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Askme: answer the question or get out
January 30, 2007 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Dios, can you please either answer the question or simply avoid pooping in the thread?
posted by loquacious to Etiquette/Policy at 6:44 AM (211 comments total)

For the record:

My question is, am i crazy?
posted by petsounds to travel & transportation

You certainly aren't crazy for having the thought that you would just like to "drop out" and escape all of life's concerns and demands. I'd be shocked if anyone has not had the feeling of "wanting to get away from it all." So having that feeling is no crazy at all.

I would submit that it is "crazy" for you to sincerely pursue this plan you are having (wherein "crazy" means something akin to "not a rational response to the issue"). While everyone has that feeling, the vast majority of people either sublimate that impulse or recognize that ultimately, you can never escape everything. By going to a life like that, you will have new and different demands on your person. They may seem less complex, but they will be there. It is impossible to escape life. It is only possible to delay the inevitable confrontation with it (which is why I would suspect so many homeless people also have chemical addiction problems; they are both things that are ways to "drop out" of life).

Part of being a grownup in society is learning to deal with the beating of life. For one riff on the general topic, pick up a copy of Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents." We have to realize that we can't always have things the way we want them. We have to live in this society, and most people come around to that.

"I just want everyone to leave me alone so I can read" is not a rational plan. It is escapism and delaying the inevitable. If you really want to escape, I think getting a place in the woods all alone would do it. Having to try to navigate your life through cities in a van is not escapism; its an exchange of burdens.

It's hard to say this without sounding rude, but my response would be "grow up."
posted by dios at 1:45 PM PST on January 29 [+ 5 favorites]
[!]

I want to quit my job

i like simlicity and freedom- the idea of just writing and reading all day without owing my time to anyone.

The point is so that i can be FREE and not have expectations from anyone

I don't think people are grasping the question.

This isn't a hypothetical "can I live out of a van" or a "journey" or "vacation" or anything of the sort. He isn't traveling with his band (a JOB) to different places.

This poster is asking: "Does it make sense for me to quit my job and become homeless just so I don't have to deal with the demands of life."

It is very disturbing to me that people who don't know anything about this guy or his specific state are advocating doing this and offering tips on what should be done. You are basically encouraging someone you don't know to do about the most reckless and immature thing a person can do: runaway from things.

The only rational response is: "Hell no. Your unrealistic and shallow view of what becoming homeless is like isn't going to solve the issues you appear to have."
posted by dios at 3:51 PM PST on January 29 [+ 2 favorites]
[!]

posted by loquacious at 6:45 AM on January 30, 2007


That is not answering the question, dios, and it is personal agenda-based axe-grinding. Go home, capitalist running dog.
posted by loquacious at 6:46 AM on January 30, 2007


Sorry loq, I think his answers are perfectly legitimate.

/capitalist pig
posted by knave at 6:48 AM on January 30, 2007


Yeah, loquacious, I have to agree. Those were reasonable responses, offered with restraint. I was expecting actual threadshitting, but of the three time the string "dios" currently appears in that thread, only one is attached to any flinging, and it's Hat Maui's overboard response.
posted by cortex at 6:54 AM on January 30, 2007


Agree with knave, that is, and not with you.

*pursues caffeine*
posted by cortex at 6:54 AM on January 30, 2007


I think they are well reasoned and legitimate responses, as per usual.
posted by spicynuts at 6:56 AM on January 30, 2007


Thought it's arguable that he's not really answering the question that was asked, I don't think his answers warrant a callout. Particularly since the OP went so far as to give his reason ("Im not doing this out of desperation because i'm broke. The point is so that i can be FREE and not have expectations from anyone and to see if its possible to survive on my own and take care of myself without paying rent.") for wanting to live in a van, and in that way opened himself to responses to his reasoning.
posted by amro at 6:56 AM on January 30, 2007


I don't like them, and I don't think that they address the question and I think that they're ill-informed about why people actully would want to live out of a van - but I haven't had any coffee yet.
posted by loquacious at 6:58 AM on January 30, 2007


I think they're great answers. The only way they could be better is if Chris Farley were delivering them.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:59 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the questions asked by petsounds is, and I quote, "am i crazy?" dios's answers speak to that question. You many not agree with dios's answers, but they clearly address at least one of the questions asked.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:59 AM on January 30, 2007


Hey man nothing wrong with living in a van down by the river.
posted by Mister_A at 7:01 AM on January 30, 2007


careful there mate, if you are find to be calling people out without merit, you might have to learn to live in a ban.


sorry, couldn't resist
posted by micayetoca at 7:03 AM on January 30, 2007


i'll nth everyone else in this thread so far. dios does answer the question, and with pretty good restraint, and this is a bad callout. not liking someone's answer does not mean that the person doesn't answer the question.

the questioner provided a lot of background information and also asked "am i crazy?" if the question was merely "how can i live out of a van?" then dios's answers would be uncalled for.
posted by Stynxno at 7:03 AM on January 30, 2007


Piping up to say dios says stuff in response to original questions, on-topic, totally legit. Hat Maui's little swipe and this callout? I vote nay.
posted by cgc373 at 7:04 AM on January 30, 2007


I hate to disagree with loquacious after he posted the best collection of links I've seen today, but... have your coffee and try to forget this whole unfortunate incident, eh?
posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on January 30, 2007


I can't believe I am saying this, but I don't see a problem with dios' answers in this case.
posted by dame at 7:08 AM on January 30, 2007


dios's
posted by dame at 7:08 AM on January 30, 2007


poster a: "what would be the best building in los angeles to jump off of?"

poster b: "hey, dude, you need to get help for your suicidal tendencies"

poster c: "you didn't answer the damn question"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 AM on January 30, 2007


Right then. Would anyone care for a slice of my liver? It's thoroughly pickled.
posted by loquacious at 7:09 AM on January 30, 2007


Lame callout. And if I could make a suggestion to dios, it would be to resist the (understandable) temptation to defend himself in this thread. A good lawyer knows when the judge/jury is in his corner, and keeps his mouth shut.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:10 AM on January 30, 2007


... dios' ...

dios's
posted by dame at 10:08 AM EST on January 30 [+] [!]


I believe either form is acceptable.
posted by knave at 7:15 AM on January 30, 2007


I don't think so. Dios is singular. And I edit.
posted by dame at 7:16 AM on January 30, 2007


dios's -dame

What are you some kind of editor?
posted by Mister_A at 7:16 AM on January 30, 2007


what does "preview" do, again?

Yes, dios is singular in every sense of the word.
posted by Mister_A at 7:17 AM on January 30, 2007


*spies brewing grammatical nerdfight, summons languagehat*
posted by loquacious at 7:18 AM on January 30, 2007


[citation needed]
posted by knave at 7:19 AM on January 30, 2007


Wait, that says what I just said. They should also add the Chicago Manual of Style to that list: it indicates that it should be used unless you are an idiot (see 7.23) or the s is unpronounounced (7.18, 7.21).

Also, I am already the 'hat's favorite editor. He told me so.
posted by dame at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2007


That's a good point about Jesus'. I would avoid the whole issue thusly:

I can't believe I am saying this, but I don't see a problem with the answers posted by dios in this case.
posted by Mister_A at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2007


My ruling: dame is, as usual, correct.
/fellow editor
posted by languagehat at 7:29 AM on January 30, 2007


Wait, that says what I just said.

It doesn't, though. Most sources recommend your style, but not all. Plus, dios' name is awfully religious-sounding.
posted by knave at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2007


knave, dios' is not an accepted liturgical archaism.

dumbass
posted by Mister_A at 7:32 AM on January 30, 2007


I removed Hat Maui's grouchy response. Dios's response seemed fine to me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:32 AM on January 30, 2007


- New Orleans' silver lining
- Dennis' rain, flooding slams Georgia homes, crops

(Hard thing to Google for, but there are a couple examples. I guess that doesn't prove anything, but it's funny to see languagehat taking a hardline grammatical stance for once.)
posted by knave at 7:36 AM on January 30, 2007


I removed Hat Maui's grouchy response. Dios's response seemed fine to me.

