Jonathan Franzen – You’re About To Get Served!

June 16, 2011

First, thank you for all the birthday wishes that many of you left/gave me. And to all those that kept their birthday wishes in their head, but then fed them to me telepathically or waited for me to visit them when I astrally project at night and race around the continents of Earth visiting each and every one of you like a sarcastic Santa with no presents except for scathing reviews of Jonathan Franzen’s op-ed pieces in the New York Times.

Anyway, thank you.

Secondly, I read this article when I was out in Las Vegas and bookmarked this bitch for a later date. Today is that date. I think it actually is more appropriate now because of yesterday and my interaction with Facebook as well as his discussion on technology because I also received a new piece of technology yesterday. Why am I ruining my own responses that will happen momentarily – I have no idea.

This is an op-ed piece from the NY Times as mentioned from renowned author and grumpy mcgrump Jonathan Franzen. His comments are in bold and mine are in this.

Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.

Published: May 28, 2011

“Go for what hurts”? Anal? Is that anal?

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I replaced my three-year-old BlackBerry Pearl with a much more powerful BlackBerry Bold. Needless to say, I was impressed with how far the technology had advanced in three years. Even when I didn’t have anybody to call or text or e-mail, I wanted to keep fondling my new Bold and experiencing the marvelous clarity of its screen, the silky action of its track pad, the shocking speed of its responses, the beguiling elegance of its graphics.

iPhone 4, motherfucker. Blackberry Bold? Pfffftttt… I’m molesting my iPhone 4, suckah. That was a birthday present. I had the iPhone 3G and now I’m running on 4. I can immediately say the battery life is grossly better. It does move much faster and load programs quicker and all that. Plus it went from an 8gb to a 16gb, so I can pack even more Ke$ha and La Roux on that gadget.

I was, in short, infatuated with my new device. I’d been similarly infatuated with my old device, of course; but over the years the bloom had faded from our relationship. I’d developed trust issues with my Pearl, accountability issues, compatibility issues and even, toward the end, some doubts about my Pearl’s very sanity, until I’d finally had to admit to myself that I’d outgrown the relationship.

Classic male, am I right? Issues? More like you just wanted to stick your fingers in and on a newer and younger “device” and ditch your older, but faithfully loyal “device”. I think Mr. Franzen is a commitment-phobe.

Do I need to point out that — absent some wild, anthropomorphizing projection in which my old BlackBerry felt sad about the waning of my love for it — our relationship was entirely one-sided? Let me point it out anyway.

Let me further point out how ubiquitously the word “sexy” is used to describe late-model gadgets; and how the extremely cool things that we can do now with these gadgets — like impelling them to action with voice commands, or doing that spreading-the-fingers iPhone thing that makes images get bigger — would have looked, to people a hundred years ago, like a magician’s incantations, a magician’s hand gestures; and how, when we want to describe an erotic relationship that’s working perfectly, we speak, indeed, of magic.

So let me say “sexy” and then “magic” and then let me say that isn’t that what people say “sexy” and “magic” because I did just say that?! The word “sexy” is used to describe pieces of technology. Generally, “sexy” follows “sleek”. It is alliterative. The new Lexus is sleek and sexy. It flows. It makes sense because you are using the term “sexy” to answer for “exciting” and “attractive”. It’s a good looking car that is new and looks like it could do just about anything, so in a word there is a “sexy” element there. The funny thing is we rarely refer to people as sleek before or after their sexiness.

As for the person from a hundred years ago, well yes they would probably try to kill me with a pocket knife between the ribs after showing them “Angry Birds” on the iPhone.

Let me toss out the idea that, as our markets discover and respond to what consumers most want, our technology has become extremely adept at creating products that correspond to our fantasy ideal of an erotic relationship, in which the beloved object asks for nothing and gives everything, instantly, and makes us feel all powerful, and doesn’t throw terrible scenes when it’s replaced by an even sexier object and is consigned to a drawer.

First, you should recycle that old device instead of just putting it in a drawer in some desk. Later, Franzen talks about the environment for no apparent reason and as the so-called environmentalist he is he should know to recycle the phones either to have them properly destroyed or give them to Salvation Army type of recycling for people who would still think a Blackberry Pearl is sexy.

