Category Archives: alienating the reader

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Max is helping me make a new webpage and it feels diffuse and wrong (to say nothing of totally self-indulgent in this time when America is dying, but then again it was probably dying before, but not as spectacularly) and I’m pretty sure this webpage will soon redirect to  andrewleland.org and the only people seeing this ¶ will be RSS subscribers to goodjobbbbbbbbb: the online journal of SUCCESS, so  if you subscribe to this blog in RSS you need to know that this blog is going dark and its dark goings on will continue “apace” at the aptly titled andrewleland.org, so if you’re one of the few people who enjoy the broth of the mind, who sip and sup from that elderly trough, then ma’am or sir or transmam or sirmom you’ll please now follow me back through the untrammeled deglazed glade of pre-Drumpf hoarfrost to andrewleland.org, back where the ceramic pavingstones etc etc etc etc etc etc

update: it costs money to have the site automatically redirect, apparently, so this post will stand like a tombstone until something actually dies

Commencement

[Ruffles papers at the dais]

In conclusion, here at the outset

[deafening applause]

[group of deaf students applaud]

[group of students wearing shirts that say Jesus Gave me Tinnitus applaud inaudibly]

[group of highly politicized roll-carts roll by, somewhat audibly, as if of their own volition. As though they are operating under their own control. Sentient roll-carts? Some blue, some black, some brown, some green. The roll carts do not have eyes, though they be sentient. Aye]

and so as a lunch-time option, I will suggest, it is of vital importance that snacks be “factored into the equation.”

[A tropical fish, who had been gazing with deep inattention at the square of linoleum floor framed by his idly hanging flippers, now slowly and deliberately looks up at the speaker. His attention has been piqued. What’s this about lunch? Snacks? ]

A snack isn’t what we make it. Even if it is we who have made the snacks. I’ll often make a snack for myself, mid-afternoon, as though a dog left alone at home had the ability to open the fridge, unscrew bottles, spread nut-butters with nut-butter knives…

[A very pink fish is lost in her own reverie. She imagines a chocolate laborador, left home alone, unscrewing a jar of peanut butter, dipping in a long blunt knife, and spreading the peanut butter across three saltine crackers. It is, needless to say, an erotic fantasy. The fish is transmuted into a feline. The feline is transmuted into an unopened tin of sardines. The tin opens itself, with a great deal of volition, and begins snacking upon itself, heartily, its lips — such as they are — smacking.]

And so women. And so men. And so students of the region, who are gathered and fed and assembled and educated here, under these eaves, under this aegis, be-chancelled by this bewitching chancellor–

[The Chancellor, whose name is R. Bowen Loftin, gathers himself up in a great mawkish burst of plumage, then shits himself into a garbage pail; exeunt.]

And so, at the outset, or in conclusion, the class of 1999 now leads you, seniors, graduating class of 2016, into blinkered victory. I hope you’re OK. I hope you all inherit a great deal of money and then squander your inheritance on graduate education and activism and travel and charity. And love. Squander everything for love, my children. Because love is the most pragmatic tool you can wield in the economy into which you’re graduating. And I needn’t remind you that all of your love is concentrated in your genitals.

Help Decks

There’s a problem in the garden partition; it’s not the stupid’s fault for being stupid. I don’t try too hard. Failure gathers in the bleaches of my belly. Sara, blending into the evening, marches along the low garden wall, worrying her outfit’s straps while she considers the problem… and Sara wants to know: What problem? And, actually, what partition? When you were with the woman who hired you to check out her typography (in a city, in a women’s room), it bleached me. I made a joke about a person who eats a dinner designed for an animal. “The omnivore’s dilemma: What if you ate Fancy Feast for dinner instead of all that old tuna salad?” I must have understood it as a joke because then I said, “Just kidding.”

TFP1

DARREN: My favorite kind of music is trust-fund punk.

KARREN: My favorite kind of tunnel is carpal. My favorite academic trend is the linguistic turn

DARREN: like in the 80s?

KARREN: yeah. I felt so good when scholarship took a linguistic turn

DARREN: One time you told me that you thought my blog was really well proofread

KARREN: it is!

DARREN: But I only thought, Ouch! faint praise!

KARREN: what’s faint about well proofed?

DARREN: i want it to be blazing and arresting, not clean

KARREN: well

DARREN: who will run the frog hospital?

KARREN: who will boost our followers?

DARREN: Steve Roeggenbuck will run the frog hospital

KARREN: we can’t name our son Ben Smith because he won’t be googleable

DARREN: I didn’t study search-engine optimization in college to help inform what we’re gonna name our son. anyway i thought we were gonna name him derrick?

KARREN:  like oil derrick?

DARREN: Like derek jeter?

KARREN: you’re embarrassing me. Have we gotten everything on our list?

