notes on 'cognitive-behavioral therapy' by tao lin

‘my heart feels like a medium-erect penis wrapped in saran wrap’

most reviews of tao lin’s books discuss many of the non-book things tao lin has done, but i am going to write about the book

subjects approached in this book are ethical reasoning, hamsters, classical conditioning, getting poetry solicited by other people, evander holyfield, depression, and relationships

the poems comment on themselves and each other a lot, saying things like ‘another poem in this book is eleven pages / so this one should be much longer.’ also the speaker says things like ‘i’ll be right back’

i enjoy a quiet night masturbating in front of the computer
with or without high speed internet
i’ll be right back

and

i want to remember you as a river
with a flower on it

i’ll be right back

this reminded me of the dada manifestoes by tristan tzara where he says various things and then says he considers himself very likeable

there are a lot of poems that describe things that probably actually happened to tao lin, but the poem describes them happening to a hamster

the hamster was caught stealing and banned for life from Whole Foods. The hamster stole only from publicly-traded companies.

there are two poems where the speaker is an ugly fish

and i have swum fast; any speed that exists i have swum at that speed

the book had a lot of unexplained statements and abrupt transitions. the following lines are at the end of a section of the ‘giant poem,’ and they don’t seem to connect to anything else around them

early in the morning
in february
it was very cold
i walked downstairs

the tone suggests, to me, a frame of mind that is calm because it doesn’t feel it needs to explain itself

the book also has lines that give advice more directly

react to disappointment by being quiet and nice
and alone, not by being confrontational or frustrated

i liked some of the titles a lot: ‘i will learn how to love a person and then i will teach you and then we will know’ and ‘i know at all times that in four hours i will feel completely different’

the photo on the back has tao lin wearing sunglasses and a dog in the background, and the dog has red eye


this book was out from melville house in 2008; it has 101 pages

here are the first seven pages of the book

here are the ugly fish poems

here is every page of the book edited into haiku

here is a picture of a promotional sticker for the book

here is tao lin’s blog

here is tao lin’s tumblr

here is tao lin’s twitter

here and here are places you can buy the book