Archive for the ‘Just Bullshit’ Category
“Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, ‘Whoever insults a Prophet – kill him.‘” – Anjem Choudary, USA TODAY
Anjem Choudary spreads evil, thus hook him up with Kim Jong Un.
Fifty Shades of Envy: The movie Fifty Shades of Grey is out, eliciting criticism on the literary merits of the book. The Huffington Post’s Fifty Shades too Hot for Audiences had vitriol in the thread. Example:
“How nice. I write a novel with substance, but agents won’t touch it with a 100-foot pole. E.L. James puts out a trilogy about a woman who gets her posterior whupped for love, and she makes enough money that she never has to write another word in her life. ‘No justice’ doesn’t begin to describe it…” Jeffrey Baer
Fifty Shades of Cash: The commenters seasoned envy with an attack on the publishers:
“Plenty of mediocre or less than mediocre writers being published like EL James and Stephanie Meyers (sic). Publishers don’t care if its unaduletrated (sic) crap as long as it sells.” Fran Jaime
Envy: Sorry, writers, the reason you’re not published is probably because you’re not marketable AND you’re mediocre. There are a few decent published writers, many more decent unpublished writers, but for every decent unpublished writer there are hundreds of crappy writers. And when crappy writers (jocks, pop stars) get published, they have a platform and ghostwriter. When an E.L. James, J.K. Rowling, or Stephanie Meyer sells, do not think this:
” It’s time the writers took back control of the artform…Publishers only give a damn about making a buck. They do not care about putting out good books.” – Jennifer Burnham
Money: Why get enraged when a crappy book makes money? I’ve written failures, and rather than curse the market, I try to recognize my faults. My point is not to defend E.L. James, but to defend publishers. “Taking control” of your future means paying vanity presses, whose only purpose is profit over quality. Read Create Space self-published book samples on Amazon. Most are horrible. Self-publishing more tripe is not the answer.
Publishers care: Consider these fine publishers: Grove/Atlantic, Soft Skull, Tin House, Hawthorne, Graywolf, Coffee House, Farrar Straus Giroux, or mine, Knopf, a division of Random House. Do you really think they only care about money? Of course they care, and that’s legitimate, they want to stay in business. But they also love literature.
When a Da Vinci Code/50 Shades/Girl with Dragon Tattoo/Harry Potter/Twilight genre book sells, writers should cheer. Never disrespect publishing houses because of their successes in other genres. Publishers take on books knowing up front the possibility of breaking even or losing money. The success of E.L. James’ trilogy helps Random House take chances on more books of literary quality, and that’s good for writers.
“In the Netherlands, for beating to death a fellow human, you might receive eight years, I figured. It wasn’t much. With a little good behavior, a little raking around the prison grounds, you could be out the gates within five.” – Herman Koch, from The Dinner
On November 21, 2011, in Rotterdam, Jason Halman killed his brother Greg. The tragedy of Greg Halman, a Seattle Mariner and one of a few Dutch nationals to play in the Major Leagues, parallels Dutch novelist Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Both show how psychopathy and mental illness can flourish.
Eddy Halman, Patriarch and Perpetrator of Domestic Violence: The Halman family trials, told by ESPN, detail violence, envy, and restrictive family ties. Papa Halman played professional baseball. He became derailed by alcoholism, a virulent temper, and a penchant for violence, especially towards his wife. One son, Greg Halman, had special talent. He eventually was signed by the Mariners and made his MLB debut in September of 2010. The other son, Jason, took after his father.
Trouble in Holland: Greg Halman showed promise, and in 2011 had 91 At Bats and hit .230 with two homers. His power, speed, and defensive prowess looked to help the Mariners in 2012. After the 2011 season ended he returned to Holland. There, his brother stabbed him to death in an argument over loud music. Jason Halman was released less than a year later because he suffered from a “psychoses” that was “exacerbated by marijuana use.” There’s more, as the ESPN link shows, but what a gruesome legal and medical system that gives criminally inclined psychopaths treatment with the aim of freeing them.
The Dinner: Herman Koch’s The Dinner examines two brothers, Paul and Serge, and their wives, Claire and Babette. Serge is a prominent politician and Paul is an educator on leave. Paul and Claire have a son; Serge and Babette have a son, an adopted African son, and a daughter. The four adults dine at a very expensive restaurant in Amsterdam, where they will discuss the fact their three sons are complicit in the murder of a homeless person, fuzzy and ambiguous footage of their crime is caught on security camera. The African son did not commit the murder, but has evidence on his brother and cousin, and thus is blackmailing them.