Well, that had the exact opposite effect as intended and informed by my filthy dirty hippy agenda.

Yeah, dumb callout. Sorry. I didn't see where he'd asked "Am I crazy?"

*loquacious goes back to reconsult The Art of War, because apparently he didn't learn anything from it*
posted by loquacious at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2007


I have all kinds of problems with that second headline.
posted by Mister_A at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2007


It doesn't, though. Most sources recommend your style, but not all.

I am almost entirely certain that there is no source that would say all names ending in s take only an apostrophe except the one I just cited, which basically says, If you are a total idiot and cannot follow our rules, fine, go ahead, do it wrong. Otherwise it would depend on pronunciation; being Jesus or Moses; or being a for . . . sake expression.

thusly

Thus is an adverb. You don't need the -ly.

Anyone else need any help?
posted by dame at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2007


The only thing I find reprehensible about dios's posts was the suggested reading of wacky late-period Freud.
posted by The Straightener at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"and I edit" is like the internet message board equivalent of "and I have a black belt."
posted by jonson at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


yeah, dios gave us a proud defense of the petit bourgeois values of "work, consume, and shut the fuck up" and, as usual, not a fucking ounce of human understanding for somebody who -- the horror! -- may be different from dios himself and his similarly venal, petit bourgeois friends.

deleting such a goto example of aggressive crassness and consumer fetishism would have been a mistake -- it's a beautiful testament to the man's legacy here.
posted by matteo at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your examples are from the South. They do not count. They are also from papers, which wouldn't know good editing practice if it sodomized them (see: New York Times).
posted by dame at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"and I edit" is like the internet message board equivalent of "and I have a black belt."

But, but, I have people who can back it up. Real people. Doesn't that count?
posted by dame at 7:43 AM on January 30, 2007

The only rational response is

your arrogance is very cute, dios. like a li'l braying baby donkey.

the truth is, however, that the "am i crazy" aspect of the question seems less pertinent to the nature of this question than you're making it out to be. the asker is not looking to be talked out of this by internet blowhards, but very specifically asks for suggestions and guidance as to how to go about making this idea a reality.

who are you to say this is immature and the questioner needs to grow up? you're NOT HELPING, only bloviating about how this idea doesn't fit into your tiny little authoritarian-worshipping worldview. and that's just not what askmetafilter is for, now is it?

to the asker: rent "i'll sleep when i'm dead" -- clive owen's character has a pretty sweet setup in his tall british cargo van. good ideas abound.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:32 PM EST on January 29
I put Hat Maui's grouchy response here where it belongs.

Dios could have certainly stopped at his first comment and still have made his point.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:43 AM on January 30, 2007


But, but, I have people who can back it up. Real people.

Like your Canadian girlfriend, I suppose.
posted by cortex at 7:45 AM on January 30, 2007


Doesn't that count?

They're not from the South, I hope.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:47 AM on January 30, 2007


I was afraid this thread about Dios would end without Matteo using is an excuse for a screed.

WHEW!
posted by klangklangston at 7:48 AM on January 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Like your Canadian girlfriend, I suppose.

Like I wasn't already swooning reading dame's editrix commentary. Hot girl-on-girl international editorial action! Oh my goodness!

*fans self feverishly*
posted by loquacious at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2007


Using it
/editor (heh)
posted by klangklangston at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2007


People from the South aren't real. Like dios: totally made up. We're all hallucinating him right now.
posted by dame at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2007


yeah, dios gave us a proud defense of the petit bourgeois values of "work, consume, and shut the fuck up"

instead of the petit bourgeois values of "work, consume, and complain endlessly that this really isn't "you", that you just "have" to do it?"

hmph
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on January 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oh noes, my solopism is a figment of an editor!
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2007


I thought dios was from Texas. Texas' pride.
posted by Mister_A at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2007


yeah, dios gave us a proud defense of the petit bourgeois values of "work, consume, and shut the fuck up" and, as usual, not a fucking ounce of human understanding for somebody who -- the horror! -- may be different from dios himself and his similarly venal, petit bourgeois friends.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but dios's response was one of the few that showed concern for the psychological well-being of the poster.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2007


How about the ubiquity of Canadian girlfriends? How did so many pre-adolescent American boys manage to pick up easy Canadian girls?
posted by OmieWise at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2007


They were left in the woods.
posted by dame at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2007


Like so much rumpled porn?
posted by Mister_A at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2007


matteo: "yeah, dios gave us a proud defense of the petit bourgeois values of "work, consume, and shut the fuck up" and, as usual, not a fucking ounce of human understanding for somebody who -- the horror! -- may be different from dios himself and his similarly venal, petit bourgeois friends."

Go back and read Marx again, asshole. Using 'petit bourgeois' as an insult (and twice in as many sentences) is probably the most banal, ridiculous thing you could do here. Come back when you have something better.
posted by koeselitz at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2007


And use a few capital letters, eh?
posted by koeselitz at 8:08 AM on January 30, 2007


Even more banal than "asshole"?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:08 AM on January 30, 2007


Ok, I give up. I always thought Dennis' was wrong, and then someone convinced me it was ok (after seeing similar headlines on sites like CNN). Now I'm back to thinking it's wrong.
posted by knave at 8:10 AM on January 30, 2007


Man, I'm Canadian, and I don't even have a Canadian girlfriend.
There's a housewife in Utah who can't get enough of me* on MSN, though.

*Well, can't get enough of Dre (32mCA, shaved head, tattoos, works as a carpenter).

And thanks for the chuckle, matteo. No war but the class war!!!
/Starts singing L'Internationale
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2007


Like so much rumpled porn?

Man, I really could do without that first experience of seeing leftover porn in the woods. I really didn't need to have my first exposure to explicitly photographically diagrammed sexuality be Rough Riding Ass Pirates #27 or whatever the hell that was.

I spent a number of pre-pubescent years rather grossed out and confused and a bit confused about the logistics to exactly how some bits of genetic information deposited there would make it somehow to over there where babies actually were supposedly made.

The biological mechanisms which my mind invented to facilitate this conveyance were, as you may well imagine, terribly apalling and frightening.
posted by loquacious at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2007


Welcome back to the Land of Happy Grammar, knave. Now go play in our woods filled with Canadian Girls.
posted by dame at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2007


I'm still grossed out and confused about anal anything, in general.
posted by knave at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2007


dame, thanks. Canadian girls are pretty awesome. That's the only place I've been where a pack of girls walked right up to me and started hitting on me.
posted by knave at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2007


Even more banal than "asshole"?

It's a veritable shibboleth of banal sects.
posted by cortex at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The genitive case of a name or other noun that ends with the letter 's' has for hundreds of years been achieved by adding a simple apostrophe, without an additional s. Now, however, many people (including, apparently, the stylebook writers for many major periodicals) have decided that this is confusing, and have begun adding s's willy-nilly. I hate it when they do that.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2007


Evidence.
posted by dame at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2007


And from some point after the only rules in English were "Eh, whatever."
posted by dame at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2007


No one else would have gotten a callout over this, it's his perspective, which seems like what the guy was asking for.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2007


It's a veritable shibboleth of banal sects.

Man, I'm so glad I live in the same town as you so I can hunt you down and beat you with the keyboard I just ruined and/or make out with you. You keep hurting me like that and I can cancel my "relationship" with my "therapist".
posted by loquacious at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2007


I think we can all agree that Matt and/or Jess are pretty much ruthless to all off-topic stuff on AskMe. They've shown that they have no troubles deleting any and all comments that aren't precisely pertinent to the question asked. It's unnecessary to call anyone out for perceived off-topic responses because if they really are off-topic, they'll be deleted with extreme prejudice before the day is out.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2007


My boss at my first writing gig advised me that if something seemed weird to me, it would probably seem weird to my readers too. Thus, Jesus' can coexist with dios's in my world. No Texas's though, ever.
posted by Mister_A at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2007


This is a dumb callout and jessamyn should ignore it and delete Hat Maui's grouchy response instead.

Fuck. I'm always late on this shit.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2007


(Hard thing to Google for, but there are a couple examples. I guess that doesn't prove anything, but it's funny to see languagehat taking a hardline grammatical stance for once.)

For those arriving late to the program: languagehat has both linguist and editor avatars. The linguist savagely lashes out at people who presume to look down on perfectly good English usage they mistakenly think to be "ungrammatical." The editor savagely lashes out at people who fail to understand the finer points of printed style (and the fact that there is no one source of such style—you pick your style guide and follow its rules slavishly). Grammar (a fact of language) and printed style (arbitrary rules chosen to achieve consistency) have nothing to do with each other.

And all the savage lashing is excellent for my circulation!

Rough Riding Ass Pirates #27 or whatever the hell that was.

Oh, don't add on some coy little codicil in an effort to disguise the fact that you know exactly what issue of Rough Riding Ass Pirates it was. The whole front cover is burned indelibly into your brain, along with a bunch of pop music you devoutly wish you could forget, but which when you hear it on the radio impels you into a stew of nostalgia and self-loathing that makes you run out and look up possible MeFi links, the only activity that offers any distraction from the flashbacks and nausea.
posted by languagehat at 8:58 AM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, if the thread's a rockin', don't bother knockin'
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2007


I think we can all agree

Mistaken assumption #1.
posted by justgary at 9:31 AM on January 30, 2007


Oh, don't add on some coy little codicil in an effort to disguise the fact that you know exactly what issue of Rough Riding Ass Pirates it was.

Actually, my crime is one of excessively excited imagination. I'm not even sure if there even is an actual adult publication called "Rough Riding Ass Pirates", but considering the scope of the perversity of humankind I wouldn't bet a half a cent against the odds of their not being such a publication already. I wouldn't honestly know. Not that I'm anti-porn. I just generally don't pay for it. See point "C" below.

The whole front cover is burned indelibly into your brain,

I never actually saw the cover of this particular color spectacular. I suppose I should be thankful. The insides were rather stark and frightening.

along with a bunch of pop music you devoutly wish you could forget,

And how, but I manage fairly well.

but which when you hear it on the radio

Wait, what? Ray-dee-yo? I think I saw one of those in a museum, once. Next to a butter-churner and a "zee-rocks" machine.

impels you into a stew of nostalgia and self-loathing that makes you run out and look up possible MeFi links,

Look, I don't know how to break this to you but I don't need any "impelling" to stew in nostalgia and self-loathing. And there's no "running out" and "looking up" my possible MeFi links, man. I've managed to condense the internet into a purified intravenous drip. I've got enough bookmarks to keep posting for the next 10 years.

Point C: Your mom isthe only activity that offers any distraction from the flashbacks and nausea. Q E motherfucking D.
posted by loquacious at 9:37 AM on January 30, 2007


Can we talk about the rampant, pretentious, willy nilly use of the word 'an' in front of adjectives and nouns starting with consonants now?
posted by spicynuts at 9:40 AM on January 30, 2007


dame: "Evidence. And from some point after the only rules in English were 'Eh, whatever.'"

I'm almost certain that I'd read this rule in an old edition of Hart's Rules, although there's no attestation of this on the internet. But note here that the New Hart's Rules calls the apostrophe-without-s form an "archaism," and note here that almost everybody just goes ahead and puts that s there anyway nowadays for singular words ending in s.

James Joyce, whose stylistic and grammatical authority I count as high as any other mortal's, seems to place the s based upon pronunciation. Which brings us to another point: languagehat, is there such thing as spoken style? I ask because the debate at hand involves more than simple written style; when, for example, one comes across the sentence

He's pining for the fjords because of the fjords' natural beauty.

does one pronounce the word "fjordses" or simply "fjords?" It always seemed to me that it was more elegant and simple without the "ses" at the end; it can almost invariably be understood by the context whether the word is possessive plural or simply plural. That's why it aggravates me so much to see the s before and after the apostrophe; it denotes a pronunciation that seems inelegant and unnecessarily stumbling to me.
posted by koeselitz at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2007


Can we talk about the rampant, pretentious, willy nilly use of the word 'an' in front of adjectives and nouns starting with consonants now?

Don't be an moron.
posted by jonmc at 9:42 AM on January 30, 2007


spicynuts: "Can we talk about the rampant, pretentious, willy nilly use of the word 'an' in front of adjectives and nouns starting with consonants now?"

Are you talking about this? That bothered me, too, for a moment, especially since the title of the linked video used 'a' instead of 'an.' But I assume that skylar is British, in which case the 'h' in 'hundred' is silent.
posted by koeselitz at 9:45 AM on January 30, 2007


this
posted by koeselitz at 9:46 AM on January 30, 2007


Koeselitz, read the NYTimes for a few days. Nothing to do with the Brits.
posted by spicynuts at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2007


does one pronounce the word "fjordses"

Only if you're Gollum. Sneaky little fjordses.
posted by amro at 9:57 AM on January 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


People from the South aren't real. Like dios: totally made up. We're all hallucinating him right now.

But I've met dios in the flesh. Here in Texas. Yeah, I know Texas is in the South but that doesn't mean we southerners are halluci
posted by Doohickie at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2007


"Fjords" is the plural of "fjord". The parrot was pining for all fjords, indeed for the land of fjords - Norway. So he is indeed pining for the fjords because of the fjords' natural beauty.

That should probably have been an em dash rather than a hyphen, but I do not know how to do an em dash in html.
posted by Mister_A at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2007


Oh, you like Joyce? I'm sorry, I used to respect you. But we can never be friends.
posted by dame at 10:06 AM on January 30, 2007


Fuck fuck fuck. Please ignore the comma-splice and insert correct punctuation.
posted by dame at 10:08 AM on January 30, 2007


——know it, love it, be it.
posted by cortex at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2007


Giving up and moving into your van is a symptom of the future. As an old-thinker, it is no surprise that dios argues for the opposition with such vigour.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:11 AM on January 30, 2007


(and barring that knock out a double hyphen -- works in a pinch, and translates to straight ASCII without a hitch. Can break on wraps, but kluges aren't complete solutions.)
posted by cortex at 10:11 AM on January 30, 2007


Meatbomb, it sounds like you've been EDUCATED STUPID.
posted by knave at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2007


Not so, knave, it comes completely natural.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2007


dame: "Oh, you like Joyce? I'm sorry, I used to respect you. But we can never be friends."

I didn't say that. I said I count his stylistic authority highly; I do so because he was an actual writer and because he was obsessive about minor points of style.

But I do like him. A lot. And it makes me cry in my pink satin pillow that we can't be friends.
posted by koeselitz at 10:19 AM on January 30, 2007


Dame wrote,"People from the South aren't real. Like dios: totally made up. We're all hallucinating him right now."

If that's true, then we must be holding the gun to our own heads!!

camera rotates around metafilter sitting in the chair.
sfx: Dust Brothers soundtrack

posted by boo_radley at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2007


"Sockpuppet humor. Cute."
posted by cortex at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


And who shall edit the editors?

And thanks Cortex&mdash now I am complete. Although I would like to close up that space between the dash and "now".
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2007


Hmm...

Not quite what I was going for.
posted by Mister_A at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2007


You are aware that most "actual writers" are not really that great and that many only look competent because of the work of "actual editors," right? And that being an "actual writer" doesn't in fact say much? Hell, I'm published. So is like half of MeFi. And considering the remarkable amount of crap Joyce has influenced, I'm pretty sure literature would be better off without him, even if you could argue that the crap half of his oeuvre is worth reading. But whatever, pillow boy.
posted by dame at 10:29 AM on January 30, 2007


Your examples are from the South. They do not count.

