Monday, April 30, 2007

In Which I Apologize for Something I Didn't Get Around to Doing

I don't know if other bloggers do this, but I keep various things unread in Bloglines, thinking that I'll want to respond to them eventually. (I have a reference to Brandon Sanderson's "Hey, why don't all of you chaps buy the really expensive version of my books instead?!" essay still hanging around, waiting for me to put my thoughts into a form that wouldn't piss off everyone who read it.) Sometimes I even create a dummy draft post here to remind myself.

Well, a bit more than "sometimes," actually. At the moment, I have thirty-two draft posts. Eight are in some process of being written -- some more than others; "I Am Not Calvin Trillin's Son-in-Law" is basically sitting there empty waiting for me to have the time and inclination -- two are awaiting the proper day, six are potential "Quotes of the Week," and the remaining sixteen are publishable immediately. Most of those are reprints of rec.arts.sf.written posts, stored up for slow days, but three or four are things I've been too chicken smart to post so far.

Anyway, for a while I had a empty draft called "Aesthetics of Fantasy, My Foot," in which I was going to demolish Jonathan McCalmont's two-part essay. (My draft was empty, though, because I'd only skimmed the first part quickly, and hadn't really looked at the second part at all.) McCalmont struck me as a self-centered, windy, deliberately obnoxious curmudgeon who wrote over-ornate sentences and wasn't nearly as clear a thinker as he thought he was.

(Can you see where I'm going with this? It took me a while to get it myself...)

Eventually the Clue Stick descended heavily on my head and I realized McCalmont was exactly the same sort of blogger as I was, and that was what annoyed me. (A similar realization hit me about William Lexner, previously -- though I think Lexner really is trying to be incredibly obnoxious, while people like me and McCalmont just come off that way sometimes.)

So I've moved McCalmont into the mental category of "curmudgeons who occasionally annoy me but who I want to take seriously," joining such excellent company as Barry Malzberg and Norman Spinrad (mostly for his book reviews, which I don't read as often as I should these days). That doesn't mean that I won't post a "look at this stupid thing someone said" essay about any of them -- that seems, for better or worse, to be a lot of what I do here -- but I hope it means that I'll take the idea seriously first...and only then reject it out of hand.

I want to apologize to Mr. McCalmont for what I didn't do; I would have done it in bad faith, and I'm glad I didn't. (But, if I ever get time to seriously study that essay, I expect I'll find some things I violently disagree with.)

I wrote this earlier this morning, and let it sit a few hours, to make sure I wasn't still being an obnoxious twerp, and then I came across McCalmont's long post from Saturday night about kinds of reviews and the standards that should be in place. And I not only agree with it, it makes me want to read more of his criticism. So maybe he's not even as obnoxious as I am -- that wouldn't be difficult.


Jonathan M said...

Wow... it's not often that I'm placed in the same category as Malzberg or Spinrad.

As for the Aesthetics of fantasy, I'm glad you decided not to put the boot in as you'd be effectively kicking a rather dead equine quadruped. Scott Bakker saw to that in the comments :-) I'm happy admitting that it's nowhere near being complete.

As for the curmudgeon thing... fair enough. I'm the first to admit that I can come across in writing as a complete prick. This is partly due to a certain directness of phrasing, a dry sense of humour and partly due to my occasionally being a prick. I'm actually surprisingly amiable in person.qiwb

Andrew Wheeler said...

"I can come across in writing as a complete prick."

You and me both, brother -- you and me both.

If we ever end up on the same continent we should have a drink together and complain about all the other bastards...

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