idea: a man exercising on a treadmill who is also going nowhere in life
March 3, 2015 9:49 AM   Subscribe

I grew up in the American suburbs, that idyllic pastoral of white picket fences and bitter secrets. After amazing my primary school teachers with my advanced reading level and complex, nuanced analysis of The Waste Land, I continued my education in the Ivy League, letting the legacy of the many geniuses and impostors who walked those hallowed halls speak to my soul and enrich my literary perspective.

Through my work, I seek to explore what it means to be an upper-middle-class, White, American male in the 21st century.
Meet The Guy in Your MFA.

The Guy can also be found on Twitter, hawking impossibly erudite Moleskines, making reading recommendations, and writing an advice column.

GIYMFA creator Dana Schwartz was recently profiled in the Chicago Reader. She's also at the helm of @DystopianYA, another parody account that does exactly what it says on the tin.
posted by divined by radio (126 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
It took me ten minutes to parse WWDFWD? and when I got it I was like oh fuck, of course. duh.
posted by Think_Long at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


MFA = ???

Master of Fine Arts?
posted by sidereal at 9:56 AM on March 3, 2015


This is awesome. I have been following him for a while now, as well as DystopianYA.

I am trying to get into an MFA program, and if (when) I fail to do so on all counts, the sight of GuyInYourMFA tweets is going to make me cry.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2015


Master of Fine Arts?

Yes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Just saw a pigeon shit as it flew. I think I'll write a story."

Then my brain started reading these with the same voice it gets when I read Birds Rights Activist and now I can't stop laughing. And I have to get on a conference call in a few minutes. Snort.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 10:00 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


But it's your MFA. Who the fuck are you if you're not this guy?
posted by Naberius at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I kind of think I was this guy when I was in my MFA. Sorry, everybody! I was 22, what did I know?
posted by escabeche at 10:04 AM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


But it's your MFA. Who the fuck are you if you're not this guy?

I guess not "an upper-middle-class, White, American male in the 21st century".

Personally, I come from the 24th century.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm of two minds about this. First, I love it because I think MFA programs are stupid and they are responsible for a flood of crap, unreadable, divorced-from-reality writing and stupid formulaic McNovels and McLiterature. Second, I hate it (and hate that it is posted here) because it seems of a piece with the "it's okay to mock and ridicule white men, and in fact we should do it as often and loudly as possible" trend that seems to be sweeping the nation and Mefi.

Is it too "staid, boring, humorless white dude" to ask why this project isn't called "Guy in your MFA Program"? How is "Guy in Your MFA" grammatical? How can a guy get in your degree?

Please just fucking kill me if you ever catch me peddling tweets, jokes, lists and gimmicky websites as a "writing career." I hate hate hate jokey, ephemeral internet shit like this. But then I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.
posted by jayder at 10:08 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


Ok, Master of Fine Arts. Never heard of a degree initialism being used like that gramatically - "in your MFA". Do people likewise say "in your Ph.D" and "in your B.A."? (haven't been to college in a long time)
posted by sidereal at 10:10 AM on March 3, 2015


aaand jayder beat me to it.
posted by sidereal at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


But it's your MFA. Who the fuck are you if you're not this guy?

Well, it's one of those situations where someone is Being That Guy who can't figure out that they're being overbearing. Many people are That Guy in some point in their life, a few people are That Guy chronically, some settings run low on instances of That Guy and some settings wind up with multiple Guys who usually amplify each others' worst tendencies.

Or as I've heard it put, "If you don't know who in your philosophy class is the obnoxious asshole everyone wishes would stop, it's probably you."

Ok, Master of Fine Arts. Never heard of a degree initialism being used like that gramatically - "in your MFA". Do people likewise say "in your Ph.D" and "in your B.A."? (haven't been to college in a long time)

Sometimes.
posted by kagredon at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Naberius: "But it's your MFA. Who the fuck are you if you're not this guy?"

Why, I'm the MFA writing the story. ~tents fingers~

sidereal: "Do people likewise say "in your Ph.D" and "in your B.A"? (haven't been to college in a long time)"

Yes. probably an Americanism?
posted by boo_radley at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok, Master of Fine Arts. Never heard of a degree initialism being used like that gramatically - "in your MFA". Do people likewise say "in your Ph.D" and "in your B.A"? (haven't been to college in a long time)

No, people do not ever say this. It would totally be "in your MFA program."
posted by not that girl at 10:13 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is the only parody twitter account I've ever blocked
posted by hellojed at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


And I say this as an American with an MFA in writing from an American program. "Guy in your MFA" sounds like something from one of those tests linguists give about what is and is not allowed in your native language. I would answer that "Guy in your MFA" is not allowed in my native American English dialect, the dialect of white, highly-educated people who have MFAs in writing. It may be allowed in other dialects but I'd be surprised if it were.
posted by not that girl at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The FPP's gender choice implies its written by a woman?

