A really smart Hairpin writer dialogued with me on the Hairpin reaction today and said some things I take to heart, like:
I know you’re not in the academy—that’s my point. integrating “academia” with the real world—that’s…not weird, but…well, weird. weird, too artificial, something—it just doesn’t feel organic.
not sure what “it” is. nobody was trolling you—they were reacting to the piece genuinely. the critiques about the sex line were fair, imo.
stop being defensive and don’t hit publish if you can’t accept criticism. you know that.
if criticism is enough to make you quit, then no, you probably shouldn’t. like I said, stop crying, go shower.
But most importantly this hit home:
the thing I got when we met was an incredible anxiety about needing to be accepted by/identified with the literary/intellectual scene, whatever that is. you’ll probably be a lot happier, and a better writer, if you let go of that. write your own experience first, maybe.
I never, ever want to do anything in order to be accepted by a literary/intellectual scene, again. Which, this writer did say “are largely fictional” anyway.
I’ve always had a habit of taking negative criticism with the following defense mechanism of “You’re right! I’m an idiot! I’m terrible!” Which gets us nowhere, so hmm. Finito.
I know that defending you won’t help you and coming to terms with “criticism” is an important part of the process but I CAN’T stay silent on this: insufferable hairpin commentors thinking you’re expunging too much intellectual energy writing about a lady they think is “banal” on an insufferable (sorry) lit site is just…I don’t know, I can’t swallow it.
I just don’t think “I’m going to visit The New Inquiry and call you a bad writer for referencing Lacan” is “genuine” critique. I don’t think “there was no point to this thing that you wrote that was widely read and distributed by people who cared about it” is “genuine” criticism. I really don’t. I can’t believe anyone would try to convince you of that. “I don’t care about Cat Marnell because she’s dumb” is not valid criticism of your work! It’s not! “I don’t care about Cat Marnell” is not criticism! People need to stop doing that!! “I could figure out what this sentence is supposed to mean if I tried really hard” is almost trying to criticize the clarity of your writing but it’s not. (Also fuck a clarity, also it’s the fucking NEW INQUIRY.)
Anyone that argues that applying Edelman to Cat Marnell is trying to “inorganically” integrate some sort of fantastically bifurcated lobes of “theory” and “real world” doesn’t have any grasp on either (and has apparently not read any theory or writing that’s been produced in the past thirty years because APPLYING LACAN TO BRITNEY SPEARS WELL I NEVER.) I know you have to decide for yourself the degree to which you were trying to please an awful audience of self-righteous self-styled intelligencia (ie media jackasses who have read paraphrased Deleuze), and that’s a whoooole different discussion. But “you put too much theory in your writing” is not criticism. It’s not. If the hairpin doesn’t like it, they can keep publishing stale jokes about eyelash curlers and Franzia. (sorry sorry sorry I’m getting mean.)
Not to mention, someone telling a person outside of the academy that their engagement with theory—especially queer theory!—is fraudulent, inorganic, wrong…ugh, I will barf on them and burn down their tower.
This commentariat is some “banal,” sub-Jezebel shit. There are criticisms to be had, I’m sure, but none of them were having ‘em and just like FUCK A HAIRPIN COMMENTER is all I got to say.
Obviously lots of that advice is good advice, in general, but I was DYING to defend you against people who were mostly unwilling to engage with
[anything except probably Doctor Who]your work. As much as I looove to rag on the literary/intellectual scene, though, the only difference between writing shit to please them and writing shit to please dumb Hairpin commenters is a question of White Dudes v. White Feminists.
