Monday, August 09, 2010

The Comment Stream Is a Terrible Place to Be

This is not Hell, it's Pergatory.

So it looks like the award for the longest comment stream in literature goes to Anis Shivani at the Huffington Post for his list of the most over-rated contemporary writers. I don’t read much fiction, but the few poets he included are the usual suspects (Mary Oliver, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Louise Gluck, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds) on such lists.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anis-shivani/the-15-most-overrated-con_b_672974.html#s123717

I’ll not rise to their defense (I’ve written about my feelings toward Ashbery’s poetry [it’s excellent] so many times on this blog, that I really have little more to say, other than to wave and smile at such attacks), but I will say this: In the case of Ashbery, certainly, but for some of the others as well, comments such as “ever-rated” miss the point. One could make the argument (with which I would disagree, but I could understand where it’s coming from) that Ashbery’s current work is not at par with some of his earlier work, as Shivani says. But you know, even if that were true, it would be like saying The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney are over-rated. One’s rating is for one’s career, not just the last book. Current work that is not at par with earlier work does not diminish the rating and achievement of the earlier work. Wordsworth’s many years of undistinguished verse does not keep us from talking about Lyrical Ballads as a watershed moment.

It’s the kind of piece tailor-written for a comment stream, and it has achieved its goal. Well over a thousand comments now. What is accomplished by any of it? The post itself has a lot of the qualities we associate with comments from a comment stream: short attacks with a snarky generalization. Is stirring things up in this way at all useful?

Speaking of the potential uses of a comment stream for posterity, here’s a comment from Dan Chiasson from the comment stream of a reposting of the Huffington Post piece I came across on Don Share's facebook page (What's the MLA citation for that?):

“A worse piece of criticism could not be imagined. Jr. high newspaper-level prose, FOX news-level insights. Political Correctness is the enemy of literature? Is this a Dartmouth Review piece from 1988? May all of these writers and all of their friends read and remember it, the next time Anis Shivani comes a-knockin’.”

It's shot through with holes!

As I said above, I think this was something of the goal of the piece, to stir up a comment stream. And what is the reason one might want a thousand comments in a comment stream anyway? We’re not supposed to actually read it, are we? I sure didn’t (well, a glance). What is gained or lost by keeping it going, by commenting there? Or, by having a comment stream at all? I left the Huffington Post comment stream quickly, feeling pretty depressed about the whole thing.

In closely related news, Ron Silliman recently turned off his comment stream (as well as hiding [or deleting] all comments from previous posts), as many have noted. What was gained or lost by such an action? Is it going to mean, as some suggest, that his blog will no longer be as popular? Well, if so, it seems that Huffington Post is quite ready to step in.

As for Silliman, the controversy over his decision to turn off his comment stream continues, less about the lack of future comments, than about the comments from the past that are now gone, comments that were of value to some people (apparently some have noted them in dissertations and books). A couple links on this from his blog:

http://carmenisacat.blogspot.com/2010/08/poet-jessica-smith-moderates.html

http://pathologos.blogspot.com/2010/08/sillimans-backlog-of-comments-lost.html

And then a blog post that he didn’t link to, but one which should also be considered:

http://isola-di-rifiuti.blogspot.com/2010/08/whats-up-with-silliman-mystery-builds.html

So, amid the mess of comments on the most popular blogs (a really big mess), are there nuggets that should remain in the public record? Useful things? Yes, Ron Silliman could, if he wanted to, make visible the comment stream of old posts, but the question is, should he? Is there something to be gained by doing so? Is there something, by extension, about the Huffington Post comment stream, perhaps, that in the future should be archived as well?

It’s an interesting question. I had a class at Ohio University about 13 or so years ago, where the professor spent a lot of time talking about how the sifting through of Victorian era London garbage yielded a treasure trove of interesting things to researchers, things that were helpful in thinking about the literature and life of the time.

I’m sure I don’t want to be the one who has to read through the Huffington Post comment stream or the Ron Silliman comment stream, but if someone else wants to, and can find something useful there, why not? First of all, the comments have to be there . . .

Your seat is waiting for you.

47 Comments:

At 8/09/2010 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that chair.

 
At 8/09/2010 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, John has posted a photo of that chair before. John, are you baiting the comments stream? Are you running out of imagistic steam?

 
At 8/09/2010 2:01 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I almost mentioned when I posted that picture that it was a repeat, then I thought no one would care. I feel like I owe you something now, in a "Where's Waldo" sort of way.

 
At 8/09/2010 2:46 PM, Blogger Brian S said...