True. Down here, we haven't believed in correct grammar since William Faulkner made misusing the comma an art form.
posted by thivaia at 10:29 AM on January 30, 2007


Hmm.

I
want
to
test
something.
posted by tkolar at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2007


Make sure you include that terminating semicolon, Mister A.
posted by cortex at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2007


So it only does it in askme, huh?
posted by tkolar at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2007


Aha! Thanks again cortex.
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2007


Does what, tkolar? You've got me all curious now.
posted by cortex at 10:36 AM on January 30, 2007


It puts the answers in the textbox.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2007


You are aware that most "actual writers" are not really that great and that many only look competent because of the work of "actual editors," right?

Ah yes, editors, the CPA's of literature. We writers will be happy to actually you know, cook the meal, and let you all worry about whether the forks are in the right place.
posted by jonmc at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


dame: "You are aware that most "actual writers" are not really that great and that many only look competent because of the work of "actual editors," right?"

I was trying to call attention to the fact that most style manuals nowadays are written not by writers but by "style managers" and such who are employed to make sure that a given publisher produces material that is intelligible to monkeys, without any care for elegance or simplicity or beauty.

dame: "And that being an "actual writer" doesn't in fact say much?"

It generally implies that the quality of the product, rather than the accessibility of the product, is looked to.

dame: "And considering the remarkable amount of crap Joyce has influenced, I'm pretty sure literature would be better off without him, even if you could argue that the crap half of his oeuvre is worth reading. But whatever, pillow boy."

Good stuff influences crap all the time. And if you're concerned about the corruption of some phantasmic edifice called "literature" by a few bad writers over the space of a few decades, one wonders whether you're really interested in good writing.

What's more, are you really going to tell me that your so-called "literature" was doing beautifully before the influence of Joyce? I'd be very interested if you were, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2007


jonmc:

O—H
S—N—A—P
posted by Mister_A at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2007


Good stuff influences crap all the time.

Exactly. Do we go around blaming the Beatles for It's A Beautiful Day? Do we blame Steve Lacy for Kenny G?
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on January 30, 2007


Exactly. Do we go around blaming the Beatles for It's A Beautiful Day? Do we blame Steve Lacy for Kenny G?

Sweet Christ no we're not going to turn this argument to one about music. Besides, we can blame any one of those crapmagnets for anything we want at all. I blame Kenny G for everything all the time.
posted by loquacious at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2007


cortex writes...

Does what, tkolar? You've got me all curious now.


I'm not sure, exactly. All I really know is that in this comment I typed in

<a href="www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553380397">

and that after I posted it, it looked like this:

<a href="www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553380397/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">

I don't want to mess around in AskMe trying to figure out what that's about, so I was hoping to reproduce it here.
posted by tkolar at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2007


Hell, I blame him for my unemployment. It was entering data on all the 'smooth jazz' albums he begat that made my job so tedious that I stopped caring enough to even make much of an effort. So plainly the revolution has to begin with a Kenny G CD bonfire.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on January 30, 2007


Oh, and some but not all of the other amazon links in that thread have the same string added to the end.
posted by tkolar at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2007


Stupid Joyce! He ruined my literature!

Wow, you are insane. Or, if it makes you feel better:

1. UR ISNANE
2. You're insane!
3. Stephen King Presents Joycean Riffs On Insanity
posted by Skot at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2007


I'll take Joseph Conrad over Joyce any day.
posted by Mister_A at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2007


Oh, the amazon referrer thing. There's some background here, and for shits and giggles more in these two threads.
posted by cortex at 11:09 AM on January 30, 2007


languagehat, is there such thing as spoken style?

Oh, sure, absolutely. And one reason I detest the simple-minded "grammar"-snipers is that the fear and self-doubt they inspire has been ruinous for spoken style. Americans used to just naturally pontificate and rumbusticate in great flowing paragraphs of paratactic goodness, with mixed metaphors and lack of subject/verb agreement and godknows whatall—that's where Twain got his naturally rich, juicy, protein-filled style. But now that everyone's worried about whether "none" takes a singular or a plural and what "begging the question" is supposed to mean, both spoken and written American English have turned into verbal Wonder Bread. Fie, I say!

"He's pining for the fjords because of the fjords' natural beauty."
does one pronounce the word "fjordses" or simply "fjords?"


Just "fjords," because it's a plural possessive; the question arises with the possessive of a singular ending in -s, like Jesus, Jones, or dios.

That's why it aggravates me so much to see the s before and after the apostrophe; it denotes a pronunciation that seems inelegant and unnecessarily stumbling to me.

And that's the rule I always tell people, because it's easy and natural and produces excellent results: if you hear the s (as a z sound), write the s. If you say "diosez post" (which presumably we all do), write "dios's post"; if you say "jeezusez teachings" write "Jesus's teachings"; if you say "jeezus teachings" (which probably not many people do any more), write "Jesus' teachings."

Oh, and sorry, dame, but Joyce is one of my favorites. I hope this doesn't ruin a beautiful friendship.
posted by languagehat at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2007


Man, have neither of you seen the inside of a publishing house.

I was trying to call attention to the fact that most style manuals nowadays are written not by writers but by "style managers" and such who are employed to make sure that a given publisher produces material that is intelligible to monkeys, without any care for elegance or simplicity or beauty.

You really think that? Honestly? Most people who make style guides care quite a lot about elegance, simplicity, and beauty. That doesn't mean that they will always choose the style you prefer (after all, there are other considerations as well),* but trust me, people who are putting forth the effort to make up style guides care for words quite a bit.

It generally implies that the quality of the product, rather than the accessibility of the product, is looked to.

Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. No, it doesn't. Generally it means that the ego-fellating and blinkered values are attempting to prevail over the sense brought by people who haven't been living with the work.

I don't know why so many people are attached to this bullshit idea that writers are these heroes, slogging away to be brilliant, while editors, who do no work, just go around fucking shit up to make it idiotic, but that is not how publishing works, and if you'd spent any time at all really working with books, you would understand that.

You can't be a good editor while being a bad writer, and choosing to be an editor isn't about being a failure as a writer. You can't be a good editor without caring a lot for beauty and grace. In fact, it is in some ways harder than being a writer because you have to learn to write well in someone else's voice. (In other ways being a writer is harder.) You have no idea how many books that are published should really have the editor's name on the cover.

I know this is a total screed (and by the way, most of the Joyce stuff was joking, though I don't particularly care for him), but hey, I care about my job.


None of which is monkey-parsing.
posted by dame at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


cortex wrote...
Oh, the amazon referrer thing. There's some background here, and for shits and giggles more in these two threads.

Ah, thanks. Perhaps the take away lesson there is that if you make something a constant and irritating presence in Matt's life for over four years, he'll do something just to make it go away.

There's hope for the IMG tag yet! Just you wait until 2011...
posted by tkolar at 11:15 AM on January 30, 2007


I don't know why so many people are attached to this bullshit idea that writers are these heroes, slogging away to be brilliant, while editors, who do no work, just go around fucking shit up to make it idiotic, but that is not how publishing works, and if you'd spent any time at all really working with books, you would understand that.

So true. I'm reading a biography that's basically a good read, the author dug up a lot of amazing information about a guy with an amazing (and long-forgotten) life, but Christ did it ever need an editor. The author gets a bunch of facts wrong about stuff that shouldn't even have been included; he felt obliged to stick in entire essays about the Russian Revolution and the rise of Nazism and all sorts of stuff he didn't know anything about, and a competent editor would have excised about 100 pages and made it a much better book. But editors are too expensive and time-consuming, so a lot of publishers just basically send your manuscript along to the typesetter and cross their fingers. When I look at those beautiful, lovingly produced old Knopf editions it makes me want to cry.
posted by languagehat at 11:25 AM on January 30, 2007


dame: "You really think that? Honestly? Most people who make style guides care quite a lot about elegance, simplicity, and beauty. That doesn't mean that they will always choose the style you prefer (after all, there are other considerations as well),* but trust me, people who are putting forth the effort to make up style guides care for words quite a bit."

