulated convictions in a way that makes us understand ourselves a little better. “I Will Always Be Your Whore” transcends its dedication and offers sparks of insight served on a platter of reaching prose.” - RABBLEROUSETHEWORLD
Alexandra Naughton is a writer and performance artist living in Oakland California. She is the editor of the zine Be About It. Her poetry has been featured in various print and online publications such as Dusie, Metazan, HTML Giant, and Thought Catalog.