June 27th, 2011 / 12:04 pm

Oh that playful Fugue

So, Fugue Magazine published a new issue with the theme of “Play.” (Tx to A. Monson for the tip) And play Fugue did (I encourage you to see excerpts online), with the authors of the issue. Enter the always seriously playful (and badass), Michael Martone. In the words of Fugue‘s editors:

One of the pieces included in the issue is a series of footnotes written by Michael Martone that runs throughout the footers of the issue. When we accepted this piece and when we designed the issue, we saw Martone’s contribution as a separate piece that happened to be playing with form in the same way other pieces were playing with content. We did not consult the other contributors to let them know the way Martone’s piece would run in the issue simply because we did not anticipate that writers would be upset, or see the piece as a violation of their art.

Well, some wordsmiths got writing-pants-n-wad about this sort of play. Not funny!! is what they said. The writer Lia Purpura sent in a lengthy letter of rebuke, posted for all to see by Fugue. Purpura writes (and a whole lot more–read the letter–she’s sort of pissed):

My work is not a Petri dish in which another writer may culture his work. My work is not a vehicle for a theme. It is not a means to an end. It’s not a stage upon which another may act out his piece. It’s not a field for a game of hide-and-go-seek. My essays are not raw materials to be remixed, recast, reconstituted, cut, spliced, manipulated or mashed up. I am an author and I am not dead.

Well, alrighty then. You can play with blocks and matches, but lay off the words, people. Right? Or waaaayyyy wrong-headed. Clear-sighted advocate or stick-n-mud? Obdurate authors or defenders of the holy grail? You people write and read. What if Fugue did this to your words? What if you were mashed-up with the shape-shifting Michael Martone? What do you think?

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  1. Roxane

      This is a tough one. I think play and experimentation are important. I like to see magazines trying new things and this is an interesting experiment. It makes me want to buy the issue. I don’t think I’d mind something like this being done with my work but as an editor, I have learned that writers are really really particular about how their work appears. I cannot believe the Fugue editors did not run this by the writers. They had to know it would create a shitstorm. Just because they thought it was a clever idea does not mean the writers would find the idea equally clever. Purpura makes some good points but it’s not another writer using her work to culture his, it’s editors doing the culturing and I think that distinction is important. On the Fugue website, they say that this could open up a conversation about the boundaries of play and that is, indeed, a great conversation to have, one I want to follow, but in this instance, play comes at the expense of others so  the value of the conversation becomes somewhat lessened. 

  2. Leapsloth14

      Agreed: running it by the authors would have been good judgement, though it would also change the nature of their play.

  3. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      You should probably let someone know you are going to alter their writing in some way before you publish it. I’ve heard that being communicative and honest helps eradicate tension between people and also keeps people from doing something they want to because they “did not anticipate” (or “assumed that it would not be”) a problem.

  4. Trey

      How exactly does it appear? It sounds like it’s just at the bottom of the page, right? And if it appears throughout the issue it seems like it would be clear to readers that it’s separate, not some actual footnote to the other piece on the page. I don’t think I would have a problem with it if it was my piece.

      On the other hand, it isn’t my piece. I don’t know exactly how things work at Fugue, but I suspect it is within an author’s rights to withdraw their piece at pretty much any time before publication?  And it is sort of crazy that Fugue didn’t send out a proof that showed how the publication would appear.

      So yeah, in my opinion Lia Purpura is being a bit of a stick in the mud, but she’s allowed to be whatever she wants.

  5. Roxane

      The larger conversation, beyond this question of play, really is about magazines and professionalism. Sending out proofs is the hugest pain in the ass but it is also really necessary. I wish more magazines did it. There will always be people who aren’t happy with the final product, you can avoid these kinds of issues right up front by letting writers see how their work will appear. All it takes is an e-mail and a PDF attachment.

  6. Richard

      It seems that Lia believes that Martone wrote his footnotes with her piece, and the pieces of the other authors, in mind. When, in fact, he did not. He wrote them as his own piece and sent them in… Fugue attached them… I feel like, for an issue on play, this is fair territory. I get her furor, but I think it should be fleeting given the theme of the issue.

  7. Anonymous

      martone is free to footnote everything in the world, as far as i’m concerned. and i hate footnotes for the most part.

      i don’t know about anyone else, but i’d be happy to open a lit mag and see my work got martone’d. but maybe i’m crazy.

  8. Leapsloth14

      My first thought was: Martone footnoted my writing? Privilege.

  9. Anonymous

      when he “likes” one of my facebook statuses, i almost cry. if he footnoted me, i’d probably freak out and get my hair done like his.

  10. Matt Sailor

      I suppose the playful must inevitably be reminded that others (like Purpura) are bound to be humorless. They should probably have let the writers know, but it’s silly for her to take it so seriously. In general, please do not take yourself so seriously, writers.

  11. deadgod

      A case study: 

      Looking at Juntunen’s footnoted poem Tennis without a Net, there’s no marking on the pages that indicates that the footnotes are not Juntunen’s.  To me, it looks, just from those pages, like the footnotes are part of the poem (Waste Land-style) – the poem is jokey (“”…” /See that?  That/ was postmodern!”), and the notes are in the same vein.

      If those notes are Martone’s, is that compulsory co-authorship, or vandalism?

  12. Mike Meginnis

      Yeah, like, this is one of those things where you CAN get upset and the magazine should have known it was a possibility and maybe sent proofs, but honestly, it’s really childish to get worked up about it. If you don’t trust an editor to make these decisions maybe don’t work with that editor — if it’s THAT essential that nothing is changed about your work, maybe don’t give it to other people. Giving it to other people seems pointless unless it will change it.

      It would be different if the additional text were presented such that it looked like the author of the essay wrote it, but it sounds like it would be pretty clear Martone wrote it. So no problem. And, as Sarah and Sean say, I would love to have Martone fuck with my words.

  13. deadgod

      Have a look at Juntunen’s poem.  Whether those footnotes are Juntunen’s or Martone’s, they certainly were written with the poem “in mind” and are not ‘on their own’.

  14. deadgod

      The editors plainly say that they did not “know [depositing the footnotes] would create a shitstorm”:  “[W]e did not anticipate that writers would be upset, or see the piece as a violation of their art.”.  If you think that that disclaimer is disingenuous and constitutes a further playful aggression, then I agree with you.

  15. deadgod

      where did you hear this crazy talk

  16. Leapsloth14

      That’s true, but a bit of a different topic than “play.” Again, to warn all the writers, or ask their permission, takes away from the play the editors were having. I mean you have to give them marks for taking the tired “theme issue” idea, and actually joining the theme.

      Also, it’s Martone. I mean he writes books that disguise themselves as actual travel guides. He has published fiction pieces in newspapers, appearing as news. He’s been in magazines recently as contributor notes, like the piece itself in the Contrib Notes section. Like a lot of his world is play. With theoretical undercurrents. Serious play.

  17. Leapsloth14

      Hey, does anyone have the link to where these people RANDOMLY places poems next to writer’s names, like made this huge anthology? I can’t find it. It is still online? It might be a good thing for this conversation. I mean some people got really PISSED to see their name on a poem they did not right. Others just thought it amusing and a comment on authorship. Etc.

  18. Leapsloth14

      write, I mean. The brain is odd.

  19. Trey
  20. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I think I heard Dick Cheney say the opposite of it once or something.

  21. oswald golnik

      if we are to believe barthes, then purpura must be dead if her work is to be read. and personally, i would love to see my work interact with another’s. regardless of discretion. we cannot pretend our words belong to us solely or that they are immune to the state of flux that our world is.

  22. deadgod

      It was unwise of Purpura to have responded with the legalistic intensity she did; it would have been less, what, petulant had she simply wrote, ‘I don’t like either the footnotes or being put on the spot like you have done; please take my thing out of your magazine.’

      – but I doubt that this kind of play, when it’s delivered without the explanatory framework that Martone’s work has here, is often received with good-natured laughter.

