Benjamin Cain: ‘Transcend the Medium’

Today’s internet thrives on polarization. Websites profit when people take opposing sides. That’s what happens in what we call “the comments” on just about any article, especially those on websites that are designed to make money for someone. “The game itself is rigged and it deranges the players,” Benjamin Cain says.

There’s no obvious way to respond to online criticism, especially when so much of it is trolling. One type of response works in one situation, another type in another situation. Often, a writer’s best strategy is not to engage the critic at all, especially when the critic isn’t sincerely interested, isn’t informationally equipped to have a real discussion, is going to harass the writer, is backed by an algorithm that will mobilize an army of trolls, or has fled the scene so the writer would be speaking to empty air.

But if he could give one piece of advice, it is to “transcend the medium.”

“…the writer should somehow transcend the medium that encourages or that thrives on cheap conflict.”

— Benjamin Cain, “How Would a Saint or a Prophet Reply to Rude Online Comments?: The dead end of trying to excel on a degrading platform,” 18 March 2022

 I note: He does not say to transcend conflict itself. More specifically, he doesn’t say to transcend the meaningful elements of online conflict. Instead, he says to transcend the medium that is producing unnecessary, ridiculous, unproductive conflict.

Let’s keep that question in mind. What does it mean to transcend the medium in which one writes? How does one do it?

Kindle giveaway for U.S. readers: ‘Enkidu is Dead and Not Dead / Enkidu está muerto y no lo está’

Detail from the cover of Enkidu is Dead and Not Dead

If you’re in the United States, you may request a Kindle ebook of my poetry collection Enkidu is Dead and Not Dead / Enkidu está muerto y no lo está. This giveaway involves 100 copies. A corporation will select the winners. (Sorry about the limitation of U.S. recipients. It was decided by corporations and lawyers.)

The giveaway opened yesterday, and 150 people have already entered, so there is competition for these e-copies. There is no reason not to put your name in the hat, too, unless you do not like poetry. The deadline to enter is March 19. You have one week. Go. Go.

Kindle is the only available format of this giveaway. You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book, though. You can read it in a free app.

If you need your poetry in print, the Enkidu poems can be purchased in paperback.

If you are in a non-U.S. country, you can still add the book as “Want to Read” on Goodreads, and you can learn more about the poems here.

Ten Past Noon — A BOOK REVIEW

An enthusiastic review of my book, Ten Past Noon, which this week celebrates its second anniversary of publication.

He Waited on the Couch to Die

Focus and Fate at Forty A book by Tucker Lieberman

AKA David Lynch, ‘I don’t know why people expect art to make sense. Life doesn’t make sense.’ AKA The perfect reader is out there, they just might be living in the wrong century as you…. so like, don’t lose faith, pal. AKA I should trim all the wordfat off of this post, but if you moofs will indulge me, I just want to spray about everything this book made me feel, with no truncation. So without further ado.

You Only Have 30 Seconds Review: This book will make you think. This book will make you feel. It’s about creativity, life, death, what makes us human, and stop wanting to be human, and it will clean you house and clear your skin and enrich your mind, so go out and read this book! Ask your library to carry it so…

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Werewolf Rules

Gingerbread House Lit Mag

The soul tries to be good. 

Your brain breaks, spits fire,
leans toward evil, gerrymanders
grimoires, makes antiquarian excuses,
crafts werewolf rules
to cram your day job into the schedule
of what you are really trying to do.

The soul powers through—

keeping pace with you as you gambol
along the road, free-paw, clawed
step by step, baretooth grin and howl,
backward and invalid. Almost no soul.
Half-wolf. At least you are alive.

The body needs to sprint 

in dark and cold. You run backward,
possessed by bats with spark plugs
for eyes. In quarter intervals, you revolve
the conundrum of your persistent
compassion for those who reject
you for invalid reasons.

You have to cease grating.
You have to pull on your boots.

Cultivate compassion one step
at a time, your heart pumping
your own slow walk of acceptance.

Start with your feet, push back,
lift up, lean forward…

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The possibility of resolution

Min Hyoung Song’s book Climate Lyricism can be ordered in print or read free online in an open access version. (See his tweet today.)

In his introduction, “The Practice of Sustaining Attention to Climate Change,” he writes of “strategies for holding attention” for fiction writers. These steps are:

– Create a handful of compelling characters.
– Put them in a unique situation, and place before them a challenging dilemma.
– Differentiate between characters who are driven to overcome this dilemma and characters who (or situations that) exacerbate that dilemma or pose new dilemmas.
– Allow conflict to play itself out in patterns of defeat and triumph, betrayal and collaboration, despair and hope.
– Hold out the promise that some final resolution is coming.

Min Hyoung Song

We, too, as much as our fictional characters, need the promise of resolution. Otherwise, what do we strive for? And so we have to provide ourselves, in our real lives, with this goal. In our writing, yes. Also, in our lives.