What they said about what we said
In the fall last year, a +3000 page pdf titled “Issue 1” was published featuring +3000 writers/poets by For Godot, a glorified blog. There was a catch: 1) the poems were never submitted/solicited, 2) the poems were not authored by the cited writer (instead generated by an online algorithm) and 3) no editorial correspondence preceded the publication. In short, this was more about the conceptual, probably satirical, musings of the ‘editors,’ and less about the content of the publication. I smell commentary.
Now, a sister (no doubt incestuous)-site What We Said has published the soberly titled “Issue 2,” a collection of bewildered blog posts (and comments) which followed the release of Issue 1. One wonders if Issue 1 was merely a means to an end (Issue 2). The +3000 list of writers are (for the most part, save the occasional ‘famous’ person) obscure — your typical bag of people with blogs trying to make some dent in the online cultural world/war. What was striking was how many writers had ‘found themselves’ published in For Godot, a testament to self-google searches. Even more notable, was the number of writers who either didn’t bother to read their own supposed poem or had read the algorithm-authored poem and considered/forgotten it their own.
The implications are vast and cynical: the aesthetics of ‘obliqueness’ in poetry may be completely arbitrary and mimicked by a computer; there are legions of self-obsessed people out there googling themselves; ‘content’ found online is (or is not) artificially legitimized by its medium (pdf, blog post, journal); the publishing world is so random that purposeful randomness goes unnoticed; and finally, the vectorless boat of irony has lost its shores.
What We Said may be an homage, to preserve and seal the thoughts of many; it may be an experiment in authorship and community; it may be many things — though something tells me they are simply making fun of us (sadly, I was part of the +3000 list, blogged about it, found myself unknowingly published twice by them, and discovered this both times by googling myself.)
The contributor list, blog posts, and comments all point to one thing: the disorientating excessiveness of text found online. Htmlgiant may very well be contributing to such a climate — but if you’re still here, you’ve acclimated well.
Sometimes I think “I want to have an internet death.” So many accounts to delete, so little time. But every morning, before I even wash the night-crude from my eyes, I nudge my mouse and activate the Square Halo, thinking “just not today, I think I have 1 email.”
Godot never showed. What we have for him is still in our hands.