6.18.2009

'during my nervous breakdown i want to have a biographer present' and 'the brandon book crisis'

i have been avoiding this blog and i have no reason for doing that. if anything there are more reasons for me to 'be around' the internet more and make more of an internet presence or something. i'm kind of meta-frustrated with myself, like, i keep on wanting to work on 'writing things' and 'building an internet presence,' but i'm resistant, and i'm frustrated at my resistant feelings since i can't trace them back to a concrete example. don't know what's going on. probably low self esteem.

i had a poem published on cookiebomb. i wanted to publicize that more, but then the subject of the poem would've probably read it and that would make our relationship more complex. writing that sentence made me feel strongly that i never want to write again for a period of about three seconds. feeling is over. is this incredibly stupid right now? fuck.

i'm not sure what my review would contribute that other reviews haven't, probably should've written it sooner. 'oh well.'



'during my nervous breakdown i want to have a biographer present'

i received this book at work. i read 3/4 of it on my lunch break, the rest in the car after work, and again just now. i read 'i feel kind of alienated someone teleport me to tokyo' aloud to my mom on the phone and she said, 'oh my, that's really beautiful and sad and longing,' and sounded emotional. i felt extremely engrossed reading it on my lunch break, enough so that i only ate one piece of pizza, even though i was very hungry. there were many times where i felt not sure if i've previously had a thought described, or if it relates to me so much that i could have had that thought independently without first reading the poem (this is a good sensation, recreating this sensation is what initially draws me to reading/writing).

if i were in a poetry class/workshop and we were talking about the book, i would probably comment about outer space/sci-fi imagery being congruous to feelings of extreme isolation. i liked all of the outer space/sci-fi imagery, i think about outer space a lot. the poem 'terror' was not what i expected it to be when i read the word 'terror,' but after reading it i felt a strong sense of 'terror,' and looked at pictures of astronauts where the earth was visible in the background and felt extremely afraid of heights and small in the universe and like 'what is anyone doing here, why are there human beings here.' for some reason, feeling like that seems important to me, and there are a lot of moments in brandon's poems that i think geared me towards thinking that way.

there is a lot of surreal, sometimes violent imagery, which i thought was startlingly creative without being 'show-y' or intent on disengaging the reader. i like the image of expanding into a giant flesh thing the size of a volcano and all of the things that happen after that. images like that seem surreal enough to be dream images to me. since these images were presented with conviction in the poems, it was not similar to the experience of hearing someone's dream, rather being in it alongside them in the dream. listening to people tell their dreams is (most of the time) boring, but the experience of dreaming itself is very interesting, so that's why dream-moments like that in poems were interesting to me. 'do not let me alienate you because i am small and afraid' also has a similar 'bringing the reader directly into the experience' effect, where the experience is being dissatisfied with the poem as it is being written. the poem felt like something large that needed to be defeated, and reading it created a sense of urgency in me. i felt accomplished after brandon felt accomplished.

i want to say something about empathy, feeling empathetic vs. sympathetic, how brandon's poems create a sense of empathy and therefore are unique in that i think most poetry has other objectives. i also want to say something about how it seems like in general, the poems are kind of like putting cognition under a microscope, and live in that version of reality that i think a lot of people experience but don't take time to really consider.

a lot of the poems seem concerned with quantifying experience as a form of validation of existence. they seem to be saying 'i exist' in a way that's completely unbiased (i.e. not 'i exist to talk about the outrageous beauty of nature,' 'i exist to talk about coping with terminal illness,' 'i exist to talk about relationships with parents'), so in a way, i think all humans should be able to relate to them.

there is a lot of poetry i don't like reading because it seems like it's constructed as a riddle or puzzle for the reader. it's implicit that the reader is either 'smart enough' to already understand what the poem is about, or will spend a lot of time thinking about the construction of the poem and trying to figure out what it means a) objectively, b) to the reader, c) to the poet (mostly a and c, though). the poems in 'during my nervous...' are the opposite of these poems, i felt my brain being engaged and was able to relate concretely to images/sensations/thoughts/etc. in the book. it didn't seem like brandon was trying to convey 'i am a skilled, t.s. eliot-like poet who is beating you in an intelligence contest,' it seemed like the opposite.

that is not to say that the poems weren't well crafted or it wasn't evident that thought and consideration went into them. i mean more that the poems were extremely honest both subject-wise and construction-wise, which strengthened them for me on both levels. this is the kind of poetry i like to read. this is the kind of anything i like to read, really.



'the brandon book crisis'

i read this before actually reading brandon's book. tao lin sent it to me as a .pdf file and i read 3/4 of it as soon as i got it. i don't know how long it took me, but definitely less time than it would take me to read 3/4 of a standard novel or something. whenever i read 3/4 or more of something in a single session, it's because i feel very interested in it. i finished the rest when i received the physical book.

reading 'the brandon book crisis' reminded me of when i was 11 or 12 and had all of this aol instant messenger 'friends' and we would talk on the internet all day, and i started printing and compiling all of our aim conversations to re-read later. sometimes i would 'step back from myself' and think, 'is this too voyeuristic or something? is it appropriate to read this?' but i think that's the same feeling that compels a lot of people towards 'people-watching,' watching reality television, having blogs or youtube accounts, being on social networking websites, etc. a lot of people like to pretend they don't have that curiosity about other people's lives, but it seems stupid to me to deny yourself something arbitrary like that/pretend a feeling doesn't exist.

the format of a gchat is very easy to read, it naturally draws the reader's eye down the page and makes 'reading as a task' very satisfying. this was kind of a 'meta-book,' a book about making a book, and at the end, a book about making a book turning into a book. i would like it if all books came with a book like this as a supplement, the way dvd's come with director commentary. 'the brandon book crisis' had a similar way of emphasizing the drama of the 'inner world' that appears a lot in 'during my nervous....' when the words 'crisis' and 'nervous breakdown' are normally considered, images come to mind of people freaking out and throwing dishes or sweating a lot and breathing heavily. the feelings of urgency were just as real in this book as they would be in a person running from the cops or something, just taken in a different context.

sometimes i felt myself getting lost in the technical terms, and like, 'damn, compiling a book seems hard, way to go guys.' every time the day changed, i laughed, the all caps font made it seem very dramatic. the way the book was structured, that it was even a book at all, seems very 'tongue in cheek,' but also self-aware, and therefore appealing.

sometimes i think about what people are going to say about the state of literature today, what they're going to teach english majors in 50 years, what 'movement' will define the early 2000's, if the internet literary community will be studied or mentioned, if some kid will discover brandon scott gorrell or tao lin the same way i discovered richard brautigan or richard yates and felt extremely empathetic with a person much older than they are, etc. this seems like a 100% original idea for a book, and like something that will probably have some kind of significance 'down the road.'

3 comments:

Jordan Castro said...

i think these are good reviews

DJ Berndt said...

If I was going to review the reviews I would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Good job.

Jamie said...

Aside from the reviews, which were interesting to read and made me want to buy the books, I just want you to know that I loved that poem. It was goddamn painfully familiar.

It is truthful in the sense that you are being honest about your feelings, but even more so on a deeper level. I have 100% been there before, in that same room, feeling needy and pathetic and removed and reading that poem gave me those horribly uneasy feelings again. That says a lot, especially since most of what I read doesn't seem to belong to me on a personal level.

I understand your inclination to not write here and maybe how muted the feelings is. It's a numbness that happens when something that you love starts to carry some sort of weight. Pressure, expectation, resistance. But, do it. Just do it, because you're good at it.