You are drunk and also on amphetamines while walking through Times Square. You overhear people talking in groups as you wander. You do not know any of the people around you, but, being chemically uninhibited and amped up, you decide to walk into the nearest groups of people and join in their conversations, impulsively responding to whatever they say by shouting whatever first comes to your mind inappropriately loudly. Given what chemicals are currently flowing through your bloodstream, most of the things you say end up being wildly inappropriate non-sequiturs that don’t have the benefit of “context” or “dignity” or “coherence”—you are running from one group of naive tourists to another, shouting about boners, and leaving a trail of bewildered bystanders in your wake. Incapable of feeling your face, and perceiving yourself as a cartoon character displaced from television and somehow placed among the three-dimensional living, you scamper wildly around, and though nobody who sees you will likely have an immediately positive opinion of you, they will never forget you (barring Alzheimer’s or obliviousness to your presence due to paying more attention to the gigantic billboards and flashing lights).
This is how I treat social media. I do not care about optimizing my brand, but optimizing my fun. I treat Facebook and Twitter as video games. They are extremely unpredictable open-ended text adventures where I am less likely to get eaten by a grue in the dark and more likely to have sex with attractive strangers. Old-school videogames had the very clear motivating factor of getting a higher score, and thus of getting your name (or representative three letters) as high as possible on the leaderboard. Facebook and Twitter are the same thing. Post relentlessly without regard to how unseemly you may appear. Tweet with abandon. Comment recklessly. Look at your Facebook news feed and consider every new status a creative writing prompt.
Every single person on Twitter who you know in real life will unfollow you immediately, and probably begin to worry about your mental health. This is a good thing.
Accept every friend request unless it is clearly from a bot. Friend every single person who likes one of your comments on a stranger’s status. Go to the “people you may know” page and send friend requests to everybody on it. As more people accept, the contents of this page will change, and you will thus trick Facebook into thinking you know more people than you actually do.
Whenever you receive a notification that somebody has accepted your friend request, immediately post on their wall. Do not think about what you are going to type before you begin typing. Just click on their comment field, start hitting buttons on your keyboard, and, when finished hitting buttons, hit “share” or whatever the fuck they call it these days.
Check to see who has birthdays every day, and post nonsensical gobbledygook on their wall to wish them happy birthday like “hpadyabrithdy” or “asdhpfoihasdfBUTTZ” and see if they are still friends with you the next day.
I don’t, however, recommend bringing actual Facebook video games into your omnidirectional harassment. While comical madness in text is tolerable, and those who don’t like it can pretty easily ignore you, sending people invites to play Facebook games with you is a level of harassment that seems somehow too much. Similarly, don’t make strange, indulgent events (A DAY OF BUTTS—CLICK ATTEND IF YOU HAVE A BUTT) and invite everyone you’re friends with. These things lack the personal touch of dadaistic harassment through text, and will seem like you’re just half-assing it, putting in less effort to annoy more people.
If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually find someone else on Facebook who is just as into nonsensical dada flarf crap as you are. I’ve found this in the form of Steve Roggenbuck, Buddhist vegan poet who’s just really into a good flarf tweet, if you know what I mean. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find people who find the interactions between the two of you to be entertaining. A great stunt to pull in this situation that you can’t manage any other way is to have a conversation with your partner in crime entirely through posts on somebody else’s wall. Tag each other in the posts and converse through successive wallposts, completely ignoring the comment threads that may appear on these posts.
Finally, hail Satan.
“Readers who have been craving a comprehensive examination of the inner lives of pooping poets will not want to miss Jordan Castro’s new books Young Americans and if i really wanted to feel happy i’d feel happy already.”
“Jordan Castro is one of the the Buckeye State’s most promising young poets, but unfortunately it seems unlikely that this year’s Ohioana Poetry Award will go to feeling so retarded/ staring out a window/ at a nice-looking tree/ navigating the internet/ beneath warm blankets/ fall in ohio.”
“In creative writing, there’s a thin line between striving for simplicity and feigning intellectual disability.”
“When the literary historians of the 21st century are tracing the emergence of what might come to be known as the ‘ironic macho’ movement, they’ll surely cite Jordan Castro, the author of such lines of poetry as what are the long-term effects of touching my moustache so frequently and thought ‘i look too good to be doing this shit’ while laying in fetal position on bedroom floor and crying.”
“I recently passed on a story submitted to my site Unreality House, telling the author that ‘This makes me curious about this character, but it feels like a minor episode taken from a larger story—it doesn’t really do much on its own.’ After reading Jordan Castro’s story ‘The Last, And,’ it occurred to me that perhaps I’d been dismissing an entire genre.”
“This morning I read a short story by Nancy Hale that explored the inner world of an American youth circa 1934. She had never imagined such violent sensations as beat at her; inside she was like the summer itself—sultry and fiery, and racked by instantaneous thunderstorms. This afternoon, I read the poem ‘Young Americans’ by Jordan Castro. I feel incredibly high/ after ingesting adderall, marijuana, vicoprofen, and alcohol/ and linking a recent publication on my twitter feed.”
“Whether or not he succeeds, Jordan Castro has made a bold stab at lifting the mantle of coffee-as-personal-brand from the shoulders of Agent Cooper.”
“When you read a lot of alt lit, you might find yourself wondering why you’re reading this flat, unemotional narrative instead of more traditional, colorful literature. Then you hit a passage that’s somehow snuck in from that world—like, say, nighttime is my mirror/ and i don’t know how to face it—and you remember why you needed a break from trad lit.”
