Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Matter of Tao

In the last couple days I accidentally stepped into the middle of a dispute on another blog between Pindledyboz Editor Whitney Pastorek and blogger/writer Tao Lin. Many interesting questions have been raised.

1.) Foremost is the matter of blackballing a writer, as Whitney may have sought to do by sending out a mass e-mail to others when Tao broke one of her publishing rules.

How often does this kind of thing go on? How often has it been done regarding the Underground Literary Alliance? Anyone with inside knowledge care to comment?

2.) Tao's solution for dishonesty in the literary world is to meet it with more dishonesty, accompanied by self-serving statements about engaging in "civil disobedience." (Couldn't Nasdiij and J.T. Leroy say the same thing? They probably have.)

Tao's actions, however rationalized, will hurt writers, not help them. He breaks any bond between independent writer and independent editor. Whitney's request for first publication of all work may have been unfair, ill-advised, and misguided, but it was her request and she was upfront about it. Tao ignored it in the pursuit of his own self-interest, with fancy gloss put over it.

This, at a time when the small press is being swallowed up by bigger fish, when they're modeling themselves on corporate practices. Whitney, already total captive of the monopolies (intellectually and in fact) will run to CLMP. They'll tell her: "Contracts!"

Conglomerates require a contract for everything, which results in overlegalized, overregulated literature. It leads to heavyweight attorneys like those on CLMP's board calling too many shots.

I've operated without contracts throughout my ULA activities. Frankly, I've been burned because of it. Maybe I'm naive, too much of an anarchist, to believe we can be better than this; to believe that lit-folk can operate on a foundation of cooperation and trust.

When the writer shafts anyone who's trying to help him with a project, he's ultimately shafting himself. (Call it karma: a law of the universe.)

(I wonder if Tao has a contract with Melville House?)

3.) There's the question of basic dishonesty involving Tao Lin. I'm concerned because the ULA was burned in a small way last year by two writers who misrepresented themselves to us; who knew our outlook yet joined regardless, then resigned in a flurry of fury and sound without a hint of warning. (They quickly set about shafting each other.) One of these writers is a good friend of Tao's. Tao and his friend are both very prolific writers, sound and think alike, and for both the main concern beneath their posturing is to be published as often as possible: the out-of-control WILL I've spoken about-- all else subservient to the writer's single-minded progress.

(Tao Lin, incidentally, appeared at the same time the ULA dissension occurred-- one of his earliest appearances on this blog.)

4.) There remains to me the question of his identity. In this day of J.T. Leroys, it's a question which has to be asked. What's his backstory? Has he posted elsewhere before his sudden emergence as if born full-grown from the womb? Is he an Asian-American writer? Where does he get the time for so much blogging and writing-- a tremendous amount which is not found often? (I wish ULAers, who never suffer from writer's block, were that prolific.)

Questions and more questions. Anyone have any answers?


King said...

Okay, did a little reading off Tao's blog. He's a talented pianist. Does exist. Amazing energy. Clearly a strong influence on Noah intellectually.
I still think that the guy, his ideas, and his writing are posing. No substance or integrity to it. (That Whitney likes his writing in itself says a lot.)
I'm reminded of a character in Frank Norris's great novel The Octopus. . . .
Many words saying nothing.

King said...

p.s. Questions still remain.

chapman said...
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King said...

With myself and Tao, it's obviously a clash of starkly different mindsets. I acknowledge that.
His smells to me too much of postmodernism game-playing where nothing is real and no one knows anything. (And thus there can be no consequences for anyone's behavior. Tao's concern about "human beings" in the abstract is pure bullshit-- where was his concern for Whitney?)
I prefer folks like Jeff Potter who say what they mean and mean what they say. That's where I'm coming from also; how I was raised. No one can doubt where I stand on things. "Head up and straight on," to quote from one of Peckinpaugh's greatest movies. To me it's the only honorable way to live life.

jimmy grace said...

I exist, and yet the King keeps deleting my comments. Why is that?

Tao Lin said...

yes, i am an asian american writer; i compose most of my poetry between piano concert tours

i talked to chapman about gould, so he knows i'm a professional pianist

Tao Lin said...

king, email actionbooks.org, the people there and say you want a review copy of my poetry book and i think they'll send you one

or you can just read bearparade.com

Tao Lin said...

glenn gould i mean

Anonymous said...

...What I find amazing is that hardly anyone seems to realize that even negative attention is still attention. Keep giving him attention and what do you expect--do you expect him and his behavior to fade away? Stop giving him so much attention and maybe his behavior will improve.

If you want honesty, I'll give it to you: I think all of you should get together as one group; from where I'm sitting, you're all part of the same boy's club, talking to and about each other and primarily about male writers, even when you're talking negatively. I support the stuff you say and do here about publishing in general because I have similar overall goals, I've linked to you, I don't like a lot of the stuff said about the ULA, but, overall, I see some unfortunate similarities between the ULA and the people you complain about. Of course you'll probably disagree.

I've complained about this to you before: too much focus on male writers here, too much stereotypical male-oriented language, too much esteeming of certain male writers I may agree did something positive because they tried to break out of the mainstream pack, but who I think ultimately wound up being the same-old same-old writers and people the bulk of society is; they were misogynistic and sexist first-off, and so was their writing. Constantly invoking them is hardly progressive. Focus on the NOW more and stop talking about the THEN. In some ways the ULA seems too traditional. Maybe you don't really intend to be "progressive"--I'm not sure.

But whether you want to see this or not, I see this as almost all those writers you esteem have now been incorporated into today's "traditional literary system." If you reject today's system, then you should also reject those writers-from-yesterday somewhat because their existence helped build what's here today. At least you should be more critical of them. But then I'm largely a nihilist.

I've spoken to Tao through email. His blog used to be different; in the very beginning it was pretty unique, it wasn't sexist, it was a mature place. He would post some good ideas there, and I say "good" in a self-serving way because I had been saying some of the same stuff since before he even started writing; it was nice to hear someone else saying the same for once. I started talking to him partly because I thought we had things in common. That has completely changed and so has his place (do you think his and Noah getting close together is a positive mesh and thing? Um, I don't), right down to someone saying the typical sexist crap that "girls are emotional" and asking Whitney about that in that thread. Whether I agree with what she did (part of me doesn't, part of me does), what that place has become is clear, IMO: a sexist boy's club, just like most other places, especially in the literary world. Even here in a thread I posted in, it wasn't long before someone came in and mentioned strippers. This shit's a total turnoff to me. It's also typical juvenile behavior...I'd expect it in junior high school maybe. But in the supposedly adult literary world? Um, no, this shouldn't be.

I now think Tao's largely a fake (and [assuming his writings represent him at all because that's all I've got to go on, which may not be much] he seems to have antisocial personality disorder, which is something he should fucking address for his own self if for no one else, though I'm no psychologist). He claimed on his blog that he eats meat if it's around when no one else is around and can see him do it; he also writes extremely cruel stuff using and toward the other species; all of that isn't the behavior of any vegan I've ever known. I've been an almost vegan for over 14 years (I eat a little honey). I don't do and say that shit. He's claimed he lived in New Jersey and New York City--at the same time; in a review he did on Amazon, he listed Hawaii as his location; he just posted to you on his blog that he lives in Milford, Pennsylvania; that ebay page of his lists Orlando, Florida. To me, it doesn't matter if there's a single person behind that name and all this contradictory behavior because that single person seems largely fake overall, and lies and sensationalizes in much of what he writes. Occasionally he writes something really good; the rest of the time--I won't go into that in detail.

Chapman, Tao often makes "the artist shouldn't be separated from the art"-type arguments, which I think is usually a fallacy and have explained so at his place and on my blog recently. But if that's the case and he wants to invoke that, I think judging his art by judging his behavior is A-okay. He does it to others--he should take the same heat. Now whether doing that's okay in general...why not sometimes? I think not considering the artist's personality and behavior at all is ridiculous; that stuff usually shows through inside the works too. Should I just buy books from whoever, no matter if that person is doing something terrible in real life so my giving that person money probably only encourages more of that terrible behavior? If Bush writes a book, should I financially support him and his sadistic psychosis by buying that book? I don't THINK so. To me, books don't trump real life, neither does art.

In that sense, there's only so separate an artist and that artist's art should be considered--like they're still separate entities overall in their existence, but they have a few small connections even if one of those connections is a financial one. And I think constantly using a person's being an artist as an excuse for that person's nasty behavior to others, almost as if anything in the name of art is okay--that's exceptionalism to me. Why isn't any behavior from a janitor okay then? Artists may be separate from their works once they've created those works, but they're not separate from society, no matter how much they may think they are.

I think all animals are basically selfish and self-serving. However, an animal can be TOO selfish and TOO self-serving, a pathology which often doesn't serve either that animal or society well. Way too many artists could use some bigtime self-improvement behaviorwise. For various reasons (I think most of them ecological/environmental), society has been collapsing overall--artists have probably been affected by that collapse just like any other kind of person.

"then we have to start rejecting every composer from gesualdo to wagner to stockhausen, every writer from sartre to borges to celine, every poet from rimbaud to pound to--well, practically every poet."

--All males--what a surprise! And why not reject them or anyone else from the past for any reason? Who's beyond being rejected really? I don't write so that I might follow what others before me have done. Even though I realize I may have been affected by the many people who existed before me, I try to do my own thing now, as if I'm always writing from Time Zero.

Anonymous said...
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Tao Lin said...

king, you said, 'honorable'

what does that mean?

isn't that just a word whose definition changes every hundred years as progress is made by people who ignore that word?

Tao Lin said...

stop calling me sexist, you know i'm the only male on the internet and probably that exists, in the world, who talks more about female writers than male writers

LongIslandNation said...

It sounds as if you're talking about the writer's persona, and whether it's the same as the writer's personality.

It gets blurred further when the writer doesn't use a pen name. Remember when Neal Pollack bitched about how people started confusing "Neal Pollack" with Neal Pollack, and he was eventually banished by He Whose Name We Don't Mention? Do you? Remember?

The great Donald E. Westlake (have you read any of his stuff?) has written under almost a dozen different pen names besides his own.

Anonymous said...

God has spoken!!!!! He has told me "what I know"! I don't know what I'd DO without god instructing me on "what I know"! If he weren't in my brain commanding me and observing my thoughts, how could I function!

I'll just ignore that that instructing is exactly what sexist males do: tell females what they supposedly know. Yeah, that's what I'll do, I'll ignore my own experiences and listen to god. I'll also forget that megalomaniacs often act as if things are true simply because they say they are.