Second, I think you can already see where Franzen is going with this. *Tarzan voice* Technology BAD. Us love technology BADDER! *normal voice* He’s made a pretty big leap in logic here to set up his later points. Technology is a soulless piece of material that we as souled humans are supposed to use to make tasks easier. Anything beyond that is kind of reaching. At no point has any human in history made a hammer and then either wished for that hammer to ask for something in return for doing its hammerly duty or has anyone using a hammer thought to themselves “I have the fantasy ideal of an erotic relationship with this hammer because it works and doesn’t ask anything back!”

Third, check for any former Franzen flames in his drawers. He may have stuffed an ex-wife or three into them.

To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.

Hey-yo! Look at the big brain on Franzen! A minute ago he was talking about buying a new cellphone and now “telos of techne”! If I had a heavy metal band that was comprised of fellow IT co-workers our band would certainly be named “Telos of Techne”.

Let me suggest, finally, that the world of techno-consumerism is therefore troubled by real love, and that it has no choice but to trouble love in turn.

Uhhhh… and so it truly begins. Franzen’s almost insultingly useless diatribe against technology begins.

Its first line of defense is to commodify its enemy. You can all supply your own favorite, most nauseating examples of the commodification of love. Mine include the wedding industry, TV ads that feature cute young children or the giving of automobiles as Christmas presents, and the particularly grotesque equation of diamond jewelry with everlasting devotion. The message, in each case, is that if you love somebody you should buy stuff.

And on the first day Franzen breathed into the nostrils of his mud people arguments and they came to life!

I do dislike those commercials although I would love to know how he would suggest they go about selling their product. Most products in this world are not something we NEED for sustaining life, so you have to convince someone they do need it. One good reason to convince someone to buy something is that if you buy it and then give them it then they’ll want to give you BJs forever because of it. That’s a great reason. Hey honey, remember when I bought you that Mercedes-Benz for Christmas 10 years ago with the big floppy red bow on top and everyone in the neighborhood was jealous and still are? You do remember… ok good because I have a boner right now and I would love for you to touch it. Just saying when you get a chance.

A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb “to like” from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse, from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture’s substitute for loving. The striking thing about all consumer products — and none more so than electronic devices and applications — is that they’re designed to be immensely likable. This is, in fact, the definition of a consumer product, in contrast to the product that is simply itself and whose makers aren’t fixated on your liking it. (I’m thinking here of jet engines, laboratory equipment, serious art and literature.)

Errrrr… Uhhhhh… WHAT?!

This is the first paragraph where Franzen gets really to the point of this article… well that’s not true either. The point of this article is two fold. The first is him not “liking” the “like” button of Facebook. The second is him telling us about how he loves to be a bird watcher – truthfully we’ll get to that. But first…

First, oh the EVIL intentions of the “like” button of Facebook. If you are sitting around day and night wondering about the ulterior motives of the “like” button then you truly have way too much time on your hands and have accounted for less in life than you should have. That is IDIOCY. The “like” button?! Oh man, at the very worst the “like” button is a nuisance. It is stupid that we have pages of Facebook dedicated to “music”. MUSIC?! Just the idea of MUSIC?! I’m not going to patronize you or myself and actually click “like” on MUSIC because of FUCKING course I like music. I LOVE MUSIC. People who don’t have serious deranged mental issues. It is music for fuck’s sake. Now, do I “like” the band The Toadies? Yes, why yes I do. I do “like” them. To actually say I “love” The Toadies may be truthful, but in a completely different argument one could say we as a society overuse the word “love”. I love The Toadies? What does that mean? I have never met the band nor do I care to. I own their albums and have listened to them and thoroughly enjoyed them time and time again, but I have no connection to the people who made those albums anymore than I do with the bands of albums I don’t like nearly half as much or not at all. Every time I hear the song “Tyler” or “Possum Kingdom” I still get chills even though I’ve heard them both a million times and if I found one of the guys from The Toadies in life and told them that they would nod thoughtfully and say “thanks” and that’s probably about it, so “love” is probably a strong word. One could go on and on about what the real implications of the word “love” are and how it is thoroughly incorrect to associate that to an intangible 4 minute rock song about a murderer chasing a girl like in an 90’s horror slasher.

