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Hey, guess what? Shut up.
February 19, 2003 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Do us all a favor and shut up. You're for the war? Wrote an essay about it? Good, good. Good for you. Guess what? Shut up about it. Thanks. Oh, you're against the war? Fantastic. Wrote a poem about it? Find the nearest closet and tell it to the coats. Yea, that's right. Shut it.
posted by raaka (88 comments total)

 
I'd just like to say I thought the FPP was funnier than the article.
posted by ArsncHeart at 6:52 PM on February 19, 2003


Yah, all you doves and hawks wouldn't talk so much with me in your mouth.

Ditto the article okay, FPP hilarious.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:53 PM on February 19, 2003


A big amen to the article and to the FPP.
posted by Zonker at 6:54 PM on February 19, 2003


Does the sand get in your ears when you bury your head so deep?
posted by crunchland at 6:59 PM on February 19, 2003


So what are we all supposed to write about? Pants?
posted by Raya at 7:00 PM on February 19, 2003


Matt, can you post this in 64 point type on the new post page?
posted by machaus at 7:01 PM on February 19, 2003


I just talked to the coats, and they said they want you to get the hell out. The shoes too.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 PM on February 19, 2003


Now, if we could only get the message to every junior-leaguer Metafilter poster who litters the front page with every nuance of the possible war in Iraq, we could get back to what used to be Metafilter's purpose--to post things NO ONE HAS PROBABLY SEEN OR HEARD OF BEFORE.

"Metafilter doesn't do politics well"
--Matt Haughey

"If you're going to make a post related to Iraq and the impending war, please reconsider, as the topic has been discussed previously many times."
--Matt Haughey

(This missive was not aimed at you, Raaka)
posted by dhoyt at 7:02 PM on February 19, 2003


(applause)
posted by swerve at 7:04 PM on February 19, 2003


It's past midnight here but I had to login just to say this:
All hail raaka!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
posted by 111 at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2003


Yes, don't let the stupid pheasants interfere in the doings of the powerful elite.

Can't the silly Epsilons just go to the war, die and get over it?
posted by spazzm at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2003


junior-leaguer Metafilter poster

There's a Junior League? Why wasn't I informed of this? Do you award patches and sashes? Is there a Justice League of Metafilter? What about an Extraordinairy League of Metafilter Posters?

Where the hell am I? I want to join a fucking league!
posted by Stan Chin at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2003


Pheasants?
posted by dhoyt at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2003


Where the hell am I? I want to join a fucking league!

How about the Bush League? *KNEESLAPPER!* All right, I'm done.

Can't the silly Epsilons just go to the war, die and get over it?

Christ, is THAT what this whole thing's about? Some measly Epsilons? Well, shit, ship 'em off! I'll just kick back with some Centrifugal Bumblepuppy, pop a gram of soma, and it'll be over in lickety-split. No, wait, there were no wars in Brave New World. Damnit, the metaphor doesn't work! What now? Well, we could delve into the "perpetual war" of Orwell, beat that mangy corpse to death, or we could just...um...

This is when FARK would come in handy, for someone would just post a Boobies link and this would all be over..
posted by solistrato at 7:12 PM on February 19, 2003


God Bless Boobie links.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:16 PM on February 19, 2003


So what are we all supposed to write about? Pants?

Yes. Pants.
posted by Stauf at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2003


Sorry, that's supposed to be "peasants".
posted by spazzm at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2003


The human thirst for knowledge is only matched by the human desire to tell everyone our knowledge.
posted by hellinskira at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2003


ah yes. there are so many more important things to talk about than the war! like how witty this post is. hey this post is so witty, LOL, etc.
posted by kv at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2003


to what used to be Metafilter's purpose--to post things NO ONE HAS PROBABLY SEEN OR HEARD OF BEFORE

Hmm. Let's see.
Yahoo is now co-branding.
Steve Jobs will be broadcast in realtime from MacWorld.
Hello AOL? It's Microsoft, we've come to crush your Instant Messenger.
Yahoo is now offering 10Mb of free file storage....
posted by moonbiter at 7:36 PM on February 19, 2003


Oh yeah, and then there's this: You've probably all seen this in email form. [emphasis added]
posted by moonbiter at 7:39 PM on February 19, 2003


Jesus, mathowie is the worst Metafilter poster ever. He needs to shut up.

moonbiter, that's the dumbest fucking evidence about the purpose of Metafilter I've ever seen.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:41 PM on February 19, 2003


Though metafilter might not be the proper forum for war and war by-product discussions, I am troubled by the people who go around with their fingers in their ears, going "Nyah, nyah, nyah! I can't hear you!"
Not that I do not respect their right to turn off, tune out and drop in; but when it is their philosophy that everyone else should do the same, it makes me cringe. Theirs is kind of a cross between "ignorance is bliss" and "naming beckons."

