11234 I declare a thumb war. That one is easy, it has clearly defined rules and parameters. More Method Wars should be like this.
2It is the end of the world and you are still over there being middlebrow!!! Since this is about coffee tables as a proxy. We use them as such, and fight, which is not good news for you, since mine is a mid-century Scandinavian design that is light but also dense mahogany. It is perhaps itself a middlebrow thing.
3Put all the Didion girls and the Sontag girls in a field. The Didion girls are mostly straight and have long straight hair that they carefully straightened with a hair device and three kinds of heat-protective hair milks. You knew one in college, she married money but then again the Didion girls always seemed like money even when they didn’t have it.
The Sontag girls can be imperious bitches too. I should know, I’m one of them. Nobody warned me how mean pain can make you. The Sontag girls are scrappier and have inexplicably strong calves and collected appropriate sticks for the occasion. They disdain everyone, even each other. They fashion new selves out of the sticks as they wait. Some of them wear beautifully androgynous leather jackets.
When the battle is done the winner will be photographed for a Céline ad, drenched in the fresh blood of her enemies.
4Latour is banned. And because of the immense power of the participants in academic fights about critical theory, we are able to have the site nuked from orbit. In the post-apocalyptic landscape, a mutant rat with two heads will scavenge and it will be a network and an actor and no one will write about its feelings because we are all pulverized radioactive bone heaps deposited somewhere in the Mojave. It is better this way.
5One guy just shows up to the Critic Bunker with a duffel bag full of Japanese swords and noir-style handguns. He has seen too many Yakuza movies. His method is being a grizzled fuck-up in public. It works. He wins without even touching the swords because criticism loves a good fuckup. After the war is technically over, various enemies dispose of one another with the knives and swords imperfectly, and their katana-severed limbs wash up for days on the beach afterwards. The locals consider a lawsuit.
6The British critics spend a lot of time making sure everyone isn’t trans beforehand, which backfires. When the officiant shouts “Ladies, go!” they reduce each other to what they deem are the essential feminine parts. Several Guardian op-eds are penned entirely by a pair of breasts. A sentient womb complains for hours on Twitter about its supposed cancellation. No one is ever whole again. The parts wander off to their own devices.
7The Critic Bunker is a Brutalist masterpiece by a lost architect who died in his sleep. The concrete is textured like footnotes to back issues you’ll never read.
8There are trenches with names from the titles of midlist fiction that have since passed into obsolescence. We creep between them in masks that make our faces look like bugs. Both sides make Kafka and Housman jokes. Both sides claim absurdity as their own.
9 I am so clever I found my own RAND corporation just to pre-game the Method Wars. I game-theoretically model drone strikes on the New Yorker fiction section, and Twitter fights where one participant suddenly achieves artificial sentience. In a little bit of every projection, the simulation bleeds into the real until I do not know if it has or will have happened. We all listen to a lot of Grimes, only possibly ironically.
10 My lover has already died in the Method Wars. Surely many others will perish. This is a good thing because it reduces competition for permanent academic jobs and arts grants. We say “scarcity!” like others say “vale!” as they charge into battle.
11 If your book gets made into a high-end network television Event, you can opt out of the Method Wars. You become whispers, then, a legend of dubious existence.
12 We are all in a soundproof-panelled room talking about The Novel. Once a day, a slot opens, and there is water and food thrown in. There is no internet. Our left thumbs twitch idly. We are in a series of tunnels under an abandoned oil rig in the North Sea. The winner has already gone insane when time is finally called and the helicopter rotors in from above to fetch him.
13One scenario is just the end of the Nibelungenlied, but in three or four acclaimed independent bookshops. More of a comment than a question, really.
14 Soixante huit to Soixante neuf. Serge Gainsbourg is playing. We have an orgy instead of a War and film it in black and white. It is banned in four countries and teenagers hide criticism under their beds again.
15 A comment about various white men in positions of authority.
16A Ken Burns documentary of the Method Wars will later resurrect our deleted group chats and secret emails in a broad drawl. They will show it in history classes. There will be a second wave of girls dressing like Sontag Girls and Didion Girls for Halloween. They will put our faces on vape pens filled with whatever is better: CBD or liquid poppers or Lacan.
17Auto-da-fés are so popular these days it is difficult to schedule one. All the time slots are always booked.
18The Derrida Hologram is created by a theorist who is also a landlord. It will not stop talking. It takes many prisoners. It refuses to bleed the radiators. This War is protracted, and mainly involves negotiating the language of real estate. Each side claims they are The Real Radicals Here.
19The Young Adult Faction is the fiercest and most easily angered. If you prod them they will charge you with their long spears and testudos, and you will have to climb up a tree like an animal. You live on this branch now. They chant in sing-song “Tell us we are serious! Tell us you love us! Tell us we are real!” until you both accede and die.
20Each side sells its own tote bags and branded mugs to generate revenue. You learn to disassemble a blunderbuss and store it neatly in the appropriate tote during basic training. A stained, tattered canvas bag that smells like big name hit pieces and gunpowder is the mark of a true warrior.
21 There is a gauntlet in the forest with snares and barbed traps. If you run it and live, you become a staff writer and get health insurance. The footage of hopefuls is filmed by Yeezy-clad stealth runners and hawked on the blackmarket as pornography. Everyone who watches it hates themselves. Everyone in in it hates themselves more. This ritual makes an appearance in a Malcolm Gladwell essay about chances and public generosity.
22It is ruled that public intellectuals have to fight in public. I myself, a minor entrant, am taken out in the first-round arm wrestling at a chance for a MacArthur. A friend gets to go to MacDowell after they re-attached her severed elbow ligament.
23 In my will, I ask that if I am injured in the Method Wars, that my pyre be Yves Klein Blue, because he is just mainstream enough to bring me post-death notoriety and just obscure enough to make me ‘lyrical’. Drown me in a vitrine of little blue grains and light it up, until it’s all the same shade.
24The Method Wars are worse than the Forever Wars, because the Forever Wars presume there will at least be a Forever. In the Method Wars, everything is always just at the brink of ending.
25Sitting in the picturesque ruins of the Method Wars, someone will decide to found a Little Magazine. Alea iacta est.
A.V. Marraccini is, predictably, a critic. Her first book, WE THE PARASITES, comes out from Sublunary Editions in Fall 2022. Follow her on twitter at @saintsoftness.
Lead Image: Paolo Fiammingo – Allegory of war