You are surrounded by those that you do not understand. They seem to speak your language. Their cultural norms are not so distinct from yours. They have less teeth, and less misgivings about food item choices. You assume. They have the right to bare arms. Their shirts have no sleeves. They have among them one shotgun and seven pistols. You are far away from the metropolis whose loving apathy you embrace, whose “challenges,” when surmounted, give you a sense of achievement. But this is no Diaspora, this is not a neighborhood that used to be cool, this is not a neighborhood that will soon become gentrified, this is not littered with history and/or black plastic bags. The ground here is often and shockingly unpaved. Your name is _______. And holy shit, you are in “Deliverance.” There is a river and a canoe. You have a brand new tent. You had that weird protein gel bar in lieu of breakfast. You never considered yourself an outdoorsy type. You are correct in this assumption. The canoe trip is the extension of a conversation you once had. It was always more about the idea of a canoe trip. For some reason, this time, you have decided to carry it through. The people that have surrounded you are not amused by your clever antics. They do not know who you are. They have all seen “Top Gun,” however. This has almost nothing to do with “Top Gun” except that it is framed on certain postwar American cultural assumptions. This is one way to look at “Top Gun”:
But so the people who have surrounded you have asked you to disrobe. They seem unconcerned with the perpetuation of stereotypes about rural white people. They have been in the woods a long time. They are not kidding. They will not sell you moonshine, _______, much as this might seem like a great beverage choice at the moment. They do not like “only Quentin Tarantino’s earlier films,” nor do they harbor much reverence for the references and clever quips and bad ass vintage soundtrack of his films. You are surrounded by those that you thought you understood, or that you specifically attempted to not understand. You are probably “so over” Tarantino, and have been for a very long time. You are probably high. The sound of water rushing over rocks is not soothing. The thrushes singing off in the distance are horrifying. You go back to your happy place, a warm happy time. Just relax,______, of course you like this song.
Is Tao Lin more like Paul McCartney or John Lennon? Does Tao work well in a group setting? How much for your cooperation? Will there be beverages provided? Is this a catered thing? What kind of Tao would you be? Navy or Marines Tao? Deep Space Tao or Cowboy Tao? Baby Tao or Golden Years Grandpa Tao? Does the camera flatter you? Wouldn’t you rather live in Philadelphia? Whose girl, Michael Jackson’s or Paul McCartney’s?
Who would win in a fight, the desert-island list of the five books you would take or that of Tao’s? Why the violence? Why the anger? Is this more jealousy or boredom? Could it be in equal measure? What is an equal measure in the world of Tao? Who is in charge here? Have you ever been to Philadelphia? What kind of Tao Lin reader are you: a Beatles or a Rolling Stones? A Tupac or a Biggie? When does the Dirty South get in the picture?
If you could have lunch with Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and Tao Lin would you order calimari to start with? Soup or salad? How about the entree? And the beverage pairing? What is a steak done “between medium and medium-rare”? Does Tao Lin eat meat? Does Tao Lin shop locally? If your carbon footprint is roughly a size 8, what is Tao Lin’s shoe-size? When did you give up and self-identify hipster? Are you still in hipster denial? Is Tao? What if (stage whisper) you don’t know?
This is a stunt. This is the product of 10+ years of undedicated meandering, of little circles inside of larger ones which will soon be swallowed up by a quadrangle that resembles a square. Or an i-pad. Or a Kindle. This is the eruption of post college dreams. This is a blatant and craven attempt to suck on the blood of the thriving. This is a cure for anemia. I don’t know Tao Lin, but he is very photogenic. I have not read “Richard Yates,” nor “Shoplifting from American Apparel” and I don’t know a thing about “eee eee eee” (sp?), but I know from photogenic. This is by no means an attack on anyone named Tao Lin. This is merely the proof of a kind of law of averages. Tao Lin is successful in the literary community: I am not. Tao Lin is one of the bigger fish that swallow up the littler fish, and thus serves as evidence of certain Darwinian notions. I hope to be such a fish which is to say I hope to feed Tao Lin temporarily while becoming a kind of parasite. I need to get glasses in the shape of Tao Lin. I probably need to write about sexually explicit and therefore exciting or at least entertaining topics. I need to record every g-chat that I’ve never had, to save pertinent and or amusing e-mail exchanges so that I can turn them into literary gold. This will not be polished. This will have rough edges standing in for the immediacy that stands in for relevance. This will not, in any way, be the representation of actual “feelings,” “emotions,” or even “opinions.” The former two I fried in the late 90’s high on MDMA. Perhaps this is what I have in common with Tao. “Serotonin is best served chill-out, on a bed of bass blasting sub-woofers,” he might tell me, except I highly doubt we will ever meet, or that he would use that kind of imagery. I doubt Mr. Lin likes electronic music from the late 90’s. I doubt that I do. There was this one time that I wore ridiculously over-sized Kikwear pants in an attempt to better fit into the love puddle. “How are you doing?” I asked a friend in the Jungle Room. “Ecstasy,” she replied, sincerely exalted.