Monday, July 17, 2006

Interview with The Infamous Tao Lin

Tao Lin is the author of two books coming out from Melville House in 2007. He has been published everywhere, won a bunch of contests, and has the finest little asian ass you ever did see.

1. You were accused of being a "pet chink" that dances to the grinding organ of The WASP literary community. But I do not think of you like this. I think of you more as a Disney writer. Since you are from Orlando Florida. And that's what I want to get into today, the influence of Disney World upon your writing. How has being around humans dressed up as mice, dogs, and mermaids affected your writing?

I am flattered that you called me a Disney writer. Disney World was so close to where I grew up that sometimes I walked outside and saw a five foot hamster drinking a Wendy's supersize soda. This affected me deeply. I felt afraid. My writing reflects this, I believe.

2. William Faulkner the great southern writer said that he thought how to write A Rose for Emily his famous second person short story while drifting along on the It's a Small World After All Ride, have you had similair experiences?

I was at Disney World and a six foot rabbit rubbed my crotch when I hugged it. I went home and wrote a story about it, but I changed the six foot rabbit to a magician and my crotch to a magic eight-ball. I submitted the story to Nickelodeon's ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK and eight months later I saw it on TV. They never sent me a contributor's copy and they edited the dialogue, which made me feel sad.

3. When I read your writing I get a somewhat Disney World Ride sensation. Like I'm stuck on one of those little boats and there's weird music, then I pass something weird like drunk pirates or little eskimoe children singing, then I pass some pirates sword fighting then the boat falls really fast and there's a talking Abe Lincoln. Do you think it is conscious or unconscious that your writing is like this?

It's definitely unconscious. When I see a little eskimo baby in my head I want to find out about the eskimo baby. What it's favorite color is, if it loves its mother or father more, how long and what color its turds are. I write to find out about the eskimo baby. Sometimes I get an image in my head of a pirate screaming, 'GET THE FUCK OFF MY DIRTY BANDANA,' and no matter where I am I must go home and find out what the pirate is saying that. Just read every author interview ever given. The author is a magical genius who sometimes has images or phrases or pieces of dialogue magically put inside his or her head. The job of the author is to find out why the eskimo baby's face is there. And God Bless them for that. God Bless the authors of America.

4. Would you say your writing is more Epcot Center or Animal Kingdom?

Though I might include some technology in my writing I am not a science fiction writer. I focus only on human beings. Nature is pretty but it is there only for humans to put fences around and then look at and say, 'That is pretty.' So I guess it is more Animal Kingdom. Thank you for asking me this question, it's been plagueing me for days.

5. In that comment directed at you the person said WASP. Which I don't like. First I am considered 'white'. Which means somehow I'm connected to Bill Gates, George Bush, Al Gore, Prince Charles, and Jean Genet all the same time. Like I am somehow to connected to them in some magical way. I don't know those people, I have nothing to do with Bill Gates, or Tom Cruise. Also I'm half Italian which the kkk hated as many northern europeans that got to America early did, for most of the last century the Italians were considered their own race like Mexicans are now, but as time passed they became white people. Also Bernice Mullins is Melungeon and a quarter Hungarian Jew. Two races that were oppressed and hated by white people. But her great grandfather the Hungarian Jew ran out on her great Grandmother so no one bothered to tell her to be Jewish, and to escape the oppression and racism against Melungeons they told people they were Native American. But now, she is white because her skin is white. Millions of immigrants went to Italy during the reign of The Roman Empire, now they are all Italian. I think my question is, do you think that whole mentioning your race thing was stupid?

Yes, it is stupid to mention anyone's race. Loyalty is stupid. Friends 'sticking by' each other is stupid. If my friend is being an asshole then I will tell them they are being an asshole the same as if my friend was an extraterrestrial being an asshole. Most people believe that they share a magical bond with:

1. Family members.
2. People who live near them.
3. People who live in the same state as them.
4. People who live in the same country as them.
5. People who are people, just like them.

This is why there are fights and wars. People believe that other people in their 'group' deserve more than people in other 'groups.' For example if you made a machine that you push a button and five people die, and you are forced to push the button but you get to choose if the people who die are Americans or Chinese most Americans will choose Chinese while most Chinese will choose American. Same with family, friends, sports fans, religions, and a lot of other things, including blogs. You can't fight this. Even liberals. Liberals love liberals more than republicans. They would choose that republicans die. Ideally everything in the universe would be labeled 'Thing in the universe.' Less ideally, everyone on Earth would be labeled an Earthling and on the news it would say, 'Five earthlings died today in a bus crash.' Each time a person uses a word that is a 'Label' it makes it harder to achieve that ideal. It doesn't matter anyway, since actually ideally, the extreme of the ideal, would be for everything to be labeled 'Atom.' But humans are conscious and they move around and don't let their atoms scatter randomly. Same with plants and stars and things. There is no way to explain what I'm talking about to about 99% of human beings. The other 1% knows the sentence I just typed is probably true so doesn't care.


Fran said...

...I didn't mean to "accuse" Tao of being a Pet Chink; I wasn't saying his being treated that way is necessarily his fault or anything, though I think he does play along with it sometimes, which would be his business. Maybe he's mocking people then--I don't know. But I was trying to warn him to not trust people's motives (that's the last time I'll do that for sure).

Pet Whatevers come in whatever "race"/"ethnicity" and can be the Pet Whatevers of whatever race/ethnicity; a "black" person can have a Pet Honkey. I'm mostly italian in ethnicity; I've been treated like a Pet Dago. In a PC-ish world, many people of all races/ethnicities seemingly think it makes them look good to have a token friend/favorite writer/favorite whatever outside their own races. I don't really believe in the validity of races and ethnicities--I think that labeling is a lot of arbitrary group think-and-speak. But many other people seemingly believe in those notions. I was talking sarcastically in the context of what other people believe. Just because I don't believe or do something doesn't necessarily mean someone else doesn't.

In my post I said "The White And/Or WASPy" to distinguish between the two. "WASP" means white anglosaxon protestant. Not every what's-considered-a-"white"-person today is also a WASP, but all WASPS are considered "white" by definition. A person from spain with "only" spanish ancestry would be considered "white/caucasian," but probably wouldn't be classified as a WASP.

Noah, I think you mention Tao's "race" quite a bit; that was the very first and only time I made any reference anywhere to his being "asian" (or at least he claims/seems to be asian, I've never met the person who writes as Tao). If you're going to imply my comments related to his ethnicity/race were stupid, then look at your own comments too please. In that thread way back on his site when you talked about "Tao's tank," was saying it had a Taiwan flag on it necessary and appropriate? I don't think it was, but you chose that phrasing. Why? Can you remember why? I've gotta say that when I first read that, I flinched in surprise. I mean, it sounded like a racist reference to me--at the least, you made reference to his "ethnicity/race" out of nowhere when that shouldn't have been in the argument. But if that didn't bother Tao, then I guess it doesn't matter. Or maybe Tao's full of shit about the loyalty-to-friends-being-stupid thing: if you make reference to his race, it's okay because you're his friend; if I do it, it's a problem because I'm not his friend.

"Each time a person uses a word that is a 'Label' it makes it harder to achieve that ideal."

--"Language" is often like a giant label and labeling mechanism, i.e., using pronouns like I, me, you, it, they and so on is labeling for people/characters in actuality; using the word "yellow" is a label for the "perceived physical phenomenon humans call the color yellow." If you don't want to label ever, you can't really use language. I can't stand labels, which is one reason why I'm a very ambivalent writer: I don't like the medium I'm working in. But I'm forced to use labels when communicating, especially in a world that values spoken words, which is where the written ones originally came from. I think humans should use body-language visuals more. Sometimes I'm too fucking tired to explain verbally: I'd like to flash my left armpit and have everyone understand what I mean. But even body still a language. If my left armpit means something other than my left armpit, that would be a form of "labeling" too.

Fran, who is flashing her right earlobe as she writes this

Fran said...

Noah, here. You said in one of Tao's comment sections:

"Tao Lin Rocks

Tao Lin owns a tank
it is green
with a Taiwan flag painted
on the side"

And again you made a reference to Tao's supposed "race" in the beginning of this very post, you said:

"He has been published everywhere, won a bunch of contests, and has the finest little asian you ever did see."

--Is there a word missing there somewhere? Do you mean a body part of Tao's? Just because you keep trying to compliment someone when mentioning that someone's race doesn't necessarily negate that you keep mentioning that person's race, that you're fixating on it. What is this "finest little asian"? Do you mean some body part, which you're labeling as asian??? As far as I know, there are no "asian body parts"; "asian people" don't have body parts other people don't also have. And/or the body parts of asian people are just body parts; body parts don't have a "race."

But I'm interested in this finest little whatever, just leave out the asian part of the description. You got a pic somewhere of Tao's finest little whatever--have you actually seen it...?

Tao once mentioned Bear Parade authors would have their asses posted on BP. I've been waiting but I see no naked Bear Parade Author asses posted there. I feel so deprived now!

Noah Cicero said...


This wasn't about you.

I read that "pet chink" thing, got the idea of writing about Tao as a southern writer, then talked to him, he told he lived near Disney World. Then got the idea to interview him about Disney World like I was doing some deep important interview.

That is all Fran.

Fran said...

Okeedoke--sorry if I misinterpreted your comments and if my comments distressed you at all. I spent quite a bit of time in the hot Sun today picking blackberries; I'm really exhausted now but have been trying to stay awake so feel juiced-up like. I hate when that happens, which is often....

But what about the Bear Parade Assfest? (I'm never gonna let that one go....)

bearparade said...


Here is one for you.


Noah Cicero said...

I forgot the word ass. I put it in.

It was "Asian Ass."

I put asian ass in there to fuck with things.

This all amuses me Fran.

I have seen Tao's ass.

It is small and nice.

I have never met him in person so I've never touched it.

I am not able at this time to describe the texture of Tao Lin(Reader of Depressing Books)'s ass.

Fran said...

This has amused me too, actually. Thanks for the little exchange, sorry it started off a bit crazy-crabby on my end.

"I am not able at this time to describe the texture of Tao Lin(Reader of Depressing Books)'s ass."

--LOL!!!! You sound so serious here, as if you're a scientist with a microscope wishing you could classify something for a future encyclopedia entry.

Think I'll post more about writers and "nakedness" on my blog tomorrow. Right now, I must get some sleep.

Anonymous said...

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somebody said...

























Medical Blog said...

I think of you more as a Disney writer. Since you are from Orlando Florida.