(There is a real neat conversation to be had here—which I’m not going to have because you are not an object but you are a person who writes good things and you are experiencing things which are p. resonant to me—is about your own experience of performance in light of Marnell’s performance…I think it’s cool, tbh.)
tl;dr: is an internet commenter calling your article “esoteric” really going to be a valuable tool for your professional development YOU DECIDE.
i literally can’t believe i half-defended The New Inquiry i literally can’t believe i’m doing that weird thing lady writers do where they publicly defend each other against scary mean critics ugh what is this
reblogging because i was thinking some similar things to rgr-pop reading those hairpin comments (which… this is why i’m really excited for my part-time job to start because this is what happens to me when i have so much unstructured free time, i’m so bad at free time, how do you free time, help capitalism didn’t prepare me for this). i was actually thinking of writing something about my thoughts on the hairpin conversation myself but then i was like “eh.” but, i read jane hu’s article (SOMEONE PLEASE PUBLISH A TUMBLR ETIQUETTE GUIDE ABOUT WHEN TO USE THIRD VS. SECOND PERSON FOR REBLOG CHAINS) and i didn’t agree with all of it and my own eyes glazed over when the theory stuff came out BUT i am willing to accept that as being totally on me, and to recognize there’s a difference between “reading theory or references to theory for me is like bikini shopping for my brain but more spiritually harrowing” and “this person should not have done this thing i personally dislike.” i mean there are times when people are dropping names and i’m like “please god just shut up” but the fact that some people decide to be show-off jerkfaces about it doesn’t mean it’s an inherently useless tool or that the choice to bring it in is a reason to dismiss a piece. (and for what it’s worth i found there was a lot in there i did agree with and maybe even better, a lot that i was given to think over and wonder about even though i keep personally swearing to be done with the cat marnell thing for personal reasons regarding concerns about how i spend my free time and what impulses i respond to and how).
i dunno i guess i’m thinking about times i’ve had hairpin-esque reactions to things and wondering how many of them were justified and how many were kneejerk responses out of insecurity because it was weird seeing that kind of reaction to a piece that i thought was actually very clear (the sentence one commenter singled out as being “possible to figure out if she tried real hard” or whatever i thought was perfectly clear, and there’s a difference between criticizing obscure or sloppy language and not wanting to engage with a sentence because it had a number of “big words” which is what it seemed like this commenter was doing here, which again in this instance weirded me out because none of the words there were particularly esoteric, and more importantly they seemed chosen not to convey an ~air~ but because they were the most precise way of expressing a particular thought), theory parts i skimmed (because me!) aside.
tl;dr i can’t with theory for personal reasons but i don’t like the idea that no one who likes it likes it for “legit” reasons, that everyone is just faking liking it to seem smart, or only likes it because it makes them feel smart.
So glad other people saw this and felt this way.
I am not amazing at theory, but I’m good enough at theory and trained enough in reading theory to mostly be able tell when someone is just being a name-dropping jerkoff and trying to look smart and when they are like, engaging with it and employing it to find new ways to talk about stuff. Which is what theory is for. (Isn’t it?) (And I can’t speak to the substance of the No Future line, but in general it did, to me, feel “organic”, as did the other theory.) I mean, I just, like, Jane, based on your internet presence you seem cool, it was a good article, I was glad you wrote it because I totally think the Cat Marnell phenomenon is super-interesting. I don’t know, I also don’t go into comment threads about, like, sports and then be like “I don’t know why anyone talks about this ever, it’s stupid.”
(Ugh, totally doing that lady writer thing rgr alludes to, but it just bugs me a lot when people are like “ugh, this thing is too low-brow, why would anyone try to analyze it intellectually” because everything should be theorized, especially things that seem the most like they are too low-brow, and I have had literal fights with people [ex-boyfriends] about theory and criticism.)
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- kissthiskissthatyeah said:I know you just made the final word on this…but…why the FUCK are people afraid of bringing theory into real life? Anti-intellectualism?
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- film-schooled said:It’s one thing to critique the academy for being ignorant of the real world, but another to advocate for their separation. Misguided, and particularly odd for someone whose site relies on cultural criticism, their most potent point of overlap…
- beatyourwings said:You’re a smart cookie, Jane.
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