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Friday, February 01, 2008

Fun with Follow-up, or, The Girl With Glasses Smarter than You

(Two posts ago, I mentioned that in my old 'zine from the late '90's, I had forwarded the idea that Anything At All could be reviewed as "art", including things like conversations had loudly in public. Enjoy.)

Meeting of the Editorial staff of whatever the literary/poetry mag at Marylhurst College is called, Late December 1997 @ The Pied Cow

Three loud, pretentious women, one very submissive man-not barely getting a word in edgewise-are seated at the window table in the comfy pillow room of the Cow.
The youngest is this girl with the requisite horn-rimmed glasses. She speaks almost entirely through her nose, as well as sounding like she has a cough drop in the back of her throat. She is enthusing about an upcoming trip to Spain, with the memorable line, "Spain's not nearly as provincial as you might think!"

(Well, yes. Sure it's mostly Catholic and all, but they are a country in Europe, which suggest that they have a culture that goes back a couple thousand years at least. A culture that blends many diverse elements, gracefully. So it's just plain precious that some snooty little try-to-be aesthete from this young-as-hell, basically culture-less country would find it Not Wanting.)

The other ladies (no doubt with encouraging nods from the man's head) were then enthusing about how cool it would be to have a famous (?) editrix corresponding from Spain!

They were comparing themselves to other magazines (loudly! The loudest table in this rather intimate space), like Bikini, for instance. They spoke of how they dislike the "smart-ass, snowboarder" tone of the mag, but that the writing itself was pretty good. Then they spoke of Zzyzva (or however you spell that) lit. mag, and how all their contributors seemed to be on that shock-for-shock-value's-sake vibe. They also were very proud that they (unlike some unnamed mag they clearly felt was their competitor) had put out three issues!

There was a long discussion about the fact that at least one of them was going to have to learn how to write grants. I wish I could remember it. It was interesting.

A long discussion followed about how they weren't going to review books they didn't like. They wanted to avoid the snotty, just cuttin' on every thing attitude of "most reviewers". (Well sure...But at the expense of only printing reviews of things you like? One of the other problems endemic to criticism I've noticed is this nasty tendency to write glowing reviews of one's friend's work, ignoring all else. In many ways, this whole We Musn't Discourage Anyone shit has already gone too far. So this means that no matter how honestly come by a negative opinion of something is, it has no place in that mag? The Tyranny of the Mediocre continues. Besides, I learn more from examining why I don't like something than gushing about why I like it. But that's me.)

Our token Rapist Male raised his head at this point. Struggling to complete a sentence without being interrupted, he started talking about a book he was reviewing. It was written by a woman, -and furthermore- a feminist. He pointed out (accurately, though needlessly) that there were quite a few women out there who would be offended by the mere fact that the reviewer was male.
(My own take on that? Yeah, of course there are. In any realm, there's people who will be offended by anything anyone undertakes. They think that they are claiming power by doing so, and will bitch about fuzz on a carpet if they think they can get away with it. That's fine-if completely deluded-for them, but to try to please this particular group of people is to stoop to one of the lowest common denominators possible.)

The three women began stomping all over each other, trying to be first to respond to this. The one that did respond said, "Yeah, but at least you're open-minded. Not like some..."
I looked over at this point: would she say it? "Al-most!", I even said out loud.
Like some-what? Who is it that open-minded types like yourselves hate? C'mon! Afraid you'll have to turn in your Nice Person badge?

But the speaker realized this and said, "...Whatever. In any case..." and went on to explain that his good intentions would shine through, regardless of gender.
(Probably not, though. If he doesn't care what the Constantly Offended population thinks, fine. If not, he'd better sign his name Ariel Waterwomyn or something every time he reviews a feminist text.)

A sort of brainstorm happened next. They decided it would be a good, "fun" idea to write a review as if the spirit of Dorothy Parker were being channeled to one of them. To be fair, they were kind of joking, and this did happen at the end of a long session of throwing out ideas. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but consider what Dorothy Parker would have thought of all this adulation from a bunch of smug, shrill, upper-middle class women who bear nothing in common with her, who she'd probably hate, were she actually here.
She also would be grimly amused, I suspect, that she seems to have taken Frida Kahlo's place as Womyn Martyr from Herstory of the Semester. Last but not least, she wrote scathing reviews of things she didn't like, so it's not like she'd ever be published in this mag, anyway.

It just went on and on. I kept thinking, "So that's what it looks like!"

They said so many stupid things, I feel I've written enough. And if they have any problem with me critiquing a "private" conversation they were having, maybe they should consider the fact that they were so damn loud that one guy left, and the rest of us couldn't hear ourselves think.

(ed.'s note: That's pretty much it. I tried to correct for grammar, but that's pretty much what I had to say about that, as of 1999. Since pretty much no one ever read my zine, I never heard back from the ladies who edited the magazine under discussion here.)



Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Ugh. That reminded me of women's studies classes I took as an undergrad, where the few brave men would have to qualify everything before they deigned speak up in class.
Yes-that's exactly how to do it-opression for everybody for a better tomorrow!

8:28 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Yup. At this point in my life, I was fresh back from four wonderful years in Olympia, and still had some issues...Or did The World have issues?

9:29 AM  

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