Second, the “like” button is shorthand. I’m not a lover of the like, but I understand its place. People would like feedback in this world when they decide to put something forth and on the other hand some people don’t want to dedicate an entire full thought to the comment outside of saying, “Yeah, I liked that”. And in that case, the like button works. You liked it. Did you love it? Who cares?

Third, “jet engines, laboratory equipment, serious art and literature“? These things are consumer products that do not need to be liked? I would say that most consumers out there do not have the money or the place for a JET ENGINE, so let’s not discuss that one. As for laboratory equipment, I would say the same thing, but for people who are procuring lab equipment and jet engines they certainly “like” some over others. And “serious art” and “literature” or “serious art and literature” don’t need to be liked? Oh right, you wrote the word “serious” in front of it and that means they have shields to the critics! Franzen believes he writes “serious literature”, so he needs not to be liked. Franzen is a pompous dickhole. If Franzen was not liked to some degree he would not have the time or place to write this idiocy about not needing to be liked.

But if you consider this in human terms, and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist — a person who can’t tolerate the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likable.

If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are. And if you succeed in manipulating other people into liking you, it will be hard not to feel, at some level, contempt for those people, because they’ve fallen for your shtick. You may find yourself becoming depressed, or alcoholic, or, if you’re Donald Trump, running for president (and then quitting).

Whew… just ranting at this point. And by the way, I believe this to be an entire cop out for the long running argument that people nowadays are more selfish or self-centered than they were of past generations. Franzen is over 50 I believe, so no surprise here that the “like” usage and those damn teenagers with their texting sends him running mad to his writing room to scowl and pontificate.

It is easy for people to point the finger at obsessed Twitterers and/or Facebook updaters and declare them self-centered egomaniacs. Sure, why not? What’s the harm in that, right? Of course, I don’t care about every waking thing that other people do and I don’t read every status update or tweet I receive, but I do not think these are all taking place because of some ego-maniacal plan by these people. I think it is the opposite in many cases. People want to feel connected. People don’t want to be alone. If you’re out there in the world alone, the cellphone, the iPhone, that Blackberry Bold or what have you is in all cases and always has been a way for you to connect to other people when you are on the go. It is a way to try and reduce loneliness. It is a way to share. That’s the whole point of it. If you see some jackass with a stupid bumper sticker and you think it is funny enough to bring up in conversation, well guess what you can take a picture of it and show it to people in person and for all those people who you won’t see in person you can also take that picture and upload it to the great wild internet for them to see and laugh and “like”.

To add to this idea of needing to be liked and that being the most narcissistic thing ever… I disagree. I’m not saying wasting away trying to be liked by everyone is the greatest pursuit in life, but it could hardly be the worst. I also have a hard time saying anyone is truly self-centered or narcissistic if they themselves are in constant need of someone else’s approval. Reason being they need someone else. I would think the most narcissistic person would be that fully headstrong person who believes already they are the coolest kid with the coolest style and coolest everything and doesn’t take any input from others. That person is truly self-centered. Consulting others and taking that advice thinking they could be right… I don’t know if I would call that self-centered. But whatever. Franzen creates “serious literature”, so I’m sure he’s never asked anyone in his life if they “liked” what he wrote and if they gave him feedback on it and said they would “like” it more if this did this then he certainly tried to set fire to their shirt before he spit on them.

Consumer technology products would never do anything this unattractive, because they aren’t people. They are, however, great allies and enablers of narcissism. Alongside their built-in eagerness to be liked is a built-in eagerness to reflect well on us. Our lives look a lot more interesting when they’re filtered through the sexy Facebook interface. We star in our own movies, we photograph ourselves incessantly, we click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery.

