Author Topic: Tao Lin  (Read 1133 times)

Tao Lin
« on: July 23, 2020, 02:55:02 PM »
Anyone else into him?

I have become sporadically obsessed with him since reading this e-book - http://www.bearparade.com/thisemotionwasalittlee-book/ - sometime last year. I later read his poetry collection 'cognitive-behavioral therapy' and it gave me a feeling that translates into language as 'I haven't ever read poetry like this before. Wow.' It was very exciting. He somehow manages to use simple language and repetition with a kind of spiraling, unpredictable momentum that is very fun to read.

Recently I read 'Bed', his only short story collection. Two of the stories in there described my experience of life so perfectly that I might have become paranoid that Tao had telepathically looked into my brain if I wasn't so pathetically rational.

If you haven't read him and are interested, I would recommend cbt or bed. If you haven't read him and aren't interested, I would highly recommend none of them.


It seems Tao Lin is into Lorrie Moore and Richard Yates. I will read them at some point. Are there any writers you would recommend in a 'if you like Tao Lin you might also like...' kind of way?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 03:05:59 PM by Scarlet Intangible »

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2020, 04:56:30 PM »
Thanks for posting this and sharing the beautiful ebook. I have read a little and like him too. That's the analysis complete now on to your request for recommendations. I might recommend types of thing you didn't really mean or what you already like to read:

Peter Manson's fragmentary seven-year autobiography Adjunct: An Undigest has a this is what it's usually like feeling to me but is difficult to get hold of now. There's an extract and further information here. I also like his poetry pamphlet Factitious Airs which is £3 including postage from Zarf press: https://zarfpoetry.tumblr.com/pamphlets

You could also peruse or buy the issues of Callie Gardner's archived Zarf poetry journal.

Tao Lin is sometimes mentioned in relation to Sam Riviere whose poems I haven't read but it wouldn't be mad to think you might find some new poets you could like at Riviere's press If a Leaf Falls, which publishes small pamphlets 'with an emphasis on appropriative and procedural writing processes'. The pamphlets there are sold out limited editions, so you're looking for names and leads only, got that.

Five poems by Emily Critchley

Some Nina Mingya Powles poems

The cat part of Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno

Three part book starting I am in my mother's room.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2020, 07:06:46 PM »
There is also this e-book of short stories - http://www.bearparade.com/todaytheskyisblueandwhitewithbrightbluespotsandasmallpalemoonandiwilldestroyourrelationshiptoday/ - which I remember liking. And this one - http://www.bearparade.com/hikikomori/ - which I haven't read.

Thank you for all of the links. I appreciate it.

Twit 2

  • Thank God for the hatchery
Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2020, 12:34:01 AM »
Tao Lin is sometimes mentioned in relation to Sam Riviere

Sam Riviere’s poems are bollocks, or at least I intensely disliked them when I read “81 austerities”. My knee-jerk reaction was file it as Guardian-lifestyle-type  smug vacuousness. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing (UEA creative writing graduate, I think) but what he’s doing is shit.

I just read “Dolphins” by Tao Lin and now have a rash. I sorta see the Riviere comparison although his poems read as smug, Nathan Barley-esque stuff, whereas the Lin just feels twee. I suppose I should read some more to challenge/bolster my biases.

I’m all for a conversational tone and/or formal experimentation, but I’d rather it was done by someone like Alice Oswald:[1]


Maybe I’m just not a big fan of the less formal, more experimental American poetry. I like stuff like Frank O’Hara , CK Williams and WS Merwin, I love the avant-garde in general, big fan of Oulipo, Joyce, Beckett...but for some reason a lot of avant-garde poetry rubs me up the wrong way. I think I’m just fairly conservative when it comes to poetry. If I want a conversational tone I’ll read Mahon’s Yaddo Letter; if I want formal experimentation I’ll go for Apollinaire or Mallarme. I’m not sure I need stuff like “the language poets” in my life—it doesn’t seem to add enough to what was done over 100 years ago.

I mean, look at these re-imaginings of the Vowel Sonnet:

http://wagsrevue.com/Download/Issue_3/Voyelles.pdf

To me, they add nothing. A 15 year old 150 years ago already nailed it the first time round.

Ultimately what gets me going is arresting word choice married with expressive force of feeling, with form coming second. 

