Fans of Tao Lin, Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Ayn Rand, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Nietzsche would enjoy this podcast. It is a live recording of the meetup of the Austin Writing Workshop held on August 1, 2014 in weird and sunny Austin, Texas. Included is an excerpt from the short story, “Sex After Not Seeing Each Other For a Few Days” by Tao Lin. As a new member of the AWW recently stated: “This is a refreshingly warm and intelligent group of people with whom to geek the f* out on literature. Hoo-ray, I say!” Hoo-ray, indeed.
Timestamps for the podcast, with details about the far-ranging discussion:
0:00 Excerpt from “Sex After Not Seeing Each Other for a Few Days” by Tao Lin
0:53 Frank’s introduction to the podcast
3:26 Austin Writing Workshop general discussion of literary techniques, including character empathy and/or sympathy, junk writing, character morals, voice, liking characters, clinical definitions of empathy and sympathy, vicarious experiences, porn, Anais Nin as a cross-over, Tao Lin, the subjective interpretation of literary techniques, Tao Lin’s literary success, the momentum of success, judgment of art including inertia and authority (“Ways (Methods) of Knowing” by C.S. Peirce, a.k.a. “The Fixation of Belief”), rational inquiry, Ayn Rand and objective principles, Jenny McCarthy and the vaccination debate in American society, philosophy and literature, Milan Kundera, Immanuel Kant, Freidrich Nietzsche, master and slave mentality as outlined by Nietzsche, subjectivism as a school defined by Kant, science feeding into philosophy, Newtonian physics and modernism, writing by objective rules as opposed to subjective opinions, a priori rules, Ayn Rand’s categorization of types of people and how they function, Frank’s presence at the meeting with 4 women as the uber-mensch [comedic], absurd characters and their storytelling purpose, the core (through-line coherency) of a story and its relation to theme, Story Bibles, hierarchical levels of thematic storytelling, plotless stories as a part of postmodernism, the movies “Inception” and “The Matrix” and how they use postmodern storytelling techniques, Jose Saramaggio, Dean Koontz, James Patterson.
37:18 AWW group analysis of “Sex After Not Seeing Each Other for a Few Days” by Tao Lin, including migraines caused by literature, pointless porn, symbolism, the absence of traditional romantic language in the story, unique descriptions, story likeability, the profane and the divine, lack of personal connection between two remote people, comparison to abstract art, non-sexiness of a sex story (as opposed to the colorful style of Henry Miller), Erica Jong, The Guardian’s description of the duality of Tao Lin as a literary artist, upside-down lawnmowers with poop coming out of them, lack of literary technique, erotica, porn without the porn, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the impotence of trying to deconstruct this story, Jacques Derrida, the story being a passionate argument against metaphysics, the story as an argument for the power of the present moment, solipsism, bare-bones descriptions as a technique, draining the color out of life, the movie “Side Effects,” Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, the absence of the soul, the societal meaning of the story, the descriptive sentences as a contrast to the otherwise plain language, Paul Auster, the marketing of Tao Lin, Tao Lin as the Andy Kaufman of the literary world, Milos Foreman and “The Man On The Moon,” Larry Flynt and free speech, Bob Dylan as a fake protestor, Rimbaud, and Balzac.
1:07:10 AWW group analysis of “Plea Deal” by Frank Marcopolos, including investment in the story and empathy for the main character, epistemological themes of knowing who we are with regard to epigenetics and the environment of a person’s upbringing, symbolism of the ending of the story, the humorous nature of the story and how clever the story is, level of reader engagement with the story, resonance with David Foster Wallace’s style, Determinism and the concept of Free Will, the “coolness” of the story, the fun-house mirror technique, authenticity of the language of the lawyer’s letter which prefaces the story, first drafts as opposed to edited drafts as they pertain to critiques in the workshop, Forest Whitaker, circumcision and the proportion of its effect on the human mind and how that manifests as a resonant detail in the story, and Kevin Sussman’s acting ability.
1:35:51 AWW group analysis of the movie “White Palace,” including a comparison of the book and the movie, viewing it as a postmodern love story, comparison to “Pretty Woman” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Cinderella” and “Too Beautiful for You,” “Memento” as a postmodern love story, more comparisons with the book version by Glenn Savan, anti-romance, the mistake of casting Susan Sarandon, stand-out absurdist characters, comparison to “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the smell of a White Castle and its relationship to Love, the attractiveness of dirty women and nastiness in general, imposing your stink on people, Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, and the valley of ashes and the wasteland.
2:00:44 End of Podcast
The Tao Lin story can be read here.