Tim Shaner – Five Chapters from I Hate Fiction

Tim Shaner

Five Chapters from I Hate Fiction


just as i’m fictionally speaking stuck in my office, locked in here by my wisecracker daughter reba as she is called, so too am i stuck doing this novel. having squandered labor time producing the text, the text compels me as its now interpellated author to continue with the mess. you started this mess you finish it, says the text, in so many words. compelled by the text to follow the text through to its logical conclusion, as is said, i found myself, while interpellated as an author, still thinking in many ways as a poet and so wondering, in the interest of responding responsibly to my fictional calling, how it is other interpellated authors go about their business of getting the job done. thinking this, brooding on it, as i went about my daily chores doing the various things, it occurred to me that what authors do is steal from their neighbors their friends their family their colleagues their country the national treasure and so forth and that, as I now operate as an interpellated author, I ought follow suit. now this is not as easy as it seems insofar as it goes against a person’s grain their moral fiber as it were to be constantly grazing off the humans, as robert grenier puts it, exploiting the raw material of day to day life as interpellated authors are wont to do, shamelessly and obsessively stealing plot structures out from under the unsuspecting noses, as is said, of their wives and husbands and children and friends and neighbors, of everybody and everything they can get their smarmy hands on and so forth. this kind of covert fiction world the interpellated author lives within in which she and he transforms the raw materials of everyday life into these twisted schemes called plots and subplots character and setting and so forth. seeing the world the interpellated author lives in through the lens of the interpellated author’s secret fiction world warped as it is which is the only world the interpellated author sees as it were not that there’s any world not warped relatively speaking. thereby forcing those in daily contact with the interpellated author to likewise live within the suffocating utterly warped though in fact totally inconsequential and moreover bland confines of the interpellated author’s tedious fantasy-land fiction world that nobody at all is interested in and so to as such suffer the consequences, the consequences that come with having to at the same time “live” in the so-called locked-and-loaded real world, a world the interpellated author needless to say quite sensibly refuses to engage if acknowledge at all


the next door neighbor recently bought a used jeep and now drives around as though she’s on top of the world. pre-jeep she seemed distant angry even rude we thought until recently she avoided saying hi to us the first three years we lived here for example. pre-jeep she seemed distant angry even rude we thought until recently she avoided saying hi to us the first three years we lived here for example. she’s all nice now of course it’s all good beaming and happy in her awesome jeep her awesome jeep with the top down the roll bar up exposed the wind in her hair and so forth. it’s a nice jeep don’t get me wrong i want one too i guess what the heck and in any case it’s not one of these SUVs though i know it’s fun to be up there on top of the world dear reader i like it too looking down on creation and good people in fact are found there and so forth but there’s something about americans dear reader in SUVs dear american reader that’s painful to watch and americans in cars in general happy as hell bouncing and singing and gabbing away on their cell-phone gadgetry yet totally pissed at all the other cars at anything and everything that gets in their way especially pedestrians of which especially mothers and fathers prancing about with their three-wheeler baby mobiles the SUV for toddlers