In public schools, I call it "the cult of nice", which demands that children never being exposed to the knowledge of "bad" things, even to condemn them. That those normal parts of life like "competition" are to be shunned, and that children should not have access to sharp, blunt, flying or black-colored objects; only cushiony-soft pastels and cute little non-threatening bunny rabbits.

By the time the kids get into high school, they are either so terrified of the invisible Lovecraftian horrors that their parents and teachers won't discuss they are walking goth basket cases; or if they are smarter, so disgusted with the hypocrisy that they become Marines or street punks. In either case, proving that you cannot live you life directed solely by fear and aversion. It is not a life worth living.
posted by kablam at 7:48 PM on February 19, 2003


Yes, don't let the stupid pheasants interfere in the doings of the powerful elite.

You have no idea how appropriate that statement is. Goddam pheasants!
posted by hama7 at 7:53 PM on February 19, 2003


Metafilter: Cult of the Not So Nice
posted by jeremias at 7:53 PM on February 19, 2003


Neal Pollack, bless him, has the attention span of a 3 month old beagle on meth.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:09 PM on February 19, 2003


Awesome fucking post.

Simply awesome.

The front page should stripped of everything else for an entire day, just to let the point register.

I remember when metafilter was a place to find links to strange and interesting things on the internet, and not a place for sophomoric political debate.
posted by jdroth at 8:12 PM on February 19, 2003


No poems, no essays, and please god no more posts to the front page for a while, but shutting up about war, particularly if you are opposed to it, is precisely what those greedy oil-drenched scumfucks in Washington want you to do.

So don't shut up, please. Except at Metafilter.

Here you are kindly requested slowly and gently shut the hell up (with a nod and a wink to Miguel for the phrasing).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:20 PM on February 19, 2003


I told myself to shut up a couple days ago. Last week, I spent a few days talking with a few friends about war-related issues. It all culminated in writing a knee-jerk response to an editorial in our campus newspaper last Thursday.

Over the weekend, I got to talk about even more amazing facets of the whole thing. Hooray. Then yesterday rolled around and I was reading the letters to the editor section when I encountered what I thought was a fairly sophomoric letter. Then I noticed my own name at the bottom.

It's time for me to shut up.
posted by mikeh at 8:24 PM on February 19, 2003


(I don't think anyone here, hawk dove or otherwise, is saying that we shouldn't talk about the war IRL with our friends, families and political representatives, nor is anyone is saying it's not important. It just simply isn't the point of this website as deemed by the owner himself, and there are about ten trazillion other sites on the web where the discussion is infinitely more welcome.)
posted by dhoyt at 8:29 PM on February 19, 2003


Neal's objections are almost purely aesthetic, and applied to professional writing. He's not talking about debate on a website like this one, necessarily, where aesthetic faux pas occur every five minutes. On the other hand, plenty of articles posted here have been irritating (like the one a day or two ago that was all "hopeful" for the liberal future and called Ashcroft something along the lines of a Nazi, etc.), and that carries over to debate. Consequently, the threads often quickly become annoying, and are either written by or attract trolls and people who see politics as others do sports - that is, they regurgitate cliches, and conventional wisdom, and get all enraged, because, y'know, they're supposed to be enraged.

In any case, the real enemy is the culture of punditry, along with a failure to know the difference between being serious and being solemn. The potential war is itself something to be very concerned and serious about, no matter what side you're on, or if you're sitting on the fence. It's as serious as politics gets.
posted by raysmj at 8:30 PM on February 19, 2003


Neal Pollack, bless him, has the attention span of a 3 month old beagle on meth.

Bad analogy. Methamphetamine increases your attention span.
posted by dydecker at 8:31 PM on February 19, 2003


Has Stan been on the sauce again??
posted by johnny7 at 8:39 PM on February 19, 2003


Pollacks piece reads to me like a joke that takes an entertainingly wrong turn. At first the gag is very recognizable and funny. And particularly as summarized in the FPP, perfect to see on MeFi.