DARREN: we still need salt-breath

[they turn down aisle 9, where the salt-breath is stocked]

DARREN: here’s the salt breath

KARREN [selecting a less-expensive brand]: let’s get this kind. that kind is eleven dollars!

DARREN: OK. I like this brand tho

KARREN: 11 dollars!

DARREN: OK, get the cheaper kind, but it’s not as salty. Or as breathy. It tastes like evaporated seaweed milk

KARREN: kan we talk about theater and radio and improvisation and the experience of reading plays or reading radio drama scripts

DARREN: darling i’d prefer not to in the supermarket. can it wait till we get home?

KARREN: I dunno. did you hear annie baker on WTF?

DARREN: yes. a fine reminder  that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement

KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement

DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it

KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?

DARREN: I’ve never tried them

[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]

[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]

KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview

DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out

KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?

DARREN:  watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing

KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound

DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?

KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.

[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]

WET PARK

HEY

DRANK TOO MUCH COFFEE

STILL DRINKING COFFEE

UP AT 5:30AMISH

5:30 AMISH

5:30 MENNONITE

WHY DO SO MANY MENNONITE FAMILIES SHOP AT NATURAL GROCERS?

SERIOUS INQUIRY; PLEASE ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS

WOKE EARLY OF MY OWN ACCORD. BABY-RELATED BUT I COULDA FALLEN BACK ASLEEP IF I COULDA

THE ONLY THING MORE “SELF-INVOLVED” THAN BLOGGING ABOUT THE MINUTIA OF YOUR LIFE

IS GENTLY ANONYMOUSING — ANONYMYZING — ANONDYNE DYNASTY METASTAZING — OCCLUDING THE DETAILS OF MY OWN LIFE AS IF ANYONE CARES

EMPTIED THE DISHWASHER, CHECKED OUT THE 6 AM CST FACEBOOK FEED

BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE BLOGGED YOU, GIRL

FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF AT LEAST I’M AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OCCLUDED!!!!

I’VE GOT CLASS IN 20 MINUTES

IF A STOODENT GOOGLES ME THEY FIND THIS BLOGPOST

WHEN I FIRST STARTED THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO “BE A TEACHER” I PASSWORD PROTECTED THIS BLOG

BUT THEN JUSTIN — HIS ACTUAL, REAL NAME — EMAILED ME SWEETLY DEMANDING I TAKE OFF THE PASSWORD

AND NOW I AM MANY MONTHS BEHIND IN OWING JUSTIN AN IN-DEPTH EMAIL ABOUT AN “OCCLUDED PROJECT”

BUT I SORTA DOUBT HE’S GONNA SEE THIS,

PLUS I “LIKED” SOME OF HIS RECENT GOOD NEWS ON FB, THAT PROBABLY BOUGHT ME ANOTHER WEEK, RIGHT?

THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE

I’M HERE IN MY SHARED OFFICE AT THE OCCLUDED U

NICE VIEW OF ELM STREET. A BIT OF PEACE PARK

TODAY IN CLASS WE’RE SKYPING WITH A RADICAL YOUNG JOURNALIST WHOSE ACQUAINTANCE      I’VE MADE

HE’S AN EDITOR AT OCCLUDED NAME OF MAGAZINE, CURRENTLY ENJOYING A SURGE IN RESPECTABILITY OR AT LEAST MORE PPL TAKING IT SERIOUSLY DUE TO HBO SERIES AND SPIKE IN INTL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JOURNALISM, BUT I AM A FAIRLY ACCOMPLISHED STAND UP COMEDIAN, SO TEACHING WORKS OUT FINE

AROUND 6:30 THE HUMAN INFANT WOKE UP, I STRAPPED HIM TO MY THORAX AND WE TOOK THE DOG TO THE PARK, THE GRASS WAS BE-SOAKED IN DEW

AN OVERFRIENDLY A.M. BIKER SAID HELLO IN AN AGGRESSIVE WAY, SORT OF LIKE “HEY WHY IS IT I WHO MUST BE THE FIRST TO SAY HELLO?” MY RESPONSE WOULD HAVE BEEN, “I HAVE A DEGENERATIVE RETINAL CONDITION AND DIDN’T SEE YOU, YOU OVERFRIENDLY LEATHER-SKINNED MEGA-DAD”

BEEN READING A BIT OF CAROL DEPPE’S THE RESILIENT GARDENER, THINKING ABOUT PLANTING SOME RESILIENT VEGETABLES IN THE OLD BACK YARD

LAST NIGHT THE MISSUS AND I HAD A GOOD LAUGH RE A PASSAGE IN THE BOOK I READ ALOUD TO HER, WHEREIN DEPPE WAS RECOMMENDING TO THE READER A BOOK BY JARED DIAMOND ABOUT CATASTROPHE THAT INFORMED HER CHAPTER ON CATASTROPHE AND CLIMATE CHANGE, I AM PARAPHRASING BUT DEPPE WAS LIKE “LIKE MOST GREAT BOOKS THAT COVER A BROAD RANGE OF HUMAN HISTORY THIS BOOK IS VERY HARD TO SUMMARIZE, IN FACT IT’S INDESCRIBABLE” — I’M NOT DOING IT JUSTICE BUT SUCH A POWERFUL BOOK RECOMMENDATION ACCOMPANIED BY A SUBLIME CONFESSION OF the failure of language, it made us laff.

Should probably head over to class now, guys. I realized I should be supplementing the steady stream of nonsense stream of consciousness I fill the baby’s ears with more useful language acquisition naming time, like “TREE” and “DOG” , so my internal monologue is now infantalized and externalized; “the doggie is shitting in the woods; dogs love to shit in the woods; do you love that doggie? the doggie loves to chase the ball”

AND SO ON

A: I HEAR YOU HAVE A BABY

F:  YERP

A: When you have a baby you don’t have time to do ANYTHING

F: That’s because babies take up so much time

A: I know

F: What is it that babies take so much time doing?

A: The babies are very busy, they are constantly reading dense texts and challenging your preconceived notions about things

F: Like what sorts of things?

A: Like … arbitrary–

A+F [in unison] …arbitrary taxonomies of genre!?!

F: Whoa.

A: Luv.

F: I’m bummed out again about how I don’t feel like I know how to make sense. Or, maybe, I hate making sense. Making nonsense is much more fun.

A: It’s hard to tell the difference between making nonsense is more fun in the way that smoking lots of pot and watching Adult Swim is more fun, or making nonsense is more fun in that you are an acolyte of Jarry and Ionesco and Stein and live your life in a radical subversion of standard bourgeoise modes of expression etc

F: I think I sometimes milk that ambiguity. Like I pretend to be a highbrow Dadaist when in fact I’m just waiting for the next fortnight of pajamas and Xavier Renegade Angel

A: Xavier Renegade Angel

F: But Xavier Renegade Angel is made by guys who split that difference. They’re students of Gordon Lish, they seem like they’ve done their homework, and they might have pretensions for their show to have a depth or at least a terminal bleakness that makes the comedy that much more “fucked up”

A: Did you ever check your email during the dark time of hospital visits and black veiled hospitalizations

F: There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t checked my email every fifty minutes

A: remember when you first went camping and they explained what the trowel was for?

F: Yes. The trowel is for digging a little pit for you to shit into. Then you wipe with leaves, and bury your poo like a tiny funeral rite.

A: That’s a lot of work for a poo.

F: You’re not pooing so much in the forest. Maybe once a day if you’re lucky

A: Also not a lot of urgent emails to respond to in the woods.

F: Are you pining for the pines, blood?

A: The grass is always greener in the other bong. I had my dream job, and now I have my other dream job. Someday I won’t have any dream job and I’ll be shooting squirrels for sustenance

F: Shooting them with what?

A: An inherited crossbow.

F: Inherited from who?

A: A girl I met on the internet

F: Why did she leave you the crossbow in her will?

A: She said she liked my blog.

F: How did she die?

A: She faked her own suicide.

F: So she’s still alive?

A: No. She actually killed herself, but she didn’t mean it.

F: You know how if you commit suicide you don’t get in to harvard I mean heaven?

A: yes

F: that’d be funny if whoever the last person you slept with got to rewrite your will if you ended up killing yourself

club

—Really wish I was a peace activist right now.

—Why, for the tax breaks?

—Peace activists get special tax breaks?

—I thought they did. Maybe they don’t.

—I don’t think they do. I think the biggest perk to being a peace activist is occasional free lentil soup from potlucks.

—That sounds pretty yummy.

—It is! Garam masala and roasted carrots, yum.

—Yum!

—I know, so yummy.

—And all that shit is vegan.

—I know! Yum.

—Although can I make a confession the other day at Paul’s I had some of this frittata?

—Vegan police!

—So yummy though. The olives were from Israel.

—Yum.

—So should we talk about these poems?

—OK. Let’s start with yours.

—Oh no! [Laughter]

—Your poems are amazing.

—No they’re not.

—They are! They’re like Rilke.

—Shut up! I’ve actually never read Rilke.

—Read his poems. They’re amazing!

—I know OK!

—I have constructive criticism. All the raven imagery is bullshit.

—I know, I already cut those parts.

—Oh really OK well I don’t have any other comments actually so now let’s talk about mine.

—OK. My main thing was I don’t like poems about rape.

—Wait, did you get that my poem wasn’t about sexual assault?

—What?

—The poem is  about rape, or Brassica napus, a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family).

—Fuck, I actually read the poem over the weekend at my mom’s cabin which doesn’t have internet so I couldn’t look it up!

—You couldn’t look it up on your phone?

—You’re right, I should have. I’m sorry.

[The oven’s electronic timer beeps, signaling the “ontological arrival” of the “popovers”]