When Horse Shit Passes Itself Off as Bull Shit; or, The Essay Writer and You

[A Short Story]

An essay writer publishing an essay in his literary review revealing what it reveals about both his being and his existence, perhaps. What this then would say about us saying about him is as old as the form of the essay which all writers of the form cannot escape, and that is the form as it was initiated, developed, and “essayed,” if I am permitted to be circular, or should I say reciprocal in my critical appraisal, by Montaigne (yes, I am being very assumptive): 

I am writing to you about a man who writes a blog, publishing lengthy articles, you could say, essays, we might also label. in the blog section, perhaps far too long for what blogs are expected to accomplish, to accommodate, to . . . whatever else it is I could say about a blog and what it does, what it is supposed to do, to be doing in the confines of its space, as we like to say about any place where we write or what contains our writing, a column, whatever. Who this man is and if this man is I, I will not say. I leave that to you. What I do say is what I have said and what I will say about blogs and blogging, seeing as I always write more lengthy pieces myself than I suspect I should be writing in the confines, as I mentioned above, of a blog. Here then is the piece as written by this man in his blog that I have taken the time to re-blog for you, or so the convention is put to you for you by me in a way that suggests what you can decide later:

What I wanted to do with this review, with its blog, its pages section now numbering nearly 220 essays–yes, 220 literary essays–I will not discuss, except to say that literary is the first and last consideration I make, thus is the first and last in the publishing of any content. I have said this many times before in references I have made about this Review elsewhere. It seems as if I have exhausted even my patience with me repeating myself–or so I posture and say. What do I mean by literay? The literary is a muse of this review? If it could have one, it would have to be Literaria. If she is not a muse, then she should be one and we will consider her one. Yes, she. The muses are she; Beauty is she, Truth is she, Wisdom is she, Justice is she, and so on. Each to his own Gods and Goddesses (as I have said before and before and before all the time creeping one or another petty pace along the lines I set on the page, this page and that page and all the pages of all time until the last syllable is set in its word–the word . . .); it seems as if I prefer the latter feminine. But again, the literary–what does it mean? Anyone writing about how the literary review that employs him as editor is literary for X and Y reasons would have to say something about what the literary is, how the literary functions in or for the editorial decisions, as well as the authorial ones. And I am too the chief–not only the chief–but the only author of the texts published in this review. Yes, the literary, how does it function here with respect to the kinds of essays that are written–I should say, that I write. Always be active. I do write everything in The Review.

I understand that ‘literary’ comes from the Latin and refers to the alphabet, the magical arrangement of the letters of the alphabet–what is it that we do with the alphabet but spell, yes, all spelling is spelling, if you get what I mean (how could you not?). The idea that what is meant by literacy in this way, etymologically, might circle back to what the French call alphabetics, but not in the connotations the word literary has accumulated over time since spelling was only performed by those who  were literary–or so my prejudice assumes and thus precludes any laundry lists or warehouse catalogues from consideration when considering antiquity and what was written in the earliest stages of that technology, the alphabet.

I am reserving a special connotation for literary, one that it has had for as long as referring to letters was a metonymic reference for writing, and had its advent at a time when writing was reserved for writing that was other than, for examples, warehouse catalogues or laundry lists; although writing could be used for, as it has been used for, popular or mass consumption, and I do not ascent to the prejudice that orality does not have what we could call literary value, or that oral folk tales when transcribed are not literature because they are, as they have shown themselves to be, literary and/or literature.

It is not significant to go back and try to detail or delineate the bits of matter, or those of manner, that were initial in forming this review. I wanted to create a home where I could write essays in the tradition of the literary essay as employed by most of Western European civilization’s prose non-fiction practitioners since the time of Montaigne, and yes, Montaigne is the father of the form I am a practitioner of, the kind of essay writing I do, examining the subject or topic of the essay through the scientific method of the Self, a kind of trial of ideas about or on the subject refracted through the prism of my subjectivity. Who has not thought of doing the like–writing an essay or two that would express something of the Self, that could give definition or as we like to say in our cliche factory of the mind, meaning. The Self only lives in articulation. You know this, don’t you?  How could you not? It’s right there in front of you.

Does this tell you enough? I am not sure that it does, but why should it need to say more that it has? It should tell you everything, but might tell you nothing. Many will still need more–we suffer an information tapeworm in our minds. I will not try to draw you the pictures you might need, no matter how desperately the deaf need to be shouted at and the blind of a particular kind of lack of sight need stark and startling images drawn for them . . .  I will, though, use the kind of diction necessary to illustrate, to illuminate, to elucidate, to explicate whenever, wherever possible–words you know or recognize may or may not be used–words you have heard or read before can be employed, perhaps, though, not quite in the way they are familiar to you. You might be familiar with most of what I have said, of what I do say and intend to say in the future; that is, if you step out of the received ideas you accept as the only ideas anyone can understand or believe . . . not even seeing the ideas as received ideas.

And no, we are not an oral culture, nor are we becoming one, so do not try out your buffoonery on me.

The ideas you have accepted without question are ideas entrenched in the culture, ideas diffuse through every statement, every act, every response, every question, every assumption, political, social, general, interpersonal, or those inside the Self that have seeped through the geologic layers covering our interiority. Yes, they are everywhere. I am also referring to the received manners of reception most have accepted as the only or primary way of receiving ideas, of integrating ideas, of understanding ideas. Ideas do need an infrastructure, or some core of density for themselves to accrete around–the processes of stellar evolution and solar system formation are analogies appropriate to understanding how ideas are understood, or how they could disseminate. Use them to your advantage in understanding. We all of us have to hold up meaning. The meaning herein has been carried, we hope, I insist with confidence, by a particular literary style that in itself becomes a kind of epistemology. The literary is a branch of epistemology–or a branch of literature, which is a branch of epistemology, a kind of knowledge, if we allow ourselves to transport ourselves into Platonic epistemology as I understand it . . . the Review, therefore, in the simplest phrase, is literary enough to do the job it intends to do. You get this, no? How all or any theory of knowledge could be expanded, extended, helped, elucidated, further explicated, drawn out in greater definition rather than left sketchy, if it were set against, alongside or in dialectic with the idea that the literary were a form of epistemology. Anyway, all philosophical theories are in themselves fictions of a kind, no?

Just remember that you venture outside the text at your own peril.

The essay is a form used by Montaigne achieving the effect of extended, protracted, divergent, exegetical autobiography? I could say or insinuate that all things autobiographical, even those that call themselves The Confessions of, are nothing but self-flattery. Yes, confessional writing is really self-flaterring drivel. How self-absorbed most public confessors are. Look at America today and its media and what comes out of it, through it, from it, by it, of it . . . . Horse shit passing itself off as bull shit wrapped up in the pretty ribbons and bows of sincerity.


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