Monday, June 02, 2008


If they are different than me, I hate them, and if they are like me, I hate them.
Umberto Eco on why he doesn't read other authors' works. (From The New Yorker blog.)


Chet said...

Oh dear ...

s.nizam said...

Some people should really stop eating too many sour grapes. It ain't good for the soul.

Good thing I'm not a writer. Many, as evident in these perennial displays of intolerence and vindictiveness, seem ungratefully bitter in spite of numerous awards and accolades bestowed upon them.

bibliobibuli said...

or maybe they are just the honest ones?

i remember peter carey (of all people) saying something about this too. wish i could recall his exact words.

do artists ever feel like this? i suppose they must

s.nizam said...

Maybe you're right Sharon, though personally, I'd hate to be on the receiving end of vitriolic gibes that are neither constructive nor relevant to the subject at hand.

There are definitely more mature ways of stating one's opinions without having to resort to narcissistic, peurile behaviour patterns that would inevitably put into question the faultfinder's true agendas, or worse, credibility.

Just my humble opinion.

animah said...

Writers are human beings too. Some of them are capable of having big egos and fighting their battles publicly just like other humans too. How different are they from tennis players, presidents, actors, singers, lawyers, domestic maids?

Makes our lives exciting, what.

Dull world this would be if everyone was nice and polite.

Anonymous said...

s. nizam, criticising bloggers are you?

s.nizam said...

Anon, please read my comment within its proper context. Sharon brought to light the subjects of (literary) feuds, jealousy and rivalry and I gave my opinion based on these specific aspects of human behaviour.

I am not without fault when it comes to making negative remarks about certain things, particularly if it's something that I feel strongly about (and only to close relations/friends), but not in a manner that can damage reputations (as these writers seem to be doing to each other through the media).

So before you accuse me of criticizing bloggers(!?), show some guts and reveal your identity, or are you the same anon whose been sending me those 'lovely' e-mails for no particular reason (other than to amuse your cowardly self).

bibliobibuli said...

there's a plethora of anonymice.

s.nizam said...

Alamak, it should have been 'who's been' and not 'whose been'. My bad :P

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, he's just telling the truth. The rest of us just don't say it quite so bluntly. And even though I share his sentiments, I force myself to read because I know that ultimately I'm not inspired by anything else. It's a tough situation: I hate to read but I can't write without reading.

-- Preetonymouse

bibliobibuli said...

preetonymouse - that's lovely!

when you read someone who writes so much better than you ever will ... well you love it, but doesn't it make you feel quite sick at the same time?

(get though behind me annie proulx!)

s.nizam said...

Why is it a bad thing to say that you like something even if it was written by a competitor/rival... Especially if it's the truth??

I'd get jealous if another artist produces a piece of artwork that is far superior to my own, but instead of denying his or her ligitimacy as a great(er) artist, I'd tell them that I am in fact jealous of their accomplishment, more as a gesture of appreciation rather than derision.

AND if I could afford it, I'd buy it too.

Or perhaps politeness and sincerity have become passe and everyone enjoys stabbing each other in the back or front; whichever is convenient to stay in the lead.

I find all of this quite sickening, really.

bibliobibuli said...

oh yes. i think you've said it exactly right. ... and well do you think eco was being entirely serious? it made me smile because i saw it as tongue in cheek

s.nizam said...

It's good if you see it that way Sharon, but personally, I do have issues with spitefulness, particularly if it's underhanded.

bibliobibuli said...

of course. and it sounds like you've been personally hurt by that.

something i've found - that most spiteful, bitchy people who pull you down and rubbish your art do so because they are themselves insecure and not succeeding

but umberto eco of course doesn't need to feel like that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, just to clarify, I also have issues with spitefulness. There's a difference, isn't there, between admitting that we *feel* jealousy and *acting* on that jealousy? I can't help my pangs of jealousy, but I do my best not to let them stop me from being supportive of other writers and giving public credit where credit is due.

And I do think Eco is being at least a little ironic in that quote....

-- P. Mouse

Madcap Machinist said...

This reminds me of a line from James Fenton: "From rivalry to rivalry to zeal"

James Fenton, in "The Strength of Poetry", devotes a chapter to artistic rivalries [excerpt].

And here's a book I'd like to read!

ps. I think old boy rivalries are fun to read about too. Know of any, Sharon?

s.nizam said...

Wahlawei! I could kiss you right about now, MM. Thanks for the links. I will have to look for that James Fenton book and devour the rest of its contents - just as soon as I get me bruised head out of of my very tight arse :)

kamal s said...

Eco is up there alongside Aretha Franklin, who once confessed that her favorite singer is......HERSELF.

animah said...

What's wrong with being your own favourite person? Good on Aretha.

s.nizam said...

Self love is a quality which should always be encouraged, of course.

Believing in one's own hype, at the risk of remaining stagnant, is another thing altogether.

Madcap Machinist said...

nizam, erm, *blush*

bibliobibuli said...

cue song. i dedicate this to machinist and s.nizam

s.nizam (the groan ranger) said...

It ain't hard for me to feel humble,
Cuz I know I am still underpaid,
And for some reason people confuse me,
For a straggler in need of first aid.

I fell on the rocks of discouragement,
Cuz they tell me I ain't up to scratch,
O' Lord, it ain't hard to be humble,
When I know that I ain't got it made.


bibliobibuli said...

nice one. but you are the absolutely brillest s.nizam. this one's a fan who can't get enough of your work, so fix that smile in place and have a good day.

kamal s said...

Animah, Sharon and all,

I found self-loving is a degree of masturbation.....(oops, can I type the taboo word here???)

bibliobibuli said...

no taboos on this blog, kamal

depends, dunnit, on what one means by self-loving? if you don't have love and respect for yourself, no-one else is going to. pain in arsy people are always those who have a downer on themselves and then turn round and bite other people.

luckily, myself and i have always got on fabulously well.

Madcap Machinist said...


I first heard that song when I was 9-years old, on a boat.

You might like this:

"Rival Poets" by Billy Collins

The column of your book titles,
always introducing your latest one,
loom over me like Roman architecture.

It is longer than the name
of an Italian countess, longer
than this poem will probably be.

Etched on the head of a pin,
my own production would leave room for
The Lord's Prayer and many dancing angels.
No matter.

In my revenge daydream I am the one
poised on the marble staircase
high above the crowded ballroom.
A retainer in livery announces me
and the Contessa Maria Teresa Isabella
Veronica Multalire Eleganza de Bella Ferrari.

You are the one below
fidgeting in your rented tux
with some local Cindy hanging all over you.”