A cow covered with hundreds of mouth-like lesions each containing a tongue that lovingly licks my ear - tells me all the black lies I desperately want to hear; a massive udder with hundreds of mottled leathery teats and I suck the sour milk. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Nowadays, we ignore good poetry and bad poetry is all we read. Which is great news! Because based on the time and energy we Facebook friends have devoted to pummeling this wretched rhyming piece, insipid drivel must be the last evil thing to walk the world. Congratulations to us! We have saved humanity (as I knew we would) with our sarcasm and snide tweets. Such a preening and sanctimonious fixation on bursting this quivering bubble of buffoonery tells me snowcaps have reappeared on mountaintops and polar bears sit on new icebergs merrily munching seals, liars have recanted and corrected the record, dictators have restored freedoms and retired, torturers have questioned career choices and quit, pedophile priests have been put in prison and the Vatican has sold its gold for Bitcoin to compensate the unfortunate children it allowed to be raped. So having saved the world from every evil but one, we can now dedicate our capricious communal scorn to crushing this thin, gasping thing. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
If you are a prominent person with a large social media presence and you excel at one thing (for example, acting, sports, shamelessness, or being born into extreme luxury), I would like to suggest that you don’t need to comment on everything. You don’t need to wait until you are dead or arrested to exercise your right to remain silent.
Let’s pretend you are a major sports star, and you intentionally misled millions of people about whether you have been vaccinated or not. You should remain silent after losing a play-off game. If you are incapable of doing that, you should at least not complain about how people are angry with you and how some of them are happy you lost. People get angry when they are lied to.
Or let’s pretend you disagree with someone about whether vaccines are effective. You should not call that person a Nazi or compare how you are being treated to the Holocaust. Here are 3 rules that may be helpful to you:
Do not call people Nazis unless they voluntarily dress in Nazi paraphernalia. Even then ask yourself – are they performing in a revival of The Sound of Music? If so, they still may not be Nazis regardless of how they are dressed.
Do not say your situation is like the Holocaust, unless you are being starved and tortured in a concentration camp.
Use your words wisely. Ask yourself – if I were to die tomorrow, are these the last words I would want to be remembered by?
See you soon.
Raven Breathless (fka Death), Senior Human Rights Correspondent
About a quarter into Patricia Lockwood’s No One is Talking About This , a character declares “[y]our attention is holy.” This is true, but it doesn’t seem like it in the portal – Ms. Lockwood’s term for the internet. That’s because everyday your “attention must turn, like the shine on a school of fish, all at once, toward a new person to hate. Sometimes the subject was a war criminal, but other times it was someone who made a heinous substitution in guacamole.” This is among the most apt and poetic descriptions of the internet. And the first half of this thoughtful and engaging story examines the internet’s weird vagaries and addictive adrenaline. And at times you will think you are reading poetry.
The main character, who is never named, is a woman who became famous in the portal (a “communal stream-of-consciousness”) for a single five-word post. After it went Corona-viral, people from all over the world invite her to lecture about the “new communication.” Frequently, her comments are inane, but so is the portal – so it works. She travels everywhere, shares bizarre opinions about everything, and because the world is connected, her name (whatever it is – perhaps it doesn’t matter) is now recognized everywhere. Still, oddly, she feels disconnected. “This did not feel like real life, exactly, but nowadays what did?” It brings her to that universal question asked by anyone who has been on social media for more than one hour straight. Have I been wasting my time? Probably, but let’s see what Twitter has to say about that.
Reality (in the form of a text from her mother – because reality these days always arrives as a text from your mother) soon intrudes on virtual reality. Her mother writes “[s]omething has gone wrong . . . How soon can you get here?” Suddenly, our nameless expert on everything is jolted out of the portal. “She fell heavily out of the broad warm us, out of the story that had seemed, up till the very last minute, to require her perpetual co-writing.”
Indeed, something has gone dreadfully wrong. Her pregnant sister learns that her baby has a rare disease and will probably die in the womb – which also puts her sister’s life in danger. Against all odds, the baby and mother survive the birth, but everyday thereafter the baby’s survival is at risk. So what’s more real than the portal/internet? A baby with a congenital disease. And no one in the real or virtual world (is there a difference?) is talking about it.
The baby now has the nameless aunt’s whole (and holy) attention. “Through the membrane of a white hospital wall she could feel the thump of the life that went on without her, the hugeness of the arguments about whether you could say the word retard on a podcast. She laid her hand against the white wall and the heart beat, strong and striding, even healthy. But she was no longer in that body.” Eventually, the issue of whether the baby will survive is resolved. Then, gradually, the connected world calls our nameless friend back. But how connected is she to it now?
The internet says Patricia Lockwood is a poet, and the internet gets that one right. Her metaphors throughout are incisive and wondrous. Her style is a choppy stream-of-consciousness that would give James Joyce a happy little boner. The style suits an examination of social media’s impact on society. This is a poetic novella filled with humor and sadness. It is a smudge-free mirror reflecting what passes for real life these days.
Thank you for reading. Your attention is holy.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor