aaaand a robot barber
on a robot kick… this is a telepresence kissing/creepout device
creepy robot telepresence machine + very touchy japanese man
Seeing him do stuff like this gives me renewed faith in Tao Lin. Esp. vis. his flat/abstraction-free writing as perhaps a symptom of depression caused by some sort of deep conceptual/communicative clarity. The big issue is that he usually doesn’t seem to have a particular target for that clarity, or that whatever he’s trying to communicate is either:
A. Not to be fully understood by someone like me
B. Not exactly directed towards communicating something concrete to other people
and I can’t tell which. Then again, there are probably more than two options to choose from.
2028-word response to [someone’s 152-word post on Tumblr “shit-talking” Marie Calloway & “Adrien Brody”] & an epilogue & relevant links
- 29 Nov Muumuu House publishes “Adrien Brody” by Marie Calloway
- 20 Dec New York Observer covers Marie Calloway
- 21 Dec Gawker covers New York Observer’s coverage
- 21 Dec person “shit-talks” Marie Calloway & “Adrien Brody”
- 22 Dec I respond to [person in 4.]:
Hi, this is Tao Lin. You said:
It is in this peculiar and upturned universe that you will experience Tao Lin congratulating the honesty in your misuse of “laid.”
I haven’t “congratulated” anyone for honesty and haven’t said anything to anyone or even noticed misuse of “laid” until reading about it in blog comments similar to your blog post, after which I still didn’t congratulate anyone for misusing it. That sentence isn’t true. I don’t know where you got it from. Here’s your entire post without that sentence:
What is being billed as a fundamentally feminine and feminist document is primarily an expression of the absurdity of white heterosexual sex. The trend in internet feminism of telling personal stories as a way of arriving at political positions unconsciously feeds into the popular blogging model, in which amateur sociology is king and pageviews suggest we should celebrate the confessional ability of unformed humans. […] It is here that you will find this specific kind of story, about relative abdominal grace ineffectively deployed, where you hope someone might have learned something by the end, except both parties definitely didn’t, because this is how they chose to treat it. They turned it into an internet story in which two people can be irresponsible toward each other and become completely absorbed by it.
I feel like you probably read an amount of Marie’s story but didn’t think about the story when writing your post. I feel like your post described a view that you already had, from a prior situation, before knowing of Marie’s story—a view you then applied, in your post, to Marie’s story, in a manner that ignores the particulars of Marie’s story.
You (1) discerned Marie’s story via Gawker or New York Observer (2) read some, most, or all of it (3) decided, at some point, to view Marie’s story as a manifestation of “The trend” (4) stopped thinking about Marie’s story as relevant and only thought about “The trend” while typing your post that is ostensibly about Marie’s story.
When (5) I and other people read your post, which is about “The trend,” we think we are reading about Marie’s story (except when you directly reference “The trend,” which you reveal no concrete details about).
I feel like something like the above is what happened because the only reference in your post to Marie’s story that acknowledges it as an actual presence outside of yourself is when you facetiously say the ~15,000-word story is “about relative abdominal grace ineffectively deployed.” Seems really annoying to read things like this. I see you write for The Awl, which has thousands of readers, most of which probably assume (why wouldn’t they?) that everything you publish is true and that you write about your subjects based mostly on their unique particulars (and not based on a pre-existing abstraction such as, in this case, “The trend,” so that you don’t have to think, in this case, about Marie’s story in a non-omniscient, preconception-less, curious, other-directed manner to learn what you think about it and its unique particulars).
You say, in your post, that when reading “specific stories like this” (how many ~15,000 word, almost all-dialogue stories containing these specific characters, in this specific tone and prose-style, etc., have you read that it has become “specific” to you?) it is hoped that someone might have learned something in the end (which implies either that you believe learning is not constant or that non-explicit learning, without authorial messages to the reader like “the character, here, learned _____” or descriptions of a character thinking things like “I learned ____,” is not possible). You seem disappointed that the characters, in your view, didn’t learn anything, which makes me feel like you’re simply and definitely not an ideal reader for Marie’s story. It’s like you’re going to see “Husbands and Wives” by Woody Allen while knowing that you want to see “Shrek 2.” It would be absurd to feel disappointed in (and even more absurd to feel disapproval and condescension toward) Woody Allen for having not created a Shrek-2 like movie. It would, I feel, be reasonable to just go see “Shrek 2” (and you also wouldn’t be “shit-talking” the efforts of people you don’t know and have never met and have no direct information about and who themselves are not “shit-talking” others but simply creating the art that they want to create).
