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Notes from a critic #3.

They purport to be apolitical, but their refusal to question the fundamental structures of society is itself a political act. In China, every aspect of life is political, including literature. [...] This carefree denial of the meaningful role of an artist in society is a blight that inflicts great numbers of China's unofficial cultural elite.

--Ma Jian

Mather Schneider, with whom I joust below, is a cab driver and good writer. Because of the latter, I'd suggested he go to college, but he blew a fuse, taking it as an insult. Hell, I don't judge people on what they do for a living or on the diplomas they possess. Our "war" has been intermittent. Currently, we are actually friendly. I told Mather I wasn't going to publish this, but again he blew a fuse. "What the fuck are you babbling about now?" he said regarding my attempt to explain the true nature of vigorous debate in a democracy. "Run whatever the hell you want to run. [...] I am not going to write FOR you ever again. If you want to exchange emails, that's fine. Otherwise, piss off." Recently, I asked him to send something, partly to show him I held no grudges and partly because I liked his causticity. So, Mather will likely appear in a future issue.

MS: I like your ideas but I get tired of the defense of democracy argument like I get tired of the defense of logic argument. I'm not as high-minded as you, I really don't care about democracy or logic. I have learned some things from the AD, like the fact that Poetry got a 175 million buck inheritance. Mainly though I learned the wopping [sic] dimensions of the great gargantuan head that sits on your neck. I do find the AD entertaining, even the insults, especially the insults!

Editor: Valid criticism is not insult.

MS: Your ideas are good, even though they're not your ideas but Orwell's ideas, Thoreau's and Emerson's ideas. Anyway they're fine ideas. The problem is not with your ideas but with you, as a person and as a writer. You wield these ideas in a disgraceful way, against the wrong people, and your so called essays are nothing but the same old sentence reworked to infinity and surrounded with quotes to round it out. Arguing, or "debating", with you is like fighting a fucking windmill.

Editor: My ideas are my ideas and came not from Thoreau, Emerson or whomever, but rather from direct conflict with power. Orwell and others simply confirmed my observations, which is why I befriended and quote them. There's a big difference there. As friend Jeanne always says, the great artists always repeated themselves. Not to say I'm saying I'm great. Of course, I'm not.

M.S.: Fuck you with your "where's your example" bullshit! Your whole god damned web site is one big example. Just pick a page.

Editor: Examples serve to bolster arguments. Without them, the arguments become hot air. In other words, if you accuse me, back it with several examples. You systematically fail to do that, despite my requests.

M.S.: And now you put yourself on a par with Orwell and Thoreau. Don't sell yourself short, hombre! In fact you're probably, in a historical sense, much more important than any of them. Solz especially!

Editor: That comment is nonsense. Never have I put myself on par with anyone, let alone with those writers!

M.S.: It is your fate to be heard: when all else fails try to strong-arm editors into publishing you, threaten to embarrass them in public if they don't, use catch-phrases as ties and gags. Furthering democracy or "vigorous debate" has nothing to do with your motives. I don't buy it! What vigorous debate? You call people "backslappers" and "whores" and then you expect them to debate you about the "obvious truth of these facts". And also your ideas of censorship are absurd, like I sad before. Is every magazine supposed to accept you every time? Where is the line? When is it censorship and when is it editorial choice? You as an editor turn peoples' work down all the time, and any one of them could start writing you letters about censorship, calling you "close minded" and "uninterested [sic] in democracy".

Editor: Good point on censorship. But you're entirely wrong. Of course, I do not expect every journal to publish me. What I denounce, however, is the overwhelming trend of journals to publish only happy-face diversion and not even present a little half page of negative critique. What I also denounce are journals that present themselves as caustic in tone and substance, yet refuse to publish the causticity I send their way. Gargoyle magazine ("poetry is the bomb, baby"), Guernica, and MainStreetRag come to mind. NewPages.com also comes to mind, boasting via Utne Reader to be a "comprehensive" listing of "alternative journals," yet refuses to list The AD. Academic publications requesting readers to comment like Inside Higher Ed should not be censoring comments either. And I could go on and on here.
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Publication:The American Dissident
Article Type:Discussion
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2009
Words:846
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