And how god does love all his little strawmen! Like the "stop calling me sexist" strawman. I never called god sexist in my previous post (though I am implying god is in this one); I implied god's place and god's writing now is sexist, and that place includes some of the slant, tone and content AND some of the comments from too many of the posters.

God, go take a looooooong cold shower.

LongIslandNation said...

Nora Roberts also writes under a pseudonym. JD Robb. Not sure whether or not JD Robb is a woman's name, though.

LongIslandNation said...

And Nora Roberts is female. Never read her stuff, tho.

LongIslandNation said...

King did talk about Marissa Plessl. And Janet Maslin. In the same post, I think.

jimmy grace said...

Tao Lin should apologize.

He was dishonest with an independent lit magazine.

The lit magazine has nothing to apologize for. The editor noticed that Tao Lin was being dishonest, and called him on it, and notified other editors.

Tao LIn's writing is another matter entirely. The ULA sure likes to blur the difference between a writer's personality and the quality of his/her output but that's bogus.

King said...

A few quick points:
"Jimmy," you're being fraudulent by posting under a bogus identity.
Why the dishonesty?
I believe that ultimately a person's art is a reflection of his personality and his mentality.
I'm really not a fan of the writers I've attacked, of their work (Franzen for instance) and I've articulated why.
Tao, asking me to define "self-respect" or "honorable" shows you don't have a clue what the words mean. They're not words which can be defined in a phrase. Learning them often takes a lifetime of hard living.
Believe me, I've been there. I've been in places I won't discuss; been knocked down completely to a place where I realized all I had was my integrity, my self-respect; from where I was dragged out of the gutter by an old acquaintence who needed someone to bartend at one of the tougher bars in one of the tougher cities; (who did that because I had a bit of a reputation for going off on people) and thought he could plug me in there. It was a huge experience in many ways. . . .
A not-that big streetdog rummy thrown into a bar of very tough people. I have a huge number of experiences from there to relate-- some of which went into a 1994 essay.
To me, the greatest art is that which tells you how to live; how to be a human being; how to understand such things as honor, integrity, self-respect, which we're not born with and need to obtain.
Watch the movie I referred to, "Ride the High Country" and tell me what you think. It gives various role models: the religious fanatic; the family/gang; the very attractive con-man; and finally, the character who simply wants to be able to walk into his house "justified."
Read the final huge volume in the D'Artagnan saga. That's literature! D'Artagnan has nothing EXCEPT his honor; he's the strongest character because of it; maybe the most profound scene is when he attempts to explain his code to the young king-- when he's telling the young Louis how to BE a king. Awesome stuff.
To Fran: Sorry, but at this stage I can't change who I am. I'm a male and that's how I behave.
I will say that I covered many women in my 90s zeen "New Philistine"-- my biggest targets being Joyce Carol Oates and Tama Janowitz. I guess the lit-establishment now doesn't have enough high-profile women authors to go after!
Seriously, though, as for the writing I advocate, I've been a very strong advocate of women zeensters. Did you miss my post about the three greatest zeen writers of the 90s?
At the ULA's outset the centerpiece writer was intended to be a woman.
We definitely need more women in the ULA-- STRONG women with strong voices who can hang with the men. No wimps allowed of either gender.
Show me some riot-grrrls and we'll bring them in.
Check out our new book review blog. The three lead reviews are about two women and a trannie.
The Gaitskill review, incidentally, was solicited by me, because I knew Larry was a big fan of hers. I've long admired her ability as a writer. Our first "Zeen Elvis" had the potential to be better than Gaitskill, which is saying a lot.
Tell us who we should be writing about!
(Or, send us a book and we'll review it. Thanks.)

King said...

Or, Fran, write a Monday Report for us with a ULA-style theme. Or, review a book for us-- we only ask that the writing, if possible, be provocative and exciting.

King said...

One place where Fran hits the nail on the head is her recognition of Tao's basic philosophy, which is ego-centered. HE's the center of the universe. The Randian "I" around which all else revolves. Any concept of right or wrong goes through him.
His definition of right or wrong, then, is dependent upon whim. Maybe this instance he feels like gratifying his will. The next instance he might feel like being a nice guy.
Such a philosophy can lead to anything.
By contrast, Whitney's sense of right and wrong is conditional upon the demands and needs of the machine. As Leopold stated to me, she carries all the attributes of the apparatchik.
This is why, near the beginning of the ULA campaign, the ULA's protest about grants corruption, or later, my mention of the Eggers squelching of an Atlantic article, were incomprehensible to her. Such protests against the system are outside her understanding.
What Rick Moody did was right by definition, because of his high position WITHIN the literary system.
In fact the lit world is corrupt from top to bottom. One could give countless examples.
I was thinking about Mitch Albom and the similarity of his performance to Tao's.
Mitch's actions over the years have shown no integrity. None whatsoever, from selling-out his co-workers by crossing picket lines, to writing fraudulent articles and getting away with it.
He's one of our most rewarded of authors, through the sales of his books of fake philosophy, simple-minded platitudes and nonsense.
The sad state of literature today is because too many authors are either
A.) apparatchiks in the Whitney vein;
B.) completely solipsistic a la Tao Lin.
Amy Hempel's solipsism-- her mentality; her philosophy-- destroys her writing. Yes, she creates a simple-minded patter of words which apparently lulls some readers-- or at least some critics (her entire career based on astute networking). It doesn't give her work much value.
Reading Tao's ideas on the other blog was to me like watching diarrhea coming out of someone's mouth.
Is he the future of literature?
The thought is depressing.

