Stat Counter

Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Reply!

Dear Remnick,

I am waiting patiently for it to dawn on your copy editor that the appropriate method for your magazine to deal with the near-ubiquity of gutter language throughout contemporary culture and written discourse is to use the * to show that The New Yorker has some sensitivity to the fact that there was a time when profanity was perhaps the arch symbol of gauche people and that there is no obligation to let that time go down the drain. Yes, a word of profanity with an asterisk (F*ck that!) is an artificiality, a pointless disguise, a sign of being uptight and out of touch with today’s world and the relentless evolution of the English language, a mark of repression, a violation of the First Amendment, and on and on, etc., etc., etc., but you know what? It is the only reasonable way to prevent the soiling of children who read this magazine, (a publication that in almost every other way is the best there is, in my opinion), and the irritation of geezers who believe words should be chosen with care, that decorum and delicacy are not reprehensible, that one should not walk into someone’s living room with sh*t on one’s shoes, or one’s tongue.

Or at least use the asterisk in every other issue, or every other story, or once in a blue moon if that’s all that can be managed, anything countervailing would be welcome. What is gained by abject and total surrender to the current vogue of giving Joe Sixpack language, dive bar language, prison language, complete access to the printing press? Shouldn’t some resistance be shown, some objection? Words matter, no? Obscenity in a novel is no problem; but in a magazine representing the zenith of American culture? You are condoning the free use of obscenities in the midst of refined and important thinking, and the thought of this grates. I’m probably the six thousandth person to write to you about this and have a sunken feeling I am not going to accomplish anything by sending you this letter, but I look forward, at least, to hearing your response, or someone’s there. All the budding Burroughs out there should not be allowed to dominate, to lead the way, to set the tone. 

Separately, I sometimes feel a law should be passed to prohibit the cartoons—they are so potent a form of communication they almost put the articles to shame, often conveying more in one glance, one instant, than a writer does in half an hour, or longer. It’s not fair! But were the cartoons to disappear, life would no longer be worth living, so forget I mentioned it.

Keep up the good work!

With kind regards,

Mr. David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker

1 World Trade Center, New York NY 10007


NO REPLY, (naturally)

No comments: