Hello, it’s me again: Robert van Vliet. Yes, for some reason, you’re still subscribed to receive my newsletter.
This week, I’ve been reviewing edits on my manuscript, Vessels, as well as some of the early mock-ups for the cover design and imagery.
Also, I received the proof for my perennially “imminent” chapbook, This Folded Path, and I just submitted my final edits. We can, at last, take away the scare quotes — it’s now actually imminent. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that the next missive you receive from me will include detailed instructions on how to procure a copy of your very own. You’ll have the choice of ordering directly from the publisher, or buying a signed copy from me.
And so — while we all wait patiently, hands folded on our desks (yes, even you hoodlums in the back, spelling obscene words with the push-pins in the bulletin board behind you), for This Folded Path to emerge from the dark furnaces and factories of above/ground press — here are three things to distract and divert you:
The mighty Otoliths is folding after seventy issues.
Few lit mags have published such a dizzying variety of work while also maintaining such an unmistakable and singular vision. Its intrepid editor, Mark Young, is a wonder.
My work appeared there a number of times:
This was the most entertaining thing I’ve seen on the Internet in a very long time:
Reading this made me realize that I was never a fan of anything that required me to take my fandom too seriously. I mean, c’mon, have you ever actually seen a Tom Baker-era Dr Who episode? Ridiculous nonsense! There was even a whole adventure during which the cast just ran around a featureless white sound stage, presumably because the cast had chewed up absolutely all the scenery and the BBC had nothing left.
In fact, I avoided whole swathes of pop culture in high school principally because I found the fans themselves to be insufferable. I spent my thirties and forties discovering a lot of the stuff I’d missed out on, stuff I would have loved and which would have been profoundly influential to an impressionable, voracious teenager like me.
Often the problem isn’t the art but the audience. We talk too much about the “I don’t get it” mob, the “my six-year-old could have done that” crowd, and not enough about the cork-sniffing snobs who turn every scrap of trivia, every sliver of preference or aversion, into shibboleths. Just watch them have nine kinds of aneurism when you say you actually think that maybe Genesis was still pretty snappy after Peter Gabriel left the band. With any luck, they'll never speak to you again.
Sure, I may have missed out on some great music and film, but at least I didn’t have to tolerate supercilious pedants, and that’s the important thing. The art will wait for you.
Fandom that takes itself (or the art it fawns over) too seriously is just the rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in the mirror. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.
This is a masterclass of amateur journalism:
Other commentators have marvelled at his tenacity. Okay, sure. But the most remarkable thing, I think, is how utterly analogue almost every important step he took was, after those initial Internet searches. He would have been completely stuck without accessing old newspapers, or rifling through bankers’ boxes full of handwritten documents, or visiting, for crying out loud, a bunker under a field in western Missouri.
This, then, is your reminder that (1) there is no level of obsessive tenacity you can’t attain if you would just put down your damn phone, and that (2) almost nothing of any importance is on the Internet. To believe the world and the Internet are the same is just the rage of Caliban at seeing his selfie on Instagram.
Until next time!