All My Detractors

1. Here is one Norman Savage’s comment, written today, on a recent post here:

Since Google cannot discern the wheat from the chaff, one of your pieces landed in my email alerts. I’m an old fuck, been around writing, reading and publishing for a very long time, but your piece, your writing, your bullshit, is some of the dullest, transparent, phony, pseudo-intellectual, insecure, vapid, and light inconsequential stuff I’ve read in a long time. But I can take that. In fact, I could even admire the shakiness if not for the lack of heart, sweat, and risk that real “art” requires. Maybe it’s time for you to get out of a pretty limited environment and shave into new mirrors. Pack a bag, stick out your thumb, and land somewhere where words cannot be hidden behind. It might buck-up your backbone.

Normally I just spam these sorts of comments but this is entirely too precious. I hope that it is not the recipes herein recorded he finds so inconsequential — they are actually some of the most valuable posts in the entire blog. One is of course surprised that Mr. Savage feels so superior to the major poets and singers quoted here, but it is understandable in a man to get bored with my interest in clothes. And I am not sure Mr. Savage has seen a blog before. And I do periodically get comments from someone who says I am “hiding behind words,” and it is really hard to see what they mean. This is my most personal writing, my intimate writing, the writing in which I reveal myself. It is written by the person you would recognize if you met me. “Art” is what I attempt to do in my studio — this is just my house. I do not write fiction, although I would like to try it one day. The things I publish under my legal and professional name are not about me and do not use the pronoun I.

2. Vapid thing that I am, I sometimes recover from scenes like the one of which I have been complaining, in which someone tries to talk me into taking a supporting role around some addict and becomes belligerent when I refuse, by going to the French clothing stores and feasting my eyes on the elegant racks. I seek luxury, calm, and voluptuousness, and I find that looking at lovely French clothes in a calm atmosphere is one of the things that works. Normally I do not buy, but today everything was being liquidated. I bought a silvery gray jacket with abalone shell buttons in an amazing cut, costing $78. I do not have enough jackets of the suit type, so this is very good.

3. Somehow the silly events of the past two days and Mr. Savage’s comment all remind me of certain pseudo friendly underminers in graduate school. They liked to emphasize that you could not work until you were in a state to work. They were saying this as an excuse not to work, and as a way to keep others from working. I perfectly agree at one level. I have to have my workspace neat and functional. I have to be reasonably alert. And if the roof is leaking, I have to put the call in for repairmen before I sit down to work. But you do not have to wait for the perfect time. I think that line was yet one more of those pieces of advice designed to distract. L’appétit vient en mangeant. I am so glad I do not have to deal on a permanent basis with any whitemen.


23 thoughts on “All My Detractors

  1. Zero, you’re threatening to NS for whatever reason. Take this as a compliment. Your writing is powerful enough to get under his skin. I can see the muscle in your sentences, and so can he, Poveraccio.

  2. Perhaps he just composed this comment and sent it to a lot of blogs, to irritate them! (It would be sort of junior high-ish, I know, but a lot of guys don’t really advance beyond that stage.) 😉

  3. There’s a Norman Savage who has been a poet, and the same person seems to have a blog. This may or may not be that N.S., but that N.S. is a junkie or ex junkie and he has diabetes he does not control. Links are in my response to his comment, which is on the post “A Drinking Whiteman.”

  4. Hattie – yes, I suppose that is it. And you know what … maybe someone SENT him the link to the post for a REASON.

    And – oh my God, a light bulb just went on as I read over the word “junkie.”

    In the sixth grade I did a research project on heroin addiction and read a lot of nitty gritty books. I had already picked up a lot of book finding skills from the Emeritus Professor and nobody stopped me from going into the adult section of the library to read up on this topic. The material was really sad and scary and I had nightmares for a long time. I never understood why because it was during Viet Nam and all and there was all kinds of grisly news that did not give me nightmares. But, DUH … it was because I was reading about addiction and I lived in an addicted household and I knew it but did not know it. The nightmares went away when I became mildly anorexic.

    Je-sus. It all makes so much sense. I wonder if my connection of the dots 35 years later is too neat.

  5. Yeah, why aren’t you more manly. Hop a freight train, get high, hang out with the hobos. What a load of crap.

  6. I wonder if he thinks I’m a man. Or maybe he’s the alter ego of Charles Murray, author of THE BELL CURVE and that WaPo op/ed you just posted on.

