Thursday, January 27, 2005

Harper's Arrogance

I've been looking through the packet of information author David DeKok sent me regarding the unattributed use of his book on the Centralia coal fire for a Jeff Tietz Harper's essay. Most striking is the letter Harper's Senior Editor Roger Hodge (who was also Tom Bissell's editor on his disputed essay) sent to Mr. DeKok's attorney. The letter's tone illustrates the aristocratic attitude of those of power on the lit scene. It's very condescending. (The New York Observer columnist who wrote about this matter noted Hodge's tone also.)

Harper's pretends to stand for an egalitarian viewpoint. There's little trace of egalitarianism in those who run the magazine-- only elitism and snobbery. This is the problem with much of the lit-world, of course. They pose as liberals while taking all the benefits they can grab from the most elitist aspects of this society-- such as an Ivy League education, and the networking possibilities that opens for these people. Or, all is the pose, not the reality.

Roger Hodge is still operating with the attitudes of the closed lit world of days past, when an editor could treat writers in any kind of arrogant way. But now there are places like this one willing to call him on such treatment. Hodge doesn't grasp the changed circumstances of media-- that writers are gaining more leverage in the relationship-- and beginning to use it.

Harper's of course is a relic of the past; quaint and stodgy, without a shred of excitement in any of its pages. With people like Hodge in charge, it will have difficulty changing.
(The ULA: love us or hate us, we have 50 times the vitality.)

I plan to have my report on the Jeff Tietz plagiarism matter up on this blog by next week. I'll have links to the Observer piece, some Hodge quotes, and anything else necessary. Keep watching!

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