But as Pollack goes on...the guy has a lot of axes to grind, and the piece veers considerable away from the bite of the first few paragraphs. For example, anyone inclined to "get" Pollacks sensibility already rolls their eyes at activist poetry -- it's a prepackaged joke. As for the various writers he tears into, it seems to me that as he plows through his list he gets completely unfunny and more and more desperate: his purpose is to seem sly in the face of stuffy pundits who (he suggests, despite himself) have something to say. The sentences he pulls from Hitchens and Hertzberg particularly reveal this -- they sound silly 'cause they're just pulled at random. And the worst he can accuse Lewis Lapham of being is consistent.

This is a "humor" piece that gets a little out of control, and reveals more about who the writer wishes he could be more like the people he's telling to shut up. And about his helplessness in the face of having nothing much to say. Doesn't stop him from going on and on, though.
posted by BT at 8:42 PM on February 19, 2003


Bad analogy. Methamphetamine increases your attention span.

Damn! Let me try again:
Neal Pollack, bless him, has the attention span of a three month old beagle with ADD.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:49 PM on February 19, 2003


Can anyone recommend a favourite site that is meant to be a NewsFilter -- that is, a community of mostly familiar faces who discuss current events? I'm not craving any more Iraq threads right this minutes, but there are times when, god help me, I wouldn't mind hearing what folks think about the latest red banner on CNN.

I know there are a million discussion boards attached to newspapers and weblogs, but are any actually good?
posted by Yogurt at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2003


Hasn't all this been just as true (or untrue, depending on your take) since, I dunno, forever? Recent events haven't raised or lowered the quality or value of your typical writer's contributions, they've just changed people's interest in them, and, hence, the opportunity for tirades like Pollack's. It's good to be reminded, sure, but it's not like he's actually revealing anything anyone didn't already know, is he?

(BT, I don't see that -- you might not think it's funny, but it's hardly difficult to find target material to snipe at, from just about any writer.)
posted by mattpfeff at 8:55 PM on February 19, 2003


BT: I get the idea that Neal would be the first to admit that he doesn't have much new or thoughtful to say about Iraq. Plenty of the writers surveyed don't have much to say either, but they're saying it anyway - in some cases all the live long day. Why? In most cases, it's because they're hired or paid to write about such issues. But then they start thinking of themselves as oracles, rather than people slogging away for money. Then, they turn smug. (Orwell didn't write an instant punditry column. That in part explains why people still read him. He also wrote novels every once in a while.)

Still, Neal's aesthetic objections are more fun to read about in satirical form on his hyper-spoofy blog. Here, he's just spelling those objections out.
posted by raysmj at 8:56 PM on February 19, 2003


To everyone who took the article seriously:

When you see the byline "Neal Pollack," it means that Dave Eggers of McSweeney's Publishing wrote it. Neal is Egger's "Great American Writer With A Big Ego" character, and the articles aren't written to be taken at face value.

They're apparently written to be taken as a four-year-old joke that wasn't terribly funny the first time.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:58 PM on February 19, 2003


Mayor, this can't be true. Pollack's words are fists. American fists. He beats us senseless even as we wallow in his majesty. Without him, boredom would swallow the Republic whole.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:06 PM on February 19, 2003


How much do you want to bet that within twenty four hours there is a new fpp about Iraq. It's already been proven that people are not going to voluntarily stop posting links about this issue. I hate it, but I'm not the mod, and it's not my sandbox.
posted by Beholder at 9:16 PM on February 19, 2003


I just wonder if he can cram any more names in there.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:17 PM on February 19, 2003


Great F*cking Article !!! Now I will just stfu myself...
posted by GT_RULES at 9:18 PM on February 19, 2003


um. why all the hoopla about Iraq posts? I don't really like the silly flash friday stuff, but I'm not gonna get in anyone's face about it.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2003


"Recent events haven't raised or lowered the quality or value of your typical writer's contributions, they've just changed people's interest in them, and, hence, the opportunity for tirades like Pollack's."

