Monday, July 14, 2014

To my irritation, I got a nastygram yesterday

It accused me of being middle-brow at best, and an uncultured cluck at worst. It was responding to an anti-Auster review I wrote.

Now...neither of those is, to me, an insult. Kinda funny in fact. Pretentious penile implants like this person is flit in off the Internet, set up a false identity, and then criticize *me* for being uncultured.


In a completely different context, a social-media friend of mine posted this to me today:
Do you feel that The Library of America has sullied their reputation by including such Grub Street regulars as Chandler, Lovecraft, and Dick? Or do you feel their inclusion has merit?
And since I'd just been jabbed in the culture spot anyway, instead of saying "nope" and moving on as I normally would, I wrote this screed:
That gets to the heart of what constitutes a Library of America.

I am a snob.

I genuinely and sincerely believe I am entitled to look down my nose at pig-ignorant credulous right-wing GOP-voting Faux "News"-watching anti-science church-going dumbass motherfuckers.

I am not a snob about what people read. That's like who they fuck. It's not my place to say boo turkey about it. THAT they read is good enough for me, from Harlequins to sparkly vampire novels, to Rikki Ducornet and Marguerite Duras and Italo Svevo. Just sit down with a book and decode words on the page, it's all good.

I might like, or dislike, or even loathe what pleases others. That's my taste, that's my opinion, that's ME judging for me. My opinion is extremely well-informed on matters literary. I share my opinion as widely as I'm able to. People agree or disagree, but they come away informed.

So to call something the Library of America and curate it in such a way as to exclude the reading that millions of people do because it's not "good enough" or it's "just genre reading" is the same kind of pig-ignorant credulousness that I snort and hoot at in the lowest classes. A person's college degree or academic credential makes me no never-mind here because...guess what!...THIS ISN'T SCIENCE where there is a Right Answer! It's art, it's opinion. and it's personal!

Now, that taste thing? That's where we can debate. Is Chandler the pulp-noir writer I'd include in the Library of America? Yes, he's one. I'd put in Dashiell Hammett, a more uneven writer, and Jim Thompson, and Dorothy Whatsername; they all produced excellent work in the genre. Likewise PKD. In their genres, these folks were aces. IN Lit'rachure as a whole? Chandler, maybe...Lovecraft, nay nay nay! But in his genre, a monadnock.

Well. Now you know how I see it.
So my friend took about half a day to recover from the wind-burn I gave him with all that hot air, and then said:
An excellent, well-thought out, and civilized response all around. And I say this, of course, because I agree with you.
And that is why I keep on keepin' on, puttin' out the reviews and discussin' the books. Because there are some who agree, and some who are interested enough to have an opinion that isn't like mine, and who generally think this is a conversation worth having.

Real Life? Not so much. So, future sociologists, flag this post. You want to know why the "dystopian" future of people interacting in cyberspace got so much traction? Because in cyberspace we can get our needs met far more often than in "Real" Life.


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