I kind of hit on this already. Not that people don’t go overboard, but in the grand scheme of things – most people are not the evil little creatures that Franzen is painting the whole of Facebook. Also, some people should take photographs of themselves incessantly or make movies of themselves… what’s wrong with that? It’s nice that there is a creative outlet in this world more so than there ever has been in any generation. And for the “serious” out there, maybe these people don’t want to be “liked”. Maybe some duckfaced mahogany tanned stripper clothes wearing club chick who takes 50 pictures of herself everyday isn’t taking them for you, Franzen. Maybe she is taking them for herself. Maybe she likes taking those pictures. Maybe she knows that she isn’t going to get paid to be a model or paid to be photographed by the paparazzi at night clubs, but why should that stop her? Why shouldn’t she be able to get drunk at bars and photograph her and her duckfaced friends a billion times over because they find it fun? Do you think she gives a flying fuck what some boring ass uptight 50 year old writer of Corrections thinks about her and her friends looking “hot” at their local dance club on Tuesday night Filthy Martini night? If that isn’t the definition of “serious art” then I don’t know what is.

And, since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.

Outside of yesterday, I am rarely flattered by my friends. We spend most of the time making fun of each other. You would know this Franzen if you didn’t surround yourself with yes people all nodding along with your manifestos. Corrections sucked by the way. I haven’t read Freedom, but since Oprah liked that as well I feel like I must read it, so maybe you should stop shitting on liking. I mean Corrections wasn’t as bad as Chevy Chase’s auto-biography, but nothing is as bad as that. We get it, you were on Saturday Night Live for one season and then you made an ass-ton of money, oh I’m so sorry for you and I understand your pain.

I may be overstating the case, a little bit. Very probably, you’re sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds. My aim here is mainly to set up a contrast between the narcissistic tendencies of technology and the problem of actual love. My friend Alice Sebold likes to talk about “getting down in the pit and loving somebody.” She has in mind the dirt that love inevitably splatters on the mirror of our self-regard.

“Getting down in the pit and loving somebody” – I’m 100% positive that is in Kid Rock’s classic “Bawitabah” (sp?). So again, get off your fucking high horse there, Franzen. Also, no one, I repeat NO ONE, but you is confusing the issue of like and love. You are the one who started it. If you are having trouble understanding the difference between “like” and “love” then maybe you need to stop writing op-ed articles that I feel obligated to read because people think you’re some smarty pants. If a friend of mine posts a link on Facebook to a video of a guy getting nut punched by his 2 year old while trying to teach him out to swing a golf club… well, saying I “love” this or clicking a “love” button (sounds dirty) would be a little ridiculous. Do I “like” that video? Sure. Sure as shit I do.

Also, Facebook’s goal in many way is for you to connect with other people you normally wouldn’t. It is kind of weird to throw the word “love” around a stranger regardless of the context. I’ll just say “like” instead.

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

Pessimism is realism. Yeah, and what does this have to do with Facebook?

Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?

Yes. And that is exactly why we use the term “like” because we are not dealing with people’s lives. No one’s life is at stake when I chose to replace my iPhone 3G for my iPhone 4. That’s why it stays in the “like” realm. So, again what does any of this rant have to do with what you’ve been ranting about?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of. And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order: it exposes the lie.

Hmmmm… yeah. I think you’re stretching an awful lot, sir. I don’t have to love my rain jacket. I don’t even have to particularly like it, but when it is raining out and I need to go outside then I’ll use it. Because it is a fucking JACKET. As for who I plan on wedding or anything like that… yeah, it becomes a lot more difficult because the decision making process is 100% DIFFERENT. There is no correlation between the two. Facebook having a “like” feature, so when my buddy who is trying to be a horror film director links his 5 minute short he made that is a ripoff of the movie Audition and he puts it on Facebook for everyone to see… I’ll fucking “like” the shit out of it and in no way do I have to “love” it or anything.

This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.

So, you wanted to write a sappy article about your thoughts on love and spent a few pages ridiculing technology for no apparent reason to start it… why not? Right? It’s not like Franzen wants to be “liked” or anything. This is not to say that love is only about fighting, love is a white tiger who smells of warm fresh baked chocolate chip cookies who speaks to you in a soft French accent reminiscent of the waiters from your week in the South of France when you visited your Freshman year roommate who was on a study abroad semester and that tiger gives the best foot massages.

The big risk here, of course, is rejection. We can all handle being disliked now and then, because there’s such an infinitely big pool of potential likers. But to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful. The prospect of pain generally, the pain of loss, of breakup, of death, is what makes it so tempting to avoid love and stay safely in the world of liking.

I am John Cusack outside all your reading windows with a boom box over my head playing “In Your Eyes” by the enigmatic Peter Gabriel.