GIYMFA creator Dana Schwartz was recently profiled in the Chicago Reader. She's also at the helm of @DystopianYA, another parody account that does exactly what it says on the tin.

posted by infini at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2015


this thread reads like a step-by-step affirmation of Robin DiAngelo's study on white fragility
posted by runt at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2015 [60 favorites]


Great, now do the one about the engineer who thinks his genius with the computer maths makes him an expert in any arena he dabbles in for five seconds.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2015 [27 favorites]


I follow Guy in Your MFA and I find it to be pretty funny, but then they go and do stuff like putting Jonathan Livingston Seagull at #2 on the reading list or mentioning Tuvan throat singing and I get paranoid. How did you get access to my thoughts? Get out of my head

(and into my moleskine)
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


what's that word for when the satire of a thing is more insufferable than the thing?
posted by thelonius at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hypothesis: That Guy in your MFA says it that way ("in your MFA") because only That Guy in your MFA would say "in your MFA" like it was normal. It's meta-humor.
posted by sidereal at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


I would answer that "Guy in your MFA" is not allowed in my native American English dialect, the dialect of white, highly-educated people who have MFAs in writing. It may be allowed in other dialects but I'd be surprised if it were.

A search for "in my MFA" shows about a 50-50 split between use of "in my MFA" (MFA as noun) and "in my MFA (program | experience)" (MFA as adjective). There are definitely people with/in the process of getting MFAs who use either construction.
posted by kagredon at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


"running amuck"? Oh, Chicago Reader, how you run me amok!
posted by kenko at 10:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Personally, I come from the 24th century.

I'm having fun imagining what SkyArtNet sent you back in time to terminate.
posted by XMLicious at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.

Hell yes
posted by Greg Nog at 10:25 AM on March 3, 2015 [21 favorites]


But then I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.

Oh I wouldn't blame your opinion being ignored on your being white and male.
posted by a manly man person who is male and masculine at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [56 favorites]


what's that word for when the satire of a thing is more insufferable than the thing?

moleskinefreude?
posted by chavenet at 10:27 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apologies, I'm a high school drop-out who had no idea what the fuck an MFA was until I read the profile in the Reader and thus I had no idea that it should be "MFA program" as opposed to "MFA." (Possibility: Maybe "Guy In Your MFA Program" is too long for a Twitter handle, whereas "Guy In Your MFA" fits just fine?) Mea máxima culpa, in any case.

The FPP's gender choice implies its written by a woman?

Yep, it is written by a woman. Her website is linked in the OP.
posted by divined by radio at 10:29 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Second, I hate it (and hate that it is posted here) because it seems of a piece with the "it's okay to mock and ridicule white men, and in fact we should do it as often and loudly as possible" trend that seems to be sweeping the nation and Mefi.

I didn't get a "mocking white men" vibe from this - rather I got a "mocking guy who is blinkered to how much privilege he has and believes himself to be a special snowflake because he thinks he's the only one since Cheever to have noticed how sterile the suburbs are and thinks his shit doesn't stink" vibe.

It's not, like, if someone made an anti-Corgi web site, then you could take that as a symptom of "wow suddenly it's okay to make fun of short legs".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2015 [31 favorites]


what's that word for when the satire of a thing is more insufferable than the thing?

Saturday Night Live
posted by Ratio at 10:32 AM on March 3, 2015 [58 favorites]


Oh this is great: "guys. GUYS. The greatest thing in the world just happened. A dude just tried to mansplain @GuyInYourMFA to me."
posted by kenko at 10:33 AM on March 3, 2015 [53 favorites]


A search for "in my MFA" shows about a 50-50 split between use of "in my MFA" (MFA as noun) and "in my MFA (program | experience)" (MFA as adjective). There are definitely people with/in the process of getting MFAs who use either construction.

How much linguistic change, I wonder, is driven by sheer laziness?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


dunno
posted by Greg Nog at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [55 favorites]


I deal with MS (science) students so Guy in Your MFA gets a shrug from me (except maybe the WWDFWD moleskine) but I am amused by the @DystopianYA tweets.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2015


At first I thought the WWDFWD moleskine was just a joke so I went to order it to see what the site would say. Then it gave me prices and asked for a credit card, so I guess it is serious. I'm actually tempted to buy this. Is $20 for a customized moleskine worth it?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2015


idea: a man exercising on a treadmill who is also going nowhere in life

Okay is this another of those brain teasers, like if a man with an MFA on a treadmill runs fast enough, can he fly?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Moleskines exist to trick me into trying to spend may way out of shitty writing. Turns out a legal pad or a laptop with a plaintext program are all you need. But damn, they are not all you could ever want.
posted by Think_Long at 10:44 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh this is great: "guys. GUYS. The greatest thing in the world just happened. A dude just tried to mansplain @GuyInYourMFA to me."

I saw that earlier and thought it was hilarious - but I didn't realize it was from the author of GuyInYourMFA herself. I'm dying.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


But then I'm a white dude

no shit

and what I think can be safely ignored

I feel the same way, most days.

