Go to previous post:
If I were any closer, I’d be in back of you

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
All grief is local

Our Admirable Sponsors

September 8, 2002

I have no scream and I… Writing in this weekend’s New York Times Book Review, Walter Kirn reviews a pile of 9/11 books, including several collections of essays. Not surprisingly, a lot of this writing has what Kirn calls a “strained, hurry-up-and-say-something-memorable feeling.” On the other hand:
Baudrillard and his ilk make one grateful for Harlan Ellison, the science-fiction novelist, who tells a story in September 11: West Coast Writers Approach Ground Zero (Hawthorne, paper, $16.95) of being invited to appear on the TV show ”Politically Incorrect” just weeks after the attacks. Ellison accepts, eager to promote his name, but then realizes shortly before the taping that he has nothing to say, and begs off. The producers go ape, but Ellison stands fast. There is such a thing as heroic modesty.
This may well be the first time Harlan Ellison has been praised for “heroic modesty,” by the New York Times no less. Still, if Harlan really did that, props to him, and no blame for writing about it later. May we all have the wit, once in a while, to just shut up. [09:39 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on I have no scream and I...:

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2002, 11:44 AM:

Harlan's going to shit himself about being called "the science fiction novelist", but otherwise, wow, propers [*] indeed to Harlan and to Kirn.

[*] I have a fondness for the archaic form of the word.

Mike Lucius ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 02:29 AM:

How typical of Ellison. He will do anything to make
every occassion all about him. At least this time he admitted he had nothing of importance to say.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 10:56 AM:

I'm confused by Mike Lucius's comment: it seems to parse out as, "Typical of Ellison to talk about 9/11 in a way that makes it all about him by responding to the invitation to go on national TV and talk about his personal response by refusing to do it."

Damn Harlan, anyway, for making it all about himself by responding to an invitation to contribute to a collection about the responses of people like him with something that says that he and his opinions are unimportant in this context.

He must have known that would get him favourable exposure in the New York Times. What a Machiavelli!

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 06:46 PM:

It is interesting that so many people think they have to say something about the events of September 11 and afterwards that involves _them_ and _their perspective._

I've been spending hours sifting through material, looking for stuff for my at-risk ninth and tenth graders to read and distill. I don't want to waste their time with somebody's perspective when they know so little about the bare facts. So I'm giving them bare facts: country profiles, background data, maps. I keep learning things I didn't know I didn't know (that's not a typo).

Today was the first day they got these. Today was also the best day I've ever had in those classes.

Part of me worries that they won't get the significance of these bare facts, and wants to play Socrates. But I'm gritting my teeth and sticking to giving them information, because they have so little, and it's so precious to have.

Gary Farber ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2002, 01:08 AM:

"He will do anything to make
every occassion all about him," I read here from Mike Lucius about Harlan Ellison, but observedly what HE did here was to step back and do no such thing.

Harlan is a very large person, in personality, deeds, and accomplishments, and sometimes he does badly, and more than not he does good. What Mike Lucius would have had him do here, in this case, I'm having trouble imagining. I'd be curious to see what Mike Lucius' answer would be were he to show up here again.

Bob is on target here.

Harlan, like all of us, has been known to act badly. But one of his many burdens is the way so many people decide to make It All About Him, whenever a slight excuse shows up. And here is an impressively slight excuse.

FWIW, my e-meter reading of Harlan of late is that he's being extremely balanced and careful, in general, for whatever reason.

Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2002, 03:03 AM:

"It is interesting that so many people think they have to say something about the events of September 11 and afterwards that involves _them_ and _their perspective._"

That's because so many people were directly touched by the events of that day. Tens of millions would not be an unreasonable number, from people who suddenly found themselves stranded in strange parts of the country (or the world, for that matter) to those who had businesses wrecked, from those who had to walk home that day, to those guys who drove like bandits to get there and help dig out, to those who maxed out their credit cards that night buying relief supplies and driving them to the staging areas.

This isn't like the Kennedy assassination, which most of the world saw on TV-- it was not a direct impact on their day-to-day lives.