i see now the way i’m writing this novel is via a poetics of implosion. where as you go back and read what you’ve written you write whatever it is that hits your head. isn’t that what readers do anyway with good works at least. you read a passage or you watch a film like say godard’s eloge de l’amore and your mind flies off at the least prompting so you can’t even concentrate anymore on the text as it flies by in praise of love. but without editing it into an absorptive flow. now a good part of this poetics emerges from the fact that the truly great works of literature engage the reader every step of the way making page-dwellers of their readers rather than page-turners. now most novels accomplish this under the umbrella of a plot that drives the reader forward regardless of the novelist’s investment in passage or process and even those that push plot to the edges of the page still have some story unfolding beneath it all. to our great disappointment i might add. so a poetics of implosion becomes a way of pushing this aesthetic further toward a purer realization though we reject the notion of purity naturally. tarkovsky’s mirror, for example, though the text that holds it together is tarkovsky’s own story, his biography which i guess you could say of I HATE FICTION. tarkovsky’s mysticism is entirely worldly in its address, i’m thinking right now on the spot, by the way. it doesn’t seek any home other than earth, which is why the erland josephson character in the sacrifice makes the faustian deal in the end to save the planet from nuclear annihilation. it’s utter desperation that pushes him to his knees to pray, even though he’s quite sensibly an atheist of course naturally. also most of the scenes out of doors in the nature practically exclude the sky from their frame, the camera tilted downward toward the land in the dirt so to speak grounded. yet to save his home/world he must at the same time destroy his own specific home, setting fire to his house, breaking up his family, abandoning his reason, which he does in the end, or was that just in his head. no wonder then that they take him away presumably to some mental institution where presumably he is imprisoned chained to the earth as it were, as if he wanted to leave it. but what of a novel that refuses to get started refuses to move beyond the act of beginning that doesn’t even offer the consolation Bernhard does in Concrete? right now reba my daughter is screaming in the tv room; the commercials are on and so she wants my attention; hopefully sponge bob will come back on so we can get back to writing our novel. but i’m also thinking how I HATE FICTION has several conflicting motives behind it. on the one hand it has been entered into with the aim of making money. that a poet can’t make a living, the subject of my dissertation etceteras. on the other hand, now that i’m committed to writing a novel, why not actually do something interesting, or at least that interests me enough to continue writing it. writing itself being the whole point and so forth


i am pleased w/ my new stapler, this thought actually crossed my mind this morning, the words in my head passing through to other words now distilled here in a song so to say. when i picked up my new stapler and stapled my 20 page manuscript this morning, the staple did not jam up like it did on the other stapler which i threw away because 1) i couldn’t get it unstuck and 2) because, though yr standard office model and so youd think efficient, it couldn’t staple anything over ten pages. only one staple would go through the other crumpled up or flayed off to the side essentially caving in on itself literally it was frustrating and i felt justified in wasting it. you mention a commodity a thing or “product” like this and surprisingly other texts come to mind like of course office space. but i was thinking instead of an exchange with sedgwick last night. i was telling her how when i was living in brighton i met this somewhat famous poet, being as he was the son of a famous british poet who had passed away some years back. met this semi-famous poet, though apparently he has gone on to achieve great success, i am told, at my poet/novelist friend’s house in brighton who told me afterward that the semi-famous poet had taken an initial interest in me-as-a-poet and/or would-be poet. an interest, by the way, that soon faltered when i expressed my interest in collage which he found dated if not passe and in any case totally uninteresting. because of what i said about my poet/novelist friend’s kettle or, as we would say here in america by which i mean the usa naturally, teapot. as she was pouring us some tea, after a delicious dinner and so forth, bangers and mash i’d like to say just for the pleasure of saying bangers and mash, she said she needed to get a new kettle or, no, she had just bought a new kettle, i think, or something along those lines, which prompted me to go off on this tangent about how we replace our machines with new ones precisely at the moment when our machines have developed their character, their charisma. i had this kettle, you see, i said, saying this to sedgwick last night and thinking it now or rather when i wrote the above about my stapler something i decided to put down to write because these are the banal words that spin in our heads that seldom find their way into print seldom their way into consciousness and so on and so forth. i was reading this morning Michael Davidson’s Ghostlier Demarcations and came upon this quote from Olson’s Maximus:

                              By ear, he sd.
                              But that which matters, that which insists, that which will last,
                              that! o my people, where shall you find it, how, where, where shall
                                   you listen
                              when all is become billboards, when, all, even silence, is spray-