King said...

(Excuse the poor off-the-cuff analogy. Diarrhea is a stronger word than vomit, I guess!-- better expresses the notion of uncontrolled nonsense.)
Btw, a review of mine of a film about Glenn Gould ("500 Short Films About Glenn Gould" or something) was the centerpiece essay of one of my issues of New Philistine.
I didn't like the movie.

jimmy grace said...

King, you make some good points, although I don't think Whitney's magazine is more a machine than, say, the ULA. She doesn't get funding from corporations - she doesn't really have any funding - and she has certain rules, as the ULA does. If you break 'em you don't get to play.

For instance, you've deleted several of my comments because you think I'm dishonest. Well, I'm not: my name's Jimmy. I make political visual art at night and work during the day, and finally found a computer that allowed me to log in to this site. Recently I've been interested in the state of lit, but my blog is basically bullshit as I'm lazy. I don't see how that makes me dishonest, but whatever. Delete me if you will. That's your machine thinking, bub.

King said...

Of course it's my blog, "Jimmy"-- if I think I'm dealing with fakes I'll delete them. Understand the history of this blog, the malicious attacks it's received.
What makes Whitney part of the machine is that:
from Day One she's sought to be part of it, conforming her mind and ideas to that of the status quo's. Nothing wrong with this in and of itself-- unless the status quo is becoming so dominant it's shutting out other voices.
Also, isn't Whitney an editor at a big glossy owned by Time-Warner? this, er, kind of puts her at the very center of monopoly thinking.
Do you have an understanding of bureaucratic thinking?
Study the question sometime.
(In her role as Pboz editor Whitney is somewhat independent. I'll acknowledge that.
till, she's part of the larger trend involving the small press:
populated by "go along to get along" people, more and more centered in New York.
One ultimately judges the machine by its products.
Is literature truly reaching the mass of people, deep, as it once did?
Is it competing with music, sports, movies?
is it producing any great writers-- in the eyes of the larger culture, and not just an insular band of Insiders?
In my opinion the literary world consists of shitty people, shitty writing, and shitty ideas. We should ask everyone to leave the building-- then dynamite it and start over from scratch. (As the ULA is doing.)
But that's just me.

King said...

Regarding the question of my supposed obsession with Eggers and Moody.
If one writes about power and influence in the lit-scene, how can one NOT write about those two people?
It'd be like discussing the government's many mistakes without mentioning Bush and Cheney.
Moody is everyplace-- still involved with influential literary foundations. he simply won't go away.
(The mistake critics of Bush make is thinking it's ONLY a question of personality, and not the underlying machine which put that individual in that place. They think that if he's removed, suddenly everything, including our global policy, will magically change.)
Anyone who doesn't understand that this civilization-- including our culture-- is constructed like a machine understands

inuit said...

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JDF said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JDF said...

Chairman Of The Bored


Noah Cicero said...


I don't comprehend something in your philosophy Wenclas.

A writer should not submit to magazines nor to book presses.

So that means that writers should only be part of The ULA and submit to ULA related things?

That writers should only get publicity through The ULA?

That the ULA should attack Rick Moody and Dave Eggers, even though no one in America knows who they are, except for a small population?

Wenclas several people in the lit-world have voiced what you have, Dennis Loy Johnson says what you say about literature on Mobylives?

Tao Lin is saying some of the same things.

The Foetry people have.

But you like still yelling, ULA ULA ULA!!!

What for?


What you're talking about is a complete destruction of the literary world. The literary world is tied into the ruling class, which means you would have to destroy the ruling class to destroy the literary world. Which means you aren't fighting a literary battle here. You should be a communist or a radical of some sort gathering machine guns and handing pamphlets out to poor angry people.

Either you are conscious of this and just want attention, or you're insane. Which one?

Also Tao's influence on me has been positive, unlike you he actually knows about the literary world and has an idea of how to get books sold, since that interview I've sold more books in the last year than I did in the first two years of the book being out.

Lately I've seen Tao's a writing here and there, a little of me, and in my writing there's a little of him here and there.

That is what a movement is about: A real movement.

ULA writers don't affect each other's writing. As far as I could there was no real communication between the writers. But still you called it a movement.

We got Ellen Kennedy and Gene Morgan. Gene Morgan who using Bear Parade as a new way of getting literature out to people, he is very intelligent and very influential in how we think about this new world of literature. Bear parade has 28,000 hits, an insane amount for a web ebook press that is less than a year old.

King said...

You're missing the point, Noah.
Writers can and should submit to whoever they want. BUT, there's a large portion of writers, some of them very good, who can submit all they want and never get published.
The fact is that most submissions aren't even opened-- unless the right name is on the return address.
So what's a writer supposed to do?
The solution is to start publishing yourself, which is the impetus behind the Underground Literary Alliance.
Yes, we consist of a wide variety of writers. There's more variety in writing styles-- more originality-- in the ULA than in all of the established lit-scene.
There's also the question of what happens when the independent writer IS accepted for publication by the mainstream.
Does he maintain control of his art?
Do even the renowned writers accepted by The New Yorker have the final word?
No way! They also must conform. And to who? A literary apparatchik who can't write herslf? It's total nonsense!
The only way to break out of this trap is to create a truly independent alternative, with all this entails. It's not at all easy.
Part of it is getting the word out, against all obstacles, more of which seem to be erected all the time.
SHOULD there be any dissent in the literary world, about how it operates. Should the lit-world, truly corrupt-- in many ways the last bastion (along with the Presidency) of the blueblood WASP-- be exempt?
I don't understand the logic.
I'm going to turn your idea around. You say I should be going after the ruling class (Moody's not part of it???). I guess through politics, or maybe futilely blowing myself up.
I say that writers have to FIRST clean up their own house before complaining about anything else. The old Elvis song: "Clean Up Your Own Backyard.)
It's curious to me what creatures lit-people like Maud Newton be. Attacking the very distant figure of George W. Bush, impossible to reach, while fawning endlessly over the media monopolies.
The lit-world is relatively small, as you indicate. It might be one arena where real change CAN be made. That's the idea anyway.
(Yeah, I love the hypocrisy of the literati. The employees of the media conglomerates taking their paychecks to enforce conformity of styles, voices, and ideas, while still believing they're good "liberals," they really are!
The truth is they're conformists at everything.
"Are we at war with Eurasia or Eastasia today?"
Bush is completely OUT among the literati, so this person will safely bash him night and day.
Where were these people BEFORE the war began-- when enough noise might have stopped it? The ULA visited the heart of them, at Housing Works in Jan '03, asking for a discussion about the war instead of feckless readings about candy bars and trees. We were quickly shown the door. An anti-war person then among the literary trendoids was nowhere to be found.)
re Tao: sorry for bashing him, but I find his ideas silly, if not abhorrent. He is, however, a perfect example of how one has to ruthlessly-- ruthlessly-- promote oneself, a la Mitch Albom, in order to be recognized by the mainstream, if you don't already have proper entree.
Watch for my upcoming Monday Report, which further addresses your questions.

King said...

By the way, I'm going to continue yelling "ULA! ULA! ULA!" until people recognize there IS a real literary alternative out there not tied to the media monopilies; one which retains its independent voice; where writers and artists-- NOT plutocrats and monopolists-- are in the driver's seat.

King said...

(Finally, I can't let this go, but you reveal that your reason for joining the ULA was being able to sell more of your books, I guess because we had some temporary notoriety. My goal, and I hope that of other ULAers, is creating an independent, lasting entity. Books sold are gravy.
Yes, I wish we had more people within the group who got the idea, and could work harder for the ULA.
Too many people today have absorbed completely the Reaganite/Ayn Rand mindset of "me, me, me!"
It's a sad fact that those with the most energy are those like Tao who are out for themselves. ULAers are much quieter, except I guess me.
Should I go solo? I probably would've done far better for myself. I had many connections in the late 90s, many enough opportunities.
Being one of 400,000 demi-puppets didn't seem to me very appealing. Just one more jump-through-the-hoops intellectual slave.
The ULA, you know, has some very real strengths.
We put on the best lit shows going.
We've confronted literary Overdogs (Overdogs of the society) face-to-face, and shown they can't handle ideas.
We've made some real literary history; the only real actions on the literary scene today.
Why all the concern about a few rag-tag voices making noise?
Why don't you show as much concern, Noah, about the takeover of entities like CLMP as you do about me?
Or is it just about getting your payoff, a la JT Leroy; finding your own little niche in the dominating machine?
What will you do when you have a few of your essays gutted? (If you avoid real ideas, like Tao does, this won't happen.)
Will you accept it and take it? Yes? No?
Or will you be like the prominent writer who told me, after having an essay of hers bounced by the NYer for not being proper enough, "What else can I do? I can't even waitress."
Sell your souls, oh writers!
Maybe I am insane-- insane to hang on to my integrity amid the madness of this society.
Have a good day.)

Tao Lin said...

why do you hate me?

i'm not out for myself, i'm out for anyone who isn't an asshole

i'm against assholes, i'm for non-assholes

bear parade pays, gives you the password to edit your own work, does not edit your work, is run by one person who is friends with all the contributors, and has like 60,000 hits in half a year

ass hi books publishes its books for free, colloborates on all books, etc.

those are the things i'm involved with

the presses that publish me are independent and anti-corporations

Noah Cicero said...


I think we should just forget them.
The rick moodys, dave eggers, and Rushdie's of the lit world.

Just forget all that.

Go our own way.

Use the internet has a way to reach people. Use the internet to meet other like minded writers and publishers.

The Bear Parade site has gotten over 28,000 hits. That is an insane number.

I have talked to a lot of writers, lit-mag editors, and publishers that share these values. A new outlook on literature is growing, but you got your self shut up here in ULA land.

The internet is the way to go. The internet offers a huge amount of exposure. The internet can get writing out there and read. We aren't making any money but we are being read.

The kids that were becoming zinesters in 96 are becoming internet writers in 2006.

I think a lot of the presses that are related to the internet mag world are old world presses.

But there is talk of some very intelligent, very non-corporate old world writing people wanting to start a press.

This is going to take time, the internet has given us a new world, a new means of production, a new way of doing things.

Every business sector is trying to adjust to this.

Things are changing, we have to change with them.

jimmy grace said...

"King" would rather snarl about Moody and the establishment til the day he dies than promote real work that matters.

Count up the number of blog posts that whine about corruption vs. the number that discuss and link to writers he admires.

jimmy the hyena said...

When I was a child I had a pet hamster but my father cut its head off. He left it sitting upright in its cage a profusion of bright red bubbles crowning the stump of its neck, like a salmon roe sushi but wrapped in light brown fur instead of seaweed.