And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill. When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s” is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer.

Oh I get it! We’re going to be so enamored with being “liked” on Facebook we’re going to forgo actual human contact. Although there is a microcosm of people who play “Second Life” and things like that… most of those people wouldn’t be getting any contact whatsoever if they made attempts for it. Have you seen those people? I mean that is not the anywhere near the national average. Sure people nowadays are getting fatter, but that just means more fat people sex. Where as the other people with “Second Life” they’re just crazies. Crazies weren’t getting any more butt touching back in the day either. More likely those crazies would have been weeded out and now we just give them weed, Doritos and play them in Call of Duty: Black Ops and that’s better than they ever had it.

As for the gross majority of us, do you see what lengths we’re going to get some physical interaction with other people? People are doing all sorts of stuff from playing kickball in their 30’s to dating websites. In this facet, the problem I have with technology is that websites like Facebook and OkCupid and so on have only made it more abundantly clear of the abundance of people. We’re not just looking for someone who is decent looking and can put up with our shit… we’re looking for perfection. We’re looking for supermodels who actually are literate enough to even have an opinion on Franzen or at the very least know who he is and then they also have to understand the subtleties of David Lynch and why Tom Petty is the most underrated singer/songwriter of his generation. If technology is to blame for anything it is that we have too many choices now than to just settle… our talent pool isn’t just what’s in front of us. It could be ANYONE. Plus, if any Jennifer Anniston movie has taught me anything it’s that at some point someone near perfection is just going to aimlessly stumble into my life and we’re going to out quick wit each other into bed and then eventually into some romantic 3rd act marriage proposal.

When I was in college, and for many years after, I liked the natural world. Didn’t love it, but definitely liked it. It can be very pretty, nature. And since I was looking for things to find wrong with the world, I naturally gravitated to environmentalism, because there were certainly plenty of things wrong with the environment. And the more I looked at what was wrong — an exploding world population, exploding levels of resource consumption, rising global temperatures, the trashing of the oceans, the logging of our last old-growth forests — the angrier I became.

Great segue, Franzen.

Finally, in the mid-1990s, I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about the environment. There was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to the things I loved. I still tried to keep my carbon footprint small, but that was as far as I could go without falling back into rage and despair.

What an asshole? So you “liked” or “loved” the environment so much you quit on it? With environmentalists like that who needs big polluters?

BUT then a funny thing happened to me. It’s a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool. But little by little, in spite of myself, I developed this passion, and although one-half of a passion is obsession, the other half is love.

So, he’s cool for being uncool for being liking birdwatching. Way to pat yourself on the back, Franzen. Does anyone else see how terrible this article is? It’s unilaterally devolved into Franzen liking birds from the peak of him trying to explain love as he knows it. But before that it was his dislike of “like” and Facebook and that he bought a new cellphone. Now, he is telling us about him being a bird watcher after years before quitting on the safety of the environment. Also, he starts out by saying it is “funny”, which it isn’t. Who fucking cares, Franzen? You got paid for this?!

And so, yes, I kept a meticulous list of the birds I’d seen, and, yes, I went to inordinate lengths to see new species. But, no less important, whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love. And love, as I’ve been trying to say today, is where our troubles begin.

Because now, not merely liking nature but loving a specific and vital part of it, I had no choice but to start worrying about the environment again. The news on that front was no better than when I’d decided to quit worrying about it — was considerably worse, in fact — but now those threatened forests and wetlands and oceans weren’t just pretty scenes for me to enjoy. They were the home of animals I loved.

I’m confused… again. How is that he loves these birds? Wasn’t “love” reserved to the fighting through the bad aspects of a person? All he is doing is looking at a bird through a pair of binoculars and then writing it down in his diary. How is that “love”? Is it “love” because he is saying it is? I think so. No more, no less. Before, we couldn’t “love” any of these people on Facebook because we didn’t know them in this intimate way that meant compromising our “like” of them. Now, he’s talking about seeing some birds in trees. It’s called a hobby dude, get over yourself.