…where you hope someone might have learned something by the end, except both parties definitely didn’t, because this is how they chose to treat it. They turned it into an internet story in which two people can be irresponsible toward each other and become completely absorbed by it.
I see one of tags you made for the post is “Did you know that Chuck Schuldiner died 10 years ago and no one talks about how sad that is.”
No, I didn’t know that. Because you just typed a paragraph “shit-talking” the work of a person (Marie Calloway, 21) you don’t know by implying she perfectly fits “The trend” of “unformed humans” with “amateur sociology.” Your tactic of implying this is by referencing her work once and in a facetious manner that, I feel, absurdly belittles the story. The only time you wanted to include something from outside yourself you still didn’t reference concrete reality. You completely made it up:
It is in this peculiar and upturned universe that you will experience Tao Lin congratulating the honesty in your misuse of “laid.”
I don’t know anything about Chuck Schuldiner except what’s in the tag. I know, instead, that you disapprove of Marie’s story because you’ve abstracted it and now discern it as a perfect manifestation of the pre-existing “The trend.” You say Marie’s story’s characters “definitely didn’t” learn anything, which seems like something a middle school baseball coach would say about a player he didn’t like (and probably only in a tone that would also show he was, to some degree, aware of his hyperbole). Your reason why they “definitely didn’t” learn anything is “because this is how they chose to treat it.” That doesn’t make sense. You don’t know what each character did an hour or day or month after the story’s last sentence. Marie decided to end the story at a certain point. You don’t know, after that point, what Adrien Brody did with his experience. You don’t know what Marie did either except that she wrote a ~15,000-word story and that (in a period when probably 40,000+ other stories by people with connections, reputations, etc. were rejected from magazines or were accepted but not widely read) it has been published and will now probably be the most widely-read and discussed ~15,000-word short-story by someone without a book out and not already famous or published by the New Yorker for, I estimate, ~2-4 years. Marie’s story contains relatively little sex and, I feel, no “shock value” and she doesn’t live in NYC or go to Brown or NYU or, based on what I know, have family or other connections (except those she created herself) to have helped her achieve her current position. Marie’s stories were exciting for me to read in a similar manner that other first-person, autobiographical works, such as “Good Morning, Midnight” by Jean Rhys or “The End of the Story” by Lydia Davis, were when I first read them in college, though with Marie there are other layers of information and activity, mostly related to the existence of the internet, that in combination with her writing has created an extremely unlikely situation that I feel is exciting and interesting and complex.
Your response to all this, after I just typed all that, now feels really, like, “disgusting,” to me.
Marie arguably even stated her intention with her story. It isn’t anything close to “write something in which it is clear to a reader that will assume otherwise that the characters have learned something by the end of the story.”
Your last two sentences—
It is here that you will find this specific kind of story, about relative abdominal grace ineffectively deployed, where you hope someone might have learned something by the end, except both parties definitely didn’t, because this is how they chose to treat it. They turned it into an internet story in which two people can be irresponsible toward each other and become completely absorbed by it.
—seem to say that you don’t like to read stories in which characters are irresponsible and that irresponsibility equals no learning and that you aren’t interested in characters that are absorbed in their situations. And you believe that these elements, which you view Marie’s story as embodying, indicate an artistic failure on the part of Marie and a kind of “life failure” on the part of what you call “both parties” and all of this to be part of a continued societal failure you describe as “The trend” and you view all this with disapproval and from some outside and fixed position from which you’re able to earnestly type a series of declarative sentences in “[abstraction] is [abstraction]” form and not define any of the abstractions or even specifically reference, without making it into a joke, your ostensible targets.
Based on what you’ve described, it just seems like you wanted to read a story featuring (1) responsible characters who (2) explicitly learn things in (3) an internet-less world and are (4) responsible to each other and (5) are not “absorbed” by their relationship with each other.
I feel like “Shrek 2” isn’t even that. It would need to be something like a natural disaster movie in which every character is, based on whatever standard, “responsible” but also aren’t very interested in their relationships with each other. Maybe a natural disaster movie with only one person in it, who was responsible to himself but also kind of bored and uninterested in his own thoughts and situation.
