a fool in the forest

Epigraphs

  • A fool, a fool! I met a fool i' the
        forest,
    A motley fool; a miserable world!
    As I do live by food, I met a fool
    Who laid him down and bask'd him
        in the sun,
    And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good
        terms,
    In good set terms and yet a motley
        fool.

    As You Like It,
    Act II, Scene 7

    L'homme y passe à travers des
        forêts de symboles
    Qui l'observent avec des regards
        familiers.

    Les Fleurs du Mal,
    “Correspondances”

    [T]here is almost no subject-matter, and what little one can disentangle is foolish....
    One would call the style verbose, except that by definition verbosity is the use of words in excess of the occasion, and there seems to be no occasion.

    Yvor Winters,
    Forms of Discovery, Ch. 7


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    « On Terry Teachout's Summa Weblogica | Main | Through the Political Grapevine »

    February 18, 2004

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    Comments

    Evan Schaeffer

    George: At present, do you know of any weblogs that have a function similar to that of "little magazines"? In my 2004 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, there are pages and pages of literary journals--that medium still flourishes. There is a much shorter section devoted to "online markets" but none of these appear to be weblogs. On the other hand, I guess I'm missing the point: the conjecture is that writers will self-publish on their own weblogs, and the best of these will rise to the top based on the strength of their writing. But then we bump up against this oft-cited problem: What about editors? Editors aren't important to weblogs, but they are surely important to literary journals.

    George Wallace

    Evan:

    You have caught me out. At least, you have highlighted the purely theoretical -- Not Happening in the Real World at This Moment -- aspect of my thoughts on this subject.

    I can't offer a current example of an online outlet that is actually performing the "little magazine" function with the degree of success that is theoretically possible. (That may be just a function of my own ignorance. Readers? Can anyone point Evan or me in a worthwhile direction on this issue?)

    My point, I suppose, is that a weblog that emulated the function of a "little magazine" could have a greater direct impact than an actual, physical magazine, because it would not be subject to the economic concerns (referred to in Garrick Davis' article) that make actual little magazines so expensive and difficult to follow.

    As for editors, I don't see the editorial function disappearing from the online-little-magazine-equivalent. The importance of the magazines that built the Modern movements is directly traceable to editorial choices, e.g., Eliot selecting contributors or Pound badgering some editor into publishing a poet who had found favor with him (such as Eliot, again, or H.D.)

    One can imagine individual artists who could use the online outlet successfully to achieve little-magazine-like influence, but it is easier to imagine a canny editor or two creating the cultural equivalent of the Howard Dean campaign's grassroots Internet-based support structure. Editorial judgment certainly can be as valuable online as it is in print. The ability to post our thoughts and works immediately does not translate by some magic into perfect editorial pitch. The supportive or hardheaded intervention of an editor or two can and will increase quality and, potentially, influence.

    The happenstance of Terry Teachout's remarks and Garrick Davis' mission statement both crossing my brain at the same time is what triggered my post, and the subject deserves more thought than I have so far given it -- as I suppose an editor could have pointed out to me. Perhaps when Terry gets back to New York, we should try to cajole him into expanding on this?

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