  23. Anonymous

      I wonder if Ms. Purpura would be upset if one her essays was included in the New Yorker and they did not tell her that a cartoon or, better yet, a poem would be placed somewhere within the body of her text? Outraged? I highly doubt it. I realize this is not exactly apples to apples, but it’s worth noting.

  24. oswald golnik

      This brand of compulsory co-authorship is vandalism. It’s an excellent statement on authorship and property. I think this is a beautiful act of violence in that it not only disrupts the text itself, but potentially the reading of the text as well (as Purpura notes). DFW intentionally endnoted Infinite Jest for the same reason.
      What she doesn’t mention that the distractions are always voluntary distractions. The minimal damage is nothing more than seeing, and not paying attention to, the superscripted numbers. I’m sure many readers of Infinite Jest stop checking the endnotes at some point.
      Whether or not the reader follows their trail down to the bottom of the page, and thus the act of reading itself, is out of Purpura’s hands. As it should be.

  25. Victor Schultz

      lame that the mag didn’t run this by the authors before publishing, show
      them proofs, etc. if the eds’ idea of play was to surprise their
      authors with this prank, well, that’s play that’s happening off the page
      and is pretty much pointless cuz it’s not play that readers would see
      or have any way of knowing about.

      lame that any of the writers would get this upset about it though. it’s their right but damn. relax.

  26. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      This isn’t an issue pertaining to a writer taking his or herself seriously. This is an issue pertaining to a writer taking his or her writing seriously.

  27. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Now THAT is fucking funny!

  28. deadgod

      – or an ad for something morally outrageous, like a hedge fund or insurance company.

      – but it is comparing apples and Tonka trucks.  She’d have known the New Yorker layout in general.  – and she’d be reasonable in her confidence that there wouldn’t be any writing on her text, anyway, right?

  29. deadgod

      I did write an ordinary evening in new haven thank you

      that the prelude last edition attribution is pure malice

  30. Anonymous

      It seems that many readers are judging the piece(s) without having seen the journal. I have a copy. What was done was an injustice to the author and compromises the author/editor relationship, one hopefully based on honesty. A degree of trust needs to be in place. In the Purpura essay, like many stories throughout the magazine, a superscript number or letter was inserted into the author’s essay or short story. Then, at the bottom of the page, the Martone (MM) text appears, something like “MM In his car shadows his son’s yellow bus on its way to Montessori School….” This particular footnote appears next to the line in the Purpura essay that reads, “Down in the Woods, July 2nd, 1882.1” The footnote has no relation to the date in the essay, thus deceiving the reader and corrupting the original text. And for what? Is “confusion” the same as “play”? 

      Though an “advertisement” or a “New Yorker comic” (in response to another HTML comment) would also interfere with the essay, due to their proximity, a reader would not assume that the “advertisement/comic” was working in direct relation to the story. However, we writers all know that footnotes do. It seems like Fugue created their own definition of “play.” “Deception” may have been a better theme. This type of so-called “play” occurs a dozen times throughout the journal, and whether you are obsessed with Martone or not, Purpura did not agree to write a joint-essay with him, thus deceiving Purpura and the reader. For those who think that this is not a big deal, I honestly hope that the next essay/poem/or story you have accepted to be published is first rewritten by the editor (or some other author you may or may not know) and published without telling you first, in which case, you will surely thank the journal for being daring and/or playful, and you will certainly not write an irate email. Why? Well… that’s a good question.

  31. Samuel Sargent

      I think Fugue should issue an apology to all of it’s readers for publishing the work of such a cunt and promise to do their best to avoid doing so again in the future. Lia Purpura should stick to self-publishing her work so as to maintain the level of control she apparently requires over it. I would encourage her to also avoid allowing anyone else to read it because they might interpret her precious words in a manner other than how she intends for them to be perceived.

  32. oswald golnik

      It isn’t a new definition of “play”…it’s playing with metafictionality and authorship. It might be beneficial to pretend for a moment you aren’t a writer, step back, and see the questions and ideas this “play” brings up wrt literature.

  33. Roxane

      Wow. You really think it’s acceptable to refer to anyone as a “cunt” for taking issue with the intent of their work being altered without their consent? She overreacted, perhaps. That said, there’s no point in resorting to such trifling language to state your opinion. Use the word cunt properly for fuck’s sake.

  34. Leapsloth14

      I have not seen that exact essay, so good point. But I don’t think your example is confusion. I think it is juxtaposition. There are excerpts online for others to view, and decide.

      Also, yes, confusion can certainly be a form of play. Video games use confusion all the time. So do drugs, certain types of illusion paintings, board games, chess, poker (an art of confusion), detective films, etc. Confusion an excellent form of play.

  35. Darby Larson

      o contch blanch em. tea serio. dis ere pop. o contch. tea o contch. glahphaahhh.

  36. Darby Larson

      samuel sargent please behave in the manner roxane deems acceptable because this is the internettttt!! acceptable behvioorinun internet fish!

  37. Roxane

      As if that was even my point. I don’t really give a damn how people behave on the Internet. 

  38. Darby Larson

      i agrer with uu! samuel sargent pleasse use cunt properly pleasse oin the internet its importnat! dont be triflfles!

  39. Darby Larson

      i agrer with uu! samuel sargent pleasse use cunt properly pleasse oin the internet its importnat! dont be triflfles!

  40. oswald golnik

      See you next Tuesday

  41. oswald golnik

      See you next Tuesday

  42. Darby Larson


  43. Darby Larson


  44. Darby Larson

      liteartture is seriouss businesss! no fun is a llowwed at thiss businesss!

  45. Leapsloth14

      IS this Klingon?

  46. Leapsloth14

      Darby in some kind of zone tonight. Did you get stung by a fire ant? I know you did, Darby! Or had some fried green tomatoes at 15th street diner. Huh? Huh?

  47. Leapsloth14
  48. Janice

      Purpura’s essay, “Playing with Imperfection,” is the last piece in the issue; at the beginning of a block quote is a superscript “1” leading to Martone’s footnote at the bottom of the page. If a reader were to turn straight to Purpura’s essay, they would have no idea why in the world Purpura had suddenly taken to throwing non sequiturs into her writing. I really don’t blame her for her reaction. She’s absolutely right when she says (in her letter) that the footnote acted as an interruption. That was my experience as a reader.

  49. Samuel Sargent

      It’s entirely possible to take issue with something without being a cunt about it. Lia Purpura failed to do so. I apologize for using slang terms in a manner inconsistent with the common use within your own country. I’ll try not to be so worldly in the future.

  50. BAC

      Writers have such emotional emotions. 

  51. crd

      “Giving it to other people seems pointless unless it will change it.”  I’ve never thought about it this way before, and I’m very glad you’ve suggested it.  Because isn’t the point of submitting one’s work for publication the catalysis of dialogue and collaboration (through both thought and action)?  Martone’s/Fugue’s form of collaboration/dialogue is certainly unconventional, but to me it still seems to qualify as such.

  52. Richard

      You’re right. My bad. I had a conversation with Michael a while back and must have misunderstood him.

  53. deadgod

      Martone’s footnotes are an interesting challenge to conventional attitudes toward “authorship and property”, and he sounds like an entertainingly transgressive prankster/artist.

      – but the “distractions” of footnotes are not “voluntary”, as the superscript numbers and foot-text can’t be unseen after they’re on the page; Martone’s additions are “nothing more than see[n]” in the same way that Purpura’s essay is.  Purpura  wants “the trail down to the bottom of the page” of her essay in her “hands”, not “following” that trail.  I think that’s a fair distinction at least to consider.

      I think she is quite wrong about footnotes contributing – or constituting – “distracted skimming”.  That is exactly contrary to my experience, which is that following footnotes along with a text is burrowing in (and not “skimming”).  I’m guessing that Martone sees reading footnotes this way, and this readerly engagement with them is the fulcrum for both his humor and his transgression of propriety.

      – after all, it was Wallace who annotated his novel.  Who knows but that he might have enjoyed Martone’s notes to Infinite Jest, but his turmoil at being edited seems to say something else.