“When I Instagrammed a photo of my iPad featuring a page from Jordan Castro’s book Young Americans and then, while I read the book, the author liked my photo and then sent me an e-mail saying ‘Thank you for posting re Instagram,’ I felt as though I’d been baptized in the Church of Alt Lit.”
“Jordan Castro’s if i really wanted to feel happy i’d feel happy already is the first book-length work I’ve ever read to feature exclusively ironic exclamation points.”
Ten Opening Paragraphs for a Review of Mira Gonzalez’s “I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together”
“In the Victorian Era, sex was not thought to be enjoyable for women, who were famously advised to ‘lie back and think of the empire’ while their husbands plowed away. For women in the ‘alt lit’ community writing about sex today, the equivalent maxim seems to be ‘lie back and think of the Internet.’”
“Mira Gonzalez writes poetry that seems very true. I mean that both in the sense of emotional honesty and in the sense that she’s right, it does feel insane that you need money to develop a drug addiction.”
“Though it does contain the lines ‘I will touch your face using my entire body/ and we will recall a specific warm morning/ when we felt numbness in the space between atoms/ and our mouths tasted like the unattainable closeness of years prior,’ on every other page of I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough For Us to Be Beautiful Together, Mira Gonzalez is not the kind of poet who writes poetry like that.”
“The poetry of Mira Gonzalez might be described as ‘erotic existentialism,’ except that it’s not particularly erotic. In her poems sex often happens, but the act is described flatly and without detail, by way of explaining what her body is doing while her mind is contemplating the spaces between molecules.”
“Mira Gonzalez’s poetry collection I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough For Us to Be Beautiful Together arrives hot on the heels of the writer being singled out by Vice UK as an example of everything that’s wrong with the alt lit movement. That might be the best publicity she could have hoped for.”
“I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough For Us to Be Beautiful Together, a poetry collection by Mira Gonzalez, is being published in the same season as the first book by Marie Calloway, another confessional young female writer whose writing is native to the Internet. Sex is a frequent occurrence in both books, but whereas for Calloway sex is an extremely serious matter that occasions frantically intense introspection, for Gonzalez—like Megan Boyle—the act has a poignant absurdity. ‘He said “I’m gonna come on your stomach” 15 to 20 times while breathing heavily and putting his penis on different parts of my stomach/ every time I attempted to touch his penis he moved my hand away/ eventually I gave up on trying to interact with his penis.’”
“‘I feel like 400 dead jellyfish in the middle of a freeway.’ If Mira Gonzalez didn’t exist, Diablo Cody would have to invent her.”
“One day when I was an RA in grad school, I was eating lunch with an undergrad who I barely knew; unexpectedly, she broke down in tears and told me that a longtime friend of hers had started dating someone else, and that she barely saw him any more. ‘I just wish,’ she told me, ‘that wherever he’s going, he could just put me in his pocket and take me with him.’ I was reminded of that woman when I read the title poem of Mira Gonzalez’s new collection I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough For Us to Be Beautiful Together. ‘If I were two inches tall/ I would sit on your shoulder all day/ and nurture a relationship with your earlobe/ my hands would be too small to effectively touch you.’”
“I once asked Minneapolis poet Paul Dickinson whether he’d ever considered trying stand-up comedy. ‘Nah,’ he said. ‘It’s better to be the funny poet than the poetic comedian.’”
“Mira Gonzalez portrays bleakness in such vibrant verse that it’s hard to believe she actually wants to starve to death during sex. Still, I’m inclined to believe her.”
Photoillustration by Mira Gonzalez via Tumblr
“I’m a man. Does that make it impossible for me to review Marie Calloway’s What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, or does it make me the book’s target audience?”
“In all the reviews I’ve written, I’ve never felt my opinion is so unnecessary as in the case of What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life. The last thing the world needs is yet another opinion about Marie Calloway.”
“Marie Calloway, in What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, has pulled off the unlikely feat of turning book publishing itself into a sex act.”
“I told a friend I was was reviewing Marie Calloway’s new book, and she said, ‘I feel like Marie Calloway is broken, and the kind of writing she’s doing is not healthy.’”
“The most profound chapter of Marie Calloway’s book What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life is the one that contains none of her writing at all. In ‘Criticism,’ Calloway superimposes the text of criticisms of her work over photos of her body—sometimes clothed, sometimes unclothed, always with a blank, indifferent expression. In doing so, she vividly dramatizes the difference between traditional confessional writing and confessional writing online, where feedback is instant and personal.”
“Once you start reading Marie Calloway’s What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, you’ll almost certainly finish it. How do I know? Because the ‘sex’ category on The Tangential gets three times as many hits as the next most-popular category, and that’s where almost every chapter in this book would go.”
“Marie Calloway’s new book What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life is one of a few recent releases that feel like signposts marking the divide between old lit—where writing is something that you take the phone off the hook to do—and new lit—where writing is something that you pull your phone out of your pocket to do.”
“Is it even possible to review a Marie Calloway book without reviewing Marie Calloway?”
“A printer’s refusal to make copies of Marie Calloway’s new book What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life is occasioning trend pieces that lump the book together with Fifty Shades of Grey as an example of controversial books about sex, a ‘genre’ that’s supposedly growing in popularity. That fact just serves to show how unprepared the conventional publishing world is to deal with the likes of Marie Calloway.”
“Marie Calloway’s new book is terrifying. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is for you to decide.”