Curating Your Future Legend

When you’re famous, you want your ex-friends to tell the press, “I always knew she had the light of genius glimmering beneath her skin like final couplet of that Neruda poem, “Ode to a Beautiful Nude,” that she loved so well oh and also Neruda wrote that poem for her.” You don’t want your ex-friends to go on record saying, “I dunno, she seemed pretty ordinary to me…” or even worse, “Who?”

If you’re planning to be famous, you need to start curating your future legend NOW. Every second you sit at a coffee shop hoping that genius will strike through something as petty as “art” is another second that you look ordinary, forgettable, and completely sane. Be sure to utilize these incendiary techniques every time you run into a fairly articulate acquaintance who may one day be giving an interview about–who else?–YOU:

  1. Never make eye contact. Always look slightly above everybody’s heads, and make sure your eyes grow misty and far-reaching. After all, you’re staring into the realm of genius—or is that the infinite abyss? Only you know for sure.
  2. When asked, “How are you?” make sure your response contains a) something controversial about art and b) a foreign word. Example: “Sturm und drang, James Joyce was a woman!”
  3. If you run into an acquaintance on the street, say breathlessly (before they have a chance to greet you), “Can’t talk now, I’ve been writing the last chapter of my novel in my head for the past 3 hours and I must get it down on paper.” Then mime using a typewriter or a quill pen and shout something mysterious and irrelevant like “Shark moon!” It’s great publicity and you’ll sound like a mad poet.
  4. Don’t dance like nobody’s watching. Dance like EVERYBODY’S watching.
  5. Never underestimate the power of quirky makeup.
  6. Pepper your conversation with confusing anecdotes featuring common first names. Example: “James and I were down at the fishing hole talking about quarks the other day…” People will wonder which James you mean. James Smith? James Franco? JAMES JOYCE?
  7. Wave people away impatiently. Then mime using a typewriter again.
  8. When attending any sort of public artistic performance (concerts, plays, movies), yawn a lot, look aimlessly around the theater, and write furiously in a Moleskine. It’s very important that you do not support any other art form. This is a dying economy, people! EAT OR BE EATEN.
  9. Sing in the shower. Have a microphone installed in your shower.
  10. You’re not a poet, a dancer, a scuptor. Genres are so passe. Only refer to your “art” and your “craft.” Threaten to feature people in your “art.” But use a really neutral voice so they don’t know if it’s a compliment or an insult. Then whisper, “I love to capture people at their most vulnerable,” and mime using a videocamera.
  11. Draw furiously on the tablecloth. Then continue drawing on your date’s face. Then gaze across the restaurant, lock eyes with a beautiful woman, and rush over to her, abandoning your date and crying, “The search for loveliness is neverending!”
  12. Fling yourself onto EVERY CHAISE LOUNGE YOU SEE. This one is not optional.

GUEST POST: Dreams of Fascism

Meriwether Clarke possesses a stream of husbands longer than the Nile and a laugh as maniacal as Mrs. Rochester’s. When she’s not luring men into her den of iniquity by playing the Goldberg variations on her electric keyboard, she’s busy buying things for her favorite sister-wife and keeping up a passionate correspondence with her internet lover, Huevos Rancheros. When asked for a comment, she replied, “My favorite activities are crushing ice with my bare feet, looking at trees, taking down people I hate, and arguing with Zalman.”

When in sticky situations, I’ve started asking myself, “What would a fascist do?”

Fascism gets a pretty bad rap, thanks to losers like Hitler and Mussolini. What most don’t know is that the vast amount of writers in the English literary canon were also secret fascists. Why? Because they envisioned a world where people got what they deserved. Imagine if Donald Trump existed in Jane Austen’s fictional world. He would NOT have been given his own TV show. He WOULD have been laughed out of Pemberley and forced to work as a wigmaker in the Liverpoolian slums.

The general tenets of my ideal fascist society include the following:

1. If you are selfish, it is against the law for people to be nice to you.

2. It is illegal for anyone to reach their thirtieth birthday without reading the complete works of Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen.

3. As a result of this social conditioning, people will want to dress well, will always have interesting conversations, will give money to people who need it, and will be nice to their children.

4. As a result, prisons will not be filled with murderers, but instead with people who don’t like to read and enjoy doing things like, if I may borrow a phrase from Tori’s latest blog post, “Thirsty Thursdays.”

5. Prisons will not include mandatory physical labor, but instead will re-educate inmates through an intense, humanities-heavy courseload taught by leading academics.

Seriously though, IT IS TIME FOR THE HUMAN RACE to be held accountable. I get that none of this really makes sense in a realistic way, but whatever, I’m still working out the kinks.

Since I’m in the mood to talk about myself, let’s think of a few examples of how my life would improve if fascism were the order of the day:

1. I would NEVER have to use Herbal Essences again. It would be perfectly appropriate to go into CVS grab all the Biolage on their shelves and say, “This is mine! I will blaspheme you in my fascist newspaper and saber you to death if you do not consent.” There would be none of this BS with the police. Why? Because the police would simply be part of my giant fascist army. Okay, this one is a stretch. If I really were a fascist dictator, I would never have to shop in CVS again.

2. At work, when people are rude to me, I could just refuse to speak to them. If they appear disgruntled, I could have one of my minions explain to them that in fascist utopia, when you are rude to people, they are rude to you.

3. It would be perfectly acceptable to approach someone on the street and say, “I saw you be mean to your child, I am reporting you to the police.” Then they would promptly be arrested, quizzed on Foucault and be placed in the according prison re-education level.

I’m working on my real manifesto, so be prepared to join the world’s least popular new political movement very very soon.

GUEST POST: Accessing the Connective Teat

Ashley Keyser is a poet and fellow child-hater living in the cozy Midwestern state of Ukraine. She spends her time stroking the faces of total strangers with her icy, trembling fingers, while hissing, We cannot know his legendary head/with eyes like ripening fruit. Read all about Ashley’s surreal experiences in Ukraine at her blog, beets & the bluestocking. Since she is writing for my blog, does that mean I’m famous? I paid her four imaginary dollars per very real word.

O reader, how can I connect with you? Even in real life, the life that should feel real, but doesn’t, I struggle. Whenever I cup the faces of my casual acquaintances between my palms, my eyes probing the depths of their souls, they shrink back, as if human touch burns them! Even if I dare to run my fingers gently through their hair, they can’t seem to respond to my loving energy. Rejection has embittered me. Unable to taste the sweet fruits of life, I choke on the nausea and horror of existence.

Last night, as I sipped meditatively from a cardboard box of wine, scribbling poetry with my own blood, I considered my plight. A tremulous sigh escaped my wine-purpled lips as I wondered in despair: Is there any way to truly suck at the teat of humanity and drink the milk of our shared experience?

Alas, many forms of human interaction really are just so, so stupid. For example, games. Even the idea of games fill me again with nausea and horror. For this I blame my mother, who made my little brother and me play this game called Cranium for hours when we were kids. Cranium is the most obnoxious game ever! It’s like your frenemy from college who makes you listen to her play ukulele while she poetry-slams at you in French: Cranium screams, “Look at how creative I am!!!” Playing this game is a dizzying whirlwind of doodling, pantomime, molding Play-Doh into whimsical shapes, making animal noises, and other very self-consciously creative activities. This made me, as an aspiring creative person, very anxious and insecure about my own creativity. Also, I hate poetry slams.

I do not, however, hate Bananagrams. Actually I love Bananagrams, and for many reasons. One is that its name is a type of wordplay about wordplay, which is kind of a Borges-esque mindfuck, and two is that its Scrabble-like letter tiles come in a bag shaped like a banana. But the best thing about Bananagrams is that it involves togetherness, yet zero teamwork. The words I make are dependent on no one else’s words. I can just sit quietly and make words while my friends sit quietly and make words, and our words connect only with themselves. In this way, Bananagrams is a metaphor for all language, a stream of empty signifiers pointing only to other empty signifiers. Bananagrams is my favorite game.

Spin-the-bottle is also my favorite game. I love anything that sanctions my touching people, especially people whom I only kind-of know, especially with my mouth. Recently I introduced Spin-the-bottle to a roomful of gay men, and by the end of it, they all wanted to kiss me, even though I do not have a penis! I take this as a victory not only for myself, but for all womankind.

And now comes my master plan for hardcore human connection: What if we combined Spin-the-Bottle with Bananagrams into one perfect, orgiastic game of kissing and wordplay? As I settled into a boxed-wine-inspired haze, I entertained vague fantasies of limbs snaking through letter tiles to intertwine—the tiles, spelled out in forms of an erotic lexicon (for example, “teat”), go flying as bodies sprawl against each other.

But at what point in Bananagrams could we introduce kissing? Perhaps one could use it as a tactic to slow down opponents; no one can concentrate with a mouth FULL OF MY TONGUE. Or perhaps whoever comes up with the most words gets to choose whom to kiss (potentially unfair, seeing as I would obviously get all the kisses).

I’m still not totally sure how this will work. What do you think, reader? In my arranging and re-arranging of words, have you, too, felt the tremors of desire? Perhaps in the soft breath of wind through your hair, you’ll feel my caresses. Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere with my Banagrams waiting for you.

AK