Behind the Scenes
The thread continues on Dena’s facebook, but I clipped it at my essential point. At first, when Leigh Stein wrote her Open Letter — which was enabled by a friend of mine and contributor to this site, Reynard Seifert, whose history with me is inextricably burdened with mutual envy and resent, because of, perhaps ironically, a woman – I remained bashful, quiet, maybe even slightly embarrassed at my past mistake. It seemed, and still does, unfair to associate me with Garrett Stickland in any way, not because I think he’s a horrible person, but because our respective conceits in which Kate Zambreno were invoked was and is entirely opposite; he was hurt and acted petty, employing misogynistic tones. I responded, apologetically, to her after being addressed in a comment. At this point, I was feeling general dismay and queasiness, but didn’t want to say anything — not dismissively, but pacifistically. Obviously, I was glued to the comment board, and facebook, and twitter, keeping up with the reactions and, to be honest, a little hurt by the solidarity of my peers. I wondered if this was Leigh’s goal, as she had felt slighted by me in the past. And yes, I know, it’s “not about me” i.e. it’s about the greater picture of gender, power, misogyny, Feminism, etc., but, well, it’s hard to think it’s “not about me” when your fucking name is typed into the letter and you are unwittingly held to symbolize its antithesis.
And then Dena Rash Guzman’s Luna Luna piece hit. The funny thing about violence is that it doesn’t take a dick; the pen indeed is mightier than the shaft. I was told that I couldn’t talk about this anymore, because Leigh and Kate — who, perversely, I really empathize with right now — were done with it, though this is my first and sole public statement. Her “please leave Leigh alone” hints at some violent capacity in me, that I would somehow harass her. Dena’s disembodied view of me, as a man, frightens even me. I can only wonder about her.
Dissenters will say this is about my feelings being hurt, and me over-reacting. While I nod to such intuition, and concede to a partial truth, my resignation is to hold principle liable, for that is all we have, to honor the severity of peoples’ words, and humbly confront an important ideology: gender and power. It would be narcissistic to think this will be historical, but I want — in those dark places we don’t admit to — it to be. When you throw people under the bus, they might enjoy the shade. If I am branded a misogynist, and if the majority of this population expresses solidarity in a fight against it, and if both sentiments are taken seriously — at least ostensibly, with political correctness’s self-ingratiating ease — then it would be hypocritical for both parties, any party, to just continue on as they do.
There is, I believe, two essential kinds of writing: one in which the writer believes he or she is right, and one in which the writer is less concerned about their right-being (i.e. morally, politically, formally, intellectually) and more concerned about the “messiness” of life, to which art contractually holds a mirror. Honest writing cannot afford self-censorship on behalf of its readership’s sensibilities, and more importantly, the author’s reputation. Only then is writing art. Otherwise, it’s just design, like a career.
Chelsea Martin used to write for this site, until she made the error of publishing Wigger Chick, about a white girl who “acts like a nigger,” though those are not her quotes, but, collectively, ours. Roxane Gay explained why this was bad. When Chelsea Martin explained why it wasn’t bad, or how at least maybe it was like more complicated than that, Roxane Gay, and everyone else, told Chelsea that, as a white woman, her ideas about racism were naive, innately insular, arrogant, entitled, and unwittingly reflective of “institutionalized racism,” and so Chelsea Martin, basically pissed off (she told me this in person), left. The same people who crushed her in the comments now herald her elegant and quirky success, as ideologies are ephemeral, relative, complicated, malleable, unless you’re writing them into a comment box. Since that incident, no one has said anything that might even be construed as racist on this website (besides Seth Oelbaum, whose anti-White and Jew thing is so perverse and drenched in irony that it is incoherent, pointing to a post-postmodern entropy of meaning, which, I welcome). If you believe this is a good thing, to trade Chelsea the person for a clean “weird-ass” website whose content conveys every liberal arts education ever received, and subsequent sociological allegiances, then this is the place for you. It isn’t, for me.
I pass the last shred of respect I have about this entire incident to Blake Butler, for extending me such a powerful online voice at this very awesome website, at a time when I so desperately needed it. I will read all comments and personal emails regarding this matter, but will respectfully, gravely, remain reticent.
Can I just add that Christopher Higgs can’t be an “Epistemological Anarchist at Florida State University,” because, etymologically, anarchy is precluded by a State. It’s like critiquing the hand that feeds you. Of course, that’s a joke. Epistemology is the study of human knowledge, and he only wants to overthrow that.