Tao Lin, student talents adorn all-day ‘Goods’

Spanning 25 acts, eight hours and several jugglers, INK’s biannual “The Goods” showcased a range of creative works from students and postmodern readings from novelist Tao Lin on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Rathskeller.

“The Goods” is an open opportunity for students to present their art in both a close environment and one friendly to idiosyncrasies. Love poems are to be appreciated. A presentation on the existential philosophy of beauty is to be admired. No performer’s endeavors go underrepresented, and it serves as one of many appeals to INK’s all-day event.

Lin reads from ‘Taipei.’ (Tom Kozlowski / A&E Editor)

Primarily driven by writers, a majority of student performers read their original literary works. Megan Osika, a junior secondary education, English and women’s and gender studies triple major, recited selected poems while secretary of INK Rachel Friedman read a short story focussing on the reassimilation of a newly disabled girl. Other members of the organization also gave prominent performances, including puns by events cordinator Mylin Batipps and poetry by president Carly DaSilva.

Musicians played an equally important role in the schedule. Artists Tom Ciccone and Matthew Pignatore, for example, performed two respective sets on guitar, providing a break in between the readings with their own sweet melodies.

At 6:30 p.m., the crowd waited restlessly for the arrival of headlining reader Tao Lin: novelist, poet, journalist and 2005 graduate of NYU. But Lin, unfortunately, had gone to the wrong location. He arrived at 7:20 p.m. instead with only half of the allotted time to read, and the mea culpa dug into his performance.

Reciting a passage from his recently-released third novel, “Taipei,” Lin read as if coming out of general anesthesia — his delivery, drowsy and monotone, confused some viewers as to whether the humor in his passage was intended to be deadpan or if its narrator was merely depressed. Words slurred, he broke narrative to apologize for incomprehensible plot points. Inevitably, Lin may not have been impressed with himself.

“This was boring for everyone, even me,” Lin said after completing his work from “Taipei.”

He then read from his earlier novel, “Richard Yates,” which fell more favorably on audience members who grasped the postmodern humor. With characters named Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osment, unassociated with their real-life acting counterparts, Lin’s writing raised interesting questions about perception and identity.

For some, Lin presented himself as nothing short of perplexity. But perhaps it was all in the act. Reading or even hearing Lin’s prose is culture shock to our own environment. Though minimalistic, he captured a 21st century extremism that explored the emptiness of conversation, marathons of lonely Tweets and drug-induced complacency. His words are practically displacing. To admit their truths is to seem cynical, but to reject them as foreign is naive. Reading in his casual montone may have been initially off-putting for some, but if it proved an existential point, then Lin’s performance was a successful climax to “The Goods” celebration of the arts.