January 2015 Editor’s Letter
In 2015, we resolve to be a website.
Real Pants. It’s a whole thing: There are editors, writers, ads, design, and SEO stuff. We made a comment policy, a mission or vision or whichever sounds less corporate (neither) (and we haven’t actually written it yet, just talked and talked about it for a month of Sundays), a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and submission guidelines.
And readers. We need those. That’s what will radiate and make us—a readership that’s motley (to borrow a word from the comment policy), friends and strangers, devoted and occasional, quiet and loud. Reader: you.
In this letter to you, which will arrive monthly, I will talk about Real Pants and everything/anything that floats around it. Please talk back, if you like, or think back, or smile back, or frown.
I won’t pretend this is a fireside chat. There’s no fire on the internet, only a hollow chill and a thousand trillion splinters of ice that shatter when you try to collect them into something whole. This is a warm handprint on a frosty window.
Around here, which is South Florida as I write this (the Panhandle when it’s published), we’ve been listing our three favorite things. Things, not people. Adam’s are going to a movie, a bath, and a great meal. Mine are water, books, and entertaining. Water because of swimming, ice, and baths; books because everything. Entertaining, which, when I do it, usually means an extravagant menu and an extraordinary assemblage of excellent people, is trickier to describe. I’m not a chef, in the sense of chief. I’m not much of a host.
It’s really just that I like to do tiny things with my fingers. I used to steal my brother’s perfect new boxes of Crayolas and peel off the paper and break them in half and wear them all down to a nub, and shake them into a ratty, gradually unweaving basket I had just for the purpose. That was the whole point: all the colors, all the wax, one weird basket. A party is like that. What is a website like Real Pants, if not a party? For me, it’s a way to do tiny things with my fingers, and get all the different bits scratching up against each other.
It is easy to think about what can be bad about websites and Internet commentary and lit blogs and the indie lit scene and the publishing business and Amazon and comment culture and outrage politics and Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/the other one everyone joined for a second and the NYT/NYTRB/NYer/NYRB/NYY/NYPD and capitalism and native ads and institutions and power. It’s so easy, it’s practically a reflex.
One of my favorite old Jungians, James Hillman, has this to say:
Like the daimon of Socrates who indicates only what not to do, we too know instinctively, aesthetically when a fish stinks, when the sense of beauty is offended. Standing for these moments — and these moments occur each day, within every airless office building, seated in each crippling chair, inundated by senseless noise and fattened on industrial food — standing for our responses, these aesthetic reverberations of truth in the soul, may be the primary civic act of the citizen, the origin of caution and of the precautionary principle itself with its warnings to stop, look and listen.
So, while there’s a way in which starting a website about literature and publishing seems late, so late and belated, like we are impossibly slow, a big creep to knock on the door so late, I think we are all the better now for the years of sifting together through the giant murk, reeling in our weighty catch, and scaling and gutting a fish that turns out already to have rotted. We’ve done that. We aren’t late or slow or a creep. We have stood up. We have put one leg in, then the other.
Now we have muscle and courage. Truth in the soul. Who here in the year 2014 hasn’t had to scuffle and tussle around with some truth in the soul?
Now we are clean and ready. There’s so much to imagine.
Now let’s talk.
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