"What is accomplished by any of it?"

A buttload more page views than a lit post at HuffPo would likely receive most days is the easiest answer. And if he's gotten 1000 comments, then it's worked, and it's hard to argue the strategy when your ad revenue demands high page view counts.

At The Rumpus, we have a strict rule against doing lists because they're lazy writing and only really serve to stir up controversy rather than conversation. It's worked for us so far.

 
At 8/09/2010 2:52 PM, Blogger Curtis Faville said...

I posted hundreds (thousands?) of comments on Silliman's blog, and often revisited the discussions I'd had with others.

I think it's instructive to see what people thought about the value of those comments. I think it says that some people believe the comment boxes are trivial wastebaskets.

I never looked at them that way. I took them seriously, even when I was dissing things (or even the process itself).

There are people who theorize that Jackie Collins will be of more interest to readers and scholars in one hundred years than Gass, Gaddis and Pynchon.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if posterity found Silliman's comment box a treasure trove of data.

 
At 8/09/2010 2:55 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Brian,

I agree. And they're going about it in a very crass way. Crass gets the $ in the short-term, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression, other than foul.

But what do I know, I don't know a thing about $.

But with pleasure I'll plug The Rumpus, anytime:

http://therumpus.net/

 
At 8/09/2010 3:02 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Curtis,


I think so, too. At first, when I heard about it, I didn't care much about Silliman dumping his old comments, but there is something there. It's something that happened, better or worse. I hate that about the Internet, how things are just GONE one day. Hopefully, though, the Collins will be. Seriously, some things DO need to evaporate.

 
At 8/09/2010 5:16 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Ron Silliman wrote me today to say, in part, that "I may put up the old comments for a week -- Snark Week, so to speak -- to let people download whatever they want to."

What does he mean by this, one wonders? That there will be a week's window before he deletes all the material? That he has no intent of saving it in a space more secure than time-limited Google Cache? One hopes not. But the remark, hardly surprising by now, I suppose, echoes his earlier flippancy and arrogance on the issue. A flippancy and arrogance that is an insult to the most basic principles and ethics of a writing community.

He still hasn't answered the relevant questions (again, that he's chosen to stop comments from the Joe Massey post on is not that big a deal). The issue he's apparently unable to address is why he suggested, and publicly, that he had *no choice*, from a technical point of view ("It's Blogger's default setting" he's disingenuously claimed), to disappear all past comments of his eight year archive. It's perfectly evident this is not necessary, even if he wishes to set his blog to block any further comments from coming in. To be clear: He could set the archive of his past comments to permanent public view at any time. That's what he should do. And if he doesn't want to do this, he should do what's necessary to safeguard all past comments (with their posts) in a secure place such as EPC.

So Silliman's provided no good reason why he's showing such disrespect to the hundreds of people who have contributed to his blog over the past years, or to the many potential readers who may wish to peruse that archive in the future (which may include those, for sure, who wish to consider some rather withering critiques of his often ham-fisted and now largely discredited Manichean poetic cosmology), in convenient fashion and in ready relation to the accompanying posts.

Truly, one wonders, in absence of any credible explanation (a small number of sexist, racist, or ad hominem-slinging folks he could have easily blocked all along are clearly not it), what the motivations really are for cancelling the record and of taking no responsibility for preserving it. That record is part of the very life history of what he's termed "post-avant" poetics--not to mention an organic part of the life of his blog, most obviously in that a decent number of his own posts are tied into those comments.

I suppose future observers will have to speculate. Though even without the archives of his comments, I doubt they'll have too much trouble figuring out the deeper reasons.

 
At 8/09/2010 5:44 PM, Blogger Archambeau said...

For the record, I think it would be a good thing to preserve the SIlliman comments stream somewhere, both for the insight in of some of the comments, and as an example of how people in the early internet era communicated (often poorly, it turns out).

I'd like to see them hosted somewhere like the Electronic Poetry Center, which seems well-positioned to take them on as an archive.

I also think it's counterproductive, at this point, to get bitter or accusatory about what's happened.

Now, back to my bomb shelter, where I'm hiding until the refugees from Ron's stream find some other place to snarl and yelp at one another.

Best,

Bob

 
At 8/09/2010 5:57 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'm not going to speculate as to the deeper reasons why, but it does appear that he got to a point where he just said "enough" of the whole comments thing, and when thinking that, he also seems to have thought something like, "you know, maybe it would be better if they just all went away." That's certainly a defensible position. That said, I wish he'd leave them up. Or that some other site would host his archives (didn't he say before he had a problem with blogger messing up his old posts anyway?). Not just the comments, but the posts themselves. It's quite a snapshot of the last decade. And, of course, perhaps the next one.