But then I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.

Ohhhhh now I see what you're doing.

I too struggle daily against the hegemonic yoke of anti-white-guy oppression. We can't go a week--not a WEEK--without someone on MetaFilter posting something poking gentle fun at the sea of privilege in which we can otherwise swim contentedly. I for one won't stand for it. Man your moleskines, fellow downtrodden white guys! There's class warfare afoot!
posted by Mayor West at 10:47 AM on March 3, 2015 [61 favorites]


Rabbit, Run only 45 on the list of 50 essential books that a GIYMFA should have read by now. Ah, the injustice of being supplanted by your disciples ...... "What the hell ails you? What's so damn fancy about you? Just tell me. What is so friggin' fancy?"
posted by blucevalo at 10:49 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


acronyms are my arch-nemesis

would someone please explain what WWDFWD is
posted by halifix at 10:57 AM on March 3, 2015


What Would David Foster Wallace Do?
posted by mokin at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I didn't get a "mocking white men" vibe from this

Speaking from my position—though not, I wish to insist—an unfixed position—and therefore from a fragmented, hybridal, subjective position—as an upper-middle-class, White, American male in the 21st century, I did not feel "mocked" by this. But I am registering @TheGuyWhoDrivesAJokeIntoTheGround. Just in case I need it later.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


well, what would he do?
posted by thelonius at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2015


Something supposedly fun he'd never do again.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [35 favorites]


Also also I call shenanigans on that reading list. We are to believe that those 50 books are essential and yet there is not a single Bukowski work on it!
posted by octobersurprise at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Finally off after a day of trying to convince 13 young white male upper middle class men (and a couple of young woman) that since I am the professor and they are a bunch of lazy privileged angst-ridden idiots with much too much attention given to their hair, I probably know better than them what to study and why.

This is like a gift of laughter from heaven.
posted by mumimor at 11:13 AM on March 3, 2015 [21 favorites]


Man your moleskines

That sounds like some sort of bizarre euphemism.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Considering that my digital native children refer to having "a Twitter" or "a FaceBook," perhaps this MFA candidate is simply using a fusion of slang and metonymy. (Or synecdoche, I forget: my BA in English is from a long time ago now).
posted by wenestvedt at 11:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This pricked me a little, too, jayder. It's good to be pricked now and then frequently and vigorously!
posted by Drexen at 11:28 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


But then I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.

If it makes you feel better, I couldn't ignore the white dude who, pissed off that I got placed on a committee he wasn't even remotely qualified for instead of him, keyed the word "cunt" into the paint on my truck yesterday. I couldn't ignore that at all, let alone safely! Does that make you feel better?

This is a parody account of a certain kind of white male, usually middle class, who is completely oblivious to their position in society and the experiences of other people, and in turn, hero-worship the same (hence the all white guy literary list on that site). I'm all for that kind of mocking, but maybe it's because I'm really tired of "that guy" calling my lab "the kitchen" because he feels it's okay to ignore all the struggles of women in STEM and instead use my gender as the prop for his joke. (And then, of course, gets upset when I call him on it.) It's the same guy everywhere, MFA or engineer: it's always about them. Mocking them is a way to both draw attention to the behavior and to let off some steam. (I know *I* badly needed the bark of laughter I let out at the WWDFW moleskin.)

And I certainly don't feel any sympathy for those who complain about that certain kind of white male being mocked. If mocking of that kind of person is too much for someone, perhaps there's some obliviousness that needs to be considered.

I'd write more and check my grammar carefully, but I have a conference call soon in which all the white guys are actually going to ignore me, so I have to go prepare all my ideas so that I can say them 3 or 4 times. I wouldn't be surprised if women and minorities in MFA programs have similar experiences.
posted by barchan at 11:29 AM on March 3, 2015 [68 favorites]


As a lady MFA grad: everyone from my cohort definitely uses the phrase "in our MFA/in your MFA," as in, "remember the guy in our MFA who used to write multiple stories about men being aroused by children but was puzzled when people were less than impressed with his incisive artistry?"

That guy is this guy, and there is one of him in every workshop. He knows better than everyone and laughs derisively under his breath when people like things. Liking things is pathetic, in his opinion. (Mine once wrote feedback on one of my short stories that it was terrible, unreadable, painful to slog through, etc., and then when the rest of the class talked during discussion about how funny it was, he scribbled in a barely legible footnote where he tried to take it all back and said "I mean, it was FUNNY, I GET IT, but I'm just not sure about the FORM, it might CONFUSE PEOPLE")
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:36 AM on March 3, 2015 [22 favorites]


I get the hate that the Moleskine trend has produced, but their little music notebooks are amazing. I don't know of anything else like it.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:40 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Or as I've heard it put, "If you don't know who in your philosophy class is the obnoxious asshole everyone wishes would stop, it's probably you."

Heh, we were just discussing That Guy on our grad program cohort FB group today. Dude loooooves to listen to himself speak. Not so cute when we've all been sitting in a stuffy room for 3 hours and just want to get the fuck home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was getting ready to post some snark but then I actually read the list of 50 recommended books by this talented satirist and I really like pretty much all of them. Sorry.

We are to believe that those 50 books are essential and yet there is not a single Bukowski work on it!


Actually Bukowski seems to have retained enough voltage (he was a pretty angry horrible guy) to have not made it into any 'canon'. Nice people like to see themselves grow out of him a bit like Ayn Rand, don't they? But you pick up 'Factotum' years later and it really rolls along.
posted by colie at 11:47 AM on March 3, 2015


I was getting ready to post some snark but then I actually read the list of 50 recommended books by this talented satirist and I really like pretty much all of them. Sorry.

Poking fun of the Western Canon's homogeneity is not a comment on the quality of its works.
posted by Think_Long at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2015 [16 favorites]


I was getting ready to post some snark but then I actually read the list of 50 recommended books by this talented satirist and I really like pretty much all of them. Sorry.

This project isn't saying "everything white men in MFA programs like is terrible." It's saying "everything that is liked by this kind of white guy in MFA programs is laughably predictable: they exclusively like the works of their fellow type of white men."
posted by nicodine at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


The advice column is pure gold.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE WHO FEEL YOUR WORKS DON'T INCLUDE ENOUGH LGBT+ CHARACTERS?

Not enough LGBT+ characters? Please. In my last novella, "Before the Cracks in the Pavement Brought Us Back," I subtly allude to the fact that Jean, the receptionist at the car rental agency, is actually a bisexual. Her bisexuality is, in turn, a metaphor for the United States' ambivalence at the onset of World War I. And many of my poems contain strong homoerotic subtext... but JUST SUBTEXT.
posted by nicodine at 11:56 AM on March 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


OH MY GOD "BEFORE THE CRACKS IN THE PAVEMENT BROUGHT US BACK" IS SO ABSOLUTELY THE KIND OF TITLE THIS KIND OF GUY WOULD USE
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Poking fun of the Western Canon's homogeneity is not a comment on the quality of its works.

I get that - it's subtle and I like it. I've also been this kind of white guy so it's extra sweet. But I suppose I was just looking for a little more laser-guided precision in the 50, rather than, say War and Peace, The Communist Manifesto or Of Grammatology - which are appreciated by nearly everyone who's into their literature.
posted by colie at 11:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


colie, there's an appreciable difference between liking something and flaunting it like some cultural capital bling (ie the linked blog)

unfortunately that is not a lesson often learned in particular settings (ex an MFA program)
posted by runt at 12:03 PM on March 3, 2015


This goes into my yet-to-be-named category of worthless life hack lists.... make your bed first thing in the morning.... then read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, I guess.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2015


I had no idea that it should be "MFA program" as opposed to "MFA."

It isn't. The people who object to that perfectly cromulent usage also object to "could care less" as an expression of indifference.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nice people like to see themselves grow out of him a bit like Ayn Rand, don't they?

Do they? I don't know many nice people. Anyway, I don't know if you've ever seen them or not, but I find I enjoy Buk's art more than his prose.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2015


When I did a creative writing course a few years back, one of the other students asked us to agree to an NDA before sharing their work over email.
posted by colie at 12:13 PM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


It took me ten minutes to parse WWDFWD? and when I got it I was like oh fuck, of course. duh.

Bro, do you even MeFi?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been following GuyInYourMFA for a long time and it's fucking hilarious.

A bit of a tangent, but relevant because we're talking about MFAs: An Open Letter To That Ex-MFA Creative Writing Teacher Dude
posted by kmz at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


As someone who was totally this dude in undergrad philosophy seminars, I apologize to everyone who ever wanted to poke my eyes out with the pen I fidgeted with incessantly. Though to be fair, the "that guy" quotient of those seminars was over 50% for the most part. Undergrad philosophy.

Fortunately, people were spared my insufferable grad school years since I dropped out to become a ski bum. I've grown up a little since then, I hope.

Ok, now that I've finished talking about myself, this was pretty funny, but I like her @DystopianYA project way more.

"You shouldn't have to wear the blue tunics that mark you as Laborer anymore!" I declare.
Ermias furrows his brow. "I kind of see white."

posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I suppose I was just looking for a little more laser-guided precision in the 50

Yeah, seconded. But I think part of the problem with the That Guy canon is that you start getting into non-overlapping tribes and subtypes of pseudointellectualism pretty quickly: the Deleuze & Guattari version of That Guy is pretty different from the Bukowski version of That Guy, and neither really overlaps that much with either the Canonical American That Guy, who'd probably just check in with a list of (50 or 5,000) works by Updike, Roth, and Bellow. But yeah, that species is in decline: the up-and-comers include the "postmodern"/slipstream That Guy (Pynchon, Lethem, Chabon, Safran Foer, he might like Mieville but he's never heard of Delany), or the Serious Nonfiction That Guy (Sebald Sebald Sebald Sebald oh yeah you should also check out Philip Hoare), and so on and so forth. (And to be honest there's also several species of That Gal who'd be pretty funny to caricature this way, including the parody-Twitter/Toast That Gals of the Internet.)