King said...

I make noise about the mainstream because it truly is corrupt. It's sad that many writers choose to turn a blind eye.
Is 28,000 a huge number of hits? I don't think so. What someone like Drudge gets is.
Tao, I don't hate you. But there remain too many questions regarding you for me to warm up to you.
Such as: what role you played in Noah's leaving the ULA, and the way he did it. (Through his interview with you.)
Remember? First he threw the ULA under the bus, then quickly enough threw Tim Hall under the bus. (Tim, of course, the last one to know.)
I have to tell you both I was laughing during that interview when Tim was vociferously defending Noah, and attacking me, and all that came from Noah was: silence.
The comedian on stage proclaiming loudly his friendship, and right behind him his friend about to pull out from under him the rug upon which the comedian is standing.
(I guess you had your reasons. It was still hilarious.)
Great yuks. Remember? Tim yelling that I was "Chilly Charlie"? It was great fun.
(The only question is which one of you two was "Charlie"-- on the Charlie blog later implying the person was with the ULA.)
Care to be honest for a change? Right now?
Going to fess up?
I realize that going after Tao is for me a tactical mistake. I'm sure I'm pissing off a few ULAers who might admire the guy.
My question: Is this anyone we could ever work with?
No way! He's too devious. Sorry, I already have quite enough knives in my backside. Thanks anyway.
Besides being an obvious con-man, including in his writing, Tao is also a depressive personality; a walking prescription for disaster. Someday he's going to blow up faster than Terrell Owens.
Will Noah be around to pick up the pieces? Who knows? By then he may have already moved on to a better deal.
I've known many many people in my life. As I said, upon reading Tao's statements my brain was flashing warning lights.
A question, oh great strategists:
what's your plan behind your attack on Whitney?
YOU are the guys who seek publication within the mainstream. You network heavily; you admit this; yet you shit-on the very editors you look to for help.
My task-- the task of all ULAers now, when, yes, believe it or not, we're still in the early stages of building a movement-- is to lay down a solid foundation. Part of this is working with people you can trust.
I'd like to work with Noah on projects-- at least wouldn't be against it-- but would I ever want him again on our team?
The way he was engaging in friendly e-mail conversations with me while simultaneously forwarding them to Hall and complaining about me? (Simultaneously doing the same thing with Tim's e-mails???)
These are not the kind of people with whom you can build an organization-- especially one like ours which depends on trust and honesty.
The ULA is being constructed for the long run. Our goals are ambitious. Our main writers will be those who can appeal to a large body of people-- not a narrow audience of literati, which is Tao's appeal. Sorry for being blunt.
We're suffering short-term setbacks but overall we're in good shape, with some of the best performers and poets on the planet in our ranks (Walsh for instance), a great all-purpose cartoonist like Yul Tolbert, solid internet people like Leopold and Pat Simonelli; video expert Patrick King; and so on. New guy Victor is doing a great job with our Review blog. Take a look.
All we need to do is get better focused. The only thing which has been holding us back has been our lack of money and the necessity to drain our energies on shitty jobs. On the other hand, this keeps us close to the people. We ARE the people.
We're still coming. Sound scary, "Grace"? Get used to it.
Not use the Internet? We're using it greatly-- including with this blog at which you're posting. Our site will be getting better, if we put all the skills we comprise behind it.
A contradiction in your argument:
On the one hand you say the lit-world is tiny; that no one's ever heard of Eggers and Moody.
On the other hand you chastize me for attacking them.
I guess that lit-world isn't so tiny and unimportant after all!
Actually, it is tiny. I don't see the ULA as suffering any great damage by exposing the corrupt cockroaches who exist in it. We can, as you imply, bypass them, the whole scene, at any time.
We'll do it with great shows and writings.
I'm not going to stop exposing these guys.
1.) It's one way to make noise.
2.) It solidifies us as the good guys.
3.) Someone has to do it, for literature's sake.
So, as they're not important, Noah, don't sweat it. I kind of think that with all their millions, Eggers and Moody will survive.
After they're booted out of the literary scene, they can still clink wineglasses together on Fisher's Island.

King said...

(p.s. to Tao:
Now you see what it's like to initiate literary fights. You initiated this one. Do you have the stomach for it? No. Someone like Noah should see this and do a better job of guiding your behavior.
Was this my fight? Not really. Sorry to get involved. Whitney's reference to the ULA, mentioned on the ULA's forum, got me reading the debate. Your response to my comments set me off. They were that goofy; in my opinion, that phony.
Tao, if you don't have a strong enough psyche for these kinds of debates, then don't enter the arena.)

jimmy grace said...

"We ARE the people.
We're still coming. Sound scary, "Grace"? Get used to it."

Scary? What would be scary about your whining? Your recent comments only prove my recent point: you'd rather trash Eggers and Moody - which you did, once more - than promote any real writing. Attacking Tao Lin? That you're on top of. Distributing brave, new writing to the masses? Well, you have these day jobs, and you're a little disorganized, but you'll get to it in a second as soon as we stop arguing, and...what, is that a half-finished beer? OK, what were you saying? Oh yeah, Moody lives on Fisher Island.

I designed two posters this week, illegally copied them and will put up about 200 this weekend. What'd you do? Call a bunch of people rotten names. I'm so terrified of your burgeoning movement.

Noah Cicero said...


