There’s a controversy at Reader of Depressing Books. Tao’s been banned from Pindeldyboz for submitting a previously published story. Here’s something in the comment section:
"I run a literary magazine with the single and simple intention of giving talented writers like yourself a forum to present your work to the masses--" if that was true you would not care about 'first serial rights' by publishing a story you will increase its readership by a certain amount no matter if it was previously published or not so there is something else involved, probably that you want to have a 'good' online literary magazine that people will think is 'good' and by extension will think that you are 'good' and will then 'respect' you and the people associated with your magazine.
I get what he’s saying. If the small online lit press was really interested in the story being read, he’d let it be published a 100 places. But he wants “respect” and to be a “good” magazine. And after all—this is a big Taoist thought—respect is an abstract concept. My response, so what. So what the man wants to have a well-respected literary magazine. It may not be about promoting the writing in the way Tao would like, but the litmag is an artistic project—he wants the project to be unique. I think Tao is disingenuous in saying that he does not care about concepts of respect and being good. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t blog, he wouldn’t write, he wouldn’t be happy about being published by Melville house. He’s an opportunist like anyone who wants his unique vision to be respected. If he says he doesn’t care, it’s a fiction.
Noah Cicero says something that also gets under my skin in another provocative post on his blog. He writes: “No one likes John Updike and no one likes classic guitar. it is cool to hear some classic guitar every once and awhile, but to actually like it. Well, it is like violin players, they are just people that want to be construed as intelligent.”
This is bullshit. As if anyone who likes “high brow” stuff does not do it sincerely, only to be self-important. Not true, Noah. He continually derides fiction for being for educated people—like Rick Moody—and then says how Nausea, Dostoyevsky, Mailer are good. Man, those are read primarily by educated people. And there’s nothing wrong with educated people, nothing wrong with books not about people destroying themselves. Basically, Noah Cicero writes too many absolutes.
Thing is, I like both these writers, especially Noah, I like how they give the finger to how things are run. But they’re also nihilists. But half-nihilists. Saying nothing matters on the one hand and espousing good literature on the other. I think they’re both young writers who are going to be around for a very long time who haven’t completely figured out what they’re trying to say. Both of them seem to talk out of both sides of their mouths, which is what gets under my skin—which is really the point of good writing, to get a rise, but there’s something here that irritates me. They’re both bold and honest, much more than most other writing I see out there, but they're also misdirected.