Oh man, I totally disagree. The writing on this over-advertised conflict is bad in a every way it can be. You'd think one or two writers would've stored up some well-turned phrases since last fall to print them out some time this Spring. They didn't. We get all the typical bullshit from all the typical suspects. This quote sums it up:

"I hate the self-righteous grandstanding of the poets, and I hate the accusations of anti-Americanism and "bad manners" from their opponents in the weekly magazines. The whole "controversy" seems prefabricated, cut from the cloth of a cultural war that affects no one and doesn't need to be fought."

No one is saying anything they wouldn't be saying otherwise, the only ephiphanies are of editors realizing they do in fact like to see bad men lose wars. Or you've got poets who in fact don't want to see blood for oil. Well, shit, thanks Robert Frost, not only did you utter the most obvious of platitudes but you made a fucking poem out of it.
posted by raaka at 9:29 PM on February 19, 2003


um. why all the hoopla about Iraq posts? I don't really like the silly flash friday stuff, but I'm not gonna get in anyone's face about it.

I think the perception is that all the Iraq posters are getting into our collective faces about it now.

Imagine if you will, if you replaced every Iraq post in the last month with a post about how achieving salvation through Jesus. Getting to heaven is really, really important, especially to the Jesus posters, because they're good people and they think you should know about it. Even if it annoys the ever loving shit out of you.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:35 PM on February 19, 2003


moonbiter, that's the dumbest fucking evidence about the purpose of Metafilter I've ever seen

There has been other evidence?

I was merely pointing out that the earliest posts seem to suggest that the original purpose of Metafilter may not have been "to post things NO ONE HAS PROBABLY SEEN OR HEARD OF BEFORE". I'm sorry you feel so angry about my post. It wasn't my intention to make anyone angry.

It may well be the stated purpose of the site now, although it's slightly buried in the about page. Perhaps it would be better to put a direct link in the header.
posted by moonbiter at 9:42 PM on February 19, 2003


Hmm, I see the posting guidelines are also on the Post a Link page. I suppose I am probably wrong about putting a link to the guidelines in the header: A person posting on the front page should have adequate warning.
posted by moonbiter at 9:49 PM on February 19, 2003


Imagine if you will, if you replaced every Iraq post in the last month with a post about how achieving salvation through Jesus.

that would be annoying as hell, but I don't think it's a good analogy.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:50 PM on February 19, 2003


Does Neal Pollack really exist? Follow the link to read the opinion of a Union-Tribune writer who thinks that he does not and an angry letter from Neal's mom, who has a different opinion of the matter.
posted by poseur at 9:52 PM on February 19, 2003


Why wouldn't it be a good analogy? I'd really like to know, I've been using it to death on a lot of other boards.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:04 PM on February 19, 2003


Organization:
Neal Pollack
Neal Pollack
5851 N. Kenmore #2
Chicago, IL 60660
US
Phone: 773-769-5913
Email: NPollack@aol.com

Registrar Name....: Register.com
Registrar Whois...: whois.register.com
Registrar Homepage: http://www.register.com

Domain Name: NEALPOLLACK.COM


Why don't you call him and find out?
posted by machaus at 10:10 PM on February 19, 2003


Let's just make the most of this. Turn on CNN and take a swig everytime you hear Weapons of Mass Destruction!
posted by jessicool at 10:24 PM on February 19, 2003


Stan Chin - now that I think about it, I guess it is a good analogy. if you were to simplify the jesus debate into two sides, you'd have one side thats all about it on basically just faith whereas another side that's skeptical of the unsubstantiated and wants to ask lots of questions, to the infinite chagrin of the first party.

I guess I am biased. I've always been more interested in spin than partisanship, and the spin from the pro-war set is just nauseating and I wanna fight it every chance I get.

sorry!
posted by mcsweetie at 10:34 PM on February 19, 2003


The writing on this over-advertised conflict is bad in a every way it can be.

Much of it's pretty terrible, sure. But isn't a lot of writing (and don't let's get started on poetry) pretty terrible? Is that anything new?

I dunno; looks like the same overall proportion of mediocrity to me.
posted by mattpfeff at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2003


Ian McEwan's little essay is superb - he says something new and he does it well. Sort of echoes Raaka's post, too.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:02 PM on February 19, 2003


I'm late to the party, but this is beautiful. So beautiful. I'm smilin' from ear to ear here.
posted by furiousthought at 11:17 PM on February 19, 2003


Yea, I, too, am late to this party -- and I started to read the article ... and then it hit me.... I'll be swigglepussed: here is a guy eating his cake and having it too, and Iraq is just the icing on his multi-layered, sugar-ladden, yeast-inflated cake of an ego.