Suggested list: Top N women authors whom That Guy defensively claims to love when called on the maleness of his Top N list. Joan Didion has to be pretty near the top.
posted by RogerB at 12:37 PM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


main thing about MFAs: no loans. Never, never go to one of these programs using loans. If you aren't rich and can't get a program to fund you? Sorry: don't go.
posted by thelonius at 12:45 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah. Because she's tough.

Of course the problem is that this MFA guy meets another MFA guy, and he starts getting published because it turns out there is a network of these MFA guys out there who secretly believe that writing by women is soft and sentimental and demonstrably not as great as the Great Writers (where is the female DFW? they ask each other, speaking frankly, looking over their shoulders a bit) so that when they score internships at the Paris Review because some other former MFA guy long past his first youth sees something in them that reminds him of his dazzling glory days, and then go on to edit the LRB, they end up writing statements like this one.
posted by jokeefe at 12:47 PM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


Top N women authors whom That Guy defensively claims to love when called on the maleness of his Top N list.

Always:

Alice Munro
Grace Paley
Edith Wharton

Sometimes:
Toni Morrison
Willa Cather
Mary Gaitskill
Lorrie Moore (you are supposed to prefer her earlier work)
posted by escabeche at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


and then go on to edit the LRB

Perhaps you mean the LARB, which published that Angel thing? The LRB has for decades been edited by Mary-Kay Wilmers, who is pretty much the precise opposite of That Guy in intellect as well as gender.
posted by RogerB at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2015


Oh, on re-read I see that Angel was for some reason quarreling with the LRB about gender representation, there's already a MeFi thread about that, sorry about the derail
posted by RogerB at 12:59 PM on March 3, 2015


But then I'm a white dude and what I think can be safely ignored.


I'm a white male, aged 18-49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are!


NUTS AND GUM- TOGETHER AT LAST!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


MFA = ???

Master of Fine Arts?


When I was in engineering school we called this degree "Master of Fuck All"
Yes, we were arrogant pricks.
posted by rocket88 at 1:08 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Always:
Alice Munro
Grace Paley
Edith Wharton

Sometimes:
Toni Morrison
Willa Cather
Mary Gaitskill
Lorrie Moore (you are supposed to prefer her earlier work)


I was about to say that in my 20s, I was definitely This Guy (only without the MFA, so worse). But after cross-referencing escabeche's comment with my bookshelf...I'm think a part of me must still be that guy, a little bit.

I liked this almost as much as I liked Mallory Ortberg's Male Novelist Jokes -- which is to say, I loved it for the cleansing shame that made me recognize the ridiculous parts of myself that I need to shed.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 1:35 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a white male, aged 18-49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are!

NUTS AND GUM- TOGETHER AT LAST!


(As an aside, much as I enjoyed that line, it always bugged me because of when The Simpsons acknowledge they're yellow.)

As for the comedy, it was a little Stuff White People Like for me, which meant while I could see the humour, I didn't really feel it.
posted by gadge emeritus at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Always:
Alice Munro
Grace Paley
Edith Wharton

Sometimes:
Toni Morrison
Willa Cather
Mary Gaitskill
Lorrie Moore (you are supposed to prefer her earlier work)


Carson McCullers
Gertrude Stein (have never read her but still say yes, she was the lone genius modernist; have not really bothered with Woolf)
posted by jokeefe at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lorrie Moore (you are supposed to prefer her earlier work)

Well but come on though the stories in Self-Help are way better than her later stuff.
posted by kenko at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Always:

Alice Munro
Grace Paley


Wait, this guy seems like way less of a tool than That Guy.

Gertrude Stein (have never read her but still say yes, she was the lone genius modernist; have not really bothered with Woolf)

Dead on, yeah. He's meh on Marianne Moore and he's never heard of Mina Loy, but I'm seeing some at least borderline That Guys who are surprisingly into Elizabeth Bishop these days.

Also:
Flannery O'Connor
Joyce Carol Oates
Marilynne Robinson
posted by RogerB at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked this almost as much as I liked Mallory Ortberg's Male Novelist Jokes -- which is to say, I loved it for the cleansing shame that made me recognize the ridiculous parts of myself that I need to shed.

This but also with a soupçon of "I'm still pretty much like this and fuck it if I'm ever going to change but fair play to making fun of my bad mojo whiskey slang".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:14 PM on March 3, 2015


Carson McCullers

Ok, but what if you were, I don't know, an artistically-inclined sophomore in high school who carried a photo of her in your wallet because you loved her writing so much and wanted to be able to remind yourself that the person who wrote those words was real?
posted by clockzero at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


This parody list of namedropped women writers is also a pretty good list of best writers ever tho'.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:16 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This parody list of namedropped women writers is also a pretty good list of best writers ever tho'.

