——I received an extraordinary e-mail from another blogger a few days ago that has upset the scheduled flow of these carefully crafted and strategicly ordered postings. It is from a fellow across the Atlantic whose audience I had solicited (that’s the way I put it: “I request your audience”), meaning of course that he should read Black Mirrors, link attached. I felt obliged to inform him of my existence, as a fellow player in the literary blog scene, a new superpower, if you will, in the international highstakes arena where, as all of us know, only writers of enormous self-esteem are even capable of launching their unsanctioned . . . sentences. Now actually I wrote to ten other bloggers, making this same formal plea, wording them all the same; but I received only one, as I say, extraordinary reply.
—— He said that he was in fact already a reader of Black Mirrors, but thanked me for sending, as it were, papers of entreaty and words to the effect (words he understood to be to the effect) that, though I was setting up as a competitor, and clearly, he could tell, was after his crown, as a “king of obfuscation”, as he put it, he having that crown, or at least the crown of king literary blogger, for what it was worth, at present, if only since he had seniority, having been a blogger longer, and a longer blogger, in that his posts and sentences were “way less stentorian” . . . gentler, dreamier, and so on . . . drifting off, as if to demonstrate the very point. Ha! I thought, harmless, you mean. You’re sentences are more harmless than mine–that is for certain! And, they never finish.
—— But, the Englishman continued in this extraordinary e-mail–which I have printed out and am going to show to fifty people–though he was already a reader and even an “apppreciator and fan” of mine; and though, he had to admit, I was “perhaps or evidently” a more dedicated, even more talented player than he, even he; and that he could tell I was probably a fully committed writer, while he was a University Professor doing this literary writing on the side, still he was quite sure that my blog itself, Black Mirrors, was doomed. My blog was doomed! I blinked, and heard like the sound of a slot machine in my head. If I was making an appeal to him to get his endorsement, so as to get his thousands of readers, this was futile, for they would never even begin to comprehend me. They, his readers, would not have the slightest patience for my abstruse rambling, “piercing, incisive, and eloquent as it might be” (his words). As it might continue to be. Simply put, he said, I seemed not to have “the gift of approbation”.
——And, he sensed quite clearly that I was headed for a crisis. Well! I knew what approbation means! One who lacks the gift of approbation, is like one born unapproved. For I had not the knack of approbating myself, or whatever one does to get your entrance fees like paid in advance. I had not the silver spoon, must have been born under a bad sign, off the map, in some town in Western New York or something, where what’s-his-name in Tender is the Night ended up. Doomed indeed.
——But I had to brush up on what “stentorian” meant, so I looked it up in the huge Oxford English Dictionary I keep in my office. Ah! It always pays off to lug this old pal of mine, this entire English language in one volume, over to my desk and take time out to turn over it’s large, super-thin pages, with their columns of tiny print, just crammed with portents, meanings and beautiful obfuscation. For unruly language explodes in all directions. For me, a student in the master class of rhetoric, a master myself now, I know I am going to find material justifications for all my abstruse ramblings, precisely. This is my work. Words themselves are . . . palimpsists containing layers of time, black mirrors that put the sparkle in your eyes.
——Stentor, I read, was a Greek warrior in The Iliad, whose “voice was as powerful as fifty voices of other men.” And further, stentor is “a genus of Protozoa; an individual of this genus, a trumpet-shaped protozoan”. Aha! Though protozoa, of course, in their primitive being and environments, are quite silent, some are shaped like trumpets. Primordial trumpets! Yes. I don’t know whether Stentor, the loud warrior, the herald, in Homer (with whom I identify, in my colossal self-trumpeting vanity) comes before trumpets, on the field of battle–I mean I don’t know what is named after what here–but, anyway, it’s all associated now. And the past only comes to life in the process of these types of inquiries, which I keep saying–but, hark, that is really going far afield, or rather back into my actual field, because what I need to talk about here is this outrageous e-mail I got, from the fellow in England.
——The Professor who e-mailed me knows who he is. But like I said I sent this solicitous request for an audience to ten people all at once, like in a scattershot appeal, and all in England, because England is like, well, always the place for a thriving literary culture. They have always had that there, and American authors never measure up. And, the point is, they must automatically have this attitude there once again, with their subcutaneous (get under your skin) lit bloggers, their post-post-modern Blanchot drones and Lacan fetishers, etc. It is said that Stentor, the herald, whose voice was like fifty men, died in a shouting match with the god Hermes. Hermes, also known as Mercury, is the god associated with travelers and orators, but also thieves. He is roadsigns, a crosser of boundaries, author of transitions. Postmen wear the patch of Mercury on their shirt sleeves, you know.
——Now I can’t tell who I am more like: the fleet, winged messenger god Hermes, or the Homeric herald with the stentorious voice. I guess I will have to look up that scene and mull it over. Do I want to get into a shouting match with fellow obfuscators, over the claim they have made, which is that no one but them could possibly ever understand what I am saying? People understand me all too well, is my feeling. Maybe I should raise my voice with these supercilious, punctilious Brits. These lie-abouts and windbags. I have to discuss this one particular e-mail further with a few of my own advisers. One of the top advisors is coming over tonight! There is just too much to do, it seems–so much to say, and such an excess of words.