I know that. I know a few of those people. I feel bad for them; generally, their care for words doesn't get put to use by their employers, who want something completely different from elegance, something closer to "good marketing."

I am not, for the love of god, putting down editors. And I never once said that writers were fucking heroes. But I do have a feeling, as you say, that a good editor has to be a good writer, and vice versa. So it seems to me that if writers had to do without editors, and publish whatever crap they produced, they would far more often be seen for what they are. This probably would have spared us Hemingway, for example. Given that far, far too much material is published now, this would be a good thing.

And I never said anybody was a monkey-parser.
posted by koeselitz at 11:29 AM on January 30, 2007


monkey-parsing

thanks for that phrase.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:30 AM on January 30, 2007


A good editor is like the conductor of an orchestra.

I think some people here are mixing up the fairly straightforward task of proofing with developmental editing.
posted by Mister_A at 11:32 AM on January 30, 2007


You know why editors suck? Because editors are THE MAN.

Writers are all, like, doing their own thing, right? Just puttin' pen to paper. And then THE MAN comes along and is all, like "This paragraph is rambling and somewhat incomprehensible", and the writer is just like, "It's my VISION, man" and then the editor is, like "A detailed analysis of Micronesian Treaty Negotiations should not sound like it was written by a ten year old", and the writer just goes "You don't GET IT, do you? You're out of the groove, workin' for THE MAN!"

What was I saying again?
posted by tkolar at 11:41 AM on January 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dear tkolar, and I say this in my professional editing voice: LOL.

Okay, fine, koeselitz, we can be friends again. Can I have a pretty pillow?
posted by dame at 11:44 AM on January 30, 2007




Okay fine. But what's wrong the ASCII version, i.e. --?
posted by davy at 11:45 AM on January 30, 2007


And by the way, I'll weigh in on this by saying 'I disagree with dios' answer but I'll defend to the double hyphen his right to aver thus.'
posted by davy at 11:47 AM on January 30, 2007


For dios' sake, davy, do not revisit the em dash debacle.
posted by Mister_A at 11:47 AM on January 30, 2007


oh my god davy that is so five minutes ago
posted by cortex at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2007


I once tried to parse a monkey but the damn sheep got jealous. Now GET OFFF MY ISLAND!!!1!
posted by davy at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2007


'OFFF'? I give up, I'm an moron.
posted by davy at 11:50 AM on January 30, 2007


Ha—ha, well met davy old chap!
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on January 30, 2007


Not only are there spoken styles and registers, but there are emerging Computer-Mediated styles and registers. In the past, letters, postcards, business memos, and telegraphic text spawned their own styles and registers. This is yet another area where well-intentioned but fundamentally misguided language prudes fail to understand what they seek to regulate.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2007


Only on metafilter will you find people comparing the sizes of their genitives.
posted by horsewithnoname at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a former managing editor for medical/science journals, I have to agree with dame, language hat et al that being an editor has nothing to do with being a bad writer. Being and Editor-in-Chief can have a lot to do with being a bad writer, but mostly they're just elected officials or too busy to care, so you get to clean it up/rewrite editorials, etc.

As a former writer, I can say that it was the careerists, the intellectual onanism, and self-congratulatory BS that made me give it up. Plus, you know, you don't make any money and you have to listen to a bunch of people who are "writers" talk about writing.

Also, to get back to the s'/s's, I once had a teacher try to point out that I needed the apostrophe. I explained to her why I didn't and she gave me a B. It probably had something to do with the fact that when she was telling the class how to write an annotated bib, I told her I used to teach that in comp and left. Damn B.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:11 PM on January 30, 2007


And I understand the situational irony of calling myself an editor and writing things like "Being and Editor-in-Chief can...".
posted by sleepy pete at 12:33 PM on January 30, 2007


and hosted from Uranus writes "It puts the answers in the textbox."

No no NO!

It puts the lotion in the basket.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:36 PM on January 30, 2007


No no NO!

It puts the cocks in the bucket.
posted by jonmc at 12:52 PM on January 30, 2007


It puts the HANDS in the HAMS.
posted by cortex at 12:54 PM on January 30, 2007


Dick choke!
posted by loquacious at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2007


*puts the ram in the ramalamadingdong*
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:00 PM on January 30, 2007


I would submit that it is "crazy" for you to sincerely pursue this plan you are having

Giving up and moving into your van is a symptom of the future.

Heck, the streets of Venice Beach are dotted with people living (legally) in their vans. Many are surfers who appreciate the low-cost lifestyle and easy access to the surf.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2007


Also an editor, chiming in to agree with dame. Thank you!

for all the grammar mavens, usage nazis, and picky readers: are we getting to a point where the difference between "it's" and "its" is permanently/officially conflated and we'll all use "it's", no matter what? I see it more and more (thanks, intertubes), and it makes me sad. And angry.
posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on January 30, 2007


ericb, that has nothing to do with grammar, usage, style guides, or anything like that.
posted by Mister_A at 1:06 PM on January 30, 2007


No, no, no, it puts the lotion on the pickle—it puts the pickle up its butt.

Hey rtha, around here one sees "AVACODA'S 1$!"
posted by davy at 1:07 PM on January 30, 2007


I think the AskMe nazis care more about the structure of the questions and the technical validity of them according to the community mores, and less about the subjective valuation of the question. Sometimes a question is best answered not on its own terms, but with a rejoinder or a redirect.

Godwin!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:13 PM on January 30, 2007


rtha writes "for all the grammar mavens, usage nazis, and picky readers: are we getting to a point where the difference between 'it's' and 'its' is permanently/officially conflated and we'll all use 'it's', no matter what? I see it more and more (thanks, intertubes), and it makes me sad. And angry."

Please, for the love of whatever you hold sacred, no.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2007


At the risk of being garrotted by a cabal of editors and editrixes, let me chime in with a word of dissent. Yes, there are terrible writers, some of whom have been saved by excellent editors. But editors aren't the angels of literature* swooping in to rescue prose and poems from egomaniacal writers hell-bent on polluting the ocean of art with their mangled phrasing and poor narrative structure. Editors are an integral part of writing because they're first readers, assessing a work at a stage when it can still be changed. Yes, there are plenty of books which would be junk if not for the work of a good editor, but the same can be said for the spouses of writers, close friends and other such first readers.

But, as you well know, but I feel compelled to state, there have also been terrible editors, who've wanted stupid changes made. Editors, like writers, are people, there are bad ones, and there are good ones.

Oh, and also, the s'/s's would make an excellent band name.


*For that role I'd nominate translators. Now there's a thankless job.
posted by Kattullus at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2007


Yes, there are plenty of books which would be junk if not for the work of a good editor, but the same can be said for the spouses of writers, close friends and other such first readers.

I disagree. Editors have read and fixed more books than your brother ever considered. Besides, all those other folks care about your feelings. I don't.
posted by dame at 2:00 PM on January 30, 2007


Word up dame. There's no way you can assess a spouse's work impartially and professionally—even if you are an editor by trade.
posted by Mister_A at 2:08 PM on January 30, 2007


Kattullus, to say that an editor is interchangeable with anyone who can read is crazy. That's like saying a chef is the same as anyone who can follow a recipe.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:30 PM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hate editors and writers (and thus myself). I love the product of their work.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:41 PM on January 30, 2007


Oh, what were we talking about? ;)

Grammer sucks!
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on January 30, 2007


Would it be really self-absorbed to post a comment that just said, "Dame the Editrix Has a Posse"? Not that I'd ever think that or anything.
posted by dame at 2:58 PM on January 30, 2007


Twain, on editors.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:10 PM on January 30, 2007


Sure dame, go ahead. But you know- gang leaders generally buy stuff for their posse. Like, uh, brunch. And lip gloss. And condos. And stuff.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:22 PM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Grammer sucks!"