which would seem to pertain to our topic insofar as it is our billboard thinking that makes us trash machines that involve us in their productions. you see i said i said the kettle i had up in north peckham (southeast london) required a certain touch on the part of its user i said i said in order for it to work you had to jiggle the cord in just such a way or it wouldn’t connect wouldn’t heat up the kettle and so no hot water as it were and hence no tea see. and that it was only those who used the machine regularly that had that touch. now most people, you see i said i said, would figure ok it’s time to get a new kettle but why i said i said why get a new kettle, which after all has no character or flavor for that matter a good pot of tea after all is the result of a well-worn kettle, i said i said, one in which the sediments from the tea have sufficiently seasoned the kettle’s walls. americans you see don’t get that about kettles or indeed coffee pots for that matter being as we are totally committed to cleanliness at all costs and so busy soaping up everything wiping everything down showering constantly and so forth getting rid of the dirt the filth the pond scum the dirtbags and so forth. so why get a new one when all you have to do is touch the machine a certain way and it works just fine. it has character, i said i said, and its character, i said i said, gives you the touch and without that touch, i said i said, you’ve got no character. anyway, the stapler in question is a different case: we might say its personality was, well, acerbic. it looked nice, or rather it looked functional and hence efficient, like it could do the job, like it could get the job done, but it didn’t get the job done, it mangled the job in fact. it would ruin the paper leaving as it did these huge gaping craters in the page, the paper scarred, these gruesome holes gouged in the page as it were. totally brutalizing the page as it were. you’d try to cover them up by aiming the staple into the holes left by the first mangled staple but even if it did work if the staple actually did indeed break on through without crumpling up once again widening the holes ever so wide the sheets of paper loosened and shifting and so forth