So here he goes "securing" the subject of Iraq for his floury wit -- getting a sweet chance to show off how smart and clever he is and all that jazz...

And then I thought, duh, he might want to take his own advice if he is so with it and all, and such a creative writer, mind you, and just shut up himself and spare us his prose... so I stopped reading the article, just to pay him the hommage his point seems to beg for....

After all, why contribute to all this nonsense about Iraq and the world -- especially when the most offensive characteristic of all this chatter, according to him, is a poverty of style -- unforgivable, really. Let's see, didn't Dante reserve a special circle in hell for those styleless offenders who butchered prose at will and at every given -- and taken -- political opportunity?

Besides, rather than try to hear the voices of people, even when they go off key here and there, I could be spending my time reading all my stylistically scintillating junkmail that promises me inches that I can add to my ... well you know the rest --

So yea, why keep talking about Iraq when I don't have Oscar Wilde's vocabulary, Shakespeare's oratory skills, or Neal Pollack's Swiftean rhetorical turns and can't go disarming the stylistically challenged of their metaphors of mass monotony?

So yea, let's stop talking about Iraq and start singing the praise of Neal Pollack....
posted by poorhouse at 12:10 AM on February 20, 2003


poorhouse: Couldn't have said it better myself. So I won't. Although I'm betting that in the part of the article I skipped, there was a link or three to his new book.
posted by arto at 1:14 AM on February 20, 2003


Well, I think everyone is saving their best stuff for the actual war. I can hardly wait for Day One of Shriek Week; I can almost smell the fresh prose. Mmmm...

Hey! Maybe we should start a "Likely To Be The Most Overused First Sentence" pool...
I vote for 'And so it begins'.

Go light on statistics, heavy on the swashbuckle, and keep the sentimental stuff warm and gooey (but not too sticky). The best articles will leave me feeling satisfied and comfortable, without any lingering anxieties.

Thanks!
Updike Rooney
posted by Opus Dark at 1:15 AM on February 20, 2003



Pollacks piece reads to me like a joke that takes an entertainingly wrong turn. At first the gag is very recognizable and funny...
But as Pollack goes on...the guy has a lot of axes to grind, and the piece veers considerable away from the bite of the first few paragraphs.


Right on, BT. And he sinks roughly into the level of dialogue/prose he's mocking everyone else for. Maybe it's supposed to be some sort of amusing meta-irony. Or maybe it just goes horribly wrong.

Some of Pollack's observations ring: the pretentiousness of "poets" and "activists" and "anti-idiotarians" etc really overshadows their credibility, and there's a lot of artless punditry out there, that's for sure. But a nihilistic "Shut up! Shut up already! Nobody listens anyway!" seems less of an actual address and more of the knee-jerk stuff he's complaining about.

Could have been funny if it was a page and a half, and was really a joke.

on preview: what poorhouse said, too. Yep.
posted by namespan at 2:17 AM on February 20, 2003


Real or pseudonym, this Pollack guy has an influence on the MeFi community. Eight hours since the FPP and no new Iraqi NewsBombs... Sun's coming up in Wash.D.C., let's see if we make it to Nine.
posted by wendell at 2:51 AM on February 20, 2003


Three things:
1. The inescapable logic of this article is that there is nothing worth debating or concerning oneself too much about. This obviously includes activism of any sort or stripe.
I'm sure some people find this attitude enlightened. I find it idiotic.
2. Please note that the author doesn't say that there should be a moratorium on Iraq related FPPs on metafilter. He thinks that (US I suppose) society is debating too much about going to war! If this isn't a militant defence of idiocy, I don't know what is.
3. He's not even funny.

The word idiot is woderfully applicable here since its original Greek meaning is "private person"- someone who does not concern himself with public affairs.
posted by talos at 3:25 AM on February 20, 2003


Eggers huh?

Metafilter and Mayor Curley I love you. I can't stand Eggers. And it figures. The Stranger has been going down quick. They're more into divebombing the patently anti-war Village Voice related Seattle Weekly than they are actually being relevant. I know many people in this town who refuse to read The Stranger anymore, lest they Egg them on any further into total disinformational recklessness.