 
At 8/09/2010 5:58 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Bob,

Makes sense to me.

 
At 8/09/2010 9:37 PM, Blogger chris said...

Many different themes are getting mixed up in all the thoughts about Silliman's actions. As I see it:

a) There is no *technical* reason Ron couldn't retain the availability of the old comments without having to accept new ones.

b) The opinion that keeping the archive would be valuable is not mutually exclusive with supporting Ron's right to stop allowing comments. If he thinks that's the way to go for his site, that's fine... I disagree with the direction, but it is his decision.

c) That being said, Ron's comment area was a vital source of conversation about contemporary poetry and his reasons seem more and more disingenuous. At this point it simply seems like a capricious, perhaps arrogant act by someone who has become a "dense connector" and, having built an audience-- a community-- that is to a significant degree courtesy of those who made the place dynamic, doesn't appear to care much about it. That's just disappointing.

d) Contrary to the opinion of some, I think there is a lot of gold in those comments. As one who has struggled mightily to wrap my mind around new poetries-- Ron's specialty-- I found many of the conversations valuable and have returned to some entries dozens of times. And it's not just the conversations themselves, but the links and references and pointers to poems that showed up therein. Losing all of that in one fell swoop is sad... losing them for reasons that don't make a lot of sense makes the whole thing even worse.

 
At 8/10/2010 8:33 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Excellent points by Chris Lott, all exactly what I've been saying. And Bob A. and John G., good points too. (I should say that the idea of Silliman's archives being housed at EPC was originally floated by Bob A. back-channel-- a natural one, if RS insists on blocking access at his blog proper to the past record).

As the post-avant world turns...

 
At 8/10/2010 9:16 AM, Blogger Don Share said...

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, here's how to cite my Facebook page:

Don Share's Facebook page, accessed August 9, 2010, http://www.facebook.com/sharedon#!/profile.php?id=534962197.

 
At 8/10/2010 9:42 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Don,


I think you posted that just so you could mention Chicago. City boy!

 
At 8/10/2010 10:08 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Over at Digital Emunction blog, the almost-always insightful Bobby Baird has continued to opine, in sound-bite fashion (that's an objective description), that concern expressed over the vaporizing of the vast Silliman comments archive is "trivial." He does so again in a post today.

Yet he hasn't made a gesture, so far, of addressing the honestly proffered points and questions--of both practical and ethical sort--others have posed about the matter. It's fine, of course, to lambast those with whom one disagrees. But usually, in responsible dispute, dismissal comes backed by some degree of argument. I'm trying to think of a catchy analogy for such oddly haughty stance as Baird's, but can't come up with one right now. Maybe one that has to do with Michel Henri's hand-ball goal against Ireland, or something, I don't know... Perhaps he'll come over here to discuss the issue, given that he's blocked me (for no fair reason, so far as I can tell) from posting my ideas about the Silliman topic--and lately anything else--at DE? That would be cool.

Anyway, while a few denizens of DE wave their arms about with contemptuous mien ('dumb!' 'pointless!' 'nauseating'!), fairly smart and every-so-often non-trivial people like John Latta, Bob Archambeau, John Gallaher, Michael Theune, Chris Lott, Barry Schwabsky, Edmond Caldwell, Dale Smith, and Joe Amato have also expressed, like me, some measure of disquiet about the issue. There are quite a few others, to be sure.

Bobby? Art thou there? Through the liberal-minded graces of John Gallaher, we could reasonably exchange thoughts.

Kent

 
At 8/10/2010 10:58 AM, Blogger Daniel Nester said...

I'm confused. Are you saying asserting that any writer's reputation is over- or underrated is 'misses the point'?

 
At 8/10/2010 11:24 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Daniel,

No, I wasn’t asserting that. Apologies if I wasn’t clear. One can be perfectly reasonable and assert that a writer is over-rated (especially if that writer is currently winning awards and getting a lot of praise).

I was speaking, specifically, to the way Shivani was talking about Ashbery. Shivani seems to have sympathy with Ashbery’s earlier work, from around the time of Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror. And he seems to be rating that early work highly. If he were saying that Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror were over-rated, then he would be consistent. But he’s not saying that. You, or someone else, might however. To say someone is over-rated is to say that their work is not as good as people say it is. Most people who talk about Ashbery admit that the 70s was his high-water mark.

That’s why I was using the Rolling Stones / Paul McCartney analogy. One is not over-rating Paul McCartney to call his work excellent, even as the last few decades haven’t stood up to his early work, because a rating is a total career thing. Now, one could say his recent work is over-rated, but no one that I’ve come across is rating it that highly. So such an assertion would be counter to my experience.

So if Shivani has a criticism of Ashbery, and it’s reasonable that he could have a criticism, he needs to be a lot more specific, and make a new list: Writers who used to be great but now aren’t. Something like that. I would still disagree with his inclusion of Ashbery, however, as Ashbery is a personal favorite of mine. I will admit, then, that I perhaps don’t have a lot of critical distance.

 
At 8/10/2010 12:23 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/10/2010 12:34 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

No, I don't think that's true. I think Baird is within his rights to block public comments from people who insult others in ad hominem ways, using language like you have just used. Which is something I try to stay away from myself.

 
At 8/10/2010 12:42 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Hi Gary,

Please don't call people names. I don't like to have to delete posts. You could have said something else to get your point across.

You're welcome to try again without the wordy dirts (which is how we said it when I was a kid).

 
At 8/10/2010 1:07 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

La de da.

The nacreous epithelial spheres of Pinctada fucata roll unnoticed before the gatherings of Sus scrofa.

Baird is a Boron. Better?

 
At 8/10/2010 1:13 PM, Blogger Edmond Caldwell said...

I thought I would chime in on this in agreement with Kent, and not only because he was kind enough already to mention my name in this thread.

I admit I’m not a little astonished at how people want it both ways when it comes to blogs and online discourse generally, to maintain a blog at all and consider it a valuable mode of communication, and then to dismiss comments streams with such real or feigned insouciance. I’m not sure how it can be serious to maintain a blog on cultural or political topics and yet trivial to maintain a years-long archive of comments for it – is there really such a qualitative leap from one to the other? Either they’re both fairly trivial (as some cultural authorities maintain, dragging down the “national conversation” or whatever), or they are valuable as part of the same discursive package, so to speak. But a double standard doesn’t really cut it, and at times (as in this case) it becomes open hypocrisy.

And yes, I’m taking into account all of the obnoxious things that occur in comments threads, the obnoxious trolling and aggressive male chest-beating and so forth. But at some point this legitimate discomfort turns into something else, a stalking horse for the rejection of the possibilities of two-way communication in favor of a more “institutional” one-way model. I suppose this isn’t surprising, coming as it does in the context of an increasing number of institutional outlets reconsidering their comments policy (Harriet etc.), and also a time when “net neutrality” is more than ever threatened with privatization (the Google-Verizon deal). Any time a commons emerges, the attempt to enclose it is never far behind.

 
At 8/10/2010 1:16 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'll meet you half way then.

But you really don't need to write that way. You can do a better job against those with whom you disagree through argument rather than name calling.

 
At 8/10/2010 1:19 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Edmond,

You have my vote.

 
At 8/10/2010 1:25 PM, Blogger Henry Gould said...

What Edmond said.

I thought both Ron Silliman's & the Poetry Foundation's (Harriet) treatment of their comment stream was wrongheaded & high-handed (or wrong-handed & high-headed, I don't know). The much-maligned comment streams were serious elements of their own popularity. & keep at it, Kent. Set your face like flint 'gainst all the poo-poo-ers, I say.

 
At 8/10/2010 1:37 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Okay, Kent. I agree. I think a review of my last five years of blog comments will reveal ZERO ad hominem attacks. So please explain why Digital Emunction is the ONLY blog where reasoned and well-written counter-arguments are declined?

Because they expose poor reasoning?

Could it be...Satan?

 
At 8/10/2010 1:48 PM, Blogger Daniel Nester said...

@John Thanks for the clarification. I might have read it wrongly, definitely too fast. As far as Ashbery is concerned, FWIW, I think his reputation stock is most certainly high now, maybe not the highest, but will most certainly drop before settling down into something in the middle--canon-worthy, sure, but maybe fewer pages in the anthologies he's been getting lately.

@Gary Satan indeed.

 
At 8/10/2010 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John am I reading correctly and you're advocating that J Collins go away? Nooooooooooo, that'd be horrible: she's one of my favorites! (I am nnnnnnnnnnot kidding).