Hey now, he's a five-time Emmy winner.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2007


Are we having brunch? Like pancakes?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:52 PM on January 30, 2007


Editors who go howling around the internet parsing for errors are missing something: a paycheck. If I don't give you money to edit my work, you're not my editor. You're doing work for free on a manuscript that wasn't offered to you. That's unprofessional.

That said, I love professional editors, even when they get Style and Stance all mixed up, and even when they act like Having the Thought isn't nearly as important as Fixing it Up. Or when they assume that in any editor-editee relationship, one must be an idiot and the other an Einstein. The two shouldn't be at odds. It's a professional relationship that's integral to the writing process.

Good editors are pure gold.
posted by breezeway at 4:05 PM on January 30, 2007


Did I just call you pure gold, dame?

I did. I surely did.
posted by breezeway at 4:09 PM on January 30, 2007


I know where you live.
posted by dame at 5:02 PM on January 30, 2007


I live where he knows.
posted by jonmc at 5:16 PM on January 30, 2007


I wear leaves, you know.
posted by cortex at 5:20 PM on January 30, 2007


I just don't know about all this.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 PM on January 30, 2007


I live in your nose.

(you always new I was snotty)
posted by jonmc at 6:17 PM on January 30, 2007


Follow the knows, it always nose!

Waitaminnit, am I a toucan?
posted by breezeway at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2007


dios had perfectly legitimate answers to this question. I just don't get the call out. He might even be right, but I fall more in the camp of what the hell, try anything, if it works for you fine, if not go back and get a respectable job.
posted by caddis at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2007


dios had perfectly legitimate answers to this question. I just don't get the call out. He might even be right, but I fall more in the camp of what the hell, try anything, if it works for you fine, if not go back and get a respectable job.

there's late, fashionably late and my god why did you show up at all you ungrateful bastard.

in the context of this party, the keg's empty, most of the rum's been drunk but there might be some creme de menthe left you can have.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 7:26 PM on January 30, 2007


Like so much rumpled porn?

someone has been going through my garbage.
posted by Rumple at 8:27 PM on January 30, 2007


Dame: I disagree. Editors have read and fixed more books than your brother ever considered. Besides, all those other folks care about your feelings. I don't.

Well, you disagreed with something I didn't say. I never specified that there was an equal amount of books that editors had "read and fixed." But, that aside, I think your statement is glaringly wrong. The literary book editor as we know him is a fairly recent phenomenon. I can't give you a precise date or name a "first literary editor" but the role can't be much more than a century old. Even if we allow for caution and put the date for the birth of the literary book editor at AD 1800, or, even still, throw literary magazine editors on the heap too. With all that, that's only two hundred years of literature. That's nothing compared to the three millenia previous to that since Sin-liqe-unninni composed the standard version of Gilgamesh. Before the advent of the literary editor writers relied on spouses, family, friends and patrons. Even if the quality of every single piece of great literature published in the last two hundred years were entirely contingent upon the editor(s) that worked on it, we'd still be nowhere close to parity. And here we're only considering the subset of literature that can be called great.

As to your second statement, just because a reader doesn't care about the author's feelings doesn't mean that his or her opinions are more valid than the candid opinion of a reader who cares about the author. Of course, someone cushioning their poor opinion of a writer's work because they don't want to hurt his or her feeling is not going to be of any help. I don't know about others, but I have a coterie of friends and family who are quite happy to tell me that they don't like a poem or story or song or piece of visual art I've done. This is not a unique situation, at all. A good editor is a good editor, but a not all editors are good.

Though I think we'd both agree that there are writers who just can't be helped (and to those who don't agree I say, get thee to a poetry slam).

ThePinkSuperhero: Kattullus, to say that an editor is interchangeable with anyone who can read is crazy. That's like saying a chef is the same as anyone who can follow a recipe.

I didn't say any reader. I said spouse, close friend or other such first reader. I thought it wasn't necessary to specify that I was speaking of trusted readers. Part of being a good author is knowing whose opinion to trust. I have been professionally edited, it was a very pleasant experience, and I trusted explicitely the opinions of both of the editors who I was working with, even though I eventually went against their final advice regarding my book.* The feedback I got from my editors wasn't qualatively superior to that I got from friends and family. A good reader is a good reader, it doesn't matter if it's your editor, your friend the poet, your father the literary professor or your spouse the artist (or your uncle the homemaker, your sister the scubadiver, your neighbor the paratrooper et cetera). As long as you can trust them to offer their honest opinion, their opinions aren't implicitly worse than a professional editors. Of course, if a writer can't take criticisim, he can't be helped.

There is one area where a professional editor is invaluable, and that's in copy-editing. Correcting spelling mistakes and erroneous usage is not something that just any friend or family member is going to do (I'm lucky in having friends who'd do that anyway, even if I wouldn't ask them... gotta love classics majors).


* I worked with two editors on a book of poetry when I was 19. They wanted to publish it, but eventually I decided that I wouldn't want to put out these poems. My reasoning was that nothing I was capable of writing at 19 would be something I'd be proud of at age 25. And bless my young heart, I was right.
posted by Kattullus at 8:34 PM on January 30, 2007


As your spouse, and someone who reads your work regularly, I would be remiss in my duties if I let the following go...

Of course, if a writer can't take criticisim, he can't be helped.

I can't take criticisim either. I don't even know what it is.

(As for the "caring about your feelings" nonsense, I read Kattullus's work regularly... well, what he writes in English anyway, and I tell him when it sucks precisely *because* I care. I don't want him publishing or exhibiting work that is lousy because he's capable of so much more. I hope that the favor is returned - if my loved ones told me that my artwork was great to "spare my feelings," my feelings would be much more hurt when a gallery director laughed in my face and told me that my work sucked big hairy monkey balls or something.

This is really a stupid point to make, unless you're an editor and want to make your job sound like something that only those properly anointed by Dog himself can do. You don't have to be familiar with every word ever spoken in the English language to know that something is just *not* right.

And "so many books should have had the editor's name on the cover!" Oh, puhleaz. So much EVERYTHING should have SOMEONE ELSE'S name on it. Such is life. Rembrandt had hordes of apprentices, does that make him a less worthy artist, because someone ELSE did his dirty work? This is another stupid point.)

(Those were some really lengthy parenthetical statements.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:34 PM on January 30, 2007


there's late, fashionably late and my god why did you show up at all you ungrateful bastard.

then there's "I have no life, I am glued to my fucking computer, why aren't you?"
posted by caddis at 10:07 PM on January 30, 2007


well!

that's not exactly what i expected.

*grouches to self*
posted by Hat Maui at 2:26 AM on January 31, 2007


LOLHATMAUIANS!
posted by loquacious at 2:59 AM on January 31, 2007


- Click Metatalk Post #13577
-[pg dn]
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-[pg dn]
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No responses by dios? What the fuck, filter? I'd demand my money back, if I ever paid any.

Hurry the fuck up, dios, this shit might drift off the front page.
posted by Jimbob at 3:23 AM on January 31, 2007


I'd respond to you, but it's clear you aren't open to finding out why you're wrong. Nice tack getting your wife to insult me, though. That's classy.
posted by dame at 6:44 AM on January 31, 2007


Okay, you know how sometimes you write something in the comment box and then you delete it because it's better than posting it? Pretend like I did that.

As long as you can trust them to offer their honest opinion, their opinions aren't implicitly worse than a professional editors.

This is where you are wrong. Someone who does something over and over again has a better approach and knows more. No matter what. A professional marketer is going to come up with a better campaign than your uncle. And, despite the insults, I don't care about this because I think editors are the superest special people ever; I care because whenever you get to the arts people get some weird creation fetish that leads them to impugn other folks' professions, and that really sucks. That you have no respect for the profession is clear in you assertion that copy-editing is really where having a pro shines.