That Guy is a creature of received opinion; since he measures "his" tastes to what he thinks other people will find deep, he often ends up affecting to like good things — but rarely obscure good things, and often overrated and/or anodyne good things, ones that don't say as much about him as he thinks.
posted by RogerB at 2:35 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


rarely obscure good things, and often overrated and/or anodyne good things

So not That Hipster, then.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:54 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


How much linguistic change, I wonder, is driven by sheer laziness?

All the parts that aren't driven by showing off.
posted by PMdixon at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This parody list of namedropped women writers is also a pretty good list of best writers ever tho'.

but then you ask about Margaret Atwood & Barbara Kingsolver and drink in his face's quivering uncertainty mmmm
posted by psoas at 3:05 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


<snob>I would be pretty uncertain about anyone who mentioned Atwood and Kingsolver in the same breath. </snob>
posted by kenko at 3:38 PM on March 3, 2015


Rabbit, Run only 45 on the list of 50 essential books that a GIYMFA should have read by now.

They're alphabetical.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:24 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


that DystopianYA is brilliant:

The Categories are final and absolute. Ermias is an INTJ, and I'm an ISTP. We might never see each other again.
posted by thelonius at 4:28 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I only mock and ridicule white men when they deserve it. Which is... well, all the time. The combination of blinkered worldview, limited milieu, and outsized confidence in abilities/voice/depth, nurtured from birth, makes it so easy! To be fair, it's often lazy reactive snark. It just feels good to punch up when you're feeling helpless about yet another of these guys garnering accolades for writing about upper middle class sad white twenty somethings in Brooklyn.

As The Awl puts it in their about page: "We should take a moment to note that The Awl receives the most pitches from the people who pitch the most—the same people who flood every open submissions box on the internet: dudes. Mostly white ones who are young but not that young, probably already working in the media or possibly in grad school, who have been taught from a very young age that not only do their voices deserve to be heard, but that people are waiting for them to speak. [And yet, why so loud, still?] And, sometimes, sure. But, very often, the people who are the most convinced that they and their work are a perfect fit for The Awl should strongly consider why they feel that way; nearly as often, the people who have convinced themselves that they don’t deserve to be here are the ones who should be pitching."
posted by naju at 5:05 PM on March 3, 2015 [16 favorites]


I only mock and ridicule white men when they deserve it. Which is... well, all the time.

What a stunningly -- let's say misinformed -- thing to say.
 
posted by Herodios at 5:36 PM on March 3, 2015


I always wanted an MFA..
Until I realized having a job was more important.
posted by mrinfinity at 5:50 PM on March 3, 2015


I'm on tinder just for meaningless hookups that I can later turn into uncomfortably detailed workshop stories.


Shudder. Not on Tinder, thank God, but nevertheless, glad this guy is in your MFA and not anywhere near my bed. Ugh, can't scrape the feeling of the idea of this guy off me. Yuck yuck yuck.

Note to self: Never date men in MFA programs or guys with an MFA.

Done and done. Scientists, engineers and IT guys only, people. Maybe they're the lesser evil.
posted by discopolo at 6:04 PM on March 3, 2015


I only mock and ridicule white men when they deserve it. Which is... well, all the time

Well ... I don't mean to pat myself on the back but I am a white guy. And I think we are pretty damn good at being objects of mockery. I mean, I'm open-minded. I think eveyone can be risible if they try hard enough. But at the risk of sounding "politically incorrect" I think white people just have natural talent.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:41 PM on March 3, 2015


Scientists, engineers and IT guys only, people. Maybe they're the lesser evil.

Oh boy are you going to disappointed.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:44 PM on March 3, 2015 [10 favorites]




Oh boy are you going to disappointed.

but they read phys. rev. lett. so romantically
posted by octobersurprise at 7:10 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


One day last spring me and a friend swung by Brown University campus on move out day to see if anyone had thrown out anything good. By a dumpster, there was a small moleskin notebook lying on the ground. Someone had filled out the first page including their name and address and a note offering a $10 reward if it was returned after being lost. The rest of the book was blank except for a few pages of jotted notes. One was a sentence observation about a woman in an orange polyester suit looking beat down by life. Another was something about how those who suffer most are blessed because they can experience life more deeply. 'Moleskin guy' was probably only 18 years old and maybe it was a little mean spirited to laugh at him as much as we did but hoo boy.

I've been happy to use the rest of his notebook though.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:25 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Ryan Boudinot has a few "Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One", which apparently provoked enough grar to prompt a follow-up interview.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I prefer the Dystopian YA account, only because it seems more topical and a little fresher. The Dude in Your MFA is good, but as satire, it's a pretty soft target. Is there anything here you couldn't find in a David Lodge novel from 20 years ago?
posted by 99_ at 8:09 PM on March 3, 2015


Second, I hate it (and hate that it is posted here) because it seems of a piece with the "it's okay to mock and ridicule white men, and in fact we should do it as often and loudly as possible" trend that seems to be sweeping the nation and Mefi.

That's kind of an amazingly awesome point-missing there! Since this isn't so much mocking "white men" qua white men as it is mocking a certain sort of wannabe litterateur with pretensions to be the next Cheever or Updike (as if we need another!) grinding out Great American Novels about the alcoholic, adulterous anomie of suburban management types. (Which is part of an entire American literary and, more broadly, dramatic culture that treats the white professional upper-middle-class suburban experience as containing Great Universal Truths about the human condition; you can see it in not just Cheever and Updike but in DeLillo and David Foster Wallace, and in films like American Beauty and, more subversively, Happiness).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:15 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


but they read phys. rev. lett. so romantically

but what about anal. chem.?
posted by Existential Dread at 8:22 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only interesting question about that Boudinot piece is "did you decide the author wasn't worth taking seriously after the first item or the second?".
posted by kenko at 8:23 PM on March 3, 2015


This account reminds me of a guy from an introductory creative-writing course I took in college. He called one of my stories "Joycean." I felt pretty good about that until I read his stories.

In one, the narrator loses his faith/mind when, following a conversation about theology with a classmate, he walks in on his beautiful girlfriend doing something horrific. The narrator, overcome with shock and disgust, describes the sight so vaguely that we had to ask what exactly he was seeing. It could have been a Lovecraftian metamorphosis. It turned out to be a threesome. The girlfriend's name was Eve.

Of course, I can't talk: My story, the one the guy said was Joycean, was about a man, the owner of a failing hardware store, who pays a surprise visit to his son, a dissolute disappointment of a college student who - shock of shocks - has sex with women on the weekend when he doesn't expect his father to come by at some absurdly early hour for some reason.

Anyway, this account is good and I endorse mocking this kind of writer.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:37 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This also reminds me of The Bourbon Bastard, a Twitter in-joke based loosely on Esquire's Chris Jones, a "North Star for bad opinions."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:47 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


And mangled references.

Chris Jones ‏@MySecondEmpire 1h1 hour ago
Claps, ranked:

1. Standing ovation
2. Warm applause
3. Slow
4. Golf
5. Herpes

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Scientists, engineers and IT guys only, people. Maybe they're the lesser evil.

Oh boy are you going to disappointed.


wow is this the right time to share this story I was thinking of because of this thread, about the guy who was That Guy in my graduate group theory class I THINK SO

Anyway, this was a chemistry class, so it was about using various mathematical consequences of symmetry to derive information about molecules, usually in ways to simplify various quantum mechanical energy calculations.

On this day, the professor was trying to demonstrate to us a new concept, and she uses an example molecule (I think it was ammonia), and gives it a slightly different coordinate system from the one we've been using in the past few days. I'm not very naturally talented with spatial stuff, so I was sort of taking it on faith while doing some sketches and calculations in my notes margin to better convince myself. That Guy, on the other hand, FLIPS OUT and refuses to believe that it's a valid coordinate system, insisting that it can't be reached by symmetry operations on the original coordinate system. He and the professor bicker about this for about 5 minutes.

There's about 10 people in this class (actually fairly large for a course in our specialization), so nearly everyone else has exchanged looks of why is this happening and when will it end when the professor finally gives up on trying to integrate this tangent into the lecture and sends Guy over to a secondary whiteboard on the side of the room with the task to try to prove that his coordinate system is not degenerate to the one she's trying to use to teach us, where he spends the rest of the 80-minute class, leaving us in relative peace.

Looking back, this guy had a lot of pretty strong and not entirely logical opinions about coordinate systems, because I remember being at a bar with him and several other students and the two of us getting into an argument about Ender's Game because he insisted that "The gate is down" would be an arbitrary and therefore meaningless statement in a zero-g environment, and I kept hollering that that was the point, that Ender's leadership among his classmates stemmed from his coming up with a simple-but-always-applicable system for making sense of their environment.

Good times.
posted by kagredon at 10:48 PM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's almost as if young people who have decided that Literature is going to be their Life are often self-centered bores
posted by thelonius at 3:20 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did playwriting, which is a bit of a different beast -- mostly theater kids, really. But once, memorably, one of These Guys was in a course I took.

I remember he wore a cap and had serious sideburns going on. When the day came for the draft of a play of his to be read aloud, he literally pulled it out of his back pocket, where he somehow had the whole thing folded up. (Admittedly it was a short one-act, and he brought only one copy. He just read all the parts himself, which was ... not how it was supposed to work.)

The play, I kid you not, was about an Artist who would have been a great Artist but he was kept down by his Mother and Girlfriend who wrecked his life by demanding that he get a Job to support them and they also wanted him to spend time with them instead of letting him just do his Art.

