Karthik Bala

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Favorite Tao Lin Quotes

I like Taipei by Tao Lin a lot.. Afterwards, I read up a lot on Tao Lin, watched his interviews, and read his articles. He's a strange and interesting but weirdly endearing person. Here are some quotes from him, mostly from Taipei or his unfiltered Thought Catalog interview.

The following quotes are from Taipei. Tao Lin is a master of self-concious internal monologues and brilliantly describing those way too real but not commonly discussed feelings and awkward situations.
and the nothingness of the future had gained a framework-y somethingness that felt privately exciting, like entering a different family’s house as a small child
controlled, smirking, wryly satisfied demeanor of an adult who is slightly more amused than embarrassed to have been caught idly succumbing to a meager comfort that they’ve openly disapproved of for themselves and others.
and he wasn’t close to his relatives, with whom attempts at communication were brief and non-advancing and often koan-like, ending usually with one person looking away, ostensibly for assistance, then leaving—he
his increasingly familiar and self-consciously repetitive life in America, where it seemed like the seasons, connecting in right angles, for some misguided reason, had formed a square, sarcastically framing nothing
earnest but powerless attempt at enthusiasm, resulting in a a weak form of sarcasm, asked if everyone wanted to go to the roof.
Paul realized after they left that he’d gotten what from elementary school through college he often most wanted—unambiguous indications of secure, mutual friendships
Having repeatedly learned from literature, poetry, philosophy, popular culture, his own experiences, most movies he’d seen, especially ones he liked, that it was desirable to “live in the present,” “not dwell on the past,” etc., he mostly viewed these new obstacles to his memory as friendly and, sometimes, momentarily believing in their viability as a form of Zen, exciting or at least interesting. Whenever he wanted to access his memory (usually to analyze or calmly replay a troubling or pleasant social interaction) and sensed the impasse, which he almost always did, to some degree, or that his memory was currently missing, as was increasingly the case, he would allow himself to stop wanting, with an ease, not unlike dropping a leaf or stick while outdoors, he hadn’t felt before—and, partly because he’d quickly forget what he’d wanted, without a sensation of loss or worry, only an acknowledgment of a different distribution of consciousness than if he’d focused on assembling and sustaining a memory—and passively continue with his ongoing sensory perception of concrete reality.
looking down with unfocused eyes, aware he looked like he was thinking but wasn’t, an increasingly common deception for him
feeling what he probably viewed, at the time, as boredom and what now seemed like ignorance of—or passive disbelief in—his forthcoming death,
faintly humorous voice of uncertainly suppressed fear
that there was no such thing as a “drug problem” or even “drugs”—unless anything anyone ever did or thought or felt was considered both a drug and a problem—in that each thought or feeling or object, seen or touched or absorbed or remembered, at whatever coordinate of space-time, would have a unique effect, which each person, at each moment of their life, could view as a problem, or not.
drowsy and decontextualized and memoryless, when he would half-unconsciously remove his earphones and turn off the music, careful not to be noticed and assimilated by the world, and disappear into the reachable mirage of sleep.
I also relate to his goals and a lot of what he says here. From the Thought Catalog interview:
TL: Uh, it seems extremely complicated. Beyond what anyone can comprehend. Because it has to do with free will. Like literally based on physics, people don’t have free will. Because like the first thing happened, and everything has cause and effect. Just like if we dropped a ball and it hit another ball – so that’s just, so based on evidence nobody has free will. That’s just extremely hard to comprehend. CL: But you ultimately want to live a life where you’re in complete control. TL: I think that’s ideal but actually in my life, I don’t even try to move towards that. I’m always focused on like, ‘Jesus, when is she going to respond to my Facebook message?’ And like, ‘should I just say ‘fuck it’ and message again?’ Or like…um, ‘should I buy this cookie? And eat it, or eat it later?’ ‘What time should I wake up tomorrow?’ Or ‘do I need to delete this tweet, or not?’
TL: Yeah! Like if I’ve emailed a girl that I like a lot and they haven’t responded in a few days, I feel really bad. The New York Times and other stuff like that doesn’t affect me at all. CL: It’s the personal stuff. TL: Yeah. Like my goal in life isn’t to get every review ‘loves me.’ That wouldn’t affect me at all. My goal in life is to like…find a girlfriend. CL: (Laughs.) TL: That I like a lot. CL: Oh really? TL: Or that’s one of the goals, the main goals. CL: Did you have a really serious girlfriend at one point? TL: I’ve had (pauses to calculate) my god I can’t even remember. I think I’ve had two serious relationships. But yeah…oh my god, that’s not actually my goal. That’s like the secondary goal. My main goal is to…to able to have so much control over myself that I’m able to remain satisfied no matter what is happening outside of me. CL: Self control. TL: Yeah, I guess that is my main goal. To be able to like…even if I was on an island, like alone and freezing to death, to feel happy. That would be…that seems like the ideal goal to have. CL: Yeah, absolutely. TL: Like, not to try and change the environment but to be able to change your perception of the environment.
TL: People who make less grand pronouncements about things, I think will like my writing.
TL: Oh my god. I’m not ambitious. CL: You’re not ambitious? But you wrote three novels by the time you were… TL: That’s just a side effect of wanting to relive boredom and wanting to do exciting things. Guy on MDMA: But when you’re trying these things what do you want the people to take out of it? TL: Nothing! Just whatever they want. But yeah, I’m not ambitious. Ambition’s just a side effect. Of wanting to…oh my god. Like if a lot of people know about me when I tweet something, the reaction will be bigger. Which is exciting to me. In part because like, everyone will see that one tweet is doing something. And if someone sees someone’s doing something, and it’s affecting one person, or it’s affecting a thousand people, that person will feel more excited if it’s affecting a thousand people. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Ask the next thing.