All writing is quite useless

Since when did every young writer want to be like Bukowski? I hear the sound of a thousand Hank Moodys pounding away at their keyboard, and the one word we see produced is “Fuck.” I’ve never met a guy who doesn’t look up to Palahniuk. I read Kerouac and feel the urge to type every little thing that happens. We will fictionalize our lives and make it brutally honest. I will tell you how many guys I’ve fucked because men describe how much they like to fuck. Bukowsi was a dirty old man who couldn’t write a story for shit. Have you tried to read his one fiction piece? Absolute shit. He should have stuck with poetry, because he was great at that. Post Office was the most boring book I’ve ever encountered.

“I woke up hung over, went to a job that I hate, got drunk, tried to write, fucked a pretty lady, kissed her pussy, cummed real hard, then drank myself to sleep. Repeat. Repeat.”

We feel like every story has been written already because DAMN look at all these amazing novels that we’ll never live up to. So we write about our lives because we want to be famous. We’ve forgotten how to imagine. We’ve forgotten that every work of literature that lives on only does so because it reflected Life and the people who live it.

The world doesn’t need to read about how horrible it is. The cynical writer must die. We entered the first steps of authorship and got stuck at angst and never found hope. We complain that nobody reads, thrusting blame and providing free conscious for us. We must take responsibility. If nobody’s reading, then we must write something that they want to read, that they have to read. There are stories that will touch the lives of this population, stories that haven’t been written, stories that were crafted specifically for them. They haven’t been written for this audience yet, because this particular audience has never been here before. We have new things, new struggles, new perspectives, new lives. So as writers we have new devices and toys, we have new stories. This is a new frontier.

We are artists, not autobiographers. But you’d be surprised at how much of you is embedded into your work once you’re done.

I leave you with the preface from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde:

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

8 thoughts on “All writing is quite useless

  1. I have not read much of Bukowski. I have read a few poems that were simple, true, and sick reflecting how he seemed to be. I really have found him as an interesting Psychotic Drunk to the tenth power. As an artist , all I can say is the I create because I have to, it is part of the core of who I am somehow, no matter how much flux and change my personality morphs like a compass in time, I create.


  2. I think that Palahniuk was originally experimenting with telling a powerful story from the point of view of a protagonist that hates themself, and whom readers would find vaguely disgusting and unlikeable. It was a response to how over-popular the action genre was at that time(read clive cussler and tom clancy), whose mains were always solidly built men, whom women loved, and who always seemed to conquer everything while only taking a flesh wound in the arm; basically every action novel(and movie) ever.

    I also think his inspiration came somewhat from being gay, and transposing a large portion of society’s hatred for homosexuals onto his own psyche(acceptance of homosexuality is a relatively new thing). So in a sense his work is a mockery of the ideal man, and a reflection of Palahniuk’s own self-loathing.

    Stack on top of that the fact that he wanted to be different from other authors at that time(almost 20 years ago mind you) who wrote long-winded, flowery prose, who spread adjectives on sentences like they were buttering the toast of their last meal on earth.

    That said, I don’t know what Palahniuk is writing these days, because I quit reading him, but I think his popularity was due in part to his audience finding an outlet for the angst of their young-adult lives. He wasn’t the first author in history to say that life is an ugly, red-headed, obnoxious, whimpering little shit, but he said it in a way that the writing community needed to be reminded was powerful: concisely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I’ve never actually finished one of his books. But your opinion of him makes me want to give it a go, maybe at least Fight Club. I tried to read some crazy story of his about a guy who got off in car crashes, but didn’t make it very far…


      • I would go with Lullaby first if I had to do it again. It’s pretty grim, as far as story-telling goes, and is probably the most backward romance story I’ve ever read. There are also some of the most raw expressions of self-hatred dramatized there. They’re scary to look at too closely.


  3. On a side note, to your “All writing is useless,” I sometimes wonder how people can possibly begin to understand a world they are incapable of describing. I don’t believe they can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s how I make sense of the world, at least. By describing it, by using words, even images, you’re able to see it, examine it, know it better. Otherwise, I think people just let it go on by them without giving it much thought– and that’s a life wasted in my most humble opinion.. Thanks for your feedback :))))


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