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Power, silence, and why it should be easier to connect than ever and why we don't

Thursday 6/29/23

The way I think power works is that if you took five million people and gave them what they perceive as power--note my language there--then five million people would not only be corrupt, but would attempt to get with everything they could get away with. If they stopped, it would be because they died or were caught and exposed.

I say what they perceive as power because it doesn't have to be real power and quite often it isn't. We see that in as irrelevant an arena as any with literary magazines, for instance, where an associate editor at some journal--who is also a writer, who has achieved nothing and will never achieve anything, or write a single work worth reading--that no one has ever heard of that no one reads that no one on this earth has any real interest in gets off on having control in that moment over someone better than they are in every possible way.

Every politician is corrupt. If there was a reality file on each person out there that could be pulled--that revealed everything about their deeds, motivations, what occurred behind curtains--it would be one shocking revelation after another, and often what would be a laundry list of criminal acts. And acts worse than criminal. For there are acts that are beyond the law in just how bad they are, which is what makes them especially bad. Dangerous. Destructive.

Power facilitates evil, depravity, abuse, greed, cowardice, selfishness. Think of those things like going down the stairs. It's so much easier to go down the stairs than to run up them. Running up them is the choice of being a good person and then backing that up in both words and deeds. It's a very rare person who will elect to always run up stairs rather than just go down.

In publishing, many of the members of that community know what they've done and seek to hide their behavior, to keep skeletons and newly-rotting bodies in the closet. The actual crimes they've committed. Take something for instance like rape. Trading sex for publication. It's a small, incestuous community, and these people will do things like the above acts and many others that are so wrong within that community because there is nowhere else they think they could get away with it.

Publishing allows and encourages you to be the worst that a person can be, with little to no repercussions. It can be gotten away with within publishing, because the publishing community has made it so that no one else outside of that community cares about reading, which means that no one cares about what happens in the publishing world, which is tucked far, far away behind a veil woven of indifference and ignorance.

Similarly, publishes encourages you to be as bad at your job as you wish, also without any repercussions. There are no standards of quality, no morality, no compliance with justice. The only standard is to be no better than everyone around you, and to also have come from the right background, and have always had a high amount of privilege.

The result is that there are peers in that community who know what that person has done, just as that person knows what their peers have done.

Allison Wright of the VQR once casually joked to me about Lorin Stein of The Paris Review after he had been busted and how everyone knew all along. She knew. Said it as easily as you pleased. It didn't bother her at all. She never spoke out and said what he was doing. So much for feminism, I guess. Or thinking that evil isn't so great.

It's the publishing code of silence. There's this tacit understanding throughout the publishing industry to say nothing against anyone, lest you yourself be exposed, which is how it works when you have wall to wall bad people with no real abilities and nothing to actually offer the world and it's like they're in bed together even when they don't interact directly, though they also spend plenty of time doing that.

They just want to keep it going. To have what they perceive as their power and for their extreme privilege to continue--I say extreme because it's disproportionate with their abilities. They're not good at anything, they don't create anything of value, they offer the world nothing. They shouldn't have their jobs, they shouldn't have the lives they have. None of its performance-based, ability-based, effort-based, and it sure as hell isn't related to anything to do with good writing, be that the creation or the dissemination of. An app could replace them and do a better job.

These people all know they're filthy. They all know they're fraudulent. They all know they don't do anything based on what they think is the best writing. They know the crimes they've done. The know their constant production of moral transgressions, which is all they produce. They know what they did to that person and why they did it and how there is no way they would have done it if it was out in the open where people could see. They know what a third party would think if they knew.

Hence, a seething den of evil, with most people in that den running cover for fellow members so that the truth about them won't be put out there.

It should be easier than ever for people to connect and make new friendships and relationships in all forms, yet people are more alone, broken, depressed than they have ever been in the history of humanity. Think about something like Facebook. One might have 5000 friends. There is a good chance that not a single one of them is your actual friend because most people in this world don't have a single real friend.

They are just people in a category of a social media site. You can send a friend request to just about anyone. They share things from their life in their posts. Very few people share genuinely. They want points and credit and attention. They're not looking to connect, to contribute to anyone's growth, or their own; they're looking to be looked at. They are really whores to their own emptiness.

Very few people have a single interesting thing to say in their entire lives. Very few people do a single interesting thing in their lives. I mean actually interesting. You had a kid. So have a trillion other people. It's interesting to you, but it's not interesting in and of itself. For example. You went to Disney World. It's not interesting in and of itself.

What is interesting about you? You are supposed to be this unique being, are you not? What do you have to say that is interesting, unique being? What do you have to teach someone that is interesting? What do you know that is interesting? Shouldn't there be something interesting about you in and of itself? Doesn't have to be big. Everything I do and say is interesting in and of itself. That's why I am shunned and hated and feared. Even the stairs. It's interesting. The scope, the context, the real meaning, what it represents, the nature of the activity, the singularity of all of it. And it's nothing compared to what I create. But even that activity is interesting in and of itself.

People who are this way hit that like button so that other people who are this way will do the same with them, because no on who is this way--and there are levels of degree, of course--will ever actually achieve anything in their life, including having a single instance of being actually interesting.

What you could do, though, is send a private message to someone and it might say, "Really sorry about your dad. What you wrote about him was really touching. I'm sure he'd be proud of you." You could say, "Congratulations on running that marathon--that's an awesome time. You must have worked so hard to do that."

Then you maybe share a relevant bit from your life. We don't have to go up to the stranger at the cafe. We can reach out and show interest and kindness. A person can write back and do the same. One thing leads to another. A friendship is struck up. Maybe something more than a friendship in time. If it's not there, it's not there. No harm, no foul.

You have different experiences and viewpoints, but also common ground. This is how bonds form and relationships start to happen. For a relationship of any kind to progress and flourish it takes commitment and effort, openness and honesty. But those important relationships all started somewhere, and they usually start like this.

Or, at the least, one knows someone better than before, and vice versa--there is the human touch of the back and forth, of personal interaction--and we keep an eye out more than we would have earlier for their comings and goings, we absorb their ripples in the human pool and they do the same with ours. Is this not a good thing?

And yet, no one does this. Because what most people ultimately want is to be alone even when they are with the immediate group of people with which they are with; they want to wallow. They don't want to try anything. Connection frightens them; they're not even connected to themselves. They don't want to be honest, they don't want to be real.

What's more, they often can't be those things if they wanted to. They've lost the ability to be honest, real, decent. They have followed the example and been influenced by everything and everyone all around them. It's who--or what--they've become.


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