I like the diss-list: I like reviews which diss--crass and populous of me I suppose. Is the logic Shivani uses tiptop: hell no, but it's still fun! And I wish people after a certain point wouldn't be judged on their career, but have each project evaluated individually, aka I disagree with the McCartney example. I do like J A.

adam strauss

 
At 8/10/2010 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reason for not wanting any one work to be evaluated within a career as opposed to individually: it makes a response which is not based on nowness, and since now is always where one is, this seems problematic and possibly leading to encouraging resting on laurels, and to advocate for a-priori authority (no, legitimacy),based on what's already happened, not what's happening. I am very much biased in favor of now and of authority which is always in the making, not long ago made--which isn't to say I don't adore, for example, Herbert, Dickinson, Celan, the many marvelous dead(alives).

adam strauss
adam strauss

 
At 8/10/2010 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me, I'm still trying to figure out more and better ways to cite Don Share's blog.

 
At 8/10/2010 4:24 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Adam,

I just don't like the "what have you done for me lately" approach to art. All the books that are in print, exist. The date of publication doesn't matter. Or actually, it does matter. But we're able to encounter them all. I say this knowing full well I spend probably 90% of m reading time with current books.

I feel that same way about music. Sometimes I get too caught up in what's new, and lose perspective.

 
At 8/10/2010 4:50 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

I don’t mind saying, though, that most fifth graders understand, and regularly use, the term ‘asshole’, as do most prime time TV shows. The fact that a bunch of fully-grown adult professionals would throw up their hands and say : “OMG, Did you hear what he just said?” is a little pathetic.

Asshole!
Asshole!
Asshole!

So sue me!

 
At 8/10/2010 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that everything is in a sense contemporary: if one can read it, it's in the now. But that strikes me as very different from evaluating a book (or whatever) based on what the maker has made before, because what came before, true, has relation to current production, but if the current work doesn't work, well, then it's not absurd to argue that the writer is, currently, not all-that. I guess it's the difference between viewing someone as an insitution versus seeing them specifically, moment by moment. Funnily, I'm wayyyy more in-line with you when it comes to fashion: I watched the Winter Chanel runway show on their website, and it's not a great collection (ok, but not wow), but I do regard Karl Lagerfeld as great: perhaps because he literally does engine an institution, the institutional view clicks with me. Ashbery as institution strikes me as sensible. I think I just get annoyed when one or two works come to define a writer, and they actually have like 25 works out, and yet it's the two chestnuts which monopolize the author's reception: oh wow what a longwinded way to get to what I might most closely "fee."

I hope all's well!

adam s

 
At 8/10/2010 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"feel" is what should end my last note.

 
At 8/10/2010 5:02 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'm glad to see that was "feel." I was starting to worry what the fee might be.

I agree that if a writer writes a bad book, then that should be pointed out. It's when someone then says the writer is "over rated" that I want to back up. It's not about the books. It's about this "rating" thing, as Shivani is making it a blanket statement about the writer, not just about some books that don't measure up.

 
At 8/10/2010 5:07 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

To fourth Henry and John's endorsement of the good comment by Edmond Caldwell-- as chance would choose, a former comrade of mine in the Socialist Workers Party, once the most vital and true Old Left organization: from the Minneapolis Teamsters strikes in the 1930s (led by Trotskyists), through the anti-war movement (actually also led, beneath all the New Left hoopla, by Trotskyists), through the early 1980s (when the organization sadly degenerated into a Fidel-worshiping cult), where I recall all three thousand or so of us locked down as one, yes, when the annual National Convention democratically decided the line, but where respect for the record and ongoing debate (you should have seen some of the factional fights!) was sacredly held.

Of course, I realize the poetry field is not a Marxist-Leninist party, but you'd think that if an instance of the latter could hold steady to certain ground rules of respect-for-open-discourse principles, then the poetry field should certainly be able to, as well.

Forgive me, but to extend the Left memory, why is the post-avant poetry field so seemingly infused, both at its central committee and at middle/lower obedient levels (not to mention through so much of its blog culture), with thriving quasi-Stalinist anima?

 
At 8/10/2010 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, coolcool--that the beef is with ranking makes sense--tho I adore ranks: they appeal to the Swish Bitch in me; I agree that that HP piece is not a monument to astuteness.

a s

 
At 8/10/2010 5:13 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

>To fourth Henry and John's endorsement of the good comment by Edmond Caldwell...

I just realized how much that sounds like a reference to the proceedings of a late 17th century English Court...

 
At 8/10/2010 5:34 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

By the way, and I will stop posting for tonight after this. But watch for a rather exciting development in the post-avant poetry world toward the beginning of next month: A new, scruffy, hand-stapled, and ambitious newsletter of opinion, poetry, and letters (as yet untitled), very much in the spirit of Floating Bear and Rolling Stock (though certainly without the infamous and unfortunate instances of the latter in its late phase). The rag will be going out to mailing list only, already around 250, and sure to climb.

