The Pleasure of the Rant

I spent a good deal of the past few years ranting — out loud and in writing. And while it certainly served to alienate me from those around me, it did afford a certain pleasure, a certain visceral delight.

Ah, yes, the rant is beautiful — an invigorated possession, an intense focus, that summons words and ideas with an emphatic umph. The rant is a powerful meeting of body, language, and cosmic affect: it pours through our cells conjuring words and fomenting rage as it goes.

And it is so socially abhorrent. Just as the rise of the bourgeois marked a closing of the body — its nostrils, mouth, ass, and genitalia — it put prescriptions on the rant. For the rant is a streaming forth, an uncovered sneeze of words and emotion, a drool of language and invective. It is manic and effusive, terribly impolite and often quite comedic.

For the ranter, it is exquisite, vital, orgasmic: the words spew with concerted projection. There was a time — several years ago now — when I'd wake, head to the coffee shop, and with caffeine streaming through my veins, I'd summon the forces of rant. It often took a sort of davening, a rocking to and fro while feeling for the free floating invective in the air, that affective trajectory of mania, frenzy, and lucid anger.

As I was often quite angry at the time, I had little difficulty conjuring these forces. And then the words would flood the page as I entered a kind of delirious state of pissed off possession. This is not blind rage. On the contrary, this is incredibly perceptive rage.

Of course, it is exhausting and, after a while, unbecoming to rant. I do much less of it these days; I seek other kinds of glorious, lucid possession, ones more likely to end with a kiss rather than a punch.

But I still relish reading, or hearing, a good rant. Here is one I happened upon. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And, for those not paying attention, it's not the ideas of this or that rant that I enjoy. It is the rant itself, its pulsing rhythms — watch the way punctuation can't keep up, the way the affect begins to break syntax while maintaining the utmost clarity.

A Sick Species

I am perpetually flabbergasted by the aching stupidity of people—to wit, a commenter on this very blog. Does this fucking idiot imagine that I believe men to be superior to women? Has this shit stick missed the point so completely? The species is sick—not men, not women, not children, the entire fucking species.

I'll give the fuckstick the benefit of the doubt and suggest that perhaps I've not made clear my disdain for masculinity. Women are vampires but men are doltish zombie fiends, exuding fear and loathing in every gesture, wearing watches and cologne and wagging their impotent cocks at nothing in particular.. What is more unsavory than the image of a man in his business suit, his watch, his cologne talking about the market or cars or a sports, his soul leaking out his ears?

Oh, I've seen the men at the playground. These new mothers may be a bastion of guilt, fear, and utterly depressing surrender to the vampires on their teet but the men are no fragrant flower. The men who rarely see the kids and then take them to the park on Saturday, their fucking Crackberries strapped to their belts, just where there
chi should be—they've traded their vital energy for a corporate network and what, I ask, is sicker than that?—trying their darndest to seem like they give one ounce of shit about their kids—their maniacal jackass but at least playful kids—giving anxious glances at the other fathers as each tries to out-man the other with some sordid display of false paternal love, all the while texting their very lives away, no doubt selling out some old lady in Fresno who's just trying to make her mortgage payments, all the while delivering a shit eating laugh of mirth as they absent mindedly tickle their kid, all phoniness and fear. It is grotesque.

Am I going too fast for you, ass muffin? I am no misogynist. I'm a fucking misanthrope—not because I hate humanity but because I know humanity to be a virus, fundamentally vampiric, sucking the life from this planet without batting as much as an eye.


li'l girl blue said...

I am such a fan of the rant.

So often funny. Car-crash fascinating at the very least. Uninterruptable, and therefore most likely a solo performance – conversation is no platform for duelling rants. Rants are difficult to formulate a response to; post rant, rationality seems flaccid and uncompelling. The end of a rant can be a truly cartoonish phenomenon – the ranter breathless and heaving: spent. Observers silently frozen somewhere between horror and amusement. A charged tension most frequently broken by laughter.

Is it any surprise that ranting is elevated to an art-form by comedians? Thinking about it, many of my favourite comic performances are rants. Tim Minchin immortalises one of his own in ‘Storm’.


And of course Bill Hicks was a virtuoso of the art, and the world is poorer for the absence of his rants.

“People suck, and that's my contention, I can prove it on a scratch paper and pen. Gimme a fuckin’ Etch-a-sketch, I'll do it in three minutes - the proof, the fact, the factorum; I'll show my work, case closed...”

I would venture a tentative hypothesis that a really good rant demands a similar drop in inhibition and caution as that demonstrated by a jazz musician caught up in a blistering solo...the effortless generation of ear-catching innovation from the familiar building blocks of more guarded speech.


(...“ “ass muffin” “ ...snort...)

Daniel Coffeen said...

I like the idea that there are different types of articulate possessions, the rant being one particular mode. So imagine the musician — jazz or otherwise — might get jiggy in a number of modes, from the rant to the Dionysian sublime. I have certainly known different modes of articulate expression other than the rant.

Oh, but I do enjoy the rant, its acute orgasmic frenzy.

dustygravel said...

The Jass rant? Yea yeah yea. the punkz though? the punks.dead milkmen, dead kennedys, susidal tendencies.

But there is one rant that that kills me. Lets call it the incredible punk rock stare. Moving? Its a swirling vortex. when I watch it I feel suddenly motivated. And
what is he even saying? I dont know. Is he contradicting him self? I don't know. He's right though, you know he's right

like when the guy says
"I can't figure out if you're acting ageist that label," "I'm not acting" He hates that word when it comes out of a mouth. (that part is funny to me)

Watch as he calls out to the onlookers!! And it works!
They get it! holy shit
I'm converted.


dustygravel said...

@Li'l Blue: Oh damn my comment looks like its trying to shoot down yours, not what I was trying to do.
I think what I was trying to say was, Jass rant, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! (with an emphatic be BOP staccoto).

The jazz rant is impetuses,
A room fall of raving lunitiks building the dream into a frenzy!

heres one now
Hay john Coltrane


Notes how Tommy Flanagan's (piano) rant reiderates john Coltrane's rant, in new words, that's generosity!

li'l girl blue said...

Nah I didn't feel shot down in the slightest, dusty g, and thanks for the link to that 'trane clip. Although I knew that Giant Steps was notably full of notes, seeing it notated like that makes you take notice in a new way.

You write like a friend of mine that you can't possibly be. Declamatory doppelganger. Weird.