Of Reviewing

 

To re-view or not to re-view, looking again what it is, how it is affecting what. I am the Publisher. I am the Editor-in-Chief. I am the only author of text within its covers. I am the review which is what? Another question simply asked, of course–a matter of it, simply extensive? Why is it what it is? Meaning what? Questions begetting questions. Why does it happen–or, why did it happen? I have always wanted to publish a literary review. I have fially come to it. I have had others before. I had the October Revue. This was published on-line too. Wha means this, I could ask–am I asking? I still have the October Revue. I consciously chose to spell review differently, the way I used to consciously spell theater differently one time or another, opting for the French way for reasons that escape me now. Why does it exist, the review? I might as well ask why I do. Does exist for each other? I could say this. Why was it started? Why? Why? Why? Because, because, because. Again, I have always wanted to publish a review.

When is it the Review? is another question, perhaps one more relevant to the needs of this present inquiry. This is another question, of course–there is that matter again, extensions always extending, anything said could be extended, anything thought, anything received by the eyes, the ears, we always have more to say that is not getting said. This might be the most relevant–what is there to say, and what needs to be said, and what will get said, and then questions of how will arise. When does it happen, the re-viewing, the looking again, the seeing once more? At what moment was it not a review and at which moment was it, did it become a review, the hair breadth. Or is it, if this on and off again relationship with what the review is or could be continues, that is what the review will be, become, really is. Yes, when is it an review, one among many, is a question worth asking.

I have asked this question in other ways in other essays, but it is true of this one as it would be of other reviews that are literary: Is it the purpose of this Review to examine politics in general, or politics as they are played out on the American stage both currently and historically? The latter seems more reasonable in its expectations for an answer–although is there just one answer? I am not going to assume that answers and responses are equal in their probability. What qualifies as an answer and what qualifies as a response is not the same, is it? I take this truth to be self-evident that it should be the goal or intention of any literary review to have something intelligent and critical to say to power, about power, opposed to power; and that the same should be true as well to money, about money and opposed to money, even if the vehicle is the literary essay and thereby a form of writing governed by a discipline not necessarily politically scientific.

The literary is what I employ here as my standard for the writing; I have not pandered to what some have assumed is necessary when championing democracy, and that is a drop in the level of writing along a curve of mediocrity. It must be in some minds a truth undeniable, and that is in order to serve the democratic averages, the writing must not be better than average, and that this average is on a downward curve. I am of the mind that democracy is noble, that democracy is anything but average, that it is never mediocre and cannot be served by any attempt that is either average or mediocre, serving to perpetuate mendacity everywhere growing in our need for ease, our gluttony for the easy. The literary not only can be employed in the service of social and political critique; it must be.

The literary essay is adaptive to any subject, any thesis, and has only its own governing generic considerations of form and greater aesthetic considerations to which it must defer. What a literary essay is will not be exhausted at the moment. The Literary Essay as a form has Montaigne as its originator, its inventor, its guiding principal–should I say, of course–no. I owe as much to Bacon as I do to Montaigne, as much to Emerson as I do to Bacon, as much to Orwell as I do to Emerson, to Camus as to Emerson, to Baldwin, to Duras, to many, many others as well. Just how someone develops the thoughts they think, see taking form on the page in his writing–my writing–why am I displacing me by talking about some abstract somebody? I owe a lot to many–it would be virtually an exercise in futility to list them; I could one day engage a bibliographic essay of influence. I have imagined writing one, although one like this has not been started. I do do that, though, detatch myself from my Self, or so I imagine. There are the considerations of audience to make, but there are also those of voice, of style, of diction, the latter which has a lot to do with voice, but not everything. Writing is not simply putting pen to page anymore than reading is skimming the page with your eyes as waiters do tables with their de-crumber before coffee and desert.

I am the chief writer herein. Why the pretense when I have already asserted that I am the only one? Yes, I am the only writer. I am everything and everyone in this review. I am the editor, the publisher and the only scribe–why repeat this? I do not like scribe as it has too much in common with scribbler. I do not want to take myself too seriously, but writer is better than scribe. I am not some courtly stenographer who is employed to revise favorably what the King says. The Review is what it should be and is in line with other reviews that have been published in the past, literary reviews and some of the small magazines of the literary type that have been recurrent in avant garde circles for the last century. There are also the reviews of the literary type published in England in the 18th and 19th centuries that I have also had affinities for, and at times had imagined publishing journals of the like. I even had imagined that I could call a review, The Tattler or The Spectator. I am a reviewer; I am the review

But inquiry is the axis, critique often the result. Literary is the guiding principal; the essay, the dominant form. What else I should say could become a comment on the nature of reviewing and thus part of an on-going dialogue on what this review is, what it should be, or what it could be and might never become, and so on and so on. I know that I will continue in the vein I have been publishing this literary review, but to what end I only sometimes imagine, and imagine in a way that is almost as if I were not. I can say that the writing is everything; more so, the writing of the writing in the moment of writing is everything. The thoughts of what it could become in a larger way, with greater dissemination . . . with a broader audience? are for another time? Am I actually looking for a broader audience or simply a greater audience from among those who would understand. All of us in this business are preaching to one choir or another. But there is something in what I do which is for those who will never understand, and these are most likely not in the choir, although one or two might be.

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