Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is Alt Lit Official?

                Today an amazing thing occurred: alt lit arrived on Wikipedia. No one expected this to happen, not at all on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Usually alt lit people are lucky if they can manage a Facebook update or two. Sunday is probably the least ‘alt lit’ out of all the days. Perhaps this is the thing that will make alt lit become a movement, rather than an abbreviation.

                Alt lit needs this attention. People in alt lit have been doing this for literally years, decades in the cases of Noah Cicero. For so long they’ve yearned, not for money, because writers don’t make money. Rather they’ve wanted to have a place that acknowledges them. I try to provide a supportive zone for alt lit. Alt Lit Gossip is pretty heavy into the day to day lives of the famous and alt. HTML Giant remains the first place people go to write arguments that include footnotes.

                Why did this take so long? Alt lit has been around for a while. There have been reality TV programs based off of alt lit. You thought Steve Roggenbuck’s videos were for fun? Nope those are Steve’s day to day life. People really should watch them. I think a few of my friends have had their lives forever changed by those videos. I know Roggenbuck’s videos make me cry due to their exquisite beauty. 

                I like the Wikipedia page for alt lit. It states most of the writers remain unpublished. They are mostly self-published. Alt lit is getting more attention too. Muumuu House exists as an ‘incubator’ for a lot of alt lit. You simply give Tao Lin an egg of an idea and he waits until it hatches as a chick of an idea. Then it grows into a chicken of an idea. Eventually it mates with another idea, a rooster of an idea until a new idea family is formed. 

                Dennis Cooper (who has a Wikipedia page right here) talks about what’s been going on in alt lit. He mentions alt lit writers on a regular basis, from Zachary German to recently Steve Roggenbuck. Clearly these are writers who deserve the attention or at least possess something of interest to a guy who dedicated his whole life to writing. 

                Besides these boosters, there’s an entire alt lit ecosystem of boost. Boost support is needed for alt lit. A few detractors would say ‘Hey, it is simply writers reading other writers’. I don’t see how that is dramatically different from say, a certain café culture. With the internet writers can pretty much support one another emotionally without any expense. I don’t see the need to constantly pigeonhole alt lit as ‘fucking worthless’ or ‘totally fucking worthless’. I’m not saying all alt lit is equal, there are good and bad examples of it. I simply tend to focus on what I like rather than needlessly bashing someone who is creating work and giving it away for free. To be that is the definition of cruelty. And I’m a kind sloth. 

                Alt lit review sites definitely spend a lot of time going through the positive and the negative. While I don’t give numeral scores for what I read/review, I think most people are able to determine what I’m more or less passionate about. Other sites are a little more obvious in their like or dislike, such as ‘Banango Lit’ or ‘I am alt lit’. For the record, I adore ‘I am alt lit’ and whoever runs that is doing a truly stellar job. 

                Tonight is going to be the alt lit Wikipedia page’s toughest night. There are plenty of people who have perfectly reasonable and unreasonable motivations for wanting it to go away. I feel it should stay. At this point it has begun to increase enough in popularity. People outside of alt lit might want to know something about the tight-knit writing groups that exist within alt lit. 

                I’m quite fond of the alt lit page. I also enjoy its focus on anonymity. Anonymity is the best thing one can have on the internet. Glad my anonymous presence at this point exceeds the influence of my IRL presence. That’s the power of alt lit.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you good, old-fashioned anonymous presence


      "Is the alt lit scene a random sample of America’s youth, of Americans living in the age group between 18 and 35. I would say no, it excludes the urban poor and people who have spent time in the military."

      What's your take on this? Honestly...

    3. "Is the alt lit scene a random sample of America’s youth, of Americans living in the age group between 18 and 35. I would say no, it excludes the urban poor and people who have spent time in the military."

      Really now? Really?

    4. I remember reading that a while ago. You're actually quoting some of the less intense parts of the article. Though I do know a number of writer war vets who were annoyed by the article.

      The article is a start. It is not an ending though.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I didn't meant to remove the comment but wanted to edit it. Obviously someone took down the article you're referring to, and I was pointing that out, but then I was wondering how that could happen. I guess I don't understand how Wikipedia works. It seems from the "talk" on the "alternative literature" entry that the page has been up a long time ("alt-lit" redirected to that) and so I was confused about which page was which and what happened. It looks as if one person went there and thought it was not referenced enough or something. Does one person have the power to remove an entry? I understand there are "wars" on Wikipedia about the accuracy or bias of various articles, but there appears to be only one comment and then just the stub. Can you explain to me what happened? It seems like it's a larger issue than this one article.

    1. Hey Richard,

      That is a good question. Various people commented on how the 'Alt Lit' page was nothing more than bloggers citing themselves as authority figures. I had problems with the original Alt Lit page but felt it could be improved upon.

      No links were given to more 'reputable' (read: New York Times) articles. The New York Times has written about various figures in Alt Lit, specifically Blake Butler and Tao Lin. By the time I had tried adding those to the article, the article disappeared. Other writers have been written about outside of the immediate 'Alt Lit' community, such as the Muumuu House readings (by the Wall Street Journal, various local newspapers, etc.) and I hoped that I'd see some of those links up on the page as it improved. Unfortunately enough people seemed to exert enough power on Wikipedia to remove the article itself, which is unfortunate.

      Wikipedia is a collaborative effort. I'm a huge fan of alt lit (I cover it extensively) but if it was deleted it was for a reason. Hopefully if there's a second stab at creating a new article I'd hope it would be created a little differently (i.e. citations from newspapers rather than blogs).

      That's just my two cents. Blogs aren't considered to be great sources for Wikipedia (at least not right now). Maybe that will change at some point but I expect it will be in the far, far future.

  4. ALT LIT es la escritura de los no escritores, no podemos pensar que será un movimiento de personas; más bien se está convirtiendo, y esto es lo fundamental, en una oleada de avatars ////
    ALT LIT es literatura cutre marginal/// street fighter feat tuinkis.