After the interview I didn't want to talk shit about the ula anymore.

I still don't want to.

- Leopold said...

"Jimmy". 200 posters? Well congratulations.

Let's tell you what the ULA has done in just the past two weeks and will continue to do.

I personally have spent over 25 hours completely redesigning the Red Fez website. The changes, substantial, won't be up until January, but they should vastly improve a website already devoted to promoting underground and under-recognized talent. I don't get paid. I don't get grants. And I don't work for Time Warner either. This week I'll be going over submissions for the next issue. I consider the work I do at Red Fez to be part of the greater ULA picture - as we're promoting alternatives to the inbred, exclusionary lit scene.

Karl, Victor and myself have been organizing hard to get the book review blog up and running - a place were we hope to give underground and independent writers a chance to be reviewed. We've even invited Noah to submit his books for consideration.

I've also been coordinating with the Geurilla Poetics Project to get them a forum where they can talk about what they're doing with a Monday Report on our site.

And you know what? I also have a book of my own to promote that I don't do nearly as much as I should because I'm busy doing all the stuff above.

That's just what I've been involved with as part of the ULA. I don't need to mention Jeff Potter's work on books coming very soon from the ULA press, JD Finch's Whirligig or Pat Simonelli's LitVision - 2 other forums for independent, honest writers.

You put up 200 posters. Of what? Your political art? Is your art critical at all? Maybe it's whining. You seem to enjoy trashing us on this blog for as much as you accuse us of trashing other people. And hey, we're just lowly struggling artists like yourself. And yet you stick up for Lord Moody and Lady Eggers - cause they really need help.

Also, this blog has a name that states its purpose. If you want 'isn't it nice that everyone is nice' then check out the one-million sites that do that. Frankly, people come to this blog because its actually saying something.

I don't mean this as a personal attack on you, but your criticisms are nearly identical to the same old empty comments that have appeared on this site in the past. If you think we could be better, why not join us and try helping?

jimmy grace said...

Hey Leopold,
I got no beef with you. Congrats on your work. I find your publicity director - or whatever his title is - to be counterproductive to your efforts, so I've been calling him on his shit. And read what I've written - I've never stuck up for Eggers (the damage he's done to the Bay Area art scene is fuckedup) or Moody.

Thanks for the invite to join you, but I've got a gang, and members of your gang think I'm an asshole.

- Leopold said...

Believe it not, Karl, along with Steve, is the most integral member of the ULA. Frankly, his dedication keeps it going - amazing that it holds together at all sometimes. People read this blog and think they know all there is to know about the ULA or King, never bother to dig deeper. As publicity director he does a great job - I mean, 42 comments on this post alone...

The ULA is more than a gang, it's an idea that literature can be free to be itself, unencumbered by backroom politics, money or priviledge. If your 'gang' believes in the same goals as the ULA does, then there is no reason for them not to coordinate. United we stand, divided we beg.

Why do you say that our members think you're an asshole? Do you know any of our members, have you spoken with them? Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I believe your only intention for coming to this blog is to attack.

And frankly, if Eggers has destroyed the Bay Area arts scene, then he needs to be criticized, just as Moody does for his corruption. Any part of the arts scene that is stifling or counter productive needs to be held to a higher standard! Critique, protest and activism are part of a healthy democracy. The ULA has proven, King especially, that if we don't say something nobody will.

jimmy grace said...

I think making good art is a more powerful rejoinder than whining about notalents who screw up and get attention. I guess there's my ideological difference with the ULA.

As for who thinks I'm an asshole, it's your King who's announced I'm a fraud, a corporate shill, part of the conspiracy against him, etc. If he is speaking for the ULA, as you say he does, then there's your answer. Personally I don't see why underground artists of any caliber need the king's prattling, but hey, it's your party. Have a good time.

- Leopold said...

Yet any evidence of your actual existence or 'art' disappears in a puff of smoke as soon as caleld on it. You've been here before often 'Jimmy' and always end with 'I don't need you guys, have fun'. And yet, you were never invited to post and you keep returning (perhaps out of some delusion that we are thinking of you, imagining we have time to even care if you are an asshole or not) and, in essense, whine about us being nobody screwups who get attention... You're a ghost with nothing to contribute and it's pretty clear why your posts have been deleted in the past. We've been sidetracked down that breathless road before and have no need to do it again.

I've yet to see any evidence of you rejoinding anything and so your criticisms are at best, meaningless, at worst hypocritical. But no, 'you' have 'fun.'

Pat_King said...

I think Tao had some legitimate points on his blog. This first serial rights thing is pretty archaic.

As to his actual writing, it's hard for me to agree that he's posing. His blog is one of the most honest I've ever read, like yours, Karl. You might not agree with what he has to say, but his reasons for his beliefs remain consistant. He seems to have a unique personality, yes, but that doesn't mean he's posing.

You have no problem with experimental, postmodern writers as long as they're in the ULA. Mark Sonnenfeld is a great example. I have a feeling that if Tao was actually in the ULA, you'd be singing a different tune.

jimmy the hyena said...

I think my hamster story was much better than his.

King said...

Maybe you're right, Pat. Maybe not.
Sonnenfeld is a genuine underground writer. I first heard from him over ten years ago. I doubt if his work appeals to the literati-- it's mainly mail art; one of the roots of zines. I've celebrated him for this reason.

