First, I love the meme :D
Second, many of you recently had the chance to view a number of videos that I posted on my Vimeo page. These videos were intended to satirize specific happenings within the alt lit literary scene. These videos have been perceived as humorous, but they have also been just as widely perceived as mean-spirited. I do not think each video is wholly mean-spirited, but I will not deny that there are moments of mean-spiritedness. Though, I consider each video a comedic effort rather than an opportunity to bully or degrade. I consider the Steve Roggenbuck video a tribute more than anything; it contains not a drop of mean-spiritedness, however, some of you believed I was ridiculing Steve. If I disliked Steve, I would not be returning his Facebook pokes.
I do not know what “good” art or “bad” art is, but I do believe literature is an art form and I do think it should be approached as an integral part of society. I also believe it is important to examine the functionality of ‘the idea’ behind a particular work of art. For instance, I happen to strongly believe in the concept of literary art being used as a form of activism. What is the point of one’s art if there’s no idea behind it? What are you saying? What do you want people to read and why should they read it? Surrealist literature is based on spontaneity and automatism, but it still exists because of a reactionary idea. One cannot prove or disprove “good art,” but one can certainly locate evidence of an influential or detrimental idea. “Good” art vs “bad” art is a frivolous binary grounded in arbitrariness. Binaries themselves are arbitrary. Strive for many directions, not just two. Strive for plurality.
Strive for fame? I had a recent discussion with one of my many new internet friends. We discussed younger writers and their intense desire for fame. I’m not here to bash a writer’s want of fame because fame does permit a writer to progress in a variety of ways, but I do encourage everyone to ask themselves: what good is even the smallest amount of fame if you have nothing to say? I strongly dislike things like this because if we stop arguing about art we become weak. That weakness allows others to take advantage of your artistic integrity and I think one’s artistic integrity matters more than anything else. Don’t be lazy. Don’t give a piece of yourself up for easy fame. If you have ideas, fight for your ideas. If you’re an artist that doesn’t like confrontation, get ready for one hellish toll road …
Some of you think I’m a huge asshole. That’s fine. I happen to think some of you are incredibly lazy, but I also happen to think all of you have great potential. I think a lot of this is like that Oregon Trail computer game. Some of you are moving at a steady pace. Some of you are moving at a strenuous pace. Some of you are moving at a grueling pace. But guess what? An artist moves at her or his own pace. Don’t let your art suffer because of your pace. Some of you need to slow down and some of you need to speed up. Lately, I’ve been hunting too much. I need to focus on how I’m going to get across the river Spencer Madsen warned me about.
That reminds me … if I see Spencer Madsen at AWP, I’m going to give him a long and uncomfortable hug.
I’m not going to leave the videos up forever. They could disappear tomorrow. Next week. A year from now. Who knows? But I don’t plan on making anymore right now. I think I’ve caused enough trouble.