perhaps pre-jeep she was going through a rough patch a particularly stressful period in her life’s journey maybe her kids were driving her up a tree or a rock like in that jeep commercial have you seen it picture this: a jeep in the rockies like i’m thinking around steamboat springs somewhere like craig so a jeep in the rockies drives up to this random rock in a field or on the plains a flat area probably actually a stage with backdrop most likely and with the mountains off in the distance looming and rugged which you get a glance at for a splinter of a nanosecond the image invading the brain firing across the synapses like the camera work in that hypertechie show csi. i myself prefer quincy jack klugman’s a gas decked out in his baby blue leisure suits getting wild and crazy with the gals down on his little sail boat down at the peer slurping cocktails and sucking fags and such yet getting all righteously high and mighty about social causes and such in that late 70s post-nixon pre-cable bellbottom sort of way but also totally indoctrinated in nancy’s just say no drug-bashing craze of the early reagan-eighties. so it’s like you see history shifting before your very eyes liberal quincy morphing into a reaganite bill bennett kind of guy but with all this residual carter-esque garb still hanging on confusing as it is. i liked how on one of those rerun channels they used to schedule the totally eighties vigilante fascistic the equalizer right after quincy so that right before your very eyes you could see the usa shifting from this brief hole of possibility that ever so brief late seventies post-vietnam post-nixon pre-cable moment when gullible college slacker kids like myself actually thought the usa might reform itself some even if at the time we were up to our usual shenanigans in east timor and well frankly everywhere and so forth. that brief flash of air on the brain before the final descent into the oily pit of the reagan spider hole which of course we’re presently deeply ensconced in such that one can totally understand a hinkley who come to think of it has turned out to be quite prescient. perhaps then we weren’t so off-base after all when in that African history class in college news leaked in of his attempted “‘A’” and a good number of us, being students of history, versed in fanon et al, having read fanon and such, clapped and cheered. we were surprisingly taken to task by our history professor who after all was a marxist. i remember thinking later that yeah she’s right no matter how much a fascist or actual war criminal a guy is “‘A’” is not the answer. if anything because it’s structural, see, which is not to excuse individual culpability on the other hand. of course little did i know how wrong i was at that time or rather how right we were to cheer, figuratively speaking of course. that in fact it’s a real shame reagan did not just vanish right there and then poof, like in a movie or something like bilbo baggins in lord of the rings, not actually dead mind you, not actually taken out, just gone, poof, like those guys in yemen snuffed out by the predator. speaking here hypothetically of course. i exaggerate for fictional effect. of course then we would have had bush but then we got bush anyway and not just one but two and now maybe three or four who knows. it’s also a shame saddam didn’t succeed speaking here hypothetically of course did not succeed in taking out forty-one when he was picking up his bonus check in kuwait as a carlyle emissary. i exaggerate naturally for the fiction. not that bush wasn’t trying to snuff saddam as well of course. these leaders, what can i say, they’re always up to something tell me about it. if someone had capped bush the elder we would have gotten quayle but then of course we got quayle in the form of w anyway. is that why herbert chose such a dimwit for vp. to lower the pole so low so as to make way for his ever-expanding brood. now as for the resident construction, if someone wasted the resident construction, and you can’t tell me people haven’t thought of it, we’d of course get dick but then of course we’ve got dick anyway and so forth. ok so i could make the protagonist into some sort of “‘A’” in the making, some disgruntled middle-aged white male graduate student who can’t write his dissertation can’t get the job done because the purely fictional would-be resident construction is in office. not being able to blame reba, the author’s daughter as she is called, he blames the resident construction. so the moral of the story will be that dick’s wife lynn is right after all: poststructuralism really is immoral really does spell doom for the country really does lead us down the path of imperial relativity and inevitable moral decay naturally god willing. we could frame it as a novel comprised of entries from the abd-would-be-“‘A’s’” journal, hence the unpolished ungainly raw meandering seemingly pointless quality to the piece. we could make that clear in the dust jacket copy so that readers realize action does eventually happen though of course it doesn’t strictly speaking not to foreshadow anything however: tim shaner, an abd english student indoctrinated in the buffalo poetics program (abd in the bpp, as it were), locked in his spider hole of an office and suffering from writer’s block, slowly becomes unhinged from reality and, like the protagonist of one of the author’s favorite novelists thomas bernhard, which I HATE FICTION is in part modeled after, in particular the protagonist in bernhard’s limeworks, though concrete is the source text, shaner goes off the deep end and begins entertaining the idea of an entirely fictional would-be “‘A’” plot structure construction idea. we’ll want to leave out the fact that the resident construction in question is our current purely fictional would-be resident construction in question because otherwise folks might get the idea that I HATE FICTION is a quasi-political novel which of course spells doom for would-be sales, not to mention the movie rights. we’ll make it like limeworks where the protagonist does a raskolnikov on his wife like jack tries to do in the shining but instead of stopping with sedgwick our hero kidnaps his daughter the reba being as he is now separated from wife and daughter and so naturally a demented drug-taking alcoholic lover of gay pornography decked out in the guise of a neo-conservative tucker carlson kind of dude who dons bowties. there being we might as well throw it in now there being a restraining order on him driving him of course even battier but instead of settling with a raskolnikov and kidnapping the reba our hero heads off to warshington with an elaborate yet cockamamie entirely fictional scheme to take out the purely fictional would-be resident construction. in fact we can make it so that he actually succeeds in taking out the purely fictional would-be resident construction which means of course that the vp has to take over has to be in charge has to make the real decisions has to lead. but then just as signification seems to be stabilizing, putting its signifiers in order, the vp-turned-commander-in-chief is stricken by a heart attack and is taken out. at which point the vp’s wife does an al haig and steps in and says on fox news that she’s now in charge and that everything is ordered stabilized unified and so forth. while all of this is happening we can have the father totally bonding in this very touching way with the reba, so that the father finds himself suddenly his former loving humanistic, pre-poststructuralist family-values self but having committed these horrible deeds, the equivalent of war crimes, let’s say, if you get my drift, and so now with the police and the fbi and the department of homeland security and karl rogue and the likes hot on his tail as they hop from one motel to the next like a sort of cross between lolita and the fugitive. like say harrison ford on the run but with baby in tow like in raising arizona or like tom hanks in the road to perdition. so anyway a jeep drives up to this random rock it looks to be a granite rock but where’s the time to notice such details what with the camera’s mtv-style cutting as people used to call it now they’ve simply forgotten its history as they say so this granite protrusion which sort of juts up like a mountain peak a fourteener as they say out west and the jeep drives up to it and proceeds to drive its upper left wheel up onto the rock so that the jeep is sort of perched there aimed up at the sky and then the guy gets out of the jeep and walks away. moments later, understanding that a certain time has lapsed, we see the guy getting back in his jeep while another jeep with a woman naturally in it hovers slightly off to the side, waiting for the dude to get off his rock so she can park there herself. message: with jeeps even boulder-size rocks can been seen as parking lots.

return to SHAMPOO 28