Michael Zeleny (larvatus) wrote,
Michael Zeleny


Come, come, and sit you down. You shall not budge.
You do not go till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.
    I would like to go on record explaining my reference to Phil Nikolayev’s detractors as douchebags. But first, I suggest that any attempts to refute my argument with ad hominem remarks are quite useless. For I have no personal feelings that can be hurt. I care about truth and justice; I care about eros and poetry; but I certainly do not care about your conjectures concerning my appearance, mental health, penis length, sexual orientation, or social skill. I resent all self-indulgent pretentiousness, and my writing has nothing to do with indulging myself. I am nobody, and my life is not an issue. Nor is yours, gentle reader. At the most, I know you only by the pixels on my screen, and it is rather unlikely that I would ever be interested in knowing you in a more intimate fashion. I have my small circle of friends, and I am not terribly interested in expanding it, particularly at the expense of my ability to speak my mind. So try not to delude yourself into fancying that I am addressing you as a person, — at the moment, my sole concern is with your writing.
    On the subject of writing, my only advice to you is: “Don’t be a douchebag!”
Avoid turning into a rubber contraption dutifully spewing the lukewarm contents of its innermost self into the nether parts of its audience, inevitably overflowing its effluvia into the long-suffering public arena. Eschew the douchebags’ trademark propensity for mixing life and writing! For no one who reads the latter really gives a fuck about the former, with the possible exception of the author’s mother. The same goes for all other forms of social intercourse. If you should doubt my claim, go to a corner bar, try to pick up a woman by talking at length about yourself, and see how far you can get. If you are a heterosexual woman, this experiment will be inconclusive, as in such situations any man will tend to think with his little head, willfully disregarding the tedium involved in the preliminaries. But try pulling the same stunt in the setting of postcoital banter, and he will fart and go to sleep.
    I foresee that my modest therapeutic and pedagogical efforts are bound to be disregarded by all douchebags in good standing. For they belong to the class of creatures whose pandering upbringing reinforces their natural inclination to confuse the crack of their ass with the axis mundi, and to see their highest virtue in unbridled expression of their trite subjectivity. An inflexible principle requires that they regard themselves as intrinsically interesting, deliberately placing their bloated personae squarely in the center of any narrative they happen to be chattily manufacturing at the moment. This obliviously garrulous aspect of their character suffices to explain their habitual vulgar elevation of any picayunish personal mishap to the exalted status of tragedy, as well as the complementary need to fashion themselves into imaginary paragons of self-promoting wit. It matters not at all that the paltry bathos of their predictable heartbreak most obviously lacks the greatness of striving and defiance that is the essence of great tragedy, as distinguished from mere disaster; nor does it matter that the absurd incongruity of their existence has far less potential for surprising its audience with its inherent humor, than the perpetual hell-and-brimstone blithering of a rapacious teleevangelist fundraiser.
    The douchebag places its values above everything else; so as not to appear unfair, it declares that all values are relative, and therefore there is nothing to choose between them. Yet it is also compelled to exalt itself as the pinnacle of wit, modesty, and humility, conversely tagging its detractors as dour, arrogant fools. Since it is utterly oblivious of the elementary analytic truth that self-promotion automatically obliterates wit, as it excludes humility, the douchebag loves to see its glorious name writ large, regardless of the surface or the venue; you can always tell a douchebag by the signature it scribbles on a toilet wall, or places in the header of a Usenet article.
    Assiduously cultivating the obsessive self-regarding sincerity required for maintaining its pose, the douchebag is bound to forever remain blissfully oblivious to the fact that, in its quality of a banal simulacrum of an artistic creation, it is much less reminiscent of any writer or personage of high literature, than of that perennial supermarket tabloid favorite, the 300 pound mutant Elvis from outer space. Accordingly, I owe douchebags no respect whatsoever. In the past, I have put down a lot worthier characters than the douchebags found on rec.arts.poems; moreover, I do not hold myself in a very high regard, either. Life is too short to spend half of your waking hours on stroking your neighbor’s ego. Take it or leave it.
    As for real people who happen to come across my articles, I give them enough to go on. Anyone who cares about poetry has to know about the pathetic fallacy, or at least be ready to skulk away and look it up in the Princeton Encyclopedia. In my notes I stated exactly what was wrong with the poem I commented; I see no need to elaborate any further.
    Sapienti sat.

mikhail zeleny@post.harvard.edu
“ — I shall speak bluntly, because life is short.”
24 November 1992, 10:41 am
Tags: bullshit, friends, onanism, stupidity, usenet

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