On June 27, when writer Dennis Cooper tried to access his blog—hosted by Blogger since 2002—he discovered that Google had deleted his fourteen-year project along with his Gmail account. Since then, readers have been greeted with a message simply stating, “Sorry, the blog at denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.”
Cooper is not certain whether Google merely disabled the blog or completely erased it. The latter would mean he has lost years of artistic output that included writings, research, and photographs, as well as a platform through which he engaged almost daily with a community of followers and fellow artists. The blog also featured Cooper’s storytelling through GIFs, which inspired his recent GIF novel, Zac’s Haunted House (Kiddiepunk, 2015), reviewed by Paige K. Bradley for bookforum.com, and the 2016 short-story collection Zac’s Control Panel. He told Lauren Cavalli of artforum.com that his latest GIF novel, which is supposed to be published this fall, was stored on the blog. “Of all the things about this that concern and worry me, losing that novel is my greatest fear,” he said.
Cooper tried reaching out to the technology giant via phone and numerous emails, but has only received a generic statement about a “violation of the terms of service agreement”; he has not been offered any precise explanation. “There seems to be some major stonewalling coming from somewhere, but I don’t know where or why,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
After consulting a French lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law and who has volunteered to help, Cooper said Google has launched internal investigations, but they have led nowhere. “It seems that the only option I have left is to sue Google,” Cooper said. “This will not be easy for me for the obvious reasons, but I’m not going to just give up ten years of my and others’ work without doing everything possible.”
Cooper, who grew up in California, spent his early twenties and thirties writing poetry and short stories. He founded the literary journal Little Caesar Magazine in 1976 and Little Caesar Press in 1978. Cooper published Safe, his first book of fiction, in 1984 and also began to work on the George Miles Cycle—a series of five novels—that same year. The first in the cycle, Closer, 1989, earned him critical praise, a cult following, and a reputation as a bold and lawless writer. A contributing editor to Artforum, he also has a prominent reputation as a critic, having written numerous reviews and essays for the magazine over the years, including early takes on Vincent Fecteau (1995), Frances Stark (1997), and Ryan Trecartin (2006).
Known for his graphic treatment of sex in his works, some critics consider his stories pornography, and writer David Ehrenstein, commenting on Cooper’s Facebook page, suggested that someone might have complained about Cooper’s escort series, for which the writer gathers preexisting profiles/ads from online sites where male escorts offer their services and edits them “to emphasize their accidental literary qualities and their emotional/psychological power.” (The blog features a standard warning requesting that users confirm they are eighteen or older.) Yet Cooper had posted risqué work on his blog for years, and the posts would not explain the deletion of his email address.
For Tobias Carroll, Cooper’s blog was more than a “go-to-spot” for readers who appreciated experimental literature; it was a place where writers whose works are overlooked by mainstream publishers are shared and promoted. Cooper said he considers the blog “a serious work of mine.” He added, its purpose is to introduce people to various artists “whose work I think deserves attention and also to support and encourage young artists [and] writers. […] That kind of supporting of other artists and sharing interests is fundamental to who I am.”