They're desperate. The paper has become thinner and thinner in the past few months.
posted by crasspastor at 4:02 AM on February 20, 2003


Talos, even a vaguely reasonable reading of the article reveals that the author is saying only that punditry, in all its forms, whether poetic or political, is awful to read and bad for the political discourse. I don't want to read anyone's writing about Iraq other than the writing in The Economist. Why? -- Because The Economist, biased as it is, at least has writing full of substantive facts rather than only opinions.

The devolvement of the war debate into endless op-ed rather than true reporting or real argument is what's being lamented, and it ought to be: our press has been de-fanged and can only spit up its baby food. Also, it is some funny shite! Potted eggs? What are potted eggs???? And oh man those poems are terrible!
posted by josh at 4:41 AM on February 20, 2003


josh: it is a statistical fact that you can't have 10 really good arguments about anything if 1000 are not produced. What I'm saying is that if you discourage writing and/or discussing about a subject, you won't ever get to find the few "valuable" points of view.
Plus, the act of being involved in a public dialogue is in itself good for democracy (even if one considers 90% of what is being written or said not interesting). This is especially important now because it is the first time in recent US history where there is no "unanimous support" in the mainstream media of a war and there is an actual widespread debate on the issue before the war even starts.
That said, the published poem was indeed terrible but this was, I assume, because it was selected for maximum effect.
posted by talos at 5:03 AM on February 20, 2003


To be quite clear,
theres nothing about iraq in my fpp or thread,
(apart from an ironic reference)
so could you please stop coming over and treating it as though it is about iraq when it is plainly not.
I didnt read your edict about fpps and have never posted an iraq thread in my life.
If you dont like kitsch , dont come over to it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:24 AM on February 20, 2003


a lot of very intelligent people take many things way too seriously. or is it my bad that i see humour in everything?
i have a whole truckload of respect for neal/dave, and it's amusing to see the straight-faced almost sour-grapes reaction he's getting from some of you folks.
the article itself was excellent, irreverant and refreshing. he makes some great points and makes them with wit - it seems that some may be missing the point made that national tragedy/impending doom inspires such great steaming torrents of raw effluent because 'he goes on a bit', or blah blah blah.

he's the ali g of literature.
posted by nylon at 5:58 AM on February 20, 2003


Do NOT shut up about Iraq - or anything else for that matter - but Dear God please say something new!

And stop with the childish ad hominem arguments.
posted by cx at 6:41 AM on February 20, 2003


Plus, the act of being involved in a public dialogue is in itself good for democracy

I don't care whether it's good, bad, or indifferent for democracy. Metafilter isn't around to democratize the world. It is, to be blunt, entertainment. It is emphatically not important that you blether on at great length on Metafilter about the war. The idea that you're going to convince someone who opposes you to switch camps is downright delusional, and there's a whole lot of other people who see the ongoing multisided tirades as spam.

And are Iraq links entertaining or interesting? No. I can say "I feel one way about the war, and people feeling differently are poopyheads" 1000 times in a row without ever browsing to Metafilter, and I will have captured 99.9% of the content of all the Iraq posts and comments.

So I agree... shut up, at least here, with have your sophomoric political debates on your own blogs or with your friends in meatspace.

I am (for) (against) the war. People who are (against) (for) the war are poopyheads.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:52 AM on February 20, 2003


To be quite clear,...If you dont like kitsch , dont come over to it.

sgt.serenity, are you in the right thread?
posted by thomcatspike at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2003


Great post, raaka. Great article Dave Neal.

The inescapable logic of this article is that there is nothing worth debating or concerning oneself too much about. This obviously includes activism of any sort or stripe. I'm sure some people find this attitude enlightened. I find it idiotic.

You totally missed the point. The article did not argue that there is nothing worth debating or concerning oneself with. The point was the following: Almost every argument either pro- or anti-war has been made numerous times in writing. If you do not have anything new to add, please do not kill more trees. The obvious corollary is that if you do have something new to say, by all means say it or write it.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2003


he might want to take his own advice if he is so with it and all, and such a creative writer, mind you, and just shut up himself and spare us his prose... so I stopped reading the article...

I'm betting that in the part of the article I skipped, there was a link or three to his new book.