Psychopath Patriarch Number Two: Paul has a past. He assaulted his brother, his superior at school, and received a “punishment” of paid administrative leave, counseling, and psychotropic drugs. Paul believes the elimination of “scum” improves society, and knows the Dutch penal system favors the criminal at expense of society and the victim. He almost obliquely coaches his son not to feel remorse or compassion. By dessert Claire also proves herself nuts. The finale’s disturbing message: Most sociopaths, despite their craziness, are sane enough to take advantage of the system.
US vs. Holland: This is tangential, but some people may ask, what about the US? In a previous post, A Mexican Foreign Worker vs. Lila Abu-Lughod, a Mexican criticized Algerian culture. In the comments section a friend, rather than engaging, noted that Mexico had similar problems. This is counter productive. When pointing out violence, sexism, racism, and other societal problems, groups tend to look at others rather than themselves. This is especially egregious when a member of one country or religion feels attacked. They misread an attack on misogyny or other injustice as an attack on them. A pan-humanitarian philosophy can avoid this. No matter how different cultures are, humans are humans. What’s wrong in Holland is also wrong in the USA. Example: Former Angel Lyman Bostock’s Tragic Death, Ethan Couch, ‘Affluenza’ Teen Who Killed 4 In Crash, Given No Jail Time. and Judge lets Spoiled Teen Killer Off. And so?
Freeing sociopaths is bad, period: Sending the rich and/or insane messages that you can kill with minimum impunity damages everyone in society.
A little more than a week after Christopher Hitchens died, this: “Burn in Hell, Christopher Hitchens” (6,300+ words). The site’s (Mr. Destructo) author, no Voltaire, evidently hatefucked Hitchens for years but conveniently waited until death. Had the article addressed a live Hitchens, with a title like “Dear Cancer, Take Hitchens Now!” well, THAT would have shown risk. But cowards do as cowards do. Thus I commented:
“Anonymity makes sense if you’re a Chinese dissident or a Syrian activist, but not if you’re an armchair blogger. If you guys want to be wiseguys, well, fair enough. But why not change your IDs, add your real names, keep your nicknames, and show your balls.” – Caleb “Henry Kissing-and-Fucking-her” Powell
Bring it on: And so I received an Internet roast: Amazing Gaze: The Western Eyes of Soulful Scribbler Caleb Powell. Funny stuff from the Mr. Destructos, though they ramble long after point (6,000+ word essays containing 1,000 salient words the norm). Of the two (if they’re indeed two), “Mobutu Sese Seko” has shed anonymity (he’s lovable but a quasi-zero, not sure why he hid in the first place), but “General Rehavam ‘Gandhi’ Ze’evi” keeps his pseudonym, wielding pabulum such as “There is a Powellful discovery.” Here’s Ze’evi’s diatribe:
Ze’evi – “The holidays are long over. Liquor sales have stabilized; few of the year-end suicides remain undiscovered, and, if you are like me, you have a major haul of gifted books. Stacked on my bedside table, towering over my bloated, holly-jolly frame, the books are a leering accusation: “You’re like all the others,” sniffs The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. “Just direct me to the bookshelf best situated to intimidate your landlord.”
As I limply cast aside the hose of my opium huqqa, ash sprinkling the datemaki sash of my authentic silken Nipponese kimono, I despair: literature is dead. Then suddenly, there is a change. There is a Powellful discovery. Who is Caleb Powell? A question I pondered not two weeks ago — now I have some sense of the answer, of an author who asserted himself in my mind’s eye. Thus far, his vision has been inscribed only within a few brave avant garde presses, like Prick of the Spindle, Yankee Pot Roast, and ZYZZYVA. I aim to change this…” (read all 2,400 words here)
Well played, Ze’evi, despite or because of the corny elements. I look forward to worthier challenges going forward.
WORD COUNT: 398
UPDATE: I forwarded to Mr. Destructo via Facebook. Here’s his response.
