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The Triumph of the Quiet Style - The Awl
"The clearest demonstration of the quiet style—the dominant, most provocative, most interesting aesthetic of our time—is in theater, where Annie Baker created a revolution by slowing everything down, inserting long pauses, setting plays at room temperature. Baker is, in America and for straight plays, the unquestioned superstar playwright of her generation. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and a MacArthur Grant in 2017. Her success is so sweeping that it’s almost hard to remember how weird her style seemed five or ten years ago, and how much it ran against all the prevailing headwinds of playwriting, which, for decades, had been all about making plays faster, more shocking, edgier.

American plays were already fast-paced (quick cuts, overlapping dialogue) and then, in the 1970s, David Mamet figured out a syncopated style that made them even faster. (“Arrive late, leave early,” is his prescription for writing scenes). Neil LaBute, Mamet’s heir, starts his signature play, Reasons to Be Pretty, with the stage direction: “Two people in their bedroom, already in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!” Edward Albee, the reigning granddaddy of American theater, admitted that he wrote The Goat, a play about a man’s love affair with a farm animal, more or less because he couldn’t think of any taboos left to break.

For Baker, studying playwriting at NYU, the contemporary approach to playwriting was a nightmare—a formula to get your turns and reveals as plentiful and as high up in the script as possible, and all of it about as artistic as working in the pit at Daytona. While in graduate school, she had a breakdown (by her accounting, one of many) and, stuck, declared to her mentor that what she really wanted to do was to write a play about her mom and her mom’s “hippie friends sitting around and talking about spirituality for two hours,” which, to Mamet and her NYU professors, would have been like saying that what she wanted most as a playwright was to make sure that her audience had the right atmosphere for a nice, peaceful nap."



"But it’s not as if the quiet style began ten years ago. Chekhov is quiet. Our Town is quiet. Beckett is quiet. French New Wave is quiet. Probably, in every era, ‘serious’ art is quieter and slower than commercial. What I am saying, though, is that something distinctive is happening, and it’s clearly resonating with audiences since the same tendencies are dominant in all these different mediums, producing what for years has been the the most unsettling, most challenging, most talked-about work.

The key figure for the quiet style, the one who lays its sociopolitical foundations, is J.M. Coetzee. In Coetzee, the ruling class relinquishes—reluctantly but voluntarily—all its entitlements and, in humility and debasement, acquires a kind of beneficence. “The alternatives [to the power structure] are not,” he writes in the Diary Of A Bad Year, “placid servitude on the one hand and revolt against servitude on the other. There is a third way, chosen by thousands and millions of people every day. It is the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.”

For the protagonists of the quiet style, most of whom descend from generations of easy living (their privilege is so patent and so internalized that they rarely deign even to speak of it), institutions no longer have anything to offer them and need nothing from them. They tend to be very willing to relinquish whatever societal power they have to those who want it more than they do. It’s characteristic to be an ex-pat (as in Lerner and Greenwell) or to be in some sort of internal exile (Vermont in Baker’s plays) or to be adrift in the ghettos of the unpublished, unproduced artistic underclass (as in Jarmusch, Baumbach, Heti, Dunham, etc). In other words, to have opted out.

What’s crucial—and, ultimately, what defines the quiet style—is the gesture of abnegation, a recognition by its heroes that success either is not for them or doesn’t matter to them. In spite of its heavy use of naturalism, the quiet style is not realism. Fundamentally, the quiet style is a mode of religious expression and it leans heavily on its confessional aspect, its blind faith that the moments of most abject, most senseless humiliation are also the moments when we are at our funniest and truest and (ultimately) most divine. For me, the great attraction of the quiet style is that it takes the attributes of my much-maligned generation—our restlessness, fecklessness, envy, solipsism—and turns them into something like a prayer."
quiet  quietness  slow  pause  pauses  art  film  theater  samuelbeckett  frenchnewwave  jmcoetzee  2017  style  playwriting  writing  davidmamet  anniebaker  abnegation  restlessness  fecklessness  envy  solipsism  naturalism  realism  antonchekhov  jimjarmusch  sheilaheti  lenadunham  noahbaumbach  filmmaking  taolin  benlerner  mumblecore 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Vice: Dennis and Terence McKenna: Parts of an Intellectual Dyad
"building a hyper-dimensional vehicle out of the 4D transformation of my own DNA interlaced with the DNA of a mushroom"
TaoLin  DennisMcKenna  TerenceMcKenna  Vice 
october 2016 by cosmic
Great American Novelist
"...in a room of 24 Macintosh computers, I observe Lin's style of navigating the internet to be vastly inefficient, centered around the nearly indiscriminate and seemingly purposeless refreshing of websites. When I tell him he is rapidly clicking things in an arbitrary manner, he says, "I'm in control; I'm definitely in control, I think," in a way that seems both machinelike and uncertain."
TaoLin  hamster 
may 2016 by cosmic
Hobart :: An Open Letter To The Internet
Um. ed. Elizabeth Ellen comments on controversy, suggests victims "haven't taken responsibility"
TaoLin  from twitter_favs
october 2014 by miaeaton
The Millions : Modern Life is Rubbish: Tao Lin’s Taipei
More than the good reviews, this long, confused, angry response to Tao Lin's Taipei makes me think it might be great. http://t.co/zPdCpQhVkq
review  TaoLin  books  from instapaper
july 2013 by juanbs
416-905
Photo: I am glade to see that there is still a market for little books. No more than 95 pages. ...
taolin  from twitter
july 2013 by razorgoto
How to Be Considerate on The Internet « Thought Catalog
Being considerate can be a powerful tool in your daily and long-term struggle to not become an angry, jealous, out-of-control, earnestly depressed person who feels frustrated and cheated all the time.
etiquette  internet  TaoLin  email  notbeingajerk 
january 2011 by mournjargon
Tao Lin Will Have the Scallops | The New York Observer
"The Observer said, "I'm going to write a profile of him in a parody of his style." The colleague said, "That's awesome. You'll nail him. His writing is so terrible." The Observer thought, "He thinks of Tao Lin the way I used to think of him, that Tao Lin is a fraud, but now I think Tao legitimate. His earlier stuff is juvenile, but now his style works to heighten a sense of alienation. Profiling Tao is important to me. I'm doing a service to literature."...The Observer said, "Your Concrete/Literal Style rolls back all the advances Flaubert made in the representation of consciousness. But by rolling back modernity, you've also advanced the novel by exposing its distortions." Tao Lin went to the bathroom. The Observer thought, "This guy pees a lot.""
books  taolin  literature  interview  writing  meta  fiction 
october 2010 by arosner
The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America by Tao Lin - Books - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper
Secretly considered "unseemly in a wholesome way somehow" by serious literary critics; "I don't know, is it okay to read these people?" by MFA students at Iowa Writers' Workshop; and "I really, really want to stay away from those people and their books" by people who like Thomas Pynchon a lot.
taolin  publishing  literature  essay  books  writing  stranger 
august 2010 by petrichor

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