When he finished reading and we were supposed to start making comments, I remember there was a VERY LONG moment of silence first when everyone just kind of stared at him.
posted by kyrademon at 4:23 AM on March 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


Never date men in MFA programs or guys with an MFA.

Come on, now. I have an MFA, and Mrs. Example seems to put up with me just fine most days.

Then again, my MFA is in (basically) Elizabethan/Jacobean drama and not creative writing, so it might be a little different.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:27 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's almost as if young people who have decided that Literature is going to be their Life are often self-centered bores
"How remarkable it is that those who do not bore themselves generally bore others; those, however, who bore themselves entertain others. Generally, those who do not bore themselves are busy in the world in one way or another, but for that very reason they are, of all people, the most boring of all, the most unbearable."
— Søren Kierkegaard, "Rotation of Crops: A Venture in a Theory of Social Prudence."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:23 AM on March 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just imagine Don Rickles with a Moleskine and all is right in the world.
posted by clavdivs at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Story idea: guy is at the kitchen table, and his wife brings him some toast, and the toast is burnt. Then nothing happens, except the guy sees his whole life in flashback, and he's dissatisfied with his life. See, the reader is left to wonder, does he eat the toast or doesn't he?
posted by newdaddy at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2015


a Twitter in-joke based loosely on Esquire's Chris Jones, a "North Star for bad opinions."

My favorite Chris Jones moment was when he used to have a bio that asked shithearts to fight him, because that is what manly men do. So @Bro_Pair said he would box Jones, then got blocked by Jones, then Jones quietly changed his profile, and this has been Your Week In Twitter Gossip

posted by Greg Nog at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Story idea: guy is at the kitchen table, and his wife brings him some toast, and the toast is burnt.

I would read the shit out of that.
posted by colie at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Call me crazy, but I like reading stuff from people who have something more to say than "I'm a writer!"
posted by thelonius at 4:09 PM on March 4, 2015


Story idea: guy is at the kitchen table, and his wife brings him some toast, and the toast is burnt.

I would read the shit out of that.


The bread is brioche. Burnt butter hangs in the air. His shirt also, clearly, is saturated. The lipids have nowhere else to go; yes, they too must succumb to the sweet logic of gravity.

May be getting the genre wrong.
posted by amorphatist at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2015


If a Kirby sales is involved in furthering a participatory narratives continuity, no.
posted by clavdivs at 7:28 PM on March 4, 2015


The play, I kid you not, was about an Artist who would have been a great Artist but he was kept down by his Mother and Girlfriend who wrecked his life by demanding that he get a Job to support them and they also wanted him to spend time with them instead of letting him just do his Art.

You remind me of a woman I met in LA, she was from Dubuque and had an MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. She told me she had a screenplay she was shopping around. It was about a teenager from a small town in Iowa who was a Jeopardy whiz. People would come to his house to watch him watching Jeopardy on TV, he knew every answer, he could blurt them out before the real contestants even hit the button. He became a local legend, so the townsfolk collected money to send him to LA to audition for Jeopardy. He got on the show, and the whole town was watching.. while he choked miserably. He froze up and didn't even press the button once. He had to skulk back to his hometown as a loser, he became a pariah.

After she told me her elevator pitch, she said, "I've been shopping my script all over town, nobody is interested, I can't even get them to read it. Now I'm so broke, if I don't sell this script soon, I'll have to move back to Dubuque!"
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:47 PM on March 4, 2015


Come on, now. I have an MFA, and Mrs. Example seems to put up with me just fine most days.

#notallMFAs
posted by kagredon at 11:39 PM on March 4, 2015


After she told me her elevator pitch, she said, "I've been shopping my script all over town, nobody is interested, I can't even get them to read it. Now I'm so broke, if I don't sell this script soon, I'll have to move back to Dubuque!"

It works better with the double frame; she should have shopped that.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:17 PM on March 5, 2015


It works better with the double frame; she should have shopped that.

I am certain she never even realized it (at that time, anyway). But it works better as a triple frame. She did move back to Dubuque. I also ended up broke and I moved back home.

When I wrote that comment, I was thinking of registering that treatment with the Writer's Guild, and I remind any readers of that little notice at the bottom of this page, "All posts are © their original authors."

Subplot: I had a screenwriter friend (made real movies for Warner Bros, oscar-nominated etc) and one day I mentioned to him, hey did you hear Jeopardy is coming back on the air in a few months? After all the hubub with Wheel of Fortune, this is going to be a huge thing, mark my words. A few months later, he told me, hey I had to thank you for that tip about Jeopardy. I just sold a spec script about a game show to Paramount for $70k, it's in turnaround and will probably never get made, but it was good money. I named the central character in your honor, he's called Uncle Chucky!
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:39 PM on March 5, 2015


Having read through the thread, I'm not sure whether my initial hunch that MFA stood for "Motherfucker Asshole" was right or not.
posted by Grangousier at 7:13 PM on March 21, 2015


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