Mr. Destructo: This guy Bro_Pair wrote about in 2012 (with one or two lines of mine thrown in) is still real mad and apparently finally found that great zinger. I’d leave them up, but apparently he keeps posting these and deleting them over and over.
You be the judge: “Bro_Pair” or Mobutu/Ze’evi/Mr. Destructo = same dorkbag. Check out Dorkstructo’s FB page for teenagesque LMAO-usage w/o restraint. The guy seems baffled (as “baffled” as I am “mad”) that a guy could cache a draft for two years and post, or GADZOOKS, write a comment and take it down. His self-indulgent glorified blog vs mine replicates “vast chunk of time” vs. “hobby.” Destructo used to write 100+ posts a year, now hasn’t written in almost two months. His latest on Rob Ford, “Let Them Eat Pussy,” ironically, has five comments, all anonymous. Mr. Destructo wasn’t exactly destined to go straight to the top and stay there.
Two authors on writing:
Lionel Shriver: “If you really want to write, the last thing you want to be is a success.”
Cheryl Strayed: “Write like a motherfucker.”
Lionel Shriver, author of the compelling We Need to Talk About Kevin, has written an essay at The New Republic: How to Succeed as an Author: Give Up on Writing – The rancid smell of 21st century literary success. Lionel Shriver has won the Orange Prize, was a finalist for a National Book Award, and her landmark novel was made into a film starring Tilda Swinton. But in her essay she finds success “rancid” as she “humblebrags” about hotels and travel and how “prizes are a particularly destructive time and emotion suck, since in most cases you don’t win.” Imagine the grueling nightmare of receiving a nomination and, gadzooks, attending the ceremony and not winning. I’m not sure whom she intends to enlighten, but for most writers the greater the lack of publication, usually, the greater the pain. I’m not saying her aggravations are not legitimate, tangible migraines come with success and the related celebrity, but c’mon, Ms. Shriver, thou doth condescend.
An unpublished writer who whines is tedious, but not nearly as tedious as a published whiner. On both ends of success or failure, the “it’s tough to be me” schtick plops into a mushy puddle of wrong. Writing has frustrations and rewards, just like life. Vanity, lack of self awareness, narcissism, respect, graciousness, they apply to all walks. Look at the single mother of two who has to work as a waitress not to mention that same person writing a novel. The woe of the elite is way different than every day suffering, but the latter deserves more empathy. How we handle success and failure is a personal statement.
Most if not all writers cram art between responsibility. I’m a full-time father of three and find time to write/read – half hour blips during soccer practice, guerrilla visits to coffee shops to open the laptop for ten minutes of production, books in the car, by the toilet etc., at night or early in the morning. Hotels? That’s a writing retreat. Long flights? To me it’d be 1-5 hours uninterrupted reading and writing. With success time crunches but with compensations.
Cheryl Strayed on the other hand has similar “problems” as Ms. Shriver, rare and hard earned success, a movie, etc. These perks allow her to enjoy a professional writing career. And she glows in gratitude.
So why does one writer derive inspiration from success and the other degradation?
Two authors on their success:
“I have grown perversely nostalgic for my previous commercial failure,” Lionel Shriver
“A lot of artists give up because it’s just too damn hard to go on making art in a culture that by and large does not support its artists. But the people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity. They’ve taken into their hearts the idea that there is enough for all of us, that success will manifest itself in different ways for different sorts of artists, that keeping the faith is more important than cashing the check, that being genuinely happy for someone else who got something you hope to get makes you genuinely happier too.”– Cheryl Strayed
“I refuse to sign petitions for that book of his…”- Germaine Greer referring to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
“One person said he wanted to chop me up and feed me to his dogs. I reported it to the police but they didn’t charge him because the threats weren’t threatening enough.” – Firoozeh Bazrafkan
According to The Copenhagen Post, artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was fined 5,000 Kroner for “violating anti-racism legislation” after her blog entry was published in the Jyllands-Posten newpaper: “I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters. This is, according to my understanding as a Danish-Iranian, due to a defective and inhumane culture – if you can even call it a culture at all. But you can say, I think, that it is a defective and inhumane religion whose textbook, the Koran, is more immoral, deplorable and crazy than manuals of the two other global religions combined.”
