Friday, February 04, 2005

A Related Quote

From The Truth About Shylock by Shakespeare authority Bernard Grebanier:

"Shakespeare was later, in Measure for Measure, to write a play in which one of the wickedest men he ever created, Angelo, postures to himself as a model of rectitude-- and convinces almost everyone else that he is too-- only because he has never done anything in his life which is against the law. When his betrothed was left dowerless he jilted her and wrecked the girl's life. But there is no law against doing that, and hence he feels beyond blame for it. He has refrained from doing any act that might have landed him in jail: according to his lights, therefore, he is a good man.

This conception of virtue has always been far from uncommon. Yet a man might commit dreadful crimes every day of his life and still keep safely within the limits of the law. The greatest crimes are those against the souls of other human beings; for many of these crimes there are no possible legal punishments. This purely negative idea of goodness-- that one is good as long as he does nothing illegal-- enables many a scoundrel to look down his nose at his neighbor."

When reading this quote I'm reminded not only of the Roger D. Hodge letter, but of the actions of Rick Moody in corrupting the grants process so that philanthropic funds are awarded to very wealthy people. Strictly legal, maybe, but actions against the memory of those folks (like the Guggenheims) who set aside the money for the doing of good in the first place.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is Tom Bissell.

I'm not afraid of you.

You're afraid of me.

Noah Cicero said...

Now he plagiarizes six year olds.
I know you are but what am I
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
What the hell does that even mean?

Anonymous said...

Stop picking on Harpers or you're really gonna be sorry.

We'll run an article on you and your organization, and Harpers is far more repected than the Believer.

--TB

King said...

An interesting little drama has been enacted within the lit world since the ULA arrived on the scene. I find many of the demi-puppets analogous to the Muscadins and "Gilded Youth" of Thermidor, who look with instinctive disdain at the sansculottes of the ULA. They react against historical change. Choire Sicha and others fit this description very readily.

Noah Cicero said...

No one even reads Harpers in the real world. The only people that read Harpers are circle jerk writers.
Here's the definition of a literary elitist circle jerk: People who write only for other writers that write exactly like them.
And by the way if you are Tom Bissel give us some proof, plagiarize for us.
Ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

"Stop picking on Harpers or you're really gonna be sorry.

"We'll run an article on you and your organization, and Harpers is far more repected than the Believer."

Well, if the above actually was written by Tom Bissell, it's an interesting threat: "Stop picking on me for my dishonest attack against you in the Believer, or I'll use the far more influential Harper's as a soapbox to make another dishonest attack against you."

Bissell should stick to writing cribbed pieces about places remote enough that nobody can fact-check his ass; but then, does Harper's even use factcheckers any more?

Noah Cicero said...

I want to write more about the definition of circle jerk, I don't think I made it clear enough: A literary circle jerk is when a group of authors all have the same influences, write the same way, about the same shit, they have no concern if anyone outside of their little clique reads their books. and all they do when they are together is jerk each other off saying how great the other one is. and they never read books outside their group, because that would cause them to see how bad they suck and how bad everyone else sucks.
I wanted to say that because I've been involved with the ULA for about four months and read a lot of the others writings and talked to a good amount through email. and concluded that The ULA is totally not a circle jerk, it could be, but it's not. Writings by Crazy Carl to Kostecke to Urban Hermitt to Tim Hall to James Nowlan are insanely different than each other. Each has their own unique voice, style, and formula they work by. And it is obvious they all have different influences, some like Dickens to Hemingway to Kerouac to Ellis and even Capote. But there is no snobbish phrases like, "How can you read that?" And there's no author naming competitions like I've experienced so much with little demi-puppets who go to YSU. And another thing which I find really cool is that no one puts you into a little category, no one says, "You write like this, you are that." And there is content conquers all ideology which is what writing has lost over the last thirty years.
here's an expose of The ULA that can go into Harper's. A bunch of regular people trying to live their lives, doing what they can with they got, who love to read, and write when they can to contribute back to the world of literature that has given them so much.