Like most people, I expected a three day weekend break from F5ing Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader. I woke up this morning (I am an uncool depressive non-insomniac), ate some eggs, opened my laptop and discovered all bets were off. This, posted at 1:53am. This, about 4:30am. This, 9:30am. Comments, of course, and probably more to come (along with whatever I've missed so far besides.)
I had a few reactions. In no particular order:
1. I don't concur with Jason's list, but I could probably write one myself. I read things that others enjoy, but just aren't for me. I tend to think along the lines of individual pieces rather than writers. But given enough time and background reading, I could do it.
2. This overall discussion picks at a theorem that is generally accepted by the indielit cafeteria (sorry if the caf analogy bugs, but I have found it useful for a while): Nothing good comes from negativity, and I will therefore refrain. This theorem works well in two very important areas. It keeps the caf supportive in a larger world that is usually uncaring, and it prevents the caf from imploding in a has-happened-elsewhere-on-the-Internet-countless-times slambook disaster. Let me repeat: These dynamics are very important, and the theorem supports them.
2a. Does the theorem work as scientific law, though? No. Without Jason's post, I might have assumed that he enjoys Brian Evenson's work. (Somehow, Lydia Davis didn't surprise me. As for the others, coin toss.) I now know more about Jason's tastes in literature than I did, hell, twelve hours ago. I'm not convinced that's a negative. Nor do I think opening dialogue about and around the theorem is a negative. I wish such things were discussed more often. I think NOT questioning them is part of what makes the caf overwhelming and ridiculous sometimes. Let me repeat: Not questioning = overwhelming and ridiculous.
3. Here's the other enormous problem with the theorem: It allows one to assume that omission equals disapproval, in an environment where omission is a regular and frequently non-motivated occurrence. I can't even begin to count how many stories, books, litmags I've really enjoyed that never got online airtime from me. Truly. But reading my 100% non-pimping prattle from the back half of 2010, according to the theorem, you'd think I hated everything I read. Even now, I often refrain from sharing something because so much of my social media audience is in the same cafeteria, and sees the exact same accolades. Under the weight of so much enthusiasm, as with anything else, we bend and get uncomfortable.
3a. That doesn't mean I thought The Thing I Didn't Share sucked. But because of the theorem we all live under, you may assume I thought it did.
4. There's multifaceting going on. Can we please acknowledge that? Pretending there's no offline world for a minute, we have: the writer, the Internet persona (subsets: Facebooker, Tweeter), the (self) marketer. That's even before you consider The Body of Work. Another, slightly shakier, theorem: If you like one facet, you must like them all. I think that theorem needs to go away first, honestly. And this is one area where I take slight issue with Jason's post — in a couple of cases, it muddles this a little.
5. As that third link above makes clear, what transpired today was lopsided. I'd like to see more dissection of favorable reviews of writers' work. As long as dissection of personas remains off the table (and that is a tremendous qualifier, I know), I think the caf could take that significant step forward.