And yes, Rembrandt's billiance is in part the work of his assistants, if they did a lot of the work (I don't really know very much about Rembrandt, so). Just like plenty of books have been made into something unlike what they would have been by the work of an editor (and it isn't just "fixing things up"; you can end up writing paragraphs of bad books just to fix it). To refuse to recognize that is onanism at its worst and one of the ugliest sides of any creative community.
posted by dame at 6:59 AM on January 31, 2007


In short, all editors are better than all writers? Onanism, what?

Writing about how sometimes non-professional editors are good and sometimes professional editors aren't isn't insulting all editors; it's stating a fact. Hell, it's being reasonable.

If editors are so much better than writers, why do we have writers at all?

And as far as the repetition fallacy is concerned, I get my egg sandwich from a twenty-year old kid who's great at scrambling eggs and serving them on a roll. I don't get it from the old guy two doors down who has clearly scrambled a million more in his lifetime. Why? Because the kid's egg sandwiches taste better. Why is he better? How should I know.

Are you assuming a level starting point or something? Or that the only folks who have an editor's eye (or an editor's training) go into editing? Sometimes a job is a job, and sometimes a better (more satisfying? Higher-paying?) job comes along. Do we forget everything we know when we switch from editing to investment banking?

Sounds like you're saying we would. Billiant. Just billiant.
posted by breezeway at 7:32 AM on January 31, 2007


Geesh, Kattullus- guess you need your spouse for more than just editing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:37 AM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


For the record, my wife is not my automaton. I do not ask her to jump into debates for me. I'll disregard the rest of your initial comment. I don't have to pretend like I did that if you ask jessamyn or mathowie to delete it.

I don't care about this because I think editors are the superest special people ever; I care because whenever you get to the arts people get some weird creation fetish that leads them to impugn other folks' professions, and that really sucks.

[...]

Just like plenty of books have been made into something unlike what they would have been by the work of an editor (and it isn't just "fixing things up"; you can end up writing paragraphs of bad books just to fix it). To refuse to recognize that is onanism at its worst and one of the ugliest sides of any creative community.


Again, you seem to be responding to comments I posted in some alternate reality version of MetaFilter. My point, stressed repeatedly, is that the worth of an editor, depends on the worth of the editor. To refresh your memory, this is from my first comment, "editors, like writers, are people, there are bad ones, and there are good ones" and this is from my second comment, "a good editor is a good editor, but a not all editors are good." I didn't impugn the profession of editing (and, though I don't like speaking for her, especially after she's been accused of being at my beck and call, grapefruitmoon did no such thing). I even related my own good experience with editors. I didn't want to get into it, but I've done some minor, non-professional editing (for people I barely knew, I don't count reading over my the work of my friends to be editing). I have nothing against editors and editing. I have friends who do a lot of free-lance editing, and I value their work enough that I wouldn't ask them to read my writing pre-publication unless I paid them for it.

Someone who does something over and over again has a better approach and knows more. No matter what.

Well, yes. I can sort of see how you got that I said the opposite of that statement from my comments, but that's not what I meant at all. However, I'm not going to agree with you completely. While someone who learns from his experience and does not grow complacent in his field will always be better than yer average schmoe, there are plenty of people, in all professions, creative, menial or anything else, who stagnate. I can't imagine that's a controversial point. Again, to sum up the main thrust of my argument, good editors are great to have, but bad editors aren't.
posted by Kattullus at 7:42 AM on January 31, 2007


"Someone who does something over and over again has a better approach and knows more. No matter what. A professional marketer is going to come up with a better campaign than your uncle."

Um... Actually, that's bullshit. I know you have a lot wrapped up with the cult of the expert, but having both written for a fair number of editors and gotten paid to edit, it's just plain wrong. Doing something over and over again often leads to being hidebound and myopic, and does not necessarily lead to consistency.
Oh, and professional marketers often come up with absolute crap. My uncle, on the other hand, occassionally comes up with something brilliant.
If you're arguing that on the whole, a professional is more likely to do something of higher quality than an amatuer, sure, that's a supportable statement. The "No matter what"? That's fucking retarded.
posted by klangklangston at 7:49 AM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


ThePinkSuperhero: Geesh, Kattullus- guess you need your spouse for more than just editing.

Yes, I also need her to hold me when I cry because people were mean to me on the internet. Do you even look at the words you write before you hit post?
posted by Kattullus at 7:49 AM on January 31, 2007


Obviously I was arguing against the idea that all "first readers" are equal, as long as they like you or something, which is even more retarded than my misplaced emphasis. But to sum up the thrust of my argument (so I can do my work because now I am being a very bad editor): People who think writers do everything and editors do nothing, or that books look the way do because of writers can go suck it. Because the proportion of good editor to bad is much more favorable that that of good writer to bad, so most books are good because of the editors.

Also, Kattallus, matt and jess are not in the business of cleaning up after my bad temper. And brezzeway, our date is sooooo offf.
posted by dame at 8:00 AM on January 31, 2007


Damn. Clearly was not wearing my editor hat for that post.
posted by dame at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2007


No shit. You spelled "so" completely wrong, for one thing.
posted by cortex at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2007


I kinda like "brezzeway.". Makes me feel Italian or something.

our date is sooooo offf.

Super! We'll just have brunch and drinks instead.
posted by breezeway at 8:19 AM on January 31, 2007


Wow, this is still going on?

The degree to which people take their jobs and pursuits personally never fails to amaze me.
posted by koeselitz at 8:44 AM on January 31, 2007


The degree to which people take their jobs and pursuits personally never fails to amaze me.

Then you live a life without passion and I pity you.
posted by tkolar at 8:59 AM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is one area where a professional editor is invaluable, and that's in copy-editing. Correcting spelling mistakes and erroneous usage is not something that just any friend or family member is going to do (I'm lucky in having friends who'd do that anyway, even if I wouldn't ask them... gotta love classics majors).- kattullus

kattullus, correcting spelling mistakes and so forth is the least part of what an editor does. Some organizations have a proofreader who is tasked with these mechanical duties; but that position is disappearing, at least from news organizations and ad agencies (dame can tell you about the situation at publishing houses). A copy editor is often in charge of those things nowadays, but has additional duties, incl. fact-checking and making sure the writer hasn't said anything libelous. Copy editors also generally have some leeway to rewrite the occasional awkward sentence or phrase. An "editor" has much more influence on the overall shape of the piece than a copy editor—an editor at a newspaper, for instance, plays as big a role as the reporter in shaping the story (and deciding which stories to run). At an ad agency, the part of the editor is played by the copy chief, creative director, etc.

Now at smaller firms, I imagine you could well have one person who does all these things—proofreading, copyediting, and "editing"—but it's important to remember that "editor" is not a synonym for proofreader or copy editor.
posted by Mister_A at 9:44 AM on January 31, 2007


then there's "I have no life, I am glued to my fucking computer, why aren't you?"

i take it symptoms of this "life" you have include an infallable urge to anally clench?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:05 AM on January 31, 2007


Nice tack getting your wife to insult me, though. That's classy.

Even classier is accusing Kattullus of having me jump in the thread on his behalf. I jumped in on my own accord. Yes, he pointed out the existence of the argument to me, but my opinions are my own.

If you look at my posting history, I do happen to be a MetaFilter user with my own thoughts and comments, I am not here simply as "Kattullus's wife," though that was the context in which I responded to the first part of his comment as he brought up the "spouse as first reader" issue and I felt it would be disingenuous not to identify myself.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:10 AM on January 31, 2007


tkolar: "Then you live a life without passion and I pity you."

(1) "Passion" is most certainly not the same thing as "happiness." In fact, it's nearly the opposite.

(2) Part of being a thoughtful human being is acknowledging that you're not the center of the universe, and part of doing that is seeing that the things one does for a living, and even the things one does in one's spare time, are not necessarily the most important pursuits. If one manages to do that, then the result is that, when someone walks by and loudly proclaims, "everyone involved in your profession is an idiot," then one can respond rationally, rather than angrily and emotionally.

(3) This kind of detachment can be introduced into every part of human life, and is of great benefit. I'm certainly not a good example of this, but it seems to me that part of being thoughtful is being above insult, anger, or outrage, all three of which are often unjustly praised as "passionate responses."

(4) I'm in civil engineering. Before that, I was in library work. Maybe I'm biased, since I've never had a job that I could pretend was "the most important thing in life," and since my favorite pursuit-- reading old books and thinking about them-- is something that will probably never make me any money. However, I suspect that truly worthwhile human pursuits are not ones that a person can make a "career" out of. And even if they were, I wouldn't want to be so personally attached to them that I got huffy whenever somebody misunderstood.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on January 31, 2007


(1) "Passion" is most certainly not the same thing as "happiness." In fact, it's nearly the opposite.

On the contrary, passions are both happiness and suffering. In fact, all attachments are both happiness and suffering. "Passion" just describes a particularly strong attachment.

(2) Part of being a thoughtful human being is acknowledging that you're not the center of the universe, and part of doing that is seeing that the things one does for a living, and even the things one does in one's spare time, are not necessarily the most important pursuits. If one manages to do that, then the result is that, when someone walks by and loudly proclaims, "everyone involved in your profession is an idiot," then one can respond rationally, rather than angrily and emotionally.

You express a fairly solid grasp of the basic human condition for someone who lives their life in constant amazement at people becoming attached to their passtimes.

(3) This kind of detachment can be introduced into every part of human life, and is of great benefit. I'm certainly not a good example of this, but it seems to me that part of being thoughtful is being above insult, anger, or outrage, all three of which are often unjustly praised as "passionate responses."

Insult, anger, and outrage are all part of being human. To deny these qualities, or to try to rise "above" them is to deny parts of yourself. The best you can do is to detach yourself from the experience of being yourself. Some people find that a comforting path.

For me: there is time in a life for both the Mountain and the Marketplace. When I retire to the Mountain I will seek the even keel of a detached life. While I live in the Marketplace I will be fully part of this world, with all the pain and pleasure that entails.
posted by tkolar at 10:54 AM on January 31, 2007


Passion? Happiness? Those are like respect: ethereal, and on the rare occasions they're attained, ephemeral goals.

Now, dignity and satisfaction? Those are worth striving for. Think about it.

Dignity and satisfaction. They're all yours.
posted by breezeway at 10:57 AM on January 31, 2007


Passion? Happiness? Those are like respect: ethereal, and on the rare occasions they're attained, ephemeral goals.

Now, dignity and satisfaction? Those are worth striving for. Think about it.

Dignity and satisfaction. They're all yours.


I hate to break it to you, but absolutely everthing is ephemeral.
posted by tkolar at 11:06 AM on January 31, 2007


tkolar: "For me: there is time in a life for both the Mountain and the Marketplace. When I retire to the Mountain I will seek the even keel of a detached life. While I live in the Marketplace I will be fully part of this world, with all the pain and pleasure that entails."

I guess I accept the passion that true conversation with other human beings entails; I don't, however, say that it's the end for which that conversation exists.

Furthermore, I feel as though that conversation is an essential part of life precisely because it combines the two perspectives of which you speak: it is a solitary act, because it distances us from others by forcing us to distinguish my ideas from your ideas, but it is also a communal act, because it means turning those ideas toward others.

Because of this, I feel as though the heart of good conversation has to be a thoughtful detachment from everything particular. Conversation requires us to make a true attempt to understand what other people think and why they think it; as such, it requires us to step beyond our own particularities.
posted by koeselitz at 11:17 AM on January 31, 2007


"On the contrary, passions are both happiness and suffering. In fact, all attachments are both happiness and suffering. "Passion" just describes a particularly strong attachment."

No, "passion" implies suffering. It comes from the Latin for "submit," and carries a special reference to Christ's suffering.

"To deny these qualities, or to try to rise "above" them is to deny parts of yourself."

That's wishy-washy hand waving. Otherwise you're lieft with "denying yourself" every time you want to take a shit and don't do it in the street. It's not a bad thing.
Read your Zeno.
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on January 31, 2007


The commonly understood meaning of "passion", outside of religious context, is something for which you are willing to put aside other pursuits, suffer deprivation, risk personal harm, etc. Many people derive immense satisfaction from the pursuit of their passion(s); most also suffer in some way for same.
posted by Mister_A at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2007


I hate to break it to you

I don't believe you do. I reckon you took great satisfaction in that glib dismissal. Satisfaction you can savor as long as you live. Bravo!
posted by breezeway at 12:08 PM on January 31, 2007


correcting spelling mistakes and so forth is the least part of what an editor does

Absolutely right you are, Mister_A. I didn't mean to come across as if that's all that editors do. In my defense, in my inital comment to this thread I mentioned "mangled phrasing and poor narrative structure." But you're absolutely right. I should have made this clearer.

koeselitz: (1) "Passion" is most certainly not the same thing as "happiness." In fact, it's nearly the opposite.

Passion is an emotion multiplier. If something that one is passionate about goes well, the good feelings become ecstasy. On the other hand, if something that one is passionate about goes badly, the bad feelings becomes depression. There are times I wish I didn't get passionate about things, but there are times when it's oh so worth it.

koeselitz: my favorite pursuit-- reading old books and thinking about them-- is something that will probably never make me any money

That's totally my favorite pursuit too! I wish you were closer by, I'd buy you a beverage in a hot drink emporium and talk with you about old books. My Providence-old-books-chat-buddy moved to Paris, where he now has the job of reading old books and thinking about them. Needless to say I envy him. Though, considering the amount of crap he had to go through on the route to that job, I can't say he doesn't deserve it. If you're ever in the area, e-mail me and I'll get you good an caffeinated (or drunk... or in a chococoma).
posted by Kattullus at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2007


Reality has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this thread and has been edited to run in the space allotted and for content.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2007


"Yippee-ky-yay, Mr. Falcon."
posted by cortex at 12:40 PM on January 31, 2007


"This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!"
posted by Kattullus at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


Why am I covered in pancake batter?

Why are you holding a heat gun and a stick of butter?
posted by loquacious at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2007


kattullus: "That's totally my favorite pursuit too! I wish you were closer by, I'd buy you a beverage in a hot drink emporium and talk with you about old books. My Providence-old-books-chat-buddy moved to Paris, where he now has the job of reading old books and thinking about them. Needless to say I envy him. Though, considering the amount of crap he had to go through on the route to that job, I can't say he doesn't deserve it. If you're ever in the area, e-mail me and I'll get you good an caffeinated (or drunk... or in a chococoma)."

If it were a year ago, that might almost work. For three semesters, I was at Boston College, doing the coursework for my master's in "political science" (read: Aristotle, Aquinas, Plato, Avicenna, and Homer). I'm working on my thesis for that master's now (the Odyssey) but I'm in Boulder, Colorado now. I saw the crap people had to go through, too, and gave up, at least for now, seeing as how I'm getting married in the next few months and want to work on that at the moment. (I'd like to teach college someday.)

I will probably be in the area at some point in the next year, though. I'll let you know. And I might drop you a line about books at some point if I'm feeling froggy.
posted by koeselitz at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2007


This has to be the most civilized and interesting discussion ever started by a dumb callout.

my favorite pursuit-- reading old books and thinking about them-- is something that will probably never make me any money


Yeah, add me to that list.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2007


*sticks head in*

The best editors know when, how, and why to ask just the right questions about parts of a work that aren't quite working. (Not-so-best ones just dive in and try to fix things themselves)
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on January 31, 2007


Can I take credit for the longest derail in history yet?
posted by knave at 7:08 PM on January 31, 2007


This is the greatest, strangest derail I've ever seen.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:46 PM on January 31, 2007


This is the greatest, strangest derail I've ever seen.

Dios works in mysterious ways.
posted by Rumple at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2007


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