08 January 2014

Link Sausages Arrange Themselves Around a Vortex

John Cole, 07 Jan 2014

  • Even Inspector Clouseau is more competent than the French Language Police, who have acted as soon as possible to marginally inhibit French use of "ASAP" in approved communications. Censorship of fleeting obscenities (or even proper demonstration of using the Anglo-Saxon fricative as seven different parts of speech) in the US or UK is bad enough; complaining now about abbreviations that I've seen in French military documents stretching back to the 1960s...
  • If you want to see the future of any distribution of the arts, look at what is happening with its prominent sources of reviews. The shattering of the comfortable hegemony of Rolling Stone/Billboard in the 1980s by Spin (and, once Spin joined instead of continuing to fight, Pitchfork; and it's continuing to evolve), and Ebert & Siskel's welcome destruction of the Variety/HR/New Yorker hegemony with both their written reviews and At the Movies, are obvious examples. Is the same thing (finally) happening to book reviews... or is it much too late? I tend rather toward the latter, because — ironically — the only remaining wide-scope source of reviews of US-published books for which I can be reasonably sure that a review comes from both (a) actually reading the book(s) under consideration and (b) any conflicts of interest are properly disclosed is the NYRB!
  • It's time for my annual screed against annual awards nominations being too soon: Hugo nominations are now open, well before many books purchased as holiday gifts have even arrived (given both general holiday congestion and the weather in much of the US). Or been read. Or been reflected upon, and actually compared to actual "competitors."

    We need to stop pretending that — all too like the review systems noted in the previous sausage — annualized awards have become anything other than more-than-90%-coopted extensions of marketing campaigns. If they were anything else, nomination periods would not start for at least four or five months after the end of the eligibility period; nominators (and voters) would certify that they had actually read/seen/listened to the works under consideration, and were not just imposing 20/80 hindsight and rose-colored corrective lenses of past triumphs on present works (I'm very specifically referring to the final slates of both the Hugos and Nebulas as awarded in 2013); and there would be open discussion of not just what should be a finalist/winner, but why. This is a criticism of the timing of the awards more than their substance or process... this time; we'll leave the massive, self-defeating intellectual dishonesty gap between "timely" and "considers nontraditional imprints/sources" for another time, or perhaps the relatively recent past, including the literary cooties. It's not so much that the emperor has no clothes as that the only acceptable clothing for the emperor must be a brand available at Men's Wearhouse... even when there are better alternatives across the mall at J.C. Penney, let alone an actual tailor.