RARA-AVIS: Handicapping the List

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 01 Sep 2009

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Handicapping the List"

    Jacques Debierue (from The Burnt Orange Heresy?) wrote:

    > Kevin, you're handicapped by the constant suspicion that people are
    > poseurs,
    > that they don't tell the truth about what they like and dislike. I
    > don't think
    > that's true on Rara-Avis. At least, I have never noticed it.

    Where on earth did this come from?

    But how nice of you to take the time to single me out by name and call me handicapped. Great moderating, that.

    I'm not sure what provoked it, exactly, but for the record, I don't suspect most people on this list of being poseurs (or posers, for that matter). I think the vast majority on this list are pretty honest about what they like and dislike. Oh, sure, a few Google Search Intellectuals pontificate and blow smoke about books they may or may not have read, but they're definitely a minority on this list.

    I may not always agree with them, but I've come to respect the opinions of most of the posters on this list. Because they not only say what they mean and mean what they say, but can also back it up, and will stand by it. Their opinions are based on more than a fleeing whim, a compulsion to post four or five times a day or an obsession with jumping on the latest bandwagon. They provoke and they entertain and they often challenge me to reconsider or defend some of my own opinions -- or turn me on to books and authors and films and the like that I may not have been aware of. That's what makes this list so fun.

    Oh, and not taking too seriously those who take themselves too seriously is fun, too. Especially when the weapon of choice is their own words and deeds. That's fun, too.

    > Also, from some comments you made... you
    > seem to think that this is a writing forum -- it is not, it is a
    > conversation
    > forum.

    I made some comments that lead you to believe that I think this is a writing forum? Let me reassure you that I don't, but that must have been some post, whatever it was. But surely the topic of writing -- what works and what doesn't -- would come into any discussion of books eventually. Nobody's talking about Pynchon's skills as a gardener or a fry cook here, after all.

    And are my occasional alleged wanderings off the straight-and-narrow into the realm of writing really any more off-topic than someone's regular grumblings about post-modernism, political correctness, the sorry state of the world or whether some non-detective writer should have won the Nobel prize?

    Or the evils of hyphenated words? Or someone soliciting opinions on THE ENGLISH PATIENT? And you think some passing comment I may have made about actual writing is off-topic???

    > (Members here) participate in a conversation. It's ephemeral by
    > nature and
    > nobody should be held to "positions".

    Well, for some people, what they say on Monday is the same thing they say on Tuesday. They've given some thought to what they say. I can respect that.

    Others, well, their soggy positions swish back and forth like windshield wipers.

    > About Pynchon, it makes sense to talk about each book separately.
    > Mason & Dixon
    > and Inherent Vice have little to do with each other, for example. I
    > think the
    > former is a masterpiece and the latter an uninspired work. I don't
    > have (and I
    > don't have to have) a "position" on Pynchon. I just read him.

    So you were a "total fan" on August 8, now you're not. But you might be tomorrow. Got it.

    Now that I know your positions are ephemeral and temporary, I'll try to pay less attention to them.

    Gee, I feel less "handicapped" already.

    (Although I was looking forward to scoring a primo parking space.)


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