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Everything wrong with publishing: A letter to J.W. McCormack of The Baffler

Saturday 10/16/21

We will walk through all of the specifics later. Right now, it is before dawn on Saturday, and I must exercise vigorously, after not being able to most of the past week, on account of being locked in trying to deal with this hell so as to get out of it, and so that I do not have a heart attack from all that I must try and deal with and everything I face because of these people.

J.W. McCormack is the fiction editor of The Baffler. He is everything you'd expect a Brooklyn hipster writer with no talent to be. He looks the part. Right out of central wankery casting. He has no ability, he's done next to nothing, of course, in his life. What these people have done--if you wish to call it that--is always the same: they've written something with no value for any human, which one of their cronies puts forward somewhere for them.

He was a senior editor at Conjunctions, which is run by Bradford Morrow, who deserves his own entry, so that will be attended to later, as it will be one of the longer ones. Brian Evenson was also a senior editor at Conjunctions. About ten years ago, I went to Brown to meet with Evenson, who was then teaching there. He starts walking me through--as if I didn't know--how everyone had their work come to appear in Conjunctions. What they did for Morrow, what the quid pro quo was, what the relationship was. It is always the same.

The Evenson story that I reference in this letter is one I've recently linked to in these pages. I'll do it again. They will see the clicks, and think "ooh, that's good, it's getting some attention!" but click on it all the same. Try to get through it. It's 8000 words long. It's awful. It's tedious. Tedious is too kind. Not one person who does click on it will make it to the end. There's no chance.

A guy like a J.W. McCormack is going to hate me. Everything about me. What I can do, the range of styles and modes and voices I can write in. The radio, the publications. The stream of both. Because even with this entire industry against me--for now--it's still always coming out, isn't it? It's like you've cheated at basketball, and you've put 100 guys on one single player to guard him. You're clubbing him, you're bashing his skull with bricks, you're taking pliers to his balls as ten of you hold him down. And that guy is still getting to the hoop. And he's getting to it more than anyone else.

What will it look like later on the level playing field?

These people will stop going up here when this stops and I am treated as I deserve to be treated, and the work is, too. I am also doing this retroactively. Going up on these pages isn't about doing something heinous now. It's about the treatment over time. If one wishes to think, "That's why I never respond, I don't want that to be me," it won't matter, because it already was what it was with that person. If it comes to here, it was not because I wanted to bring it here. Again, that's one of the last things I want to have to do. But no one is going to abuse me. No one is going to rape my soul. No one is going to condemn me to a life of poverty when I can do what I do. When I already have a body of work unlike any there has ever been. When I make art every damn day of my life that no one can touch. No one gets to bury me in a box for all time and end my existence. I am winning this war, however I have to win it. Maybe just do the right thing and spare yourself? And make your venue--your magazine, your paper, your press--better than it had ever been before because of what is right here for you to put in it or put out. This isn't the shit that's out there. This is the shit that's better.

What a McCormack wants to say as an excuse--to cover his ass--is that I didn't have the right kind of work. This is not an excuse you can use with me. There are a lot of reasons I put up the short story excerpts in this journal. They speak for themselves. They walk the walk proving that no one writes fiction at this person's level. Everything I do is a backing up of reality. Each work reinforces what is real, what is true. It's another layer. Another support of impenetrable steel. I have every kind of story and voice there is. I'm not Agatha Christie. I invent kinds of stories and voices that there never was, too. I have every kind and flavor under the sun to give you.

With The Baffler, McCormack likes work that means nothing. It has no depth. Because he is a man with no depth, who is scared of depth. It's all glib surface stuff for this form of unimaginative recreant. He doesn't want a story to hit home, to deliver truths; he wants a lot of word slop--flash over substance. But, these are not intelligent people. One can give them a story that works better for what they are doing, which is highly voice-driven, and does things with language that no one can approach; the verbal symphony with high degree of edge. The substance can be there, but someone like this will always miss it, which is fine for the placement of a work where they want those other things. It's like a Trojan Horse story. In my stack of 500, I have plenty of those that can fit the bill.

But it doesn't matter, because it's me. You realize early on exactly what someone is all about. Especially if you live the life I do, and you've done this like I do, and you are able to perceive like I do. I know these people better than I know my mother. I mean that literally. I know everything about them. How they "roll," how they think--and don't--how they're wired. I know every last thing about how they behave, what they do and why they do it. When you reach that point that you know someone is just not going to deal with you, because of who you are and who they are, because of their complete lack of morals, because of their warped agendas, you might as well send whatever you damn please. Because it's about creating a record at that point. For when everything does come out and is known. It's inculpatory, because how could someone explain behaving that way? Having what they did--amazing works that go one to be beloved--and doing what they did? What's the justification? There's an "explain yourself, sir," aspect from the court of public opinion. Or there will be. And, of course, the explanation is discrimination. "He wasn't like me. He wasn't the right kind of person. He can do things in five minutes I could never do in a million years, and that made me hate him, and fear him, and question myself even further, because I can't do much at all." That's the truth. And who can say that? No one can say that. They will simply be all done. It will be over. So, I'm sure he'd try that as the other cop-out. The "over-send" thing. But it was plain very early on that there was nothing I could send, at whatever spaced apart intervals, that would have mattered to someone like this.

You know what's funny, too? Remember that entry from the other day that had that bit about Justin Taylor and the devil? Guess whose work J.W. McCormack just published? It's hilarious. It's so predictable. These people are so predictable. And like I said, I know every last thing about them, and every last thing about how this system really works. And the system is going to change, or come down. And this journal is going to be a key part of that. But now I must walk, exercise, think, plan, create. Here's the letter. You can guess what his response was. He said nothing. Because it's all true. And what are you going to say to something like this that is is all true, especially when you are a coward? Ignore the problem and hope that it goes away, right? It's not going away. Treat me and the work as me and it deserve to be treated. Do it before it is too late. I am not losing to these people, and the world is not losing out on my work because of these people.

I know you're a proud graduate of the Bradford Morrow school of envy and bigotry, and just wanted to see if you had anything you might like to say before I begin documenting your bigotry, in-depth, on my blog. Perhaps you saw and enjoyed the recent entry that touched on your practices? Of course, you've done little in your life, so this will be what people first see going forward.

I gave you every opportunity to not treat me like fecal matter. Over years. To behave with an iota of professionalism, as you publish your cronies. What's worse than that 8000 word Brian Evenson story? My goodness. What's more painful than trying to get through that? Because there isn't anyone on earth who wants that. You can go extol all of the Onanistic Brooklyn hipster writer cliches that you want--in other words, the residuum that is the entire substance of your life--and no one is going to think that that isn't awful.

And I gave you fair warning that I wasn't going to let you treat me that way indefinitely. I've spoken to people, I know how their work went in, anyone can see how bad, glib, pointless, plastic it all is. You can't play the game of "you didn't give me the right kind of fit," because I have every kind of work there is. You're just a bigot. So let's get that out there.

Hope it was worth it, man.


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