Bazrafkan’s statement is problematic because of its lack of quantifiers; she types all Muslim men as one entity. Watch the Academy Award winning film A Separation, not the over rated caricature laden Argo, to get a more accurate picture of Iranian society. Most Iranian men are decent folk, and it’s poor art to focus on extremes as if they are the rule. But poor art is not racism.
The fact the Aarhus Police have found that she has committed racism worthy of a fine is by far more problematic. Islam is not a race. Racism is the belief in the inferiority and superiority of specific ethnic groups. Bazrafkan is criticizing culture and that’s different. Furthermore, criticizing culture, religion or nationalism is arguably legitimate free speech. Calls for violence are the exception and not “free” speech.
Michel Focault, in his admiration of Khomeini’s Revolution, set the stage for liberals like Germaine Greer to misread the dangers of fundamentalism. This conflict exploded after Salman Rushdie’s fatwa, andsignaled the start of a new battle over what ideas can be tolerated. From 1989 to the present the polemics have intensified, and the cowering thought police has created a new form of European chauvinism, patronizing Moroccans, Persians, Afghans, Pakistanis and other minorities by not considering them worthy of secular government, women’s rights, and Western liberty.
What must secular and/or ex-Muslims think when they see that criticism of religion, a crime under their own governments, faces similar restrictions in the governments of liberal dominated Europe? The Danish government’s message to oppressed Muslims reads that they are not worthy of the same freedoms. Denmark has joined Bazrafkan’s home country of Iran in censoring free speech, and this is a shame.
Naguib Mahfouz: “No blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer.”
UPDATE: Denmark did it again, charging another Muslim – Danish Muslim Apostate Faces Hate Speech Charges
“We’re four years old. Give us some money.” – Subject line of Email received from “The Desperate Review.”
Writers benefit from the existence of literary magazines. That editors publish such and work for little or no money deserves respect. Most editors understand that writers spend more than they earn, partly because editors double as writers. But not all. Here’s a solicitation with nothing changed but the review’s name:
Dear Readers, The Desperate Review is four years old. For our birthday we’d like some money.
Oh—was that too forward? Did we mention that we’re FOUR YEARS OLD? Four-year-olds are forward. Now please give us some money.
What do we need money for? Well, in addition to keeping all issues of the magazine free to read and paying our writers, we’re redesigning our website to make it phone and tablet compatible (and easier to read on all platforms). This will cost money. Won’t you give us some? Even just a little bit?
What’s in it for you, other than making a four-year-old happy on its birthday? We’re sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, meaning if you do give us some money, your donation is tax deductible.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to jump in an inflatable castle until we barf.
Happy Birthday to Us, The Desperate Review
Dear Desperate Review: Many editors respect the business and art of writing. They don’t exploit or solicit writers. I realize you’re on the inside, but it seems you’re oblivious to the turn offs that derive from unearned solicitations. Are you Editors-with-Agendas – editors self-promoting on other people’s dimes? Who are you to ask for money? University or government grant (VQR) supported lit mags are another topic. But no matter where funds originate, good editors understand that writers implicitly know they should support literature.
Do not become a vile rag that scrounges up dollars to publish established literary figures. Of these, Narrative Magazine the most egregious, existing so their editors-with-agendas can make contact with Sherman Alexie-types while taking advantage of unpublished clueless writers for financial help. How? Narrative charges upwards of $15 just to submit. Really. Sherman Alexie has been published six times by Narrative, others include Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, Robert Olen Butler, Junot Diaz, Mary Gaitskill, Charles Johnson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Joyce Carol Oates, James Salter, and Tobias Wolff. To lay on some necessary redundancy, Narrative doesn’t pay these writers, poor suckers hoping to be discovered, through submission and contest fees, pay them.
Why would anyone buy a literary magazine? To participate in the conversation, to read familiar writers, and to support literature. Successful writers should throw money back at places who have published their work and helped said writer attain their goals. Your self-conscious “barf” comment does not save you. You should feel nauseous. As lit mag editors and writers your struggles and glory double, namely, you pay twice unless your material is so desired that people will buy mad volume of your product.
On Getting Paid: Literary Magazines and Remuneration – The Millions
Give Money to the Arts? – An Exchange with Tim Jones-Yelvington at The Rumpus
Dear Zoetrope: Your Submission Guidelines Are Fucked Up – at The Nervous Breakdown
A Radical Idea: Pay the Writer – The Saturday Morning Post