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Marie Calloway and the machine.

December 30, 2011 \pm\31 8:29 pm

With things like this, it seems like when a thing’s official status as a thing (IS THIS THING REAL LITERATURE? IS IT ART? IS IT GOOD?) comes into question is when the questioner feels himself ill done by the thing’s perceived success. Let me clarify: that Marie Calloway’s Adrien Brody has come to the attention of a New York newspaper and a couple of gossip sites and lit blogs and a few of us is something that happened irrespective of you and your writing. No one was thinking of you and your writing when they attended to Marie Calloway and hers.

This is sad, I know. That people do not think of us constantly and always. It feels bad. I know. I feel it often when I remember you don’t think of me as often as I think of myself, if ever you do think of me. This is not the fault of Marie Calloway more than, for example, me never having posted a post about her until today is my fault. It is the fault of the machine.

The machine, no matter how well orchestrated it may seem, no matter how singular, no matter how together, no matter how much on the outside of it you may feel gazing upon its shiny, inscrutable shell, is not at all inscrutable, is not at all organized, and is certainly not at all geared to spite you.

The machine is made up of many tiny complementary and opposite parts. I am one of those parts and so are you. We are drops that make up a sea, a push and a pull, and sometimes the tide may seem stronger, or like there are too many more on the other side, but does that mean you don’t keep ebbing and flowing? I don’t guess it matters, there’s always another tiny drop to come and take your place and that’s what saddens you, that you’re not special.

Even the seemingly special parts of the machine are not special, and our little corner of the lit world (indie lit, or alt lit, as the kids are now calling it) is a microcosm of the wider world. Machines inside machines inside machines awash in sea. Or something. I am not saying don’t push and pull, I’m saying action is natural. Reaction is natural. I guess I am just saying: as you act and react try not to try to steamroll the others, remember how it hurts when you get knocked off your ass by the waves and don’t hate the machine, for in so doing you hate yourself. Treat all the other tiny parts with respect, stop worrying about the hierarchy of the machine and your place within that hierarchy and just keep pushing along toward your own shore.

Sorry for that gigantic mixed metaphor, I am explaining this to myself as much as to you and my mind is sloshing with metal debris and sea water and most times I cannot see the shoreline for the trees.


I am writing this in response mainly to the negative ideas I’ve seen espoused in the comments to the posts on the various sites involved in the Calloway shitstorm. Here’s one that vaguely interested me (paraphrased from memory): ‘Tao Lin is an omnipotent puppeteer and his aim is to delude us all into thinking bad or insignificant things are literature.’ What a great load of power to give to one entrepreneurial young man. That he is able to willingly distort your reality implies your world must be a malleable and inconsequential one indeed. Perhaps you should stop reading Gawker, I know I rarely do. Not because I am SO ABOVE IT ALL, I love to hear about who kissed whom, etc. But at the celebrity culture level, I know the temporary thrill isn’t worth the deeper angst engendered while paying the sort of attention that things like Gawker require (passive, helpless, envious). That is not a direction in which I need to push, most media already pushes me that way daily, why make myself more sick with consumerism.


Marie Calloway is not special, though she seems intelligent and thoughtful. She just happened to pass through the sphere of your attention today. And she seemed to have some things you feel are, or should be, rightfully yours, e.g., youth, beauty and the attention of certain people; the confirmation that you are doing LITERATURE correctly, the way IT SHOULD BE DONE; the justification for your insignificant life, you little drop, you tiny part, I feel you. In the video below, from the really cool Philosophy: A Guide To Happiness series, Alain de Botton says that Seneca says that ‘people get angry because they are too hopeful.’ Probably nothing is rightfully ours. The world’s always been and will likely continue to be deeply fascinated by cute young girls. Like getting bitten by a puppy, or watching a nature program of a cuddly polar bear tearing a seal apart. You’re the one that was conditioned to think ‘this thing won’t bite.’

    • December 31, 2011 \am\31 11:40 am 11:40 am

      “The idea that someone else has made it when they shouldn’t have made it is toxic thinking.”

      tru dat, john mayer

  1. December 31, 2011 \am\31 11:53 am 11:53 am

    Mixed metaphors are the only panacea for ‘I’m no one’ angst. Choppy, rich chaotic sentences to help set your dis-ease aside.

    (I am also guilty of using them too often)

    At least obscurity is comfortable, that’s why we are always ‘languishing’ in it, as on a fainting couch, rather than, ‘sitting itchy and pricked by constant needles of despair’.

    • December 31, 2011 \am\31 11:59 am 11:59 am

      whoa you saw right through to the heart of that, thanks, schietree
      i do tend to give up on clarifying when it starts to sting

  2. January 8, 2012 \am\31 3:35 am 3:35 am

    cool, this reminds me of slaughter-house five. the idea that we are all machines comforts me.

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