I dunno, it’s late and I’m too tired to explain myself properly. Great thread, though!
 1. I was walking in Suffolk on the Angles Way the other day and passed this outside someone’s house. They had a couple of poems on their fence for walkers to read. Good way to foist you tastes on people, and they had good taste.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 01:26:41 AM by Twit 2 »

Twit 2

  • Thank God for the hatchery
Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2020, 12:52:09 AM »
Double post, sorry.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2020, 11:47:24 AM »
Tao deserved better than this. For the love of God Twit 2.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2020, 01:12:23 PM »
After that brutal attack it is time to throw the Tao Lin.

Thomas Bernhard also uses 'simple language and repetition with a kind of spiraling, unpredictable momentum' in fictional rants, tirades, screeds, diatribes and you could even say harangues. And there is Replies from Views' YOU ABSOLUTELY HONK OF ERRANDS MATE.

I like the picture of Alice Oswald's poem on a fence.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2020, 03:34:55 PM »
Thomas Bernhard also uses 'simple language and repetition with a kind of spiraling, unpredictable momentum' in fictional rants, tirades, screeds, diatribes and you could even say harangues. And there is Replies from Views' YOU ABSOLUTELY HONK OF ERRANDS MATE.

Thank you again.

I notice you are no longer a slug-ridden cabbage. That is great to see.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2020, 05:31:29 PM »
wasn't this guy cancelled and accused of plagiarism? i can't remember any details or how true any of it was.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2020, 09:11:36 PM »
He was indeed. The article below details the accusations, but also gives a sense of how weirdly important Lin was believed to be a decade ago, voice of a generation blah blah kind of thing. Genuinely mystified as the best the links in the OP got out of me was a very muted chuckle.  I think literally every single poster on here is a better writer.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jakobmaier/what-are-we-to-make-of-tao-lins-comeback

Relly hate knocking someone else's thing, though, so apologies to Scarlet I.
Avant-garde writers using a blank and unliterary style is a totally legitimate thing, mind you. Whenever I see American writers using it I always suspect there is a subterranean, unconcious influence of Andy Warhol's public persona, and I tend to read stuff like this out loud doing an impression of him. I do think it's much better suited to prose, really, and I can't for the life of me imagine what Lin thinks the line breaks in his poems are doing.

Have a look at this novel by Lynn Tillman, Haunted Houses- she uses a similarly sparse prose style, but I think with greater effect because you get a greater sense of information and emotion been held back.
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JpjpMY5jdzkC&pg=PA3&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y

She was following a trail which had been laid by other writers, especially French ones like Nathalie Sarrute and Marguerite Duras. UK 60s novelists like Alex Trocchi and Ann Quin arealso worth a look.
Of current UK writers who persistently claimed their own avant garde credentials, Stewart Home and Tom McCarthy were for a time the most persistent, though both seem to have gone very quiet lately.

The OP and some of the links by Smeraldina and Twit2 to avant-garde writing are making me almost painfully nostalgic for a time when I genuinely thought that the stylistic conservatism of mainstream literature was one of the most pressing and serious problems in the world.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2020, 11:30:12 AM »
wasn't this guy cancelled and accused of plagiarism? i can't remember any details or how true any of it was.

This podcast might clear that up for you:

https://otherppl.com/tao-lin-mira-gonzalez-interview/


The OP and some of the links by Smeraldina and Twit2 to avant-garde writing are making me almost painfully nostalgic for a time when I genuinely thought that the stylistic conservatism of mainstream literature was one of the most pressing and serious problems in the world.

Thank you for the suggestions.

Are you saying that impending ecological catastrophe (among other things) is more important than how someone flings words into a sentence? Heathen! I hope you are ostracised for this.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2020, 09:53:52 AM »
I have a sore spot for writers who monetise sexual crimes they have committed, but I think it's due to my disavowal of being heavily into autobio comics back in my early 20s, such as Joe Matt and Chester Brown.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2020, 11:38:03 AM »
I remember being on the periphery of the online lit scene during the time when Tao Lin began to come into prominence. There was a UK group that were trying to build a name for themselves called The Brutalists that were also knocking about. I remember being very excited by it all, and hoping for a punk rock like movement that might grow.

In retrospect a lot of was quite empty and insubstantial. I think people who posted prose and poems were hoping either to be part of a Beat Generation 2.0 or in my case they might be an everyday genius like Bukowski.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2020, 11:48:23 AM »
I have a sore spot for writers who monetise sexual crimes they have committed, but I think it's due to my disavowal of being heavily into autobio comics back in my early 20s, such as Joe Matt and Chester Brown.

