The octopus in the room, or, Help me name a phenomenon

“The Menace of the Hour” by George Luks (30 January 1899)

For a while now I’ve thought that there should be a name for the following phenomenon. You think of something. And then you immediately realize that someone else has to have already thought of that very thing.

For example. A friend asked me what my Halloween costume is going to be. And I jokingly said that I was going to go as the octopus that was deleted from The Goonies. And that alone might be an example of this phenomenon, although it’s not the best example. But my next thought was: I said, “No, I’ll dress up as a businessperson, but I’ll have eight arms, and I’ll wear a pin that says, ‘OCTOPI WALL STREET.'”

And I knew at once that somebody else has already thought of that (the pun, if not the precise realization). That had to. And…voila!

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This Just In: Poetry, Fiction & Literary Magazines Are Still Dying

A recent Mother Jones article by Ted Genoways, editor of Virgina Quarterly Review, suggests literature is dying because of the explosion of MFA programs and in turn, literary magazines and writers who look inward rather than outward in their storytelling. The really interesting conversation takes place in the comments where anonymous commenters and folks like Matt Bell and Gina Frangello both expand the discussion and take Genoways to task quite eloquently for his myopic and rather privileged outlook from within academia and his willful ignorance of the independent publishing community.

I have said it before but I will say it again. I remain weary of the ongoing, lofty prognostications about the death of literature, literary magazines, the printed word and so on. The conversation is getting so very tedious. Literature is dying the longest death in the history of deaths. It is amazing, really. If literature is dying, it is now time for a mercy killing so we can bury the dead, allow the dead to rest in peace, and surrender to the five stages of grief. I will never understand why magazines continue to publish articles which look backward rather than forward, in no way cover new ground or offer practical solutions that are grounded in hope rather than pessimism.

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