We stayed up all night, my friends and I, laughing at LOLCat memes. In the glow of screens, we drank caffeine and laughed at newfags; in the midnight hours, we used our copies of the “Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry” and “Leaves of Grass” as laptop stands. Savagely, we plastered made up quotes across the faces of politicians and spewed them across Facebook. From the perch of anonymity, we mansplained, nerdsplained, and virginsplained our way from the most enlightened corners of Youtube to the dankest, most classless underbellies of 4chan.
In The Phaedrus, Plato bemoaned the perils of teaching men to write:
And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.
Lol. The steaming pits of the male dominated anonymity of 4chan. Lol. The fact resistant self assurance of the political blogosphere. Lol. The frillery and trumpetry of Facebook. The raging spewage of the uncovered Id, the shameless assertion of identity. The wild colors of externalized inner experience. The citation has been cast away. Personal truth towers. Lol. Lol.
THE WORLD OF TEXT HAS BEEN BLOWN OPEN. TO PRODUCE, YOU NEED A PHONE. TO STATE, YOU NEED AN OPINION AND A BOX TO TYPE INTO. OUR VOICE IS TYPOS BORN OF PASSION AND HASTE.
The Objectives and Affirmations of Digital Romanticism:
To sing the soundbite, the text blurb, the rage face meme, the disenchanted 4chan oldfag’s chant: “why are there so many newfags.”
- To illustrate and record the evolution of societal constructs facilitated by Internet culture, and to explore their implications.
- To recognize this source from which we will glean shifts in culture and collectivity.
- To appropriate the dense and generation specific jargon that designates collective Internet culture.
- To exist as wholly as possible in the transcendence between man and computer screen.
To swim the seething anarchic currents of unregulated thought beneath a mystical fluorescent light.
- To peer into a shower of codes and upload status bars and notification boxes and see the self staring back.
- The aim is not a science fiction of the future, but a narration of the future in which we now find ourselves.
- To explore the turbo-charging of primitive impulses – pornography, comment sections, status updates.
Our poetry shall be characterized by youthful audacity, a love of the instantaneous, the flash of brevity. Like the unscrupulous Youtube commenter, our passions are quick to ignite, our convictions are unshakeable, and our intentions are noble.
- To repurpose the audacity of the unleashed teenage masculine, the politically courageous commentary of the anonymous T-shirt wearing virgin typing with no fear of social repercussion: “Tits, or get the fuck out!” (That is to say, when a user is identified as female, “Post a picture of your naked breasts, or you shall not be engaged with.”) We say, “Poetry, or get the fuck out. YOU ARE SENTIENT – SHOW US A PICTURE OF YOUR NAKED POETRY, OR WE SHALL nevertheless continue to engage with you, because we value all opportunities to further our discourse.”
To laugh as we flush religion down a whirlpool of unregulated data, the broken arms of myths, unverified Richard Dawkins quotes, dick jokes.
- We affirm that the world has been forever re-imagined. An inside joke between friends in Australia becomes a meme designed in Brazil and shared across Twitter; the most obscure, half remembered quote from a book read long ago is immediately available with a keyword search.
To relish adolescence.
- To take possession of the plethora of formal examples that has been produced by this new world of mediums: statuses, Tweets, blogs, comment threads, memes, and gifs shall become our own tools. Behold the memepoem! Fear the vlog essay!
- To not merely translate to new mediums, but to immortalize a voice: the unregulated Id, the grotesque animal will free of political correctness or rejection. The self against infinite other selves.To engage in the ethnography that we always have, to gaze out over this sea. Never before have the bubbling pools of anarchy been so efficiently hosted. As poets we inevitably partake of and join in this fertile noise. Voyeurism, entitlement to immediacy, the snap and tang of highly condensed entertainment, the yawp of the unmetered self– nothing could better suit a neo-Romanticist.
Skye Williams, December 2015
Steve Roggenbuck, 2015
from Live My Leif