  7. I don’t think he thinks you are a man. It’s more that he thinks women should shut up and let the men do the talking. There is a whole school of thought to the effect that everything women do that could be construed as feminine just shows that women are inferior. Or bourgie (I can’t spell it and am too lazy to look it up.) Fuck ’em I say. They just think women are cunts.

  8. Of course — I get it — I tend to assume man competing with a man tactics and that is why I don’t understand the poor logic men try to use with me. It makes me wonder whether they are mentally retarded or otherwise impaired, until I finally realize no, it’s just that they think I am.

    It is a very “let’s put her in her place” comment. And what amazes me is that the author appears to believe it will work. That is the part that most amazes me about these men — they truly believe women are very low in intelligence and that they have no survival instinct whatsoever. I mean, even a low IQ fish swims away from poison.

  9. It is a very “let’s put her in her place” comment. And what amazes me is that the author appears to believe it will work.

    I suspect it often does work, just because of the severe social pressure on women which is to put them in their place. To put it this way –in boxing, copping a few punches in the first round is unlikely to get you down, but if you keep receiving them, by the seventh or eighth round, you’re finished.

    So these male tactics (which are not actually boxing, and are done by stealth over the Internet) are very cowardly, but if they keep occurring they can start to have a negative, cumulative effect.

  10. Yes, in an institutional context, with all the ganging up and collusion and so on, it really does work. And at an individual level it works, too, if you keep at the person. So you’re right, so I guess they have to bluff all the time. But it still amazes me that they are actually able to do it with a straight face, and do not understand when you don’t buy their inanities — except that I guess they believe them, or they believe at least in their mission, and so … yeah, like that.

  11. I think they tend to believe that a sexist point of view has intrinsic merit because it is a “winning” point of view. They do not realise that their choices in terms of how to win deprives them of all value and all merit.

  12. AHA, then that explains a lot — of why people think that by merely reiterating what they believe to be a “winning” view they will be “right.” It explains, for instance, all the reiterations of Whiteman Two (the person of the other day).

  13. We are in for another cycle of this. I recognize the signs. The attacks on Michelle Obama are indicative. She just got where she was through affirmative action. She’s ugly. She’s a bitch. And so on. For years I thought Eleanor Roosevelt was ugly, but a while ago I chanced to see a picture of her and she was quite attractive. That’s how it goes.

    Bad times really bring out the worst in men when they start failing. So we just have to ride this one out and not stop what we’re doing just because nowhere guys don’t like us.

  14. Very good insight, I will remember this.

    Somehow related — I had a thought about my parents’ traumas the other day. They were born in the mid 1920s and so were just starting school in 1929. They didn’t experience the worst of the Depression themselves by any means — my one grandfather kept his business, and my other one, whose bank folded, did have to scramble around, but had savings and was resourceful, and the family didn’t starve. So I have always wondered how they had so fetishized the Depression — especially the parent whose father didn’t lose his business. Yes, one saw the bread lines, etc., but they talk about it at a whole other, phantasmagorical level of trauma.

    I finally realized it: they were 4 or 5 and their parents and their friends were shocked and worried in general terms, and they heard them talk about it. The scariness structured their psychic world, and still informs and drives it.

    The way I understood this is that a lot of the exaggerrated fears I have about academia, I picked up in toddlerhood, because of hanging around with so many assistant professors (that was who I hung around with when I was a toddler). They were all worried about their books and so on, and in phantasmagorical way I absorbed it as something scarier than they felt it to be.

    So the hypothesis is: that’s 2 generations scarred by the sayings men freaking out over failing or possibly failing. Now, it’s happening again in some way.

    My theories of this hour, for what they’re worth.

  15. This is an old discussion, I realize, but I wonder what he means by “shaving into new mirrors.” Does he want you to grow a beard?

  16. Yes, he means get out of Dodge, experience something new, and he also thinks it’s a hip surrealist type image, shave your way into a new mirror, enter a different space, etc.

    If I thought he could write this well I’d think it were my X, who always claimed I should get out of the blogosphere and into the bars he wanted to see me in.

  17. P.S. My God. I just reread the guy’s comment and it is amazing how abusive it is. And there are some turns of phrase that make me think it really IS my X … if he has actually been able to convince himself now that I don’t travel and so on.

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