SJ: If you have the freedom and the experimentation of Wag’s Revue on one end of the continuum, put the New Yorker on the other — and its reputation, its prestige, its audience in terms of people reading original fiction and poetry. You see how conservative the work is that’s published, frankly. That is a definite downside.
Twitter’s this perfect vehicle for fury. We can’t wait for something to be angry about. But in fact that’s a limited perception of the fact that we’re in this heightened cultural moment. Rape culture, income inequality, police brutality — these are many narratives that we cannot escape and are wearing many people out. That energy puts people on edge and then Vanessa Place comes along, or Kenneth Goldsmith comes along, or whatever happens, and people go 0 to 60 in terms of their reactions. I do think one of the risks there is jumping to conclusions. Lumping people in, lumping moments in with something that has happened before. I think in some ways that understandably can make editors more wary of taking risks.
People keep either emailing me or asking me to comment or weigh in, ‘would you like to write an essay?’ — no I don’t. I don’t have an answer to this, but is a world where the messiness — we’ll just call it that — the messiness that Kenneth Goldsmith or Vanessa really embrace and have come to represent, is a world where that doesn’t exist, where we pretend that that doesn’t exist, a better world? I don’t know that it is.
I would like for there to be more opportunity for conversation. Right after the thing at Brown, the following issue of Poetry magazine was dedicated to the breakbeat poets, which are typically Midwestern, black poets, rooted in hip hop. It was this amazing issue with all these black people published in Poetry magazine. Then they publish a couple of essays at the end of each issue and one of them was by Kenneth Goldsmith. I saw some