The bizarro world has been abuzz today as several authors are claiming to be the author of a new book called The Secret Diary of a Soundcloud Rapper. The book’s webpage calls its author a performance artist, which would indicate that this is likely an orchestrated media stunt. If it is, it’s working. People are talking, and generally confused.
Nowadays it’s very difficult to get anyone to give a fuck about a book. This is a clever and inventive way of getting fucks from people who give zero. I’m writing a blog post about this phenomenon and I normally don’t care about anything. I may even buy the book if I get some cash.
I don’t have the patience nor the inclination to go through all of the posts about this book and varying authors claiming its authorship. I’m not a journalist and this isn’t fucking buzzfeed. I just thought this was funny and decided to point it out.
People who read the manuscript for my latest book urged me to send it to publishers. I got a great response from everyone who read it. I appreciated the feedback, but I didn’t want to send it to publishers. I wanted to put it out for free, and I want to spend a little time explaining why I did this.
The state of small publishers in literary fiction is depressing. There are very few publishers willing to take chances on new work, let alone experimental work. They publish what’s safe. It’s the same tired Iowa School banality. And this is out of necessity because publishing books can be very expensive. Known properties sell better. It just makes economic sense.
My book doesn’t make economic sense. It’s fun, sure, but it’s also weird as fuck and pretty gross in places. I don’t have a huge following on social media. I am not a known quantity. I could guarantee the sale of maybe 10 books, honestly.
Some people say you should write to sell. I want to write what I would write if there were no more need for money. My truest words rising above the mire of toil. What would that look like?
We all think in market terms. We’re forced to do so. Survival depends on our ability to make commodities of our labor and artisanal output. If you think this doesn’t affect art you’re kidding yourself.
So I decided to make my book free through gumroad so I could be unbeholden to market demands. I’m aware that the book itself is still a commodity, and that, yes, I am still very preoccupied with its proliferation. But at least in this context I lose nothing by being as weird as I want to be.
Gumroad is free. This blog is free. And my book is free. I break even no matter how many books I sell. I love this freedom. I can see all my future books being released in this way. I make money by getting subscriptions to exclusive content, also through gumroad. So far only one person has signed up for it. But hey, it’s all gravy to me.
How many brilliant movies and stories and poems and paintings are out there that you will never get to see because they’re not commercially viable? It’s time we pull away from the grand arbiters of capital and create our own futures. That’s what I’m aiming to do, and I urge you to do the same.
We all know it. The internet is making us all go insane. And what’s worse is that it’s boring.
I’m going to try not to nostalgize the web 1.0. Back when AOL disks were sent to your mailbox every week, it wasn’t much better than it is now. But back then there was a sense of possibility. There was a brand new sheen to the experience. Now the winners of the internet have been picked and it wasn’t you or me. And even the winners feel a drawn out slogging grind, slaves to the algorithm — that elusive code that makes and breaks people’s lives.
Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day watching YouTube. It seemed like every video I saw was in some way altered to avoid demonetization. And every other video had the host complaining about how the YouTube algorithm is fucking with their creative vision to some degree. (Also, YouTubers complaining about YouTubers is huge genre right now. But that’s another post altogether.)
Twitter is where you go when you want to scream into the void. Or maybe you have a lot of followers, in which case you can only hope to get a braying mob from one side or the other of the Culture War to yell at you.
Tumblr is probably the worst place on the internet, where smug, self-satisfied basement trolls jerk each other off in a long daisy chain of uneducated social justice learned from memes.
Facebook seems tired these days. Worn out by the pandemic, there are a few emphatic posters, and everyone else is just sick of it.
Nobody goes on LinkedIn except for the most psychotic careerists. So no need to explore that any further.
I have no idea what happens on TikTok. I presume it’s a series of cults, if YouTube’s reporting is accurate.
Finally, there is a flattening of blogs. If you watch any video on how to write a blog it’s a soul-crushing affair. Here’s how to write things that will sell. Here’s how you make your content as banal as possible to reach the widest audience. And yes, folks gotta eat. I get that. But there was a time on the internet when folks could eat off of new and original content that was built from the passions in the bellies of the creators.
Look at it this way: when was the last time you saw a really great meme? When did you last read a blog post or watch a video that truly challenged you; challenged the way you think and the way you look at the world? I’m willing to put down money that it’s been a minute.
I think the main difference between this era and the era of web 1.0 is that now a lot of paychecks are on the line. What you create and how you bend it to audiences and algorithms determines a lot of people’s rent payments now. Whereas before the majority of people had offline jobs and would only come to the internet to fuck around and pursue passions.
So what’s the solution? I’m tempted to say we should scrap the whole project and start over. But the material conditions of our world dictate that we have to keep going online. Perhaps the first step is recognizing that this sucks. This is not even close to the utopia envisioned. It’s actually a pretty dark state of affairs. And from that despair we can envision and enact a new world of possibility.
on a very special episode Al Bundy raises his hand in anger against an uncaring god. we are in the Bundy house and there is a wrestling ring in place of the couch. Hulk Hogan appears to great applause as the audience, drunk on their own power, hoot like Arsenio Hall. The Hulk climbs the ropes of the ring and pile drives into a giant Big Mac, spray its contents into the crowd. the camera is covered in grease and the crowd licks all the special sauce from their faces. the twin towers stand intact. Steve Urkel does The Carlton. Stefan Urquelle does The Bartman.
now Al and Peggy are in the kitchen trading barbs. he says, “i hate my life.” she says, “i hate your life too.” they say this to each other every 30 seconds.
there’s a commotion in the backyard. santa has jumped from a plane and landed in the yard. every day santa dies here. this is when Al has to put on the santa costume–now more a uniform–and do his hohohos for the audience. the blood-splattered costume is ill-fitting. He goes to the audience and asks, “what do you want for christmas little audience.”
the audience always says the same thing. in unison they say, “we want to be real. we want to matter in your world.” but the audience is always naughty and they never get what they want and the twin towers stand intact.
People always ask me, “Marty, you’re so great at writing books. How can I write books like you?” And the answer is simple. Write poetry in obscurity for 20 years. Do lots of amphetamines in libraries. Fuck at least 40 people and make sure they’re not all the same gender. Be homeless for a while. Fill your head with torment and decay. Read the weirdest shit you can find. Alternate between William Burroughs and Finnegans Wake when you can’t find anything weirder. Get your heart broken several times. Do enough hallucinogens to change your gender. Be tormented by your past. Watch everything that interests you. Fall asleep to the drone of the television. Make sure your list of enemies is longer than your list of friends. Eat lots of pussy. Fuck the world. Love everything.
Useless blogs have gone the way of Geocities sites. Nobody wants to read them. Everybody wants niche and informative content. I don’t care enough about any one thing enough to blog in a niche, and writing informative content makes me want to flay my own skin.
So I’m making a useless blog anyway because I think that some folks still want to read them, and I needed a new way to get people to download my book. It’s a really good book and everyone over the age of 18 should read it.
In this useless blog I intend to review movies and books, talk about random shit in my life, and generally waste people’s time. It should be fun. And if it’s not fun I’ll stop doing it. That’s the Marty Shambles guarantee.