Uh, guys, here's a tip. If you don't want to read the article the FPP is pointing to, great, but then don't come and post about how clever you are for not reading it. Then you wouldn't make fools of yourselves by missing a) that he does indeed address the irony of his also needing to shut up, and b) he never mentions his new book.

That said, this is not one of Neal's (yes, Neal, can we stop already with the three-year-old "Dave Eggers" conspiracy theory?) best pieces. As many have pointed out, it would have been funnier at half the size, and his voice wavers between fervent sincerity and the pompous know-it-all he plays on his blog. Also, as not enough people have pointed out, it has nothing to do with Metafilter or non-published discussions about Iraq.
posted by soyjoy at 7:25 AM on February 20, 2003


Talos, you and I are in secret agreement -- obviously I too think that participating and arguing is good. But I do think our journalists need to be taken to task for the tremendous laziness of the intellect they have shown about Iraq; for the shoddy lack of constructive debate, on both sides; and, especially in the mainstream press, for an emphasis on opinion-based reporting instead of fact-based reporting. Why was Hans Blix's report not published in its entirety, or near-entirety, in the paper? Because people would rather publish another screed for or against than publish analysis, IMO. It's just laziness. What's humorous about the article to me especially is the meta-dave-eggers way it's an incredibly lazy article... about incredibly lazy journalists. "Let me just pick this sentence at random...."

Okay, so, that's all I'm going to write. No more arguing about the shut up thread from me!
posted by josh at 7:27 AM on February 20, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe: I don't care whether it's good, bad, or indifferent for democracy. Metafilter isn't around to democratize the world.
You are talking about a MeFi "moratorium" on Iraq related FPPs (which I have rather faithfully observed BTW since this past September). The article posted however talks about a moratorium on all forms of commentary/action in any medium on the single most important current issue (see point 2 on my previous post).
You might have a point about metafilter (I don't think you do really, but that's neither here nor there), but that's not the debate I was referring to in the sentence you quoted. Maybe it wasn't clear enough, in which case I apologize.
pardonyou? that's not the argument Pollack was making. That's the argument you are making and I have no quarrel with.
josh: we do agree. I'm shutting up about this as well.
posted by talos at 7:34 AM on February 20, 2003


So this shut up thing, is this why Tom Ridge wanted us to buy lots of duct tape?

Is the tape-over-the-mouth an unelected-fraud-of-a-government-approved use of duct tape or will I get flamed as being anti-Amercian for asking?

BTW, not even Neal Pollack can get me to shut up. Commanding me to shut up is anti-American! Pollack must love Saddam!
posted by nofundy at 7:44 AM on February 20, 2003


Neal Pollack != Dave Eggers. Pollack is a real person - I've seen him read in Chicago, which is where he lives. Eggers lives in San Francisco.

Plus, the two men's prose bears marked differences. Having taken two 900-word samples, one from the McSweeney's web page, and one from Neal's blog, I ran a check for Readability in MS Word, and came up with the following numbers:

Eggers:

Sentences per paragraph: 5.6
Words per sentence: 20.6
Characters per word: 4.2

Passive sentences: 6%
Flesch Reading Ease: 72%
Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 8

Pollack:

Sentences per Paragraph: 2.8
Words per sentence: 10.7
Characters per word: 4.5

Passive sentences 3%
Flesh Reading Ease 71.1
Flesh-Kincade Grade Level 6

Both men score a similar reading ease score, but the rest of the scores are quite different. Eggers writes on an 8th grade level; Pollack on a 6th (and I think Pollack's grade level might be lower if he weren't constantly referring to the war, and using so many Arabic names - foreign names tend to bump the grade level up two grades.) Eggers is twice as likely to use a passive sentence as Pollack. Eggers uses twice as many sentences per paragraph and words per sentence as Pollack.
The upshot is that if Eggers were using Pollack as an alias, he'd have to spend a great deal of time and effort to write Pollack's stuff - a person's sentence structure and grammar stays pretty consistent for the most part because the way we write is connected intimately to how we think.

Plus I've seen Pollack in person. At Quimby's books.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:29 AM on February 20, 2003


Real or pseudonym, this Pollack guy has an influence on the MeFi community.

Next thing you know Neal Pollack will be sending Matt a heartbreaking email of staggering genius telling us all to stop invading his privacy, get a life etc etc.
posted by 111 at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2003


Did you hear Kaycee Nicole died???

