The poet and critic and author-as-dandy Wayne Koestenbaum has written a book called Humiliation, forthcoming from Picador’s Big Ideas/Small Books series (one of the many proliferating attractively designed pocket-sized cocktail party cheat-sheets, a la Penguin’s Great Ideas and those Simon Van Booy things from HarperPerennial). Koestenbaum, a slightly flamboyant culture enthusiast, could probably be a more widely cult-worshipped intellectual with the proper marketing, and its with that in mind, I guess, that Picador is hoping to brand him as a viral-video advice guru with this new “Dear Wayne, I’ve Been Humiliated” series.
There’s an element of cultural-studies self-parody in the mishmash of the mundane and the lofty—Koestenbaum almost breaks down laughing when invoking Buddhist notions of disgust in response to “Dear Wayne, I farted in yoga“—and that’s one way in which, I suppose, the videos serve their purpose. Another way they serve their purpose is in suggesting, in an accessible (and very charming) context, the sort of exploratory perspectives on familiar phenomenon we’d hope this hip little book provides. Below, he advises someone who’s sent an embarrassing email to a coworker: “You’ve got to take the epicenter of the shame, and turn it around into your identity, somehow.”