Thought Catalog

I Don’t Want to Read Any More Literary Or Cultural Criticism By Blake Butler

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1. I was drawn to write this after reading Blake Butler’s “I Don’t Want To Read Any More Books About Straight White People Having Sex.” I usually find his shit-talking aesthetic punk and interesting. But I found this pretentious and elitist.

2. “I’ll be the first to say [Blake Butler] is a bland fuckboy clinging to [new] relics [like they are cooler than old relics] of A-to-[mauve], but for once I could understand his angle.” His angle is fuck you literary world: There’s like ten of you in it, and there are eight readers. And your tastes are shit. You’re writing about being human. Banal and boring. I like writing from the angle of the red chair in the corner absorbing the tension from the pedophiles fucking their adopted child in the other room before I stick my dick in a tear in the red chair’s stuffing and fuck it and seal the tear with my come.

3. Here is a line from Blake’s article that made me start disliking it: “The Sheila character (based on Heti, assumedly, but certainly not the same as who she is beyond the page) seems constantly more interested in what people think of her and what she should be doing than doing anything at all.”

4. This is based on the premise that the author of How Should a Person Be? is not aware of this aspect of her character. This is unlikely. It seems more likely that the author saw her own personal flaws and used her art to transcend her ego, try to view herself from the ‘outside,’ and grow as a person and writer. I don’t think her goal was some insular art-concept born of boredom and resentment.

How Should A Person Be?

5. I do like Blake Butler’s writing. Despite his shit-talking aesthetic, he seems like a nice person. But in his essay for VICE Blake seems to want the reader to hate him and his writing. I think he is trolling. He writes in number 23, “I like art that makes other people angry and nothing else.” Well done! Punk’s not dead.

6. An aesthetic of shit-talking is an aesthetic, but it’s still shit-talking.

7. I realize the irony of shit-talking shit-talking.

8. Part of what I hate about Blake’s article is that he derides traditional narratives that look at the question of what it means to be human. But all art, even his, implicitly and explicitly delves into the human condition. He claims that this incessant theme in literature is what makes people read less, ignoring more significant influences such as technology and grown-up shit like having kids, working, and spending time with loved ones.

9. Sid Vicious wrote “sucks” on his Pink Floyd shirt because he was punk rock. He was also a teenager. His gesture was an adolescent sneer at the art a majority of people love. Blake’s anti-Radiohead Thought Catalog article is similar to Sid Vicious’ “sucks” gesture.

10. The implicit message of his cool-guy sneer in the Radiohead article: “Oh, you like that band? That’s so six-months ago. You like this author? So uncool. The book I’m reading now is primarily about the color green. It’s structured like an Ikea futon. The first section of the book involves walking through Ikea and buying the futon. Then you assemble it. The major crisis is when menstrual blood gets on the duvet during wiccan-lesbian bondage sex. I’m currently in the middle of the book, where the duvet was replaced by a flannel quilt.”

11. Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s knew The Germs. Her band toured the UK and was often spit on. Soon after, she became a MTV darling, used coke for years, and made pop albums.

12. Blake has books published by a mainstream publishing house in Barnes & Noble. I’m currently waiting for his self-criticism against his mainstream success.

13. I tried to read Blake’s book in B&N. There was a house and two families, one being a carbon copy. I had no idea what was going on, which I’m not against. Though I do enjoy knowing what is going on.

14. Between writing about chairs, Blake drinks sweet tea, jumps rope and watches his The Chappelle Show DVD, specifically “The Player’s Hater’s Ball” while repeating “hate.”

15. Blake dreams of being declared “Hater of the Year.”

16. Blake skips the Dave Chappelle skit “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”

17. 2 comes after 1. I get it. Conventional narrative is boring because it’s predictable. But an essay by Blake Butler is also predictable — it will feature disdain for traditional narrative and take something universally loved and say it sucks. The reader knows what is coming. He will also wield the color green.

18. Wielding the color green sounds like Dungeon and Dragons.

19. Destruction of the ego is often attained through autobiographical fiction, the creation of which requires time and attempting to view oneself from the ‘outside.’ It can show a transcendent picture of the writer’s life, perspective and goals. Tao Lin’s writing is an example.

20. Anything a person does is more a reflection of themselves than the outside world.

21. “You’re not punk and I’m telling everyone / save your breath I never was one / you don’t know what I’m all about / like killing cops and reading Kerouac.” That’s Jawbreaker. I’m cool too.

22. I feel like Andrea Coates. In the future I will post naked pictures of myself on my blog. Specifically a .gif of my morning-wood swinging back-and-forth in the bathroom mirror.

23. I wish you the best. Hate on, Blake. I’m quoting you for 24, which is nice.

24. “So what. It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m writing it anyway. Everything continues to exist until it doesn’t. Then begins the awful reenactments.”

25. “White.” The U.S. Census allows Hispanic people to report as “white.” The idea of “white” is a construct.

26. Green chili is so good it makes you want to slap your mamma.

27. Serial killer quotes as Zen writing advice.

28. The self-grasping “I” is the delusion the “you” actually exists. This is the root delusion. This is symbolized by a pig. The dove comes out of the pig’s mouth. The snake comes out of the dove’s mouth. My inner winds are all fucked up.

29. I had been fighting with my girlfriend via email before reading Blake’s essay. Then I unfriended him on Facebook.

30. Sometimes being in a monogamous relationship, I miss masturbation. Then I fit it in, and find it not very satisfying — comparably speaking.

31. The famous skateboarder and artist Mark Gonzales said life was about death. I agree. Shakespeare agreed. Homer agreed. Hemingway agreed. Cervantes wrote a lot of poop jokes. Jean Rhys would also agree.

32. I read Blake’s essay 10+ times. I admit that it’s kind of genius. TC mark

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