Small Press, Big Impression
To write or not to write, that is the question every writer faces, must ask himself or herself, at what answer or response is it aimed? I am shooting arrows blind.
How many days is it acceptable to let pass when writing a blog–is this a blog? Is it not a web journal, a webzine? a literary review on line? It is more importantly a repository of the literary essay as I have outlined the form in one or two letters from the editor, which is what I am, the Editor-in-Chief of The Review. I could say that I am the Publishing Editor–which is what I really am, and perhaps I will in time agree to calling myself such.
At present, I have no aversion to using Publishing Editor; I also use Editor-in-Chief. Do I think the lathers less pretentious? Why would I think that? I cannot imagine that the former is more intimate in its role than the latter would be–although I can see how some might think thus. I can’t allow myself to be a snob and imagine that being the Editor-in-Chief has a less remote connection to the matter and material of the essays than being the publishing editor would. I cannot accept that an Editor-in-Chief is closer to what we imagine the role of editor is when we have even an inkling of what literary means or should mean.
There are prejudices against finance and management of this kind from artists and writers. I shouldn’t believe that the latter title of Publishing Editor is for a role that only has editorship attached because the Publisher, who puts up the money, also wants to control the content–this, in itself, is an adolescently conceived prejudice against finance, which is to say there might be more rational prejudices against finance, something with which I agree.
Prejudices or no prejudices–it is virtually impossible not to have prejudices. Honestly appraising them when they arise is the best manner with which to address them. Believing that one is completely free of prejudices is in itself a prejudgement. I am the Publishing Editor of The Review, thereby, the Editor-in-Chief, thus I am in control of the content an how the money gets spent. I fulfill the roles of Publisher and Editor. I should say that I am the only editor–in fact, I am the only author. I am the Publisher-Editor-Writer . . . so, I am like the man who wants to make a movie, and in turn writes a script, raises his own money and directs the film. Perhaps he too edits the shots in the editing room, perhaps having already made the choices of how the movie will be photographed. He could find himself behind the camera, as sometimes cinematographers do–but to be writer, director, editor, cinematographer and camera man–this is something akin to what I do here for The Review.
Is this one of the little presses? For certain, it is in the tradition of the small literary journals that had their heyday between the two world wars, particularly in Paris, London and New York. What this has to do with The Review is in the manner of orientation–do I expressly favor avant-garde aesthetic values at present? I am remiss to find them, actually, I cannot get at an intelligible or intelligent definition of anything avant-garde today. To say that all art today is avant-garde is one of the more heinous expressions endorsing conformity, conformity, conformity, much the way we find pervasive in all matters of social expression and interaction in totalitarian societies. Don’t think they did not have art and artists in Nazis Germany or in Franco’s Spain or the Soviet Union. In fact, I would say that artists in these societies of more overt control probably understood the nature of freedom and their own being free or not being free better than we do in the most sophisticatedly controlling society in history, having had to face repression of expression and find a way to remain true to one’s art while saving one’s skin and staying viable within a totalitarian political schema.
I do though have an acute understanding of the history of avant-garde movements, and in this have an appreciation for their purpose, their contribution, their integrity. There is far too much pandering to the ideas of being avant-garde without actually being so, in fact, there is a lot more conformity in the masquerade of being avant-garde that we have in our popular arts; and so much of the cookie-cutter MFA programs have managed just the right pinch of subversion to be stirred into the stew made by the power structure that controls all expression by giving just enough space for acceptable and manageable subversive thought to arise. This we hope to avoid–hope is not exactly the word we are looking for–will and desire is what we need. We will avoid this attempt by power to control subversion by giving space for a little of it to arise. It’s the theory of inoculation at work.
Let’s get every one inoculated against subversive expression, against anything meaningfully avant-garde.