According to Brian and Frank...

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Postby Moderator » Tue May 16, 2006 10:59 am

Mark commented that "Being a fan does not give you the right to then say to the artist, I think you should stop the other projects you are working on and concentrate on what I like."


Of course it does.

It's called stating an opinion. We can all offer them, and it's Harlan's right and responsibility to either take it to heart or tell us what to go do with ourselves. I'll defend Eric's right to state his opinion, as I would also yours or Frank's or Doug's or Adam-Troy Castro's for that matter.

I have a friend who once told me I ought to concentrate on pretty little pictures of flowers, since I'd taken a few he really, really liked. I didn't, and he's recently told me he was glad I ignored his advice -- but the point is I did not (nor did any of our friends) jump on him for giving what, to him, was a completely valid and honest suggestion as to his preferences.

Likewise I've recommended to my wife that she add certain songs to her song-list which are a bit outside her current stylistic realm (Old Time Rock and Roll being one of 'em). She smiles with that petting-the-dog look and thanks me, but no. But she doesn't jump on me.

Eric's entitled to his opinion, and entitled to give polite voice to it on the Pavilion. Even if you don't agree, even if Harlan doesn't agree.

(C'mon guys, you all have to admit Eric was polite and friendly in his post. If you don't agree with that statement, go back and reread it, because you apparently didn't see it the same way I did. Eric's not an angel, but this was a pretty innocent post.)
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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 16, 2006 12:41 pm

Thanks, Steve. What Mr. Goldberg is loathe to admit is that his own behavior was far more rude and unproductive than mine (Brian was just being Brian...grabbing a chance to be hostile to someone, anyone).

I WAS trying to be polite to Harlan. Perhaps the timing could have been better, given that he's cranking out a script right now, but HE had just posted a long bit about his legacy, and the iron was hot.

Mr. Goldberg lost no time in "telling me off." So I e-mailed him and basically told him to shut his pie-hole and back off. I was a little mystified as to who elected him Defender of the Ellison Ego, and equally baffled that he thought said Ego had been abused.

Notice he didn't have the courtesy to simply e-mail ME with his problems; no, he wanted an audience. So I'm not buying his holier-than-thou schtick...I've seen this kind a lot here, the type that comes in with the "I don't want to start a flame war, BUT"....and then out comes the propane.

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Postby rich » Tue May 16, 2006 1:02 pm

Rudiger Treehorn wrote:I think one of the reasons some of us (me and Eric, say) react to Harlan's publishing problems and the question of why there isn't more written stuff in the last ten years is because Harlan talks so much about how hard he's working, how much he's writing, and so on.

I don't blame him for this self-fashioning and self-promotion, but the truth is that by talking up how much he's writing all the time, some of us start to say 'where is it?' or 'what are you working on?'

As DVG noted, Harlan's already created a substantial body of work. That most of it is out-of-print is one problem. That Harlan habitually announces projects that never appear or generally talks up his non-stop writing pace but never publishes anything I think feeds my and some others' bullshit detectors. With all this work, where's the work? If he's semi-retired, why not say so?

Let me reiterate -- Harlan owes me nothing in terms of new work. But I am allowed to question what's coming out of the horse's mouth.


I just wanted to repost Rudiger's words 'cause those that took Eric to task for daring DARING to ask the artist a question concering the artist's legacy and work, seemed to have missed the important statement, the TRUE statement that Ruddy said. I'll repeat it again:

That Harlan habitually announces projects that never appear or generally talks up his non-stop writing pace but never publishes anything I think feeds my and some others' bullshit detectors.

Harlan talks a lot of shit. You know that and I know that. And it doesn't really matter a whole lot 'cause it's entertaining and informative. He's a great storyteller, and if the man lost both hands, it wouldn't diminish his abilities to captivate an audience one iota. If anything it would increase his ability, but that's another thread.

But the bottomline is that Harlan does two things: He WANTS a legacy, and he is notorious for not producing on a consistent basis.

Now neither of those two things should really concern us. What Harlan does is his business, BUT HE continues to speak in public, and I'm sure in private, concerning his desires for a lasting legacy, and working non-stop.

It is not beyond the pale for a fan, or a casual reader, upon hearing about all the work being done to ask "where is it?"

And it is not beyond the pale, by a long shot, for a fan, or a casual reader, upon hearing about desires to have a literary legacy, to ask, "then why bother with the tv shit?"

Eric asked. Of course, those that dare to think HE is beyond human, or some meta-human where the words flow like blood from HE's fingertips, or, perhaps, seeking to curry favor with The Great Writer, have immediately pounced upon the individual who just asked a question. A question, is all it was, based upon what is known about HE's desires and statements. Just a question.

By the way, for those that don't post for fear of "being attacked" should probably get some balls. Or, if they're female, something kinda like balls. For folks who think it's some kind of goofy badge of honor to be railed at by Harlan, I find it strange, sad, and odd that these same folks would disappear the first time Eric (or, perhaps I or someone else) questioned the poster, or made some smart-ass comment regarding a post.

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Postby David Loftus » Tue May 16, 2006 1:07 pm

Barber wrote:Mark commented that "Being a fan does not give you the right to then say to the artist, I think you should stop the other projects you are working on and concentrate on what I like."

Of course it does.

It's called stating an opinion. We can all offer them, and it's Harlan's right and responsibility to either take it to heart or tell us what to go do with ourselves.



Hold it. Don't go too far. Harlan has the right, but not the responsibility. He can ignore the advice or even the mere fact of its having been offered. That it was offered does not confer upon it the dignity of deserving an acknowledgement, let alone an answer.

I take no position on the advisability of the advice. I wouldn't do it, just as I wouldn't have told you what kind of photos to take. Advice to one's spouse or a close friend may be a bit different; there's a foundation of relationship there that is nonexistent between fan and artist.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Moderator » Tue May 16, 2006 1:19 pm

David wrote: "Hold it. Don't go too far. Harlan has the right, but not the responsibility. He can ignore the advice or even the mere fact of its having been offered. That it was offered does not confer upon it the dignity of deserving an acknowledgement, let alone an answer. "

And I'd agree with that, so consider my previous comment amended in that Harlan doesn't have responsibility to respond in any way shape or form.

I'll stand by the remainder of my point.
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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 16, 2006 1:22 pm

>there's a foundation of relationship there that is nonexistent between fan and artist.<

Hmm, that's fraught with discussion points. It kind of begs the question what IS the purpose of Webderland?

It seems to me (although I would argue that it's not as clear to several others) that Webderland does NOT exist merely to flatter the artist and run Internet errands for him. Nor is it much of a marketing site...you can order books here, but I don't think a lot of time or money is spent on e-commerce software. The news section hasn't been updated for years, so it doesn't function as a press center.

Given the artist's continued participation, and given the artist's distinctive "no-bullshit" personality, I would argue that there is a relationship here between reader (I'm not really a "fan") and artist, one that allows for feedback, UNSOLICITED or not.

Notice I prefaced my post "a thought from a reader." And that's exactly what it was. Whether it was a good thought or a banal one has gone unremarked, and HE himself has chosen, at least for now, to ignore it. Fine. But I don't think I've crossed any lines here. I didn't see any sign in front saying "do not advise the author."

Was I presumptuous in doing so? Given what I was saying, I think not. If I had posted something along the lines of "hey Harlan, you should write a long series of novels concerning interplanetary big-breasted women who kidnap male convention attendees and take their virginity" then maybe I'd be pushing my luck. But to honestly suggest that authorial legacy lies not in television but the library is something that maybe Harlan needs to hear, from someone who ACTUALLY BUYS HIS STUFF IN 2006.

I'm finally a customer. I and you and the rest of us pay for all the neat shit he collects. And Webderland is his portal to keeping in touch with us...who we are, what we like, and what we want. So I DO think there's a relationship here.

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Postby Douglas Harrison » Tue May 16, 2006 2:32 pm

Ugh. I don't usually post in threads like this-here one, but I feel compelled to point out that chastising Eric for politely posting his honest opinion is self-righteous crap. Harlan's work deserves appreciation and more, but it is not holy, nor are his choices. And, in so much as Harlan might give a tiny goddamn about Eric's opinion, who could actually believe that HE would be hurt by what Eric said? A suggestion is seldom an affront.

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Postby markabaddon » Tue May 16, 2006 2:58 pm

Eric, just to clarify, I did not email you directly with my issues with your posting because you did not put a return email on your postings.

When you sent me your obnoxious email, I did not hesitate to respond. Believe me, Eric, I am not someone who craves an audience, I just found it rude of you to dictate to HE what he should or should not work on. Am I the Defender of the Ellison Ego? Hell, no, the man is eminently capable of defending himself. I just saw the posting and thought, in light of the mood on the board recently, that it was in poor taste.

You say you have seen my type, well, I have seen yours too. You are simply a troll, someone who lives to be rude and disrespectful to others and you prove my point with each subsequent posting

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Postby David Loftus » Tue May 16, 2006 3:10 pm

Eric Martin wrote:>there's a foundation of relationship there that is nonexistent between fan and artist.<

Hmm, that's fraught with discussion points. It kind of begs the question what IS the purpose of Webderland?


It seems perfectly obvious to me. Webderland was conceived as a place to honor and discuss the work of a writer we like, and for us to share thoughts and ideas (and, I suppose, collectibles) with one another.

It was never conceived to include the author. That he happened to wander in and get involved is a bonus. But I don't think it changes the purpose of the site.



Eric Martin wrote:Given the artist's continued participation, and given the artist's distinctive "no-bullshit" personality, I would argue that there is a relationship here between reader (I'm not really a "fan") and artist, one that allows for feedback, UNSOLICITED or not.

Notice I prefaced my post "a thought from a reader." And that's exactly what it was. Whether it was a good thought or a banal one has gone unremarked, and HE himself has chosen, at least for now, to ignore it. Fine. But I don't think I've crossed any lines here. I didn't see any sign in front saying "do not advise the author."

Was I presumptuous in doing so? Given what I was saying, I think not. If I had posted something along the lines of "hey Harlan, you should write a long series of novels concerning interplanetary big-breasted women who kidnap male convention attendees and take their virginity" then maybe I'd be pushing my luck. But to honestly suggest that authorial legacy lies not in television but the library is something that maybe Harlan needs to hear, from someone who ACTUALLY BUYS HIS STUFF IN 2006.


Frankly, I don't think this is something Mr. Ellison needs instruction about. I wouldn't suggest it to him because I think it's obvious and he probably has his own reasons for doing as he does, and because I don't consider it any of my business. But that's not saying the same thing as you shouldn't have done it. Please note that I never said that, not in the days past and not here. More and more, threads in these environs have gone to places where I just don't feel there's any good reason to contribute.


Eric Martin wrote:I'm finally a customer. I and you and the rest of us pay for all the neat shit he collects. And Webderland is his portal to keeping in touch with us...who we are, what we like, and what we want. So I DO think there's a relationship here.


No. That doesn't work for me. "Relationship" is based on conversation, on give and take, on shared experiences, not mere admiration on one side and the purchase of goods. To me, what you're saying is no different from telling a woman she owes you the time of day simply because you've admired her from afar and want to get to know her better. She may desire attention, she may want involvement, and that's why she takes a lot of trouble with her dress and coiffure, but not necessarily with you. There's an implication in this rationale of: since I buy what you wrote, you must have had my needs in mind when you wrote it, and now you should listen to what I think you should do next.

As Joni Mitchell remarks on the live "Miles of Aisles" album when people in the audience are yelling tunes at her that they want her to sing: "Nobody ever told Van Gogh, 'paint another Starry Starry Night, man.' "
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 16, 2006 3:39 pm

>and you prove my point with each subsequent posting<

But you keep coming back for more! I know, it's like noodles...once you start eating them, you can't stop.

RE e-mail: you could always PM me here. No excuses, chum...you wanted to play knight in shining armor. With Harlan as lady fair!

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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 16, 2006 3:42 pm

>More and more, threads in these environs have gone to places where I just don't feel there's any good reason to contribute. <

Well, the bottom line is that HE blew it off, and he's the only one who could properly address it anyway.

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Postby Douglas Harrison » Tue May 16, 2006 3:43 pm

David Loftus wrote:No. That doesn't work for me. "Relationship" is based on conversation, on give and take, on shared experiences, not mere admiration on one side and the purchase of goods. To me, what you're saying is no different from telling a woman she owes you the time of day simply because you've admired her from afar and want to get to know her better. She may desire attention, she may want involvement, and that's why she takes a lot of trouble with her dress and coiffure, but not necessarily with you. There's an implication in this rationale of: since I buy what you wrote, you must have had my needs in mind when you wrote it, and now you should listen to what I think you should do next.


I can't agree with you, David. There is a reasonable expectation that Harlan reads what is posted in the Pavilion, and that means there is a relationship of a kind between Harlan and those who post. HE may choose to disregard particular posts (or posters), but nevertheless he is involved with a public board, and must expect to encounter unsolicited feedback there.

Now, Harlan could request that the public not post unsolicited comments about his work or work choices, but to my knowledge he has not done so, and, frankly, I don't think he will.

D.

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Postby Eric Martin » Tue May 16, 2006 4:00 pm

Joni Mitchell can say what she likes. If you're going to sell pop music and play at pop concerts, you will have to expect a certain marketing atmosphere. I suggest that equating herself to Van Gogh could be a WEE bit egotistical, and it certainly is disproportionate.

AND, if poor Vincent actually had a paying audience, you can bet he would have gladly painted another Starry Night for real cash.

When artists reach the point where audience interest annoys them, then they need to stop selling their material to that audience. There are thousands of starving worthies who would gladly take requests, Joni.

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Postby JohnG » Tue May 16, 2006 4:16 pm

Not for nothing, but to me a big part of the problem here is Harlan isn't exactly punching out hamburgers, or even say high end jewelry or Rolls Royces, things that exhibit a lot of craft but are the same from unit to unit. Unlike a lot of "name" authors who manage a novel a year, even more, almost everything he puts out does differ in a lot of ways from just what came out prior to the latest work.

What any artist creates, he or she does by some sort of internal process that then gets put down on canvas or on paper or tape or whatever, a process they develop that works for them, filtered through the craft part of any art. It won't always work the same way for every writer. Some are simply going to be faster than others, and at times the assembly line speeds up or slows down.

I'm pissed at a few writers--Dan Simmons for ending the Kurtz character books, and especially David Gerrold for not getting the next Chtorr books out, as examples--but what a kid's game that is. Once the book is done, it's done forever, and I'd rather they get the next book right than have it right now.

Although none of us(as far as I know) are privy to any details, HE owes work first to those who pay him, and I'd guess that media work, which always has some sort of deadline one is paid to make, has to come first. Just like any of us, on a different scale, owe whatever to those who wrote the checks based on the deals cut.

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Postby Mindtraveller » Tue May 16, 2006 4:27 pm

I'm kinda stuck in the middle here. I agree with both sides, which stupefies me. I don't know when that's ever happened before. I must be sick.
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