I will have something in there on the proceedings we've been discussing here. Onward to the 60s.

 
At 8/10/2010 5:43 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Kent,

"Onward to the 60s."

I adore that, and intend to use it many times, in a good way. (It makes a great cry for many moments, like when falling from a tree.) I mean it. It's a lovely phrase.

How does one get on this list? BC if you want.

AS

We all need to indulge the Swish Bitch inside ourselves at some point.

 
At 8/10/2010 7:18 PM, Blogger Edmond Caldwell said...

Yeah Kent, I want on that list too. And print, no less! I say onward to the good old Pamphlet Wars of 1640. We'll behead a monarch yet.

 
At 8/11/2010 10:39 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

John,

I have permission to release the contact for the newsletter:

Micah Robbins, at editor@interbirthbooks.org

Micah is a young poet and book artist (editor of the new Interbirth books), currently located in Texas, doing his Ph.D. in Poetics and Book Arts.
www.interbirthbooks.com

Here are some snippets from a description in correspondence:

>a monthly lo-fi newsletter with thoughts/opinions/polemics/letters + creative work...along the lines of THE FLOATING BEAR, early ROLLING STOCK, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, any number of punk zines, etc. in terms of general approach/format/method though not necessarily viewpoint. To mailing list only, currently at 250+.

More info will be shared by Micah soon, I'm sure. But this promises to be a great (and spicy) addition to the general batter.

 
At 8/12/2010 7:17 AM, Blogger Curtis Faville said...

I think that accusing Silliman of being "disingenuous" about his reasons for closing down his comment stream begs the question. We should take him at his word.

Ron said he closed it down because he had been informed that poets whose work he had favorably reviewed, had been dissed by people in his comment box, and that the possible ill effects on the personalities of these writers was of greater import than any possible value the comment box might have in expanding and fostering dialogue in the literary community. Given the examples he used--Joseph Massey, Barbara Jean Reyes and Jessica Smith--I'm suspicious of his motives. Did he really believe there had been any significant damage done to their "tender" sensibilities? For real?

I for one reject that position, as stated. Yet I think many of us speculate that the "real reason" for his action is some other self-serving purpose, such as openly showing his contempt for the quality of the exchanges. One thing I noticed--over time--is that fewer and fewer different kinds of people were commenting. Ron may have interpreted this as a symptom of the degradation of his audience. My own view is that the younger generation is turning away from blogging, towards the new media of texting, twittering and black-berrying--a trend I see as ultimately degrading to all who participate in it. If I'm correct about the effect of that new media stream, Silliman's decision to pare down his vehicle could be a harbinger. Blogging has been going on for about a decade. Maybe its time has past, or it will shortly be obsoleted. If indeed that happens, it would be best, in the public interest (for posterity) that Ron save his comment archive. Not because he has any love for it, but because we can't discriminate between useful and non-useful data. We don't know what posterity will value. It's presumptuous of us to think that we can predict this, and selfish to think we can summarily delete thousands of other people's serious commentary on issues that we ourselves set into motion.

 
At 8/12/2010 4:14 PM, Blogger Aaron Apps said...

The Huffpo article buys into this notion of the Author (with a big A). I think it is critically pretty shitty.

Asshole!
Asshole!
Asshole!

(Why are we yelling “asshole” again? …not that one needs a reason.)

I also think much of the reaction to the article buys into that notion of Authority. It doesn’t say a damn thing, really, about the work.

I like to think (unless you’re dealing with a Plath-like figure) that the name of an Author is simply a convenient rhetorical device for referencing disparate but vaguely related (by being produced by the same body) writing.

Best,
Aaron

 
At 8/12/2010 4:48 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Just to be fair (and clear) about my observations regarding Digital Emunction here, I posted the following comment this afternoon:

"Anis Shivani should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for cultural honesty."

Comment DECLINED!

Was this remark really that controversial, or did I just happen to disagree with Mr. Baird?

Actually, I'd like to retract my earlier accusation above that Bobby Baird is a...well, you know what. That may have been a little rude, I admit. I think the term I had intended to use was 'arrogant snob'.

 
At 8/12/2010 6:12 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

It is important to note that I have no personal animosity towards Mr. Baird. I have never met him and never expect to.

This has only to do with basic blog (and simple courtesy) etiquette.

 

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