Posts like your post will probably cause its targets to feel depressed and discouraged from creating art (and just depressed overall, to have strangers saying negative things about them in an omniscient, condescending tone) while also diverting attention away from subjects that (in your case, you seem to have implied awareness of this with the post’s tag) you would rather have be discussed and feel are more worthy of promoting wider awareness. You relegated it to the tag, when you could’ve featured it, instead of featuring your disapproval of “The trend” and in doing so promote its continued existence and, whether this was intended or not, probably gain you many more pageviews than a post on Chuck Schuldiner. (About pageviews you said:
pageviews suggest we should celebrate the confessional ability of unformed humans.I don’t think that’s accurate. Celebrating things doesn’t gain nearly as many pageviews as being authoritatively against things while using phrases like “amateur sociology” and “unformed humans.” What gains pageviews is “shit-talking.” Feel like if you and Marie met IRL the only communication I can imagine happening, other than you simply not feeling mean enough to say things like this IRL, is you lecturing her or wanting to get away from her.) So, why would you type a paragraph targeting Marie without earnestly referencing any part of her or her story’s particular existence and in a post that would get more pageviews than the other thing you wanted to promote awareness of and then tag the post in a manner that seems like you’re “bemoaning” the failing condition of a society (populated by people like Marie who, based on what I know from talking to her, seems actually to be writing exactly what she wants to write instead of “shit-talking”/”bemoaning”) in which no one is writing about what, I feel you implied with the tag, is more important to you and, as is suggested by your declarative prose-style I described earlier, therefore more important universally. Doesn’t make sense. You could simply type about Chuck Schuldiner. If you type a paragraph in disapproval of a stranger and her art and when tagging it realize you feel sad that there’s not more information about something else, then you have the choice of deleting the “shit-talking” paragraph and replacing it with information about something else.
After I posted the above a Village Voice writer responded:I responded:Hey maybe Writers Of Their Generations should learn a little bit about metaphor before critiquing semantics.Just a thought.I’m not sure what you feel I should learn about metaphor. You’re not being direct. If I made a mistake just tell me what it is and I’ll fix it and think/say something like “thank you, I didn’t know that.” I would appreciate learning something and would definitely want to fix my mistake so that no one would be negatively affected by the possible misinformation of it.
I feel annoyed by you, being indirect like this. The message of your indirectness is that you want to argue with me or make me feel stupid or some other hierarchy-oriented thing that I feel like you would probably agree you would rather not engage in if it’s not necessary. I just had an image of, like, a 9-year-old making another 9-year-old feel bad for not knowing the definition of a word or having mis-used a phrase or something.
There’s also the chance that you (like, I feel, the person above) simply didn’t actually think before typing and so wouldn’t have been able to directly inform me of my mistake even if you wanted to (if, for example, we were close friends or working together on some kind of team) because you don’t know what it is.
If you’re talking about my thoughts about this sentence by the other person—It is in this peculiar and upturned universe that you will experience Tao Lin congratulating the honesty in your misuse of “laid.”—then I’m not sure what I should learn. I simply didn’t view any of the words in that sentence except “upturned” as figurative or non-literal. I discerned the sentence (in the context it was in, on a Tumblr of a working journalist, within a paragraph that I discerned immediately and strongly to earnestly have a message, to be rhetorical and not poetic or lyrical or allegorical or a parody, in my view) as a sentence that would be defaultedly viewed by most people as literal and factual. People reading that sentence automatically, I felt, believe I earnestly congratulated someone somewhere on the internet for their “honesty” due to them mis-using “laid.”
That’s what I felt, based on what I knew, and that’s what I stated was factually incorrect and part of what seemed annoying to me about his post.
- Kate Zambreno re “Adrien Brody” (republished at Thought Catalog)
- Roxane Gay re “Adrien Brody”
- Jamie Peck re “Adrien Brody”
- Emily Gould re “Adrien Brody” (29 Nov, pre-“shit-storm”)
- “Christmas with Marie Calloway”
- Caitlin Colford re “Adrien Brody”
- The Well-Read Wife re “Adrien Brody”
- Stephen Elliott re “Adrien Brody” (also Marie Calloway Roundup)
- The Rumpus Interview w/ Marie Calloway
A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they’re treated…