In response to:
Shutting up is the act of choosing to be silent, to slam our traps shut. Silence is what got us Auschwitz, East Timor, Cambodia, Vietnam, Gulf War I, Reagan, Panama, and news stories about Michael Jackson. The NRA. George Will. William Buckley. Deion Sanders. Rush Limbaugh. And yes, even Noam Chomsky. Silence is also apparently what has gotten us the noise that is Neal Pollack.
The world is littered with bad writers and Neal is not one of them. He has a gift for satire, a flair for drama, and a penchant for meticulous revision. He clearly checks most of his sentences with loving care and is attentive to his craft--something painfully absent from so many writers.
But craft isn't everything, Neal. And sometimes even writing isn't everything. Sometimes, even, writing isn't merely writing. Sometimes writing is a log of customer complaints, a license number on a traffic ticket, a grocery list. And sometimes writing, specifically in the voices we all have, the voices that almost invariably want to participate in government, have no place to go. Sometimes writing is the form in which participation in government takes place. Unfortunately it's hard to find a place for that voice to go. Our supposedly democratic government seems to be averse to actually providing such a place for such voices (unless they are coupled with campaign & party donations). Sam Hamill gave some folks a place for those voices to go on record.
Whereas Pollack might be a good writer, he fails when it comes to reflexive awareness. Specifically he writes he is all for "democratic modernity" yet it seems he doesn't want anyone to speak out against the war or for the war. Neal, people speaking out and voicing their opinions and emotions, however "stupid", is the essence of democracy.
With "Poets Against the War" (PATW), Sam Hamill's idea was to have people participate in the democratic process. He was to take poems from maybe 100 or so of us regular and not so regular poets. But the email request spread like a virus while Laura's advisors received a message from the NSA warning of dissenting e-mail activity. So she cancelled the luncheon that Hamill was to give her these 100 or so poems, and Hamill had thousands, not hundreds, of poems. Many poems came from people who'd like to be writers but couldn't write a line of crafted verse even if their credit ratings depended on it.
Much of the poetry from PATW is HORRIFIC. Solipsistic poetry is horrible and so too is poetry from people who write more poetry than they read. Granted. Poetry written by many poets is bad, not to mention the poetry written by people who think all expression is art. It isn't. It's usually Crapola. ("Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting." - Howard Korder, "Search and Destroy") Bad writing is bad writing, and not everyone is born to write even if everyone wants to be a writer. (Nearly everyone...the mark of many a great writer is hir resentment of having been born as, or turned into, a writer.)
But Neal Pollack, in his disingenous self-positioning into the role of some 21st century E.B. White, well, he go fall down and go boom. He go make a boo-boo. He go make a gross oversight in his writing. PATW still an act of democracy, even if it is a poor excuse for an act of art.
You're for "democratic modernism," Neal?
George and Laura Bush, thier parents, and perhaps even their drunken offspring would like everyone to shut up about the war, to just say nothing, to go away and let them have all the goods. Thos Bushies come from a long line of shrubbery and other vegetable forms firmly rooted in oppositon to marginalizing the participation of voices outside their little Wall Street/Ivy League/Madison Avenue/Oil cabal. Yes, they don't want to hear anyone or let anyone say anything. They also tell people that they're for democracy, not just for us, but for everyone abroad. That's why they're preparing the Patriot II act, to shut everyone up. Permanently. So they can have their cake and, um, feed us ours. Something like that.
This isn't very funny, Neal. Nobody cares? Um. LOTS of people care. Nearly everyone. Even you. You cared enough to tell people to shut up.
Well, I'd like to say instead:
GEORGE BUSH , SHUT THE FUCK UP! COLIN POWELL, SHUT THE FUCK UP AND CHECK YOUR FACTS YOU PLAGIARIST MORON. CAN YOU PRONOUNCE "MY LAI"? NOPE? GOOD. RICHARD "DICK" CHENEY, SHUT THE FUCK UP. FAT ASS HALLIBURTON FUCK. HEY TONY BLAIR! ONCE AGAIN YOU'VE SOILED YOURSELF. SO SHUT THE FUCK UP. DONALD RUMSFELD? YOU? YOU, YOU HANDSOME DEVIL? DON'T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION YOU HELPED SELL TO SADDAM. YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THE EVIDENCE AGAINST SADDAM IS. SOME CALL THIS ENTRAPMENT. YES. SHUT THE FUCK UP DONALD. CONDOLEEZA RICE? YOU LIKE CASPIAN BASIN OIL, YES? SO SHUT THE FUCK UP. PAUL WOLFOWITZ, SHUT THE FUCK UP PLEASE. JOHN ASHCROFT? THAT SINGING'S GOT TO GO, AND SO DO YOU. WE'RE GOING TO FIND THE KIDDIE PORN YOU ARE HIDING SOME DAY. YOU CREEP. SO SHUT THE FUCK UP. AND THEN ALL OF YOU, YOU FUCKING ZOMBIES, PLEASE GO AWAY.
And this goes doubly for you, Neal Pollack:
SHUT THE FUCK UP!