Regardless of the quality of Tao's writing, I still wouldn't want to work with him, for the reasons I've stated.

jimmy the hyena said...

Sonnenfeld sent me some of his stuff. Frankly I think it was the best presentation of the ULA's case: there are voices out there that have something to say and an interesting way of saying it but the literary academic media establishment wants to block off any access that they might have because that would present a threat to their hegemony.

King said...

Which is why the concern for Moody and Eggers is so ridiculous.
These guys not only have no trouble whatsoever gaining access-- getting their words and ideas out there-- but they move into the few places which normally would go to undergrounders. They want ALL.
I have very few outlets for my words. The ULA site and my blog. Lit journals-- n+1 not the only one-- refuse to print my letters.
I'm now blocked from amending my Wiki profile. The anonymous person posting an obviously biased version of me isn't!
It's why I've called people like Eggers totalitarians. They will ruthlessly crush any dissent and disagreement.
"Quilty"-- a friend of Eggers I heard from during the Ruminator thing-- says a have not enough "bona fide" writing.
What would the person call this blog?
How many words are on it? Isn't that enough?
They leave me one outlet-- then disqualify it as illegitimate!
Wiki is turning into an elitist entity-- not the democratic outlet it purports to be-- as evidenced by the deletion of articles on underground writers like Jeff Somers.
We don't exist and the establishment doesn't want us to exist.
What was Somer's crime? He's likely never mentioned Dave Eggers in his life. He happens to be at least as good a writer. But he's gone-- wiped out.
Believe this-- the mainstream at first opportunity will wipe out every evidence which ever existed of the Underground Literary Alliance.
This, in fact, is already happening, as I'll point out in an upcoming post-- presuming I'm allowed to post on my own blog!

King said...

The Ultimate in Comedy: Any outsider writer defending well-placed rich aristocrats like Moody and Eggers.
Our friend "Grace" picks this blog out of 50,000+ others to put his first and only remarks. Kind of curious.
Did anyone appear to defend me against the scorn of Erika Schickel (daughter of a famous film critic) in the L.A. Times this past spring? WasMr. Grace anywhere around? Of course not!
He appears to defend only those who really need it.
It's like a bad movie melodrama from the 30s, in back-and-white, about the French Revolution; the grubby citizens the bad guys of course, led by mean Madame LaFarge. There's always some clueless bovine peasant or servant on hand to defend the aristocrats at the last minute, stoically and stupidly sacrificing himself in the process. Anything for his betters!
House slave behavior-- but unlike the house slaves at MediaBistro, some of these people aren't at that level-- yet still don't know what side they're on.
Scarlett O'Hara yells for Big Joe. "Big Joe! Big Joe!" and here comes running Big Joe to the rescue. Anything for Miss Scarlett!
This slave mentality existing throughout the literary world is pathetic.
Writers have it in their power at any time-- ANY TIME-- to throw off the present corrupt system which does nothing but take advantage of them. But they need also the imagination to do this.

jimmy grace said...

For the millionth time, I'm not defending Moody and Eggers. They can kiss my ass.
I post all over the damn place - it's just that your precious blog forces me to register.
Sorry I didn't defend you last Spring from some LA Times chick - I must have missed that one. Maybe I was doing art that night - look on some Bay Area walls and you'll see the Arms Akimbo stuff.
I wander around the Web when I'm bored and/or drunk reading mostly underground stuff and picking arguments when I see something that bugs me. I thought that was free expression, but apparently it's being a big rich corporate blackballer.

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Victor Schwartzman said...

I run the ULA Book Review Blog.

King has made some interesting and important points. At times he is being provocative, and that's his job. The world needs provocative people. I can not and will not criticze him for his outrage, and for him doing "his job".

Regarding the ULA, I am a newbie member. King is important to the ULA. Our general stance is that "mainstream" writing can and should be more provocative and challenging. King states this position forcefully. Sometimes it comes out personally.

Being from the Canadian wing of the ULA, I can both agree and disagree with elements of The King's comments. Canadians can be forceful, but then we feel guilty about it, and apologize.

The ULA is an organization that has active members with various points of view. Its democracy is one of its strengths. I support The King in his comments--he is trying to make the world a better place.

On the other hand, the ULA Book Review Blog has also posted a review of Tao Lin's books, and has posted a review by Tao.

Sometimes the dialogue to improve our world gets very personal. As a Canadian (well, I'm originally from Brooklyn but I've been Canadianized) I feel bad when it gets too personal--there are human beings involved, with feelings.

Isn't there enough pain in this world? I have seen too many situations where political points are scored at someone's personal expense.

Still, in a world where the OJ Simpson "If I'd Killed Her And That Guy I Woulda Done It Like This" book and tv show almost was published, it is easy to understand how outrage is a reasonable response.

So. More power to The King. More power to those who wrote in the comments section to express a concern about misogyny and a male domination of underground writing. More power to freedom of expression, to dialogue, and to us all contributing to, hopefully, a better world.

I don't think that this will get me kicked out of the ULA, either. The King doesn't work that way, and neither does the ULA.

then no sound said...

This king person couldn't write his way... out of his "strong enough psyche" (nice consonance, though). You sound like a whack-ass paranoiac! Calm the fuck down. (I came from Tao's blog, this is linked vaguely in the press section.)

Anonymous said...

i think tao lin is talented
consistent in his philosophy
and i like reading him more
than any of the writers who attack him
i think they seem to hate him
like he was an alien
from another