As for now caring about the environment again because you found a little niche of it that you could handle, well that’s not “love” or anything – that’s just that. The fact you couldn’t do that before is actually ridiculous. People choose a charity to get behind because they’re not omnipotent and can’t help every charity ever, so they choose one in particular they can help. People who help with AIDS walks aren’t saying they don’t care about breast cancer, but they’re just hoping someone else will do those walks in their place. Can’t do everything all the time. Anyway, I’m sorry – you “love” birds now and I’m supposed to be giddy for you. Continue…

And here’s where a curious paradox emerged. My anger and pain and despair about the planet were only increased by my concern for wild birds, and yet, as I began to get involved in bird conservation and learned more about the many threats that birds face, it became easier, not harder, to live with my anger and despair and pain.

How does this happen? I think, for one thing, that my love of birds became a portal to an important, less self-centered part of myself that I’d never even known existed. Instead of continuing to drift forward through my life as a global citizen, liking and disliking and withholding my commitment for some later date, I was forced to confront a self that I had to either straight-up accept or flat-out reject.

Franzen is so self-centered that his final act and conclusion of his thesis centers on him patting himself on the back for donating my to me birds. Well done, Franzen. I have to hand it to you. You certainly are not self-centered writing about yourself for people to learn from your example. Everyone does see that we’re also supposed to be happy about all the growth he has made and the struggles he has endured by giving up on and never doing anything to help the environment when he cared so deeply about it and then years upon years later he takes a bird watching and he’s got some coin in his pocket that he throws to it every once and awhile. I bow to you, Franzen. You are leader among us all. A global citizen leader.

Which is what love will do to a person. Because the fundamental fact about all of us is that we’re alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it.

When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.

And who knows what might happen to you then?

I guess you stop using Facebook or cellphones? I’m not sure that wrapped itself up in the bundle you were hoping for.

In the end, I think Franzen sounds like a pompous idiot in this nonsensical article that it a big guise to tell us about his birdwatching. Great. Wonderful. Serious art indeed.

As for me, why did I critique an article that I hated? Well, it wasn’t to be “liked”. I can definitely attest to that.


5 Responses to “Jonathan Franzen – You’re About To Get Served!”

  1. PWG said

    A little palate cleanser after that Eiffel Tower of words up there: I hate Jonathan Franzen and love you.

    I’ll be back, I have to, like, copy and paste shit to Wordpad to even have a chance at coherently commenting on this post.

  2. PWG said

    This is not to say that love is only about fighting, love is a white tiger who smells of warm fresh baked chocolate chip cookies who speaks to you in a soft French accent reminiscent of the waiters from your week in the South of France when you visited your Freshman year roommate who was on a study abroad semester and that tiger gives the best foot massages.

    I’m going to continue Franzen’s work of skullfucking “real” emotion words into obsolesence by over-and misusing them. But I love this definition of love. I’d appreciate it if you could recreate that paragraph in some type of pictogram form so I could tramp stamp it at the base of my spine.

    • PWG said

      Stranger in bar: “Is that . . . is that . . . a tattoo above your asscrack of a tiger in a beret rubbing your feet while you sniff a plate of cookies?”

      Me: “Pfffft, you moron, it’s the embodiment of true love.”

    • The foot massage part was the only thing that really threw me off in that statement. I think I was expecting him to say blow jobs. But I guess a beej from a tiger would be unpleasant. All those sharp teeth. And the sandpapery tongue. Who’s got a boner now?!

  3. This article was completely ridiculous. I use Facebook just like every other person out there: to do a half-assed job of keeping in touch with certain friends that I’m too lazy to text, call or visit; to look at pictures my brother and his babymama post of my niece; and to stalk semi-acquaintances and friends of friends like the internet creeper we all know I am. And I use Twitter to air out my weird thoughts that I assume people probably don’t feel like receiving via text. I’m not thinking about love when I’m on either of these outlets. I’m thinking about how much better my tweets/posts are than that boring person over there posting about her son’s circumcision and yet I seem to be the only person that thinks so because my twat only has one poke and hers has like a billion. Talk about narcissisisisisisisim. (I really gave up on even pretending to try to think about that one.)

    You said a lot of words up there that, while I was reading I thought “oh I should comment on that. And that. And that and that and that.” But I didn’t take notes so now I forget everything.

    Really I’m just jealous of everyone’s new cell phones.

    And Happy Birthday again.

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