A thought-provoking issue. Most interesting to me was the Editor's discussion of the idea, "Each one of us is responsible for making our lives meaningful." Questions are raised. Walter Kaufman asks artists to "find meaning in themselves." But how does this square with Editor Joe Smith's conclusion that "having a meaningful life requires action"?
To me, there's a distinct difference between the inward-centered writer trying to find "insight"-- navel-gazing about himself-- and the outward-looking writer engaged actively with the world. This isn't a political question, but a philosophical one.
I came to the conclusion in my own life that to have meaning I had to take at least a stab at changing the world-- to cease being a bar-dwelling island unto myself, by uniting with other writers. Thoreau was admirable, but wrong.
About another point in the issue, I disagree with the idea that we need more bureaucracies with increased standards mandating that students be forced to "write well." Nothing to my mind could more turn off young people and kill this natural form of expression. (Though it might prepare them better for the conglomerate job market!) Rigid doctrine stifles independent thought. My opinion is informed by my research of the real Shakespeare. The greatest writer the planet has produced! Yet he made up his spelling, his vocabulary, and even his grammar as he went along. Language to him was a living thing-- not dead, catalogued, and codified. His mind wasn't encompassed by rules, standards, and doctrines. He was instead a shouting actor from a small town suddenly blessed with a platform for uninhibited expression. Shakespeare took full advantage of it, WITHOUT the aid of National Commissions, committees, bureaucratic reports, and enforced standards. The trick is to treat literature not as medicine, but fun!
The Die is recommended. Free by writing a note to Joe Smith, Red Roach Press, PO Box 764, College Park MD 20740.