October 14, 2018

What Kevin Kelly Taught Me About Positivity

photo by Franck V. on Unsplash
Kevin Kelly recently inspired me to think more realistically about our collective future. Not because he has a solid understanding of technology’s evolution (he knows more than most of us do), but rather because he remains positive about its influence on the future of humanity.

And that’s something not everyone in the field tends to agree with.

When we see great minds like the late Stephen Hawking warning us about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, it’s difficult to remain optimistic. Especially after 8000+ of the top minds in tech sign an open letter to establish and maintain ethical priorities as AI continues to develop.

But somehow, Kevin Kelly does that. He keeps it positive. And that inspires me.

That mindset impacts so many people, to perceive things that way. It goes beyond yourself. Beyond the exponential growth of tech.

I’ve tried to incorporate it into my own reality very much over the last 6, 7 years of my life. But in reading more and more of Kevin’s media, my metaphorical “positivity” spark has rekindled itself in regards to humanity’s growing dependence on technology.

A lot of times this influence bleeds over into my fiction. My poetry. Even the way I teach.

I think there’s a lesson to be learned there.

So often we subconsciously pump our brains full of dystopian futures, negative possibilities, and fatal concern. Our highly-evolved human brains are still fascinated by the fear.

But in recognizing this, and being able to self-program positivity into our daily routine, we can change the way we create our future.

I’m not saying we should abandon preparing for the worst.

What I am saying is that too much failure-planning distracts us from the potential opportunity we have to build something truly magnificent.

Have a plan for both outcomes. But act on the positive first. Kevin Kelly’s attitude reflects that. And hopefully, we can too. We can collectively establish ethics into the expansive programming for tomorrow’s definitions of sentience.

No one wants a SkyNet. I think we can all agree on that.

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Thank you for reading, friends! You are my biggest influence. If you eNJoyed this, please comment and share. Feel free to check out the BingBangCo. newsletter for more. Stay learning. Much love!

October 5, 2018

Q & A with Scott Laudati, writer and poet



Scott Laudati lives in Bushwick with his Chiweenie, Drake. He is the author of Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Kuboa Press) and Bone House (Bone Machine, Inc.). His short story "Water Street" was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize in fiction. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in dozens of literary journals and online magazines including The Columbia Journal, Trebuchet-Magazine, Thought Catalog, The Adirondack Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Good Men Project, Fjords Review and many others. A novel called Play The Devil is being republished by Bone Machine, Inc. in Spring of 2019. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @scottlaudati. Buy his books here.

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GB: Scott, big thanks for taking time to chat. My first question is usually: can you share a little bit about yourself? Any background info that's NOT in the bio?

SL: I’ve been here for a long time now and I’ve lived a bunch of places and most of it was shitty, but I feel very lucky that my formative years all happened in central Jersey. I got to experience the 90s when people still cared about art and in every firehouse and VFW an amazing punk band was going all in for 11 people. And I never missed a show. That, coupled with Kevin Smith filming his movies two seconds from my house, had a major effect on me and all of us. We saw artists make it on their own terms. And I didn’t and still don’t accept any other way to live. It’s why I’m poor now, but I think my writing is strong.

GB: Bone House is easily one of the best books I've read this year. If you could use one word or phrase to describe its message, what would it be and why?

SL: The experiment failed. That’s basically the message. We were given the brains and the tools to do anything. And this is what we did.

GB: Your tone and style are familiar, yet at the same time, completely unique. How do you embrace these literary tools in your work?

SL: Well I feel very lucky that no one ever introduced me to Bukowski until I was already years deep into writing. I was trying to emulate poets like Jim Carroll and Yeats back then. I didn’t fall into this trap I see at least 99.6% of poets doing, which is just trying to be Bukowski. I get it, he’s the everyman poet and I love him, but we already had him, we don’t need another. I think my work is familiar because my themes are the same as everyone else's - work sucks, life sucks, get drunk, do drugs, fall in love, want to die, etc. Mine is just different because I thought I was original when I was starting to write. I didn’t know other writers had already said these things a million times so I wasn’t copying a blueprint.

I don’t think about poems before I write them either. They just come right out all at once, usually multiple in a row, or they don’t come at all. I might go weeks without writing and then in a night get 8 - 9 good poems. Then I spend hours editing them down.

GB: What other types of art do you like to experiment with? Why?

SL: I think marketing is the ultimate art form. I have 25k Instagram followers and probably 24k are from a t-shirt company I used to own. I don’t care about fashion at all but my friend had all these cool designs and I thought “I can get us rich with this”. And I almost did. I know nothing about the industry but I managed to get our shirts on Joe Jonas and Gigi Hadid within a month. I got to smoke a blunt with Waka Flaka Flame. It was all marketing and hustling and before it imploded I’d gotten Vanity Fair, the Daily News and E-News to do features on us. We made a ton of money and were on every guest list in New York City for like 2 weeks.

I was able to do all of this because I didn’t care about fashion, so I had no shame. I sold out and did every single lame ass thing I could think of, and it all worked. People are morons and I’m a failure as a writer because I care too much. I can’t allow myself to stoop low with an art form I care about. Hopefully the scales will take care of all that, but the ethic has forced me to think of cool and meaningful ways to market. They aren’t as effective but when I connect with someone now it actually means something.

GB: What's your creative process like? Do you have any challenges or roadblocks you've had to overcome?

SL: Time is the only roadblock. It’s all eaten by bosses who pay nothing that I keep helping make more money.

GB: Which authors/artists have had the most profound influences on your work?

SL: Conor Oberst. He’s written 700 of my favorite songs. And he’s pretty famous but ater Elliott Smith killed himself the industry wanted to make Conor the next superstar, and he refused to sell out. He could’ve been as famous as Bob Dylan.

GB: You have a bit of history in the Alt Lit scene. Got any advice or wisdom you've learned from those humble beginnings back in Brooklyn?

SL: Yes! Alt-lit was an entire literary movement that happened and disappeared like 6 years ago in Williamsburg/Bushwick. It was bad, not exciting writing like Insta-poetry but instead of this current stupid self-love movement it was all about Adderall and stealing from Urban Outfitters. It was very fitting for the times. There were a couple of stand out writers like Lucy K Shaw who went on to bigger and better things but it was mainly idiots on Adderall and Xanax, writing about Adderall and Xanax, and stumbling around Brooklyn. Tao Lin was already famous by the time Vice and everyone started writing about the scene and all the disciples were just trying to be him. I think his fiction is terrible but it is original. And now everyone has quit and moved out of the city and Tao is the only one still standing.

The point is, Alt-lit was all the rage, and like Insta-poetry with Instagram, it existed entirely on Twitter and Tumblr, and success was all based on “likes” and re-tweets. It was all the rage for 2 seconds, written about everywhere, everyone was ripping off the style, and then, overnight, it disappeared. It’s a perfect lesson of why you shouldn’t follow trends. The one or two founders get success and everyone else traps themselves into an ever declining medium. No gimmicks last.

GB: What does "success" mean to you?

SL: Paying my rent with my art. I’ve won awards, got nominated for a Pushcart at 24, had 100s of poems published, but when I’m in a room with a writer with a major book deal I realize I’m not on their level. All the accolades don’t mean shit when you’re standing next to the real thing. I’ve never been one of those “I’ll be famous after I’m dead” people. That’s a hell of a gamble. I want to lock myself into the history books while I’m still here. Success to me isn’t personal satisfaction. It’s walking onto the subway and seeing people holding my books.

GB: What's next for Scott Laudati? Got any forthcoming projects we can keep an eye out for?

SL: I’ll have a new book of poetry out right after the new year. It’s done now but I think one book a year is enough. I have a novel being edited currently. It’s called Play The Devil and it’s being republished by Bone Machine soon.

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