Guys, Neal Pollack is Neal Pollack. He is not Dave Eggers. Do some research. Let it go. You look silly trying to slag the piece through Eggers-taint.

Back on topic: Neal is not saying to shut up about the war, ya doofs. He's lamenting the quality of the writing about said war, how normally-talented writers are descending to dreck, how every hack is writing awful screeds from whatever side, and how atrocious poetry is occurring. Yes, it's an aesthetic argument. Summed up: a volatile political issue like this will not inspire any great writing, and will make good writers further descend into vitriol and make hacks spill countless ink/pixels.

So, y'all, relax. The man's right.
posted by solistrato at 9:38 AM on February 20, 2003


eustacescrubb-

I hate bothering to debate stuff like this, but I can't stand to see another one of Eggers' smarmy hoaxes succeed (he's laughing AT you, pal, not with you):

1) Your statistical analysis is a really cool effort (my educational background is in linguistics), but it doesn't have a large enough sample size. Those variations could emcompass your work or mine, depending on the time between the pieces, the subject matter and what you had been reading prior to writing. Some folks are also very good at finding voice for characters and veer from their candid patterns very drastically.

2) I once saw General Joshua Chamberlain give an address. How did that happen when he died long before I was born? It was an actor pretending to be Joshua Chamberlain. I also saw Chewbacca at Toys R Us when I was a kid-- this is a closer analogy because both Pollack and Chewbacca are fictional characters. Some people are both obsessed enough with themselves and have the resources to stage something like the reading that you witnessed.

I'm not suggesting that Dave Eggers is untalented-- he's remarkable and I wish that I had his abilities. However, if I did, I wouldn't waste them by being so smug.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:40 AM on February 20, 2003


I'm still waiting for the Poets For Peace and the Poets For War to go at it in a steel cage grudge match.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:39 AM on February 20, 2003


Despite being published by McSweeney's, Neal Pollack is a funny, vitriolic writer who is taken far too seriously by some people here.

Dave Eggers, on the other hand, is a digressive gasbag who should be deposited into Iraq just to see if he can write a piece of prose outside his affluent bullshit millieu without an editor, Eggers fanboys or pirate supplies.

Pollack, by contrast, has actually been to Afghanistan. Possibly.
posted by ed at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2003


I'm still waiting for the Poets For Peace and the Poets For War to go at it in a steel cage grudge match.

I am with RakDaddy on that one: bring on the poets cloaked in their faded relevance; let them flog each other with the leaded weight of dead metaphors, torn-up similes, uncoupled chiasmi (? what's the plural of chiasmus anyway?); let them have a go at it with their puny gasbag egos when all devices of their art, those trampled iambs, those dastardly dactyls, those spent spondees, lie scattered at their feet ... and then let Cesar give the thumbs up or thumbs down to decide who can still stand and speak....

Bread and circus for the people.... Bring it on!

Seriously, I just think that the whole Neal Pollack cry for silence is a great marketing trick ... and look, it's working in so many ways: over 70 posts with sprinklings of Iraq in here, fierce discussion of art and war -- both in the sense of the art of war and the war on arts...

So, thanks Neal....
posted by poorhouse at 11:32 AM on February 20, 2003


my 'how to host a gay dinner party' thread is dead.

i hope you're all pleased with yourselves.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2003


my thread got pulled cause it had the word 'saddam'
in the title as a result of your spontaneous lenten fast,
im going to explain why it was amusing but really, if i need to do that then your'e dead from the neck up.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:36 PM on February 20, 2003


Neal's state of affairs. Personally I find Pollack hilarious. Eggers, isn't a great writer, but I tolerate his books out of a love for his Mcsweeney's publishing house. And about the war, I almost agree, I've been talking about it as much as anybody and I'm running out of ammo.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2003


Sgt Serenity - My "US Vets furious because their (promised) health care benefits are being cut" thread was axed a couple of days ago....no Saddam mentioned (judged too political?......)

Anyway........in order to avoid becoming sad over the "we don't want to hear it" sentiments voiced on this thread......I think I will jamb my finger down my throat. I have heard that helps.
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 PM on February 20, 2003


dont worry though....if you want to go make jokes about people being burned alive theres a thread nearby where you will be most welcome.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:38 PM on February 22, 2003


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