  54. deadgod

      Well, I’m just going by the Juntunen poem and the blogicle’s quotation from the editors.  It seems like a fun Mad Magazine stunt, but also a hostile thing to drop on a contributor.  I have characteristically mixed feelings.  Purpura’s letter was a botch, though, and publishing it, fair game.

  55. oswald golnik

      You bring up good points. I agree that when I read the Juntunen poem the footnotes became a vehicle to “burrow” and not just skim. That the distractions are quite compelling in this case. I personally cannot ignore them.

      But I am not a model of readership. I frequently stop reading one piece in favor of another that is better at holding my attention. And while I agree superscript and footnote-text cannot be unseen, I disagree that that will necessarily be a distracting factor in any significant way. I firmly believe that readers out there can ignore the superscript, and likewise the footnotes, as far as any detracting from the reading experience goes.

      Your distinction between the trail and the following is understandable. But as far as a sort of magazine/cyberspace bombardment of stimulus informs
      our realities…I’m not so sure that the trail itself “belongs” in her
      hands. Her text exists as her text as much as a TV is a TV show. Insert commercials. Insert non-plot-related product placement. Perhaps I have an unpopular view of property.

      And back to the point I didn’t make strongly enough: yes this was an act of vandalism. Maybe there should have been a disclaimer prior to the text itself. But that would undermine the point of vandalism. I don’t feel I’m alone in my celebration of vandalism (Banksy’s celebrity status being the obvious example). If you need that guarantee over the appearance of your work…your only option is to self-publish, to keep it out of everyone else’s hands that might touch it along the way. And if that’s really necessary, perhaps you are taking yourself too seriously.

  56. MFBomb

      It’s sort of disconcerting that Fugue doesn’t know any writers.

  57. guest

      ….don’T EFF W/ mY GeNiUs MiDDLeBroW ~WrItIng vIsIoNs~ BRO [via footnotes]

  58. Janey Smith

      Next issue of Fugue promises to misspell each contributor’s name. Also, Maricon said he will send PDF proofs out to each contributor–although they retain the right to deliberately confuse proofs and contributors so that “each contributor has the opportunity to playfully alter and/or edit the proof of another contributor.”

      I like Maricon. 

  59. Janey Smith

      Note: Maricon will guest edit next issue of Fugue. Kind of weird, isn’t it?

  60. Anonymous
  61. Aubrey Hirsch

      Late to the party here, but I want to counter this “If it were me I’d be honored, so she shouldn’t be upset” argument that has popped up a few times. Surely, you all realize that is no argument at all. I’m sure plenty of people would want to have sex with Ben Roethlisberger, but that shouldn’t give him the right to assault anyone he chooses. If Purpura didn’t want Martone playing with her essay, it’s really irrelevant that you would have.

  62. Richard

      Seems a bit extreme of an example… I get your point and agree that being honored by the act is not a viable argument to make, but Purpura’s essay can easily be reprinted in its unadulterated form, where someone who is assaulted by Ben can never be free of that assault.

      I feel like a more apt analogy would be an architect who’s building gets vandalized by Banksy. Does that architect have the right to be mad? Sure. Is the building still the same building that architect designed? Yes. Would some architects want Banksy to assault their buildings? Probably. I realize that artist invest themselves in their work, but the fact remains that the work is outside of themselves and can be reproduced and made pure again. Not so much for Ben’s victims…

      A side note, Martone and Purpura know each other. She was a visiting professor at Alabama not too long ago… Does that make this better or worse…

      Given my interests, I like what Martone did… However, I don’t like the secrecy that the Fugue editors used.

  63. Aubrey Hirsch

      Not comparing the acts themselves, of course, just using the extreme example to point out the flawed logic I’m seeing quite a few times on this thread.

  64. MFBomb

      I think the main point is that it’s irrelevant how others would react if they were in Purpura’s position.

  65. Anonymous

      I like what Fugue did.  This is the digital age you god damn dinosaurs.  You prostitue yourself and then get angry the sex didn’t go the way you wanted.  Get over your precious ego.  It’s one piece of writing.

      I mean, if your writing is at the level it is supposed to be, your authentic voice will resonate.

      1 part ice cream and 1 part human feces put in a blender makes a shit shake.

      Put equal parts of pineapple, mango, and orange in a blender… well i think that makes a fucking smoothie or something.

      Fugue is doing the latter.

  66. Anonymous

      I don’t this this response would have been written if the word “dick” was used instead of “cunt”.

  67. Triscopic

      It’s troubling that most of the griping here boils down to personal attacks on Purpura, using her tone in her letter as justification. I guess it is her fault for not being as well-known or well-liked as Martone is around here. Whatever your feelings on the theme or Purpura’s response, it’s pretty clear Fugue fucked this up by eschewing collaboration with its writers, instead opting to sprinkle Martone’s footnotes throughout. Honestly, it sounds like a half-assed attempt at their thematic goal, but I’ll just have to read the issue to really decide.

  68. Triscopic

      It’s troubling that most of the griping here boils down to personal attacks on Purpura, using her tone in her letter as justification. I guess it is her fault for not being as well-known or well-liked as Martone is around here. Whatever your feelings on the theme or Purpura’s response, it’s pretty clear Fugue fucked this up by eschewing collaboration with its writers, instead opting to sprinkle Martone’s footnotes throughout. Honestly, it sounds like a half-assed attempt at their thematic goal, but I’ll just have to read the issue to really decide.

  69. mimi

      The ‘original’ still ‘exists’, or it can be ‘resurrected’. It may even experience further ‘evolutions’.

  70. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Um, so much about her letter is gross to me, her harsh dichotomy between surface and “depths,” her insistence that multichannel forms or the physical experience of having one’s attention pulled in multiple directions cannot be artful, that origin matters one iota once a work is out in the world, her distinction between “making” and “using” work, as though the stuff of one text cannot be artfully appropriated in another (fair fucking use is way older than the internet), but all that said, I definitely see the argument in favor of proofs as just good editorial practice. I do think it’s kinda unfortunate she couldn’t express her distress without inserting so much aesthetic soap box shit… somebody said the legalese was bothersome, but I think for me it’s the exact opposite, what muddles this is all the parts where she veers from editorial ethics into making an aesthetic argument that belongs in some other forum.

  71. MFBomb

      Most of the people saying they wouldn’t mind either a) haven’t
      read the essay or issue and are basing their argument on their admiration of
      Martone and his work (pretty shallow and superficial if you ask me) or b) are
      applying some broad idea of collaboration to an essay they haven’t read, as if collaboration
      is somehow inherently good, which is pretty ridiculous and undermines the complexity
      of collaboration, giving it less power.

  72. MFBomb

      Most of the people saying they wouldn’t mind either a) haven’t read the essay or issue and are basing their argument on their admiration of Martone and his work (pretty shallow and superficial if you ask me) or b) are applying some broad idea of collaboration to an essay they haven’t read, as if collaboration is somehow inherently good, which is pretty ridiculous and undermines the complexity of collaboration, giving it less power.

  73. MFBomb

      This is a pretty lazy argument; I doubt you even read the essay, and not all collaboration should be considered within its proper context.  This idea that all collaboration is good is idiotic and lazy.

  74. MFBomb

      *all collaboration should be considered within its proper context.

  75. M. Kitchell

      I have it saved on my computer at home Sean, I’ll see if I can dig it up.  I saved it as soon as I saw the ridiculous uproar.

  76. Triscopic

      True. Also the fact that adding simply adding one writer’s already written work to another writer’s already written work is stretching the definition of “collaboration” pretty thin.

  77. Roxane

      I can see how you would think that Jereme but I would have made the same comment regardless of the slur used. I understand taking issue with Purpura’s letter. I really do. Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with her work but I don’t think she’d write this letter unless she truly, deeply felt offended so it’s not that she was being a cunt or a dick. She was genuinely expressing how she felt about the way her work was being adultered as is her right. If she had whipped out something like, “Do you know who I am?” that would have been a cunt or a dick move but she didn’t.

  78. M. Kitchell

      actually i found it in my inbox, i’ll email it to you

  79. MFBomb

      It kind of makes all of those arguments posted here over the years about nepotism and ass-kissing in the mainstream literary world ring hollow, since–apparently–so much of this comes down to how well “liked” Martone is and not about the actual work.

  80. Anonymous

      I am going to be honest MFBomb, I tried to read the essay but I got bored.

      Most of the constructs of online literature bore me.

      Regardless, I used extremes to illustrate how ridiculous it is to get upset over such an issue.

      Fugue is a known, respected entity.  One which exists in digital form and is subject to the rules of its time.  Why did the writers submit to such a place?  I can only think of two possiblities: because the writer respects the writing published there, and feels the work is at the same level as their own writing; or the writer is prostituting their work for the sake of prostitution.

      The former is upset because of ego.  The child created to be an all-american football star instead becomes a transgendered teen who does fetish videos and plays World of Warcraft in the off hours.  I mean I understand feeling a sense of anger over someone changing a work without consent, but, ultimately, it’s nothing to sweat since the onus was on the writer to find a respected place for their writing.  They trusted Fugue, and now bitch since the expected outcome didn’t happen?  LOL.
      The latter should have no real voice in this matter.  Fuck them.

      Speaking of lazy, did you read my comment?  I, in no way, said all collaboration is good.

      So pretty please, with sugar and a pussy fart on top, eat my shake.

  81. Anonymous

      I feel you, Roxane.

      I don’t believe you, but, I feel you.

  82. Sarahsoo


  83. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Why are there so many words about this? Does a portion of our HTMLGiant grade depend on participation or something?

  84. oswald golnik

      It’s not irrelevant when the question on this post asks us how we would react…

  85. deadgod

      jereme, this is my take on your prostitution metaphor:  Purpura traded on her ability to dig a ditch, and the editors – and the commenters who support them – are telling her ‘to lie back and enjoy it’.  That is not exactly the ‘use’ of “fair use”.

      I sometimes like the offensiveness of vandalism, but her point of view has its reasonable integrity (even if her letter was off in the ways, for example, that Tim says below).  I guess one can obtain her essay as she wrote it, but the piece in the magazine is not what she reasonably thought she was publishing in it.

      ‘Reasonableness’ should be interrogated, and so should ‘vandalism’ — why, look at the humorlessness of some critics of humorlessness.

      – and why should dinosaurs be condemned to hell??  . . . oh:  extinction.  Right.

  86. oswald golnik

      It isn’t “pretty clear.” That’s why there is such a lengthy discussion here.

  87. MFBomb

      This is ridiculous. You should teach a course in Strawmanning 101.  You write:

      “I can only think of two possiblities: because the writer respects the
      writing published there”

      -As if this is has anything to do with, well, anything.  It doesn’t, but I get that your shtick is to throw shit against the wall to see if it sticks, and say it in the most hyperbolic fashion possible so that a few people who are easily satisfied with that sort of thing will “like” your comment and consider you provocative, when in reality, you’re just another dweeb on the Internet throwing shit against the wall, hoping it sticks because you have nothing of substance to say.

      Let’s look at your second “possibility”:

      “or the writer is prostituting their work for the sake
      of prostitution.The former is upset because of ego.  The child created to be an
      all-american football star instead becomes a transgendered teen who does
      fetish videos and plays World of Warcraft in the off hours.  I mean I
      understand feeling a sense of anger over someone changing a work without
      consent, but, ultimately, it’s nothing to sweat since the onus was on
      the writer to find a respected place for their writing.  They
      trusted Fugue, and now bitch since the expected outcome didn’t happen?  ”

      So, the writer is “prostituting their work” by seeking publication; mere publication in literary journals is a form of “prostitution” that somehow speaks to issues of entitlement amongst–based off what you’ve written here–a generation of narcissist writers


      And your crude analogy doesn’t even work because prostitution entails an already agreed upon return, which you acknowledge in this very comment is something worth feeling angry over (you only disagree on the degree to which she should feel angry).

      “So pretty please, with sugar and a pussy fart on top, eat my shake.”

      Oh, man, zing! How will I ever recover from this one!

  88. Leapsloth14

      Odd take. Read the comments. They aren’t all about Martone at all. They are about the idea of play, about the idea of editors and writers and their relationship, about taking your work seriously versus over-seriously, etc. Your take is reductive. Martone is a larger aspect of the real issue. His work is often playful, in a serious, theoretical way. It isn’t some random thing that MArtone was the one author used in this way. His 14+ whatever books have mined the idea of “play” within multiple genres pretty much consistently. Give the editors of Fugue some credit here. They know damn well the oeuvre of MArtone. To embed his work is a comment on the larger, more enjoyable, more serious, more theoretical issue.

  89. Leapsloth14

      Thank you. This issue is not clear at all. Martone’s actual work is about these issues!

  90. Leapsloth14

      The Roethlisberger analogy is way off base, though I guess it does to get one issue of how seriously someone takes their work published in a lit mag. But I digress. HEr essay was played with in an issue themed “Play.” And she got her rebuttal posted on the Fugue site (and, well, here). Why not relax and just write her next essay and never submit to Fugue again?

  91. M. Kitchell

      did you know it is possible to consider conceptual issues that arise from a concrete example without having specific access to the concrete example that the concept arose from?  there is no right or wrong answer here.  the issue that’s at play (hah) is that of editorial ‘control,’ collaboration, play, etc.  These are issues that people can discuss, arising from a specific instance, without having to be so god damn literal.  get over yourself.

  92. MFBomb

      I’m not sure what’s so odd about my comment, when several posters said they wouldn’t mind Martone fucking with their pieces.

      I like Martone, btw, but whether or not I like his work means nothing in light of this issue–one where a writer was assumed that she would like Martone fucking with her work, and where the journal claims shock after the fact that a writer, or some writers, didn’t want their work fucked with without consent, regardless of the writer doing the fucking and his status and widely-respected oeuvre.

  93. MFBomb

      Did you know that most of my comments about “not having read the essay” were clearly connected to arguments that were quite clearly strawmen, rather than honest, “conceptual considerations”?

      And did you know that, while I might need to “get over myself,” you don’t always have to be such a damn sycophant for the Popular Opinion?

  94. M. Kitchell

      you are such a bitchy bitch mcbitchster.  is there any point in your day where you smile, experience happiness, or laugh in glee?  i imagine you eternally hunched over a computer desk, scowling, pissed off at all times, angrily looking for places that people are “wrong” on the internet

  95. M. Kitchell

      do you ever get excited about anything?  seems like your life is really bleak.  drugs are not normally the answer but when there is literally no joy in your life, sometimes drugs are the answer.  at least for a little bit, until you get addicted and then you shame spiral out of control.  or maybe just try walking in the sunshine, the rays of light are good for your mood.  

  96. MFBomb

      More strawmen….yawn…

      The “you-should-just-be-happy-and-keep-your-place” line.

      Good stuff. Completely irrelevant, but nonetheless, good stuff.

      Ironically, it’s people like you who are constantly determining the character and psychological standings off posters based off a few Internet posts that took a few minutes to write.

      Here you go:


  97. MFBomb

      I walk three-four miles a day, write for a few more, and generally enjoy life.  I’m sorry that your life is reduced to HTMLGiant.  You should see someone about that.

  98. M. Kitchell

      more “i don’t actually have an answer to this accusation so i’ll just change the subject” 

      good stuff.  completely irrelevant, but nonetheless, good stuff.

      ironically, it’s people like you who are constantly defensive & insistent that i’m “constantly determining the character and psychological standings off [sic] posters based off a few Internet posts that took a few minutes to write” when actually i’m “determining the character and psychological standings [of a poster]” based on the constant stream of negative responses to literally every single htmlgiant post that has popped up since basically february.


      so tired in here


      just so over it y’all


  99. M. Kitchell


  100. M. Kitchell


  101. M. Kitchell


  102. M. Kitchell


  103. M. Kitchell


  104. M. Kitchell


  105. M. Kitchell


  106. M. Kitchell


  107. M. Kitchell


  108. M. Kitchell

      oh sorry about that comment stream i’m not very good at computers

  109. M. Kitchell

      now, what were you saying?

  110. Leapsloth14

      Right “Several” did, but they are not a microcosm of the larger concern. They were just saying, honestly, it would be cool if author I admire messed with my work. They same people could have said Adrienne Rich or Don DeLillo or whatever. I mean it’s a pretty innocuous thing to say. It just seems like a light comment. I mean I said the exact thing very early in this comment thread, but it’s not my main take on this issue. 

  111. MFBomb

      more “i don’t actually have an answer to this accusation so i’ll just change the subject” ”


      Except for the fact that I answered your questions.  What do you want me to do, send you a videotape or something of what I do daily?

      “based on the constant stream of negative responses to literally every
      single htmlgiant post that has popped up since basically february.”



      But, yes, because HTMLGiant threads are known for their back-patting, cheerleading, and singing of folk songs, until MFBomb shows up to wreck the party.

  112. Leapsloth14

      “Most” of the attacks are NOT personal. This is the internet, so SOME very extreme minority are personal. Dismiss them. They are the 2% of call into radio shows, etc. Go see Youtube. The internet just gives that 2% like a 4% voice, so they love it.

  113. M. Kitchell

      are you playing that trolling game where you insist upon getting the last word [read: comment] in?  ‘cos i’m really good at that game. mostly because i spend most of my time either on my computer of within the vicinity of my computer.

  114. Leapsloth14

      Good clarification. Should have read further. Thanks.

  115. MFBomb

      No, I’m not a troll.  Trolls don’t have anything to say.  Please don’t confuse the actual meaning of troll with something else, like, “I-disagree-with-him-or-don’t-like-him-therefore-he’s-a-troll.”

  116. M. Kitchell

      i see you are playing; excellent.  

  117. MFBomb

      Do you like me now? I hope so.  It’s really important for me to be liked by everyone, and to have lots of buddies. 

  118. M. Kitchell


  119. M. Kitchell

      not at all

  120. MFBomb

      damn, bro:(:(:(:(:(:(

      i might have to write a broem about this shunning, one that eschews capitalization to express my bro-rage

  121. M. Kitchell

      stop using the word bro

  122. MFBomb

      Sorry, but I didn’t read the comments that innocently.  We’ll have to agree to disagree.  I do thank you for avoiding histrionics though, like other posters….you actually seem interested in the topic. 

  123. guest

      eating popcorn, watc hingm the bro slap fight, M. Kitchell is a terrible poster, well, cya

  124. M. Kitchell


  125. guest

      shit shake

  126. guest

      shit shake

  127. guest

      shit shake

  128. guest

      in before deadgod makes incomprehensible response to this post

  129. oswald golnik

      This is incredibly entertaining

  130. guest


  131. M. Kitchell

      conceptual meta-commenting in the form of ‘play’ or indignation?  time will tell.

  132. guest

      can’t decide whether to tell M. Kitchell to shut up or to tickle MFBomb into posting an undepressed comment

  133. LP

      Recently I learned that Mitzi Purdue (author of The I Want to EggScape Book) coined the verb “to EggScape ™” which means “to escape into another world with the help of decorated eggs” and “to create seascapes, landscapes and decorative scenes in, on, or around eggs.”

  134. deadgod

      If you’re right in sensing that Roxane wouldn’t have scolded a wildly launched “dick” the way she has “cunt”, that shows the salience of her point:  whatever the conditions that contribute to this social construction, cunt is – at least in America – an explosive, exaggeratedly personal insult in a way that dick is not.  – similarly to nigger being more intense a fighting word than whitey or honky are (to, as I see it, most Americans).

  135. deadgod

      “Starfish” is the empirical determination of encountering a starfish perceptually or the cognitive phenomenon of encountering the word starfish.

  136. Leapsloth14

      I’m old. WTF is starfish? Is that a cousin of whatever? Is this some ironic hipster shit? Did I miss an invite in code spray-painted to a billboard in code to a rave??

      I need to know.

  137. Leapsloth14

      extrapolate. How should I use this term on the web?

  138. Leapsloth14

      Get a room was my first thought. But if they both enjoy. Go.

  139. Leapsloth14

      email that fucker

  140. Triscopic

      I think it’s abundantly clear they failed at least at providing galleys and communicating their intent to any of the writers. Whether or not the actual use of Martone’s words actually works in the context is besides the point. The fucked up a good opportunity to work with people, instead choosing to play cut n’ paste games. They did, however, do very well at getting people to talk about them. And read the comments, especially when Purpura gets called a “cunt,” if you don’t believe me. 

  141. deadgod

      Thanks for articulating the gratitude others feel towards Leapsloth14 for not resorting to histrionics like “damn sycophant” and “constantly determining the character and psychological standing [of] posters” and “back-patting, cheerleading, and singing of folk songs” and “It’s really important for me to be liked by everyone, and to have lots of buddies.” and “I doubt you even read the essay[.]” and “This idea that all collaboration is good is idiotic and lazy.” and “You should teach a course in Strawmanning 101.” and “I get that your shtick is […] to say [shit] in the most hyperbolic fashion possible so that a few people who are easily satisfied with that sort of thing will “like” your comment and consider you provocative, when in reality […] you have nothing of substance to say.”

  142. Anonymous

      Man, if we were in the same room while I read this, I would totally give you an elegant fist bump.

  143. MFBomb

      Thanks for parsing comments I made to another poster in a comment-stream that he instigated that was more about his personal dislike of me than the actual topic. 

  144. MFBomb

      Interesting: two prepubescent misogynists fist-bumping.

      It’s also interesting what gets attacked here more, and what doesn’t.  A poster calls the writer of the Fugue essay a “cunt,” and you trivialize Roxane’s dislike of that term by saying, “well, uh, duh, what if he like said dick instead?” yet Kitchell comes after me for responding to your string of non-sequiturs, which included a prostitution analogy. For the Love of God. How are old are some of you clowns?
      Is this a literary website, or the set of Jackass?

  145. guest
  146. deadgod

      exempli gratia:  ‘Your hat is like totally starf.  I wanna get a starfish one just like it.’

  147. M. Kitchell

      sent it to the hotmail listed on yr site mang

  148. MFBomb

      Eh, I should know better than to waste my time with anti-intellectual aesthetes. Sorry, y’all.

  149. Anonymous

      Sure, I’ll teach a course.  You wanna be my aid?  Then we can fuck.

      How is my first example ridiculous?  You provide no examples.  Like I said, I CAN THINK OF ONLY TWO MOTIVATIONS BEHIND SUBMITTING TO FUGUE.  If you, in your earnest excellence, have a differing point of view, please by all means edify me.  I’m a reasonable person.

      Dismissing my logic without logic is lazy and idiotic.  Your use of the word “strawman” betrays any point of view you may unintentionally bring to light.

      Your jibberjabber regarding prostitution is done without reason.  Prostitution is fullfilment of an act between two entities, one which each entity cannot achieve by its normal means, and one which is paid for by both involved. 

      A writer prostituting their work does so for the gratification of publication.  A publication which comes from a less than amicable source.  The publisher engages in prostitution to gain something which they cannot achieve by any other means (writing instead of money.)

      Do you not understand that if prostiution takes place, both parties are guilty of it?

      I don’t think Fugue or its contributors are prostitutes per se.  Deep down I do feel the only publication which isn’t prostitution is self-publication.  But I would question the motivation behind self-publication.

      I am guilty of not being clear in my original comment, but I thought I did a decent enough job to elucidate my feelings in the second posting.


      After all, you are engaging in prostitution.

      Doesn’t Fugue’s terms state the right to “edit” the writing as they see fit?  It may not be in such an honest and direct statement, but i’m sure it’s there.

      So dude, if you don’t want to engage in any sort of real argument, then look down at your dick and start talking.

      I’m listening to Benny Bennasi’s Live Mix from EDC and far too busy to continue with your sandbox tantrums.

  150. deadgod


  151. Anonymous

      What’s up dead god.  Long time no bullshit.

      I never made a judgment regarding Purpura’s motivation.

      I made a judgment against all writers submitting work to a journal.  I could come to only two motivations.  If Purpura is not guilty of prostitution, then her work must be proffered by the remaining motivation.

      It is a matter of ego.  I’m saying get over it.  Really isn’t a big deal.  The original work remains in her custody.  Send it elsewhere.

      I can understand feeling irrational over the way Fugue may have responded to her objection, but the act itself isn’t anything to get angry over.

      Like, if you care that much about your work, don’t let others publish it.  Poof.  No more issues.

      Oh but then no one will know your name!  No cash advances!  The horror of such an existence!

      I am not solely saying “self-publish,” but saying “be honest regarding publication.”

      And enjoy your petty existence on earth.  That too.  I’m saying that too.


      Come on DG, we both know dinosaurs don’t believe in hell!

  152. MFBomb

      “How is my first example ridiculous?”

      How does it qualify as an “example”?

      “You provide no examples.”

      Neither do you–you provide “possible reasons”–speculations.

      “Like I

      Is that the same as, “examples”?

       “If you, in your earnest excellence, have a differing point of view,
      please by all means edify me.  I’m a reasonable person.”

      You mean, I need to actually offer you an “example” that shows how submitting to a literary journal isn’t an act of prostitution, or that submitting to a magazine you admire somehow means you’ve given up your soul to that magazine, simply because you like some of the work it published in the past, or that the issue here is one of “editing,” when almost all journals provide writers with galley proofs of their edits to writers before going to press?

      “A writer prostituting their work does so for the gratification of
       A publication which comes from a less than amicable
      source.  The publisher engages in prostitution to gain something which
      they cannot achieve by any other means (writing instead of money.)

      Do you not understand that if prostiution takes place, both parties are guilty of it?”

      Do you not know the actual definition of prostitution, the word that is almost universally defined alongside ideas and notions of corruption and debasement? I’m not sure how you expect to respond to such an outlandish and absurd comparison.

      If you want to engage in a “real argument,” then come up with some better analogies–it might help, for instance, if you knew the most common and accepted definitions of prostitution before you use it to describe the relationship between a writer and the publisher of a literary magazine.

  153. M. Kitchell

      why do you question “is this a literary website” four times a day on this website and then continue to come back and be astounding that suddenly the site is not some sort of alternative universe in which suddenly the primary contributors to this website start talking about these ‘things’ that you are primarily interested in?

      last time i repeatedly didn’t like what a blog had to say i stop reading it.  

      i don’t know it seemed to work out.

      the thing is, the thing that seems to be sort of magically out of reach to you, htmlgiant is a group blog run by a wildly varying group of individuals who, in some ways, share a vaguely consistent ideology, regardless of how heterogeneous that ideology is. if you want us to be talking about literature the way, i don’t know, bookforum talks about books, you should probably read bookforum.  htmlgiant as a blog has, built into i,t a very post-internet “aggression”, freedom, and even, as the theme of this post seems to inhabit, play.  i literally do not understand the idea that you repeatedly come to this website and expect it to be something that it’s not, and then complain that it suddenly hasn’t changed to what you, for some reason completely outside of my understanding, seem to EXPECT it to change to.  

      did you know that one of the definitions of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting something to happen?

  154. MFBomb

      Why do you make shit up all the time? Because, really, I have a pretty good memory and I’ve never made that comment before–maybe once in the last few years of posting, and my comment was clearly about the comments section, not the articles, most of which I enjoy.

      You have admin powers, so perhaps you have a way of looking up the number of times I’ve used that phrase to describe the site.

  155. M. Kitchell

      you refuse to see the forest for the trees mang, that comment started with that sentence and was then followed with 6 more.

  156. MFBomb

      You are correct that my comment was unclear.  But to clarify for you here, now: I was referring to the comment section, not the articles (except for the ones that fawn over moo-cow house writers and Tao Lin).

  157. MFBomb

      Honest to God–has anyone published with a journal that didn’t provide galley proofs before going to press?

      I can’t believe that some folks are conflating this with “editing,” and I find it very hard to believe that a national journal like Fugue, one housed in an English Dept, wouldn’t provide galleys to writers–unless they wanted to surprise the writers.

      So, it’s safe to conclude that what Fugue did was more than “editing,” since almost all respectable journals share edits with their writers.

  158. guest

      bro, the guy in maldoror likes prostitues… bro… he killed a giant glowing worm in order to save the life of the prostitute… if you can’t dig that i think that means ur gay bro

  159. Anonymous

      Not really since Roxane took umbrage with the use of the word “cunt” based on her interpretation of it.

      I mean, like, I have no issue with the word being used.  Or nigger.

      The only difference between the word nigger and shovel is there isn’t any.  I mean at their true essence they are both nouns.  But a person has been conditioned to believe one word has more weight, or evil, than the other.

      I would like to believe people are able to think outside of their conditioning.  Some of us can.

      Was fairly obvious the comment wasn’t hate speak.

      I’m tired of this absurd need to control the conveyence of opinions simply because it doesn’t fall within one’s own language.

      Is this a teacher’s lounge or the fucking classroom?


      I guess my real confusion here is: if the word cunt is weighted in America, and I am an American but feel the word has no weight, then which direction is the pool because i’m L-O-S-T?

  160. Roxane

      That’s the part that I find most troubling. The rest, I don’t feel too strongly one way or the other but it’s just weird that they don’t do galleys. I know lots of journals don’t but the better established magazines absolutely do and should. It seems like an unnecessary step but it isn’t. I’ve caught my name misspelled at least five times in journals and that would not have been caught without galleys. When there are no galleys, my name is often spelled wrong. The one time I forgot to send a galley, as an editor, to only one writer (don’t know how the slip occurred but it did), the bio was for a different writer. The details do matter. The editors didn’t have to change their vision but they did need to probably run it by the writers.

  161. MFBomb

      So wait–Fugue never shares galleys? If so, that’s insanely unprofessional and almost unheard of.

  162. Roxane

      Actually, I don’t know if they never do galleys but it stands to reason that if they didn’t for this issue, they simply don’t. I don’t know. Every magazine works differently.

  163. MFBomb

      wow, that’s just crazy and asking for all sorts of problems with unhappy writers. I would actually hope that this the case, however, since it would be even more bizarre if they didn’t for this particular issue, all in an attempt to “surprise” the writers.

  164. Anonymous


      Straight wrecking it.  So gooooooooooooooooood!

  165. Anonymous

      If I were in the same room with Mike while I read your response comment, I would totally walk up to him, point at your comment, laugh, then high five him, real arrogant like.

      Then probably hit on him because i’m a flirt.

  166. Anonymous

      If I were in the same room with Mike while I read your response comment, I would totally walk up to him, point at your comment, laugh, then high five him, real arrogant like.

      Then probably hit on him because i’m a flirt.

  167. Anonymous

      Does your penis ever argue back?

  168. M. Kitchell


  169. MFBomb

      And then, he would run to his computer and hit “like” for his buddy who looks like Val Kilmer in the second half of “The Doors.”

  170. danadonna

      in juntunen’s poem, those footnotes where the kind of thing that DFW would have even put down. which works really well for that poem. i know that may seem obvious to some, but whether or not they are the author’s footnotes it still illustrates how the footnotes serve to bring different texts/ideas/whatevers into conversation with one another in an immediate fashion. which, is interesting and i find both kind of awesome and provocative and reminiscent of the kind of thing that insightful english majors who are too stoned to really care that much about their “close reading analysis” assignments that they do for at least one class in their semesters of survey and workshop classes. 

  171. deadgod

      A prostitute who sells a hand job and gets bottle-raped has cause for complaint not because of his or her “ego”, but rather, because what he or she sold was not what was forced onto him or her.

      It is the difference between commerce and assault.

      Purpura thought she had an arrangement with the magazine:  namely, that they’d run the final version of anything they were going to publish by her before they ran it, so that that version would be consensual.

      Now, she’s being told, ‘Come on; be a mensch.’, and she’s saying, ‘Fuck you.  You be a mensch.’

      I don’t think she expressed her distress effectively, but her feeling of having been ambushed by trusted editors makes sense to me.

      I am a dinosaur, and I believe that capitalism exists, and that the rationalizations of and justifications for it are persuasive to many people.

  172. deadgod

      – but (it seems to me) Roxane’s “interpretation” is in line with the word’s common meaning and force, and that commonality is the world of other people.

      It is good to be free from, or at least to resist and consciously counteract, “conditioning”, but, here, Roxane is responding to a reasonable understanding of cunt as it was used.

      I don’t think Purpura was actually being a “cunt”, but, more to the point, the word was used here to abuse her gender and not her argument.

      – which focus is what Roxane is quarreling with, right?

  173. Guestagain

      The aforementioned hooker would be entitled to a Bottle Rape Tax, or at least a healthy tip.
      Although collaboration and Play typically require acknowledged participation of at least 2, and the mag probably didn’t supply the galleys because of the tinkering, dithering, wails and gnashing of teeth that would likely ensue, I do think the writer was over-sensitive on this, I mean, the world does have a tendency to step on your neck occasionally and what is the submission/acceptance rate for this pub anyhow? How about be satisfied to have your work selected and if included in some secret appropriation, then tant pi, weep weep weep.
      Incidentally, the persuasive rationalizations of and justifications for capitalism are strictly on the balance sheet, or the out of balance sheet, as the case may be. Please do not respond with ideological maelstrom.

  174. Ryan Call


  175. M. Kitchell


  176. deadgod

      The “ideological maelstrom” is those rationalizations and justifications themselves; understood on its own terms, a capitalistic system is as irrational as it is immoral.  My perspective is that Marx – and Keynes – provide counter-“ideological” clarity, as opposed to maelstroms equally ideological to the rhetoric they confront.

      People being persuaded by the inconsistent rhetoric of capitalism are a “hell” that this dinosaur believes in, and that is the yolk of the yoke of the joke.

  177. Guestagain

      The science is in on this. The only place planned economies have not worked is anywhere they have been tried.

  178. MFBomb

      Really, nothing matters other than…Fugue should send galleys to its writers. It’s unprofessional for a journal to do otherwise and it takes all of two seconds to create a PDF from an InDesign file.

  179. MFBomb

      And if you can typeset footnotes–a huge pain in the ass–than you can create a PDF and email it to your writers.

  180. MFBomb


  181. deadgod

      – like in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Japan?  Like in Deng’s China?

      –but I agree:  planning accumulation has been and continues to be a catastrophe for most people, whether the corporation is the police (Stalin, Hitler, Mao) or  merely buys the police (the America of Vanderbilt, John D., Carnegie, Ford, and – now – MallWart, the Choch bros, and so on).

      Real ‘investment’ has a parallel but different history — and the arithmetic is in on this, too:  all opportunity and all prosperity and all accumulation in America rests on a foundation of thoroughly socialized infrastructure.

  182. Sarahsoo

      Aren’t we forgetting the obvious.

      fuguenoun /fyo͞og/ fugues, plural
      contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the
      subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others
      and developed by interweaving the partsA
      state or period of loss of awareness of one’s identity, often coupled
      with flight from one’s usual environment, associated with certain forms
      of hysteria and epilepsy

  183. antler

      Perhaps it matters whether or not the Martone interjections really amount to anything artistically that might offset what’s obviously (to me anyhow) a distracting effect on the individual pieces (articulated well by Purpura)? And either way I think it’s on the editors to make it clear the ground rules of the play issue–that work they solicited (or perhaps that they just accepted) might be remixed or interpolated or annotated or whatever, which they did not. I found it mostly just distracting from work that was on occasion pretty interesting in the issue.

  184. MFBomb

      Yes, you got me–I didn’t read your post in its entirety before commenting.  Passion can get the best of me sometimes, and I was too abrasive on this thread.

      Apologies if I offended anyone.

  185. Ericw

      god, you’re such a douche

  186. MFBomb

      Thanks, I’m pretty sure you love saying things like that from the safety of your keyboard.

  187. weary traveler

      The empirical evidence of Purpura’s wrongness just keeps piling up.  We can probably burn her at the stake if a couple more commenters come through.  So, like, if I publish in Conjunctions it means that I can expect my story to join together with other story.  If I publish in Paris Review, my story will be translated into French.  If I publish in Tin House, my story will be covered with Hershey’s syrup and Spanish peanuts.  If I publish in Ploughshares, any warlike references in my story will be changed into agricultural ones.  Etc.

  188. mimi

      hey jereme –
      i agree with you about benassi but disagree with you about the words ‘cunt’ and ‘nigger and shovel’, (prolly my conditioning, tho, admittedly, so maybe i don’t disagree with you?)

      the ny-er recently had an article (‘last word?’ about the ‘c-word’ and its differing usages in the U.S. and Britain

  189. MFBomb


  190. M. Kitchell

      How would you prefer he say it?  Do you want him to use the magical power of the internet to figure out your address, make it into whatever building or non-building you are currently typing from, knock on your door/get your attention, and say it to your face?  Would you prefer he hunt down your phone number and call you?  Welcome to the 21st century, where we often communicate via these things called computers.  Most people don’t have the opportunity to communicate exclusively face to face, hence a response of “bet you wouldn’t say that to me in real life!” is totally moot in the most obnoxiously defensive way possible, as, obviously, there is no possibility for Ericw to say that to you without being behind “the safety of your keyboard.”  Also, why use a pseudonym if you link to your actual blog?  Are you hiding your vitriol behind the safety of your keyboard so some one from *gasp* real life can’t discover you’re an aggressive, defensive prick who loves to play the victim in comment threads?

  191. MFBomb


  192. MFBomb

      Relax and stop protesting so much–I think hiding behind a keyboard is quite democratic.

      I also think pseudonyms are often more interesting than posting under “Bob Smith” or “Tim Jones.”

      Generally speaking, though, while I concede to being a douche at times, I can always take solace in the fact that, in the midst of your tirade, you support a guy who thinks there’s no difference between “shovel” and a racial epithet.

  193. Sarahsoo


  194. Sarahsoo

      And someone send this guy a copy of David Shields’s REALITY HUNGER.

  195. MFBomb

      Hi, Sarah,

      I actually like David Shields, Ander’s stuff, Diagram, etc.  I love collaboration, remixing–esp. since I’m a Hip-Hop junkie and dig sampling, remixing and try to employ a kind of Hip-Hop aesthetic in my own work.

      But I don’t think any of that has to do with this particular situation.  There’s a big difference between taking purposeful, artistic liberties with work that’s already in the common/public domain, and an editor accepting original work (work that hasn’t appeared anywhere previously) and changing it without contacting the writer. I also don’t think the sort of changes implemented in this case can be compared to basic typesetting and formatting issues, as some have suggested–and yet, even those things are often shown to writers in the galleys.


  196. Ericw

      Actually Weary, I think you just described McSweeneys.

  197. Sean

      Is this the real antler? The Poet? If so, I assume not. But, if so, I’d like to address you on this issue. If not, no worries. Fuck it.

  198. Leapsloth14

      Dude. THEME issue. THEME. What makes a literary work literary? THEME. Theme issue, play. Has Fugue been named Play for the last 20 years? NO it has not. These analogies are killing me.

      If I enter “dancing with the stars” and they make me dance…

      Shit. I need wine. Red.

  199. Leapsloth14


  200. Sarahsoo

      I do respect your answer but I think Lia’s response of an open letter (public domain) kind of changed the game.

      “I would ask that your reprint this letter, which is even more important to me than having my essay reprinted with corrections, though that, too, would be an appropriate response. Most importantly, I request that you review your editorial ethics and consider ways of asserting substance over surface, depths over gimmicks, and that you let your readers know, in an open letter, that you understand the problem you created and that you pledge to behave more
      responsibly in the future.”

      BTW: Her book On Looking is a favorite of mine.

  201. MFBomb

      That’s an interesting take, and one I didn’t think about, previously, but–just in my personal opinion–it doesn’t really change the issue of “editorial ethics” that necessitated her letter.

      Again, my beef is not with “play” or collab–it’s with the journal’s ethics.

      I’m also shocked to learn (apparently) that some journals don’t send out galleys.  That’s just asking for all sorts of trouble, if you ask me.

  202. MFBomb

      Fugue announced this particular issue as a theme issue in advance? Is that what you’re saying?

      Because, in the past, they actually ahve announced theme issues, such as their recent “American West” issue, in which the call for a “theme” issue pertaining to the American West was put out in advance so that everyone submitting knew they were submitting to a “theme” issue ahead of time.

  203. Leapsloth14


      What I’m saying is this entire controversy is an attack on Play. Big P. An indictment? I’m in a camp (one person in the tent, most likely, me) that believes the only responsible response to the absurdity of the world, war or tsunami or last night, is Play. Play. I’m just kinda saying the editors of Fugue should get more theoretical credit for this issue. I am floating the idea. I’m not smart. I could be wrong.

  204. MFBomb

      In other words, don’t you think it’s reasonable for writers to expect a journal to be upfront about its intentions for a thematic issue in advance?

      Did Fugue let writers know that it would “play” with writers’ text by adding another writer’s work to the original text?

      And if people are so open-minded about play–and Fugue too–why resist transparency in the guidelines? I think a simple disclaimer about the possibility of added text (among other such things) from another writer would’ve covered the proper bases without encouraging writers to write pieces with such a possibility in mind.

      I wonder if Fugue approached Martone later in the process?

  205. MFBomb

      I honestly don’t see how you could post this–at least in response to me.

      I don’t know what else I have to post to make it clearer that I’m NOT against “play.”

  206. MFBomb

      I’m not sure I understand how play, just because its play, gets to do whatever it wants, at any time, wherever, whenever.  Can you explain to me how play is more privileged than tragedy? Don’t you think you undermine play’s potential when you elevate above everything else?

  207. Guestagain

      Capitalism only means the public or private ownership of business.
      All nations you have listed above are in some variant of the capitalist model, although China is a hybrid of the Marxist (starve the provinces) centralized planning/state ownership and 19th century-style slave labor mode capitalism.
      You trotted out the Greatest Hits of Evil Capitalism by Egregious Example, although you know all human systems are rife with corruption and profiteering. What’s the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism, it’s the other way around.
      “…all opportunity and all prosperity and all accumulation in America rests on a foundation of thoroughly socialized infrastructure.”
      Before addressing how false and just plain bizarre this is, I invite you to take my 1 question Economics Entrance Exam:
      Q: Where does money come from?
      The is a single one word answer.
      Hint: Money does not slide out of the anus of the ghost of Karl Marx’s.

  208. deadgod

      When you wrote “planned economies”, I thought you meant ‘economies that are planned’.

      – say, on a national level, as to raw-material extraction, distribution of goods and services, availability of currency and credit, and so on.  Each national economy of that Greatest Hits of Governmental Central Planning in Concert with Private Accumulation – socialism especially for the benefit of bosses – is a “planned economy”, and, that incomplete list of those hits – one could add the U. S., as well as every OPEC country – certainly voids your inattentive claim of “anywhere [planned economies] have been tried”.

      You are communicating with me (and maybe three other people) right now thanks to socialized infrastructure.  You probably ate today; if so, it was affordable and (relatively) safe thanks to several kinds of socialized infrastructure.  Your education, even if you went exclusively to ‘private’ schools? – socialized infrastructure.  In your domicile, if you live in one, the electricity and potable water? – socialized infrastructure.  Emergency services?  Communal military defense?  Effective medicine and medical instruments?  Materials and product R & D at state universities?  Survey and analysis of weather, hydrology, geology, biodiversity?

      “Money” comes from work, from transforming the given world materially by ‘working’ it.  You might pan for this nugget tumbling from the anuses of Freddy Hayek and Uncle Miltie Friedman – enjoy.

  209. weary traveler


  210. weary traveler

      Sean.  That’s just what Mr. Walsh told me in 9th Grade.  THEME.  That’s what makes a literary work literary.  Then I read all this shit by Shklovsky and a bunch of other clever assholes and it fucked my head up.  I thought it was literariness.  Not THEME.  And you’re telling me that Walsh was right all along.

      I think it’s great that Play, I mean Fugue, came up with a “theme issue.”  Maybe other literary magazines ought to follow suit.  It could be like a literary trend or something.  It sounds like a terrific way of organizing information and presenting it in a straightforward way to appeal to the ideal end user.  Aisle 1, Produce; Column 3, Moo Shoo Pork; Spring Number, “PLAY I MEAN FUG U PROUDLY PRESENTS THE BLOW JOB ISSUE,” and so on.   Where do I sign up for this revolution.

      If I enter “Dancing With the Stars” and Gil the Situation Sorrentino pukes on my nice new shoes can I come bitch at you about it? 

  211. Guestagain

      [buzzer sound]
      Money does not come from work. Money, revenue, funding for this loong listing of social infrastructures, only comes from business.

  212. guest

      since I’m a Hip-Hop junkie and dig sampling, remixing and try to employ a kind of Hip-Hop aesthetic in my own work

  213. Leapsloth14

      well, sure.

  214. Leapsloth14

      And fuck Mr. Walsh and his Yugo.

  215. deadgod

      “Money […] only comes from business.” is badly inaccurate.

      What constitutes “business”?  – or, if one prefers a less metaphysical question:  What is the necessary condition for the possibility of “business”-at-all?

      Labor is prior to, part of the foundation of, and constitutive of any political-economic system of distribution, circulation, and exchange – in a word, of any “business”.

      (That is not a “loong” list of socialized infrastructure, as your empirically-aided imagination ought quickly to tell you.)

  216. weary traveler

      Mr. Walsh died, Sean.  He died alone, clutching his Delaney Cards sandwiched within their gummy sarcophagus of old, thick rubber bands.  He never learned how important his contributions to literature were.  He never knew much.  Thought Evergreen Review was a magazine for tree surgeons.  And he biked.  He was a big biker.  He never said “cyclist,” only biker.  It’s what got him into his final fracas.  He described himself as an inveterate biker while sashaying with a 14-year-old student down E.3rd Street and a couple of Hells Angels handed him his ass, like a big hairy peach.  The girl never recovered.  Had to transfer to private school.  It was terrible.  Walsh was in St. Vincent’s for a while.  Some of the boys came to see him.  “Uh, hi, Mr. Walsh,” we said, hesitantly, in unison.  He liked that.  He flipped through the Delaney Cards, searching for our names.  Then he died and his body was buried in a pauper’s grave. 

  217. Chris Roberts

      Rather slavishly redundant for the sake of it, the footnotes add nothing to the works. The authors should straight out sue Fugue and banish Michael Martone to the land of the witless.

  218. Muckluck

      This is the most hilarious sword fight I’ve ever seen. 

  219. Seriously, Though… Some Thoughts on Writers Who Take Themselves Seriously | HTMLGIANT

      […] Sean posted about the Fugue play issue and the ensuing conversation where Lia Purpura was accused of taking […]

  220. Nancy

      My understanding of “play” is that people enter into it voluntarily. And that there’s such a thing as fair play. Fugue did not play fair here, pure and simple. They should have told all of the writers that their works would be altered, perhaps even altered without the writers’ approval of the final product, giving the writers a chance to withdraw their works. Really, we should all respect each other’s art. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martone himself was unaware that Fugue did not notify the writers. He might well be mortified.