Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Lemurification of Mark Wallace

Here's a excerpt from a recent exchange with super-blogger Mark Wallace over at his blog. It's a response to Mark's funny reply to the notion of "an economy of respect" first proposed by Stan Apps over at his blog. It's funny but it also entails some of my answers to questions raised in response to the lemur manifesto.

Johannes said...

Poetry is already run on a respect economy. Also known as a heap of mediocrity economy. Or I have lots of pals economy. Or kiss me kiss me kiss me.

I give myself one hundred in all categories. Especially the one involving dehydration.


November 16, 2008 6:41 PM

Blogger mark wallace said...

But Johannes, there are big differences between the respect and prestige economies. Both kiss kiss kiss but they kiss kiss kiss differently. The respect economy kisses you because it likes you and your work, whoever you and your work happen to be in the mind of the respect that's kissing you, and whatever you've done (for better or worse) to gain that respect. The prestige economy kisses your institutional position or public reputation.

I think, if one were to generalize, which one can't, quite, it's pretty clear that poetry is not run on a respect economy. I think it tends to value prestige over the financial, while failing to acknowledge the degree to which the financial is socially embedded in prestige. But whatever the connection there, respect is still a distant third.

Also, re mediocrity, what's fascinating is the degree to which it's easier to criticize mediocrity than to recognize it in oneself. "Physician, heal thyself" is I think the best kind of response to that problem. Lead by example, not accusation. Not that accusation doesn't have its pleasures.

November 16, 2008 7:31 PM

Blogger K. Lorraine Graham said...

Mark, this post is funny.

I am, perhaps naively, continually suprised at how many kiss kiss opportunities I receive from people I can't possibly help, let alone kiss. I have to fend off kisses and requests for kisses from kiss me kiss me peoples (as do others, I know). Today, I'm a 7-4-3, but sometimes I'm an 8-5-3. When I'm at my most confident, I think, "I am awesome. No one gives a crap about what I write!" The problem is that one day I might actually have whatever power someone thinks I might have. And what will I do then? I don't really believe that. But still, the prospect disturbs and intrigues me.

I wish tomorrow weren't Monday.

November 16, 2008 9:12 PM

Blogger Johannes said...

I don't feel like I exactly "respect" people whose poetry I like. Maybe that word is just so fuddy-duddy.

Sometimes I may want to stab myself in the chest with a pair of scissors. Does that count?

OK. I give myself 14 among junkies and 32.5 among orphans and 17.2 among disco-dancers. 2.5 at the Academy of American Poetry Organization.

November 17, 2008 11:25 AM

Blogger mark wallace said...

Thanks for these great further responses.

Lorraine, one thing your comment suggests is that our measure on the respect/prestige/financial economies is always in flux. You've got to go out there and earn it again, every day. You've got to hock your watch. Even a 10-10-10 has to watch its back. The competition is fierce.

Johannes, you seem to want a Overwhelmed By Your Intensity and Originality Economy. And in fact I think one of those already exists, although frankly it's a smaller subset of the already existing Respect Economy. Overwhelmed By Your Intensity And Originality Economies usually thrive best in local environments and have a tendency to get co-opted, especially when broadened into Economies Of The Masses Whose Tastes Are Easily Corrupted.

November 17, 2008 3:31 PM

Blogger Johannes said...

I get really easily corrupted.


Blogger mark wallace said...

Thanks for highlighting this discussion, Johannes.

I wonder if it will bring any other lemurs out of the woodwork. Pesky things.

There was some more discussion of these issues over at the Stan Apps blog where the question of a Respect Economy first came up:


10:48 AM  

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