On the Matter of Dermot Reilly

Disgust. This whole thing has been utterly disgusting.

It happens over and over again.

A writer writes something difficult, dense, challenging to read. He or she posts it.

An editor or god reads it and nukes it, demands unwarranted tweaks that change the integrity of the piece, or moves it to a daylog.

As Dermot mentioned above, the writer spent hours formatting and linking their writeup. The editor spends minutes deciding it's shit, and exiles it or ruins it.

If the author is a true artist, someone who cares about words, does she have the right to be pissed? You bet.

Does the author have much recourse? A bit, but not much. The decision can be appealed, but for younger writers, this comes at some risk to their fledgling reputation. Older writers can do the same. If they are respected, the change may be rescinded.

If the CE/god is extra volatile, he or she may dig in their heels, argue their case, and argue vociferously that the author doesn't know what they're doing, goes against E2 policies, etc. Those are the commonly given reasons. This happens behind closed doors, within the E2 CE discussion group. Sometimes editors argue just to argue. Sometimes they just want to win, and art be damned. This seems to be happening more lately.

Many editors are conscientious. They help writers with grammar, spelling, nodeshell title suggestions, content, form and sometimes even structure.

Almost all really good editors read a lot. By 'read' I don't mean within Everything2, I mean in literature at large. They read difficult works. I've mentioned a few: Shakespeare, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Ezra Pound, ee cummings, TS Eliot, Milton, to name just a few. They know where literature's been, and where it's going. They know its breadth and width. They are comfortable with difficulty. They love seeing younger writers wrestle with language, with finding their own style. They are not arrogant. Sometimes, they are blunt, but mostly they encourage.

A few are not adequate to the task. They may be good writers, but personality quirks hinder their ability to be good editors. They may have strong preferences for or against content, form or style of writing. Some like poetry. Some don't. Some understand poetry. Some don't. Some like dense, Kafkaesque fiction. Some don't get it at all. Some appreciate experimental writing. Some don't. They might be stubborn dicks who don't like to be challenged. They might be arrogant and me-centric. They might be so entranced by the normal E2 style of writing that they can't understand any other way.

E2 has stifled a few great writers. It is the oddest thing to me, but the one man who keeps getting hammered here is JohnnyGoodyear/Dermot Reilly. How can we deny the incredible writing talent of this man? He does not fit into E2, for reasons beyond my ken. So who or what has to change? Does Dermot? No. I think the E2 organization needs to change.

Michael Jordan was the best basketball player of all time. He was so dominant that the Chicago Bulls changed their entire team to accommodate his prodigious talent. Trades and drafts for new players were made just to make Michael Jordan more effective. Result: The Chicago Bulls won six NBA titles so long as Jordan played at his peak.

By contrast, LaVar Arrington could have been the best linebacker in the history of American football. His coaches changed his playing style and when he did not conform, they benched him. This went on for years. To a man, the Washington Redskins defense who desperately needed his help, decried benching such a fantastic talent. Finally he left the Redskins in disgust. A year or two later, his defensive coach was removed largely because of the Arrington case. The Washington football franchise was widely viewed as having made a huge mistake paying Arrington's high salary and getting nothing for it in return, because the defensive coach was too stubborn to adapt his tactics to Arrington's talent.

An organization must flex to accommodate its best people. If it does not, it just descends into mediocrity. Right now, I don't see E2 doing much flexing. The leading lights should be begging on bended knee for Dermot to display his full skills for this site. They should change whatever they have to change to make that happen.

I would love to be associated with a web site with buzz, an often googled, often visited site, an excellent site. But rules do not beget excellence. Only excellence begets excellence.