I have a 'sore spot' for people who don't care about the difference between 'accused' and 'guilty', including the article posted above which is flailing at the doorstep of journalism like a drunk who has lost their key.


From the article:

'In 2014, a year after the release of Taipei, Tao Lin was accused of statutory rape, emotional abuse, and plagiarism. The allegations stemmed from a year-long relationship he’d had in 2007; then, he was a rising 22-year-old NYC writer with an award-winning book of poems and a debut novel and short-story collection on the way, while the person who accused him was a 16-year-old aspiring writer in Pennsylvania...'

(I added bold)


Here is the definition of statutory rape:

'Sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.' Taken from here:

https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Statutory+Rape



Here is the age of consent in Pennsylvania:

'The Pennsylvania Age of Consent is 16 years old.' Taken from here:

https://www.ageofconsent.net/states/pennsylvania



According to the article they had sex in Pennsylvania.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 12:38:02 PM by Scarlet Intangible »

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2020, 02:02:25 PM »
I mean, first titling your novel 'Statutory Rape', featuring a protagonist based upon yourself and a secondary character based upon your ex-partner, using transcripts of conversations you had in which said character visits New York, where there are sexual interactions... and that the ex-partner accuses you of abuse at the time you were 16...

It's like before Louie C.K. admitted to his crimes and lots of C&Bers were confident he hadn't done the things he was accused of... if you situate yourself as an autobiographical writer, detail your sexual proclivities, and then others accuse you of the kind of thing you have spoken about in your autobiographical work...

Presumably you've read Richard Yates and take it to be a work of fiction, which his ex has since pretended was reality?

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2020, 02:34:14 PM »
if you situate yourself as an autobiographical writer, detail your sexual proclivities, and then others accuse you of the kind of thing you have spoken about in your autobiographical work...

NTBT

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2020, 02:36:16 PM »
NTBT

I make my money from reputable things like selling my old CDs to CEX.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2020, 02:43:24 PM »
Using the actual transcripts of conversations with his ex, who has accused him of abuse, and making money from them is serious dirtbaggery... since he is on record saying that his writing is autobiographical and he was going to call his autobiographical novel 'Statutory Rape', it's not as though the accusations seemingly appeared out of thin air like the ones against, say, Conor Oberst.

As said, I used to really respect the likes of Joe Matt and Chester Brown for the honesty of their work, but ultimately that was prizing aesthetics over ethics.

EDIT: That said, it could be the case that he's used his autobiography to make himself sound worse and more criminal than he is. I'm not calling for him to be immediately arrested, but I do think that the Buzzfeed article in correct in situating him alongside the likes of Aziz Ansari.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 02:59:33 PM by gout_pony »

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2020, 03:38:25 PM »
@gout_pony

Ok: I am too emotionally close to this to see it clearly right now, and replying to you with 4 hours sleep was stupid of me.

I'm sorry for the tone at the beginning of my post. I was, as they say, 'triggered'.

I don't know enough to be talking about this. I might be the drunk without a key. Off to the self-loathing shed I go.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2020, 04:20:51 PM »
No, absolutely fair - I've had my own relationship with a girl that begun around when she was turning 17 and I've written about it on here. I was a little younger than Tao Lin was (though not much) and I used to find a lot of solace in reading the likes of Lin (and, as mentioned, esp. autobio comics people like Joe Matt, Chester Brown, Ariel Schrag, David Heatley etc.) A decade or so later (and after the likes of Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari) I've become more convinced that semi-fictionalised confessions are a means by which men hide in plain sight while also assuaging their consciences. When they make a fair amount of money from this, it's even more galling.

I do think there's something particularly rum in Lin using actual chat transcripts from someone who feels victimised/abused by him... I think he has a certain knack for achieving a stylistic deadening of affect and I appreciate that he's bringing McKenna to people's attentions, but I also think he shares some of Lena Dunham's worse traits, but with less think pieces written about him.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2020, 08:30:28 AM »
I've listened to a bit of McKenna because of him, though I'm still self-medicating with Alan Watts and Ram Dass more. I find Ram Dass to be calming to listen to. He was a very charming speaker. I don't know what I think about McKenna just yet.

Re: Tao Lin
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2020, 10:10:01 AM »
McKenna's definitely worth perservering with!

Tags: