[EM] An artist's view on voting methods
mike at zelea.com
Sun Dec 2 20:35:43 PST 2012
Jonathan Denn said:
> Someone is editing Kurt Vonnegut letters for publication. This was
> online today... I'm struck with "editor" meaning "voter" and
> "stories" as "candidates"
> "...I invite you to read the fifteen tales ..."
I believe whole civilizations have been voted into existence by this
method, more or less. The candidate stories for the collection are
myths of a cherished past (as in The Iliad), or utopias of a hopeful
future (New Testament) or both (Mahabharata). The narrow method is
one of cultural selection; but the larger process, which Vonnegut
seems also to ask of his students, might more pointedly be called
Could such an election happen in modern times, do you think?
Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
Jonathan Denn said:
> Someone is editing Kurt Vonnegut letters for publication. This was online today... I'm struck with "editor" meaning "voter" and "stories" as "candidates"
> "...I invite you to read the fifteen tales in Masters of the Modern Short Story (W. Havighurst, editor, 1955, Harcourt, Brace, $14.95 in paperback). Read them for pleasure and satisfaction, beginning each as though, only seven minutes before, you had swallowed two ounces of very good booze. “Except ye be as little children ...”
> Then reproduce on a single sheet of clean, white paper the table of contents of the book, omitting the page numbers, and substituting for each number a grade from A to F. The grades should be childishly selfish and impudent measures of your own joy or lack of it. I don’t care what grades you give. I do insist that you like some stories better than others.
> Proceed next to the hallucination that you are a minor but useful editor on a good literary magazine not connected with a university. Take three stories that please you most and three that please you least, six in all, and pretend that they have been offered for publication. Write a report on each to be submitted to a wise, respected, witty and world-weary superior.
> Do not do so as an academic critic, nor as a person drunk on art, nor as a barbarian in the literary market place. Do so as a sensitive person who has a few practical hunches about how stories can succeed or fail. Praise or damn as you please, but do so rather flatly, pragmatically, with cunning attention to annoying or gratifying details. Be yourself. Be unique. Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows..."
> There are a few more delightful bits if you're interested. Oh, and an inside joke, KV was an atheist for most of his life, and when he wrote this.
> Jon Denn
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