2006 09 17
When I was ten years old, 1948, I started writing a story. Hunting and pecking, my mother helping with part, I ran out of steam after a couple of typewritten pages. I read it to my class. Later the teacher asked my permission to offer it for publication. She know of some organization that selected, and circulated, cute kid stuff. I don’t know whether she actually did offer it or not. I heard no more about it.
In the late 1950s a guy told me he’d seen my poem about Charlie Parker in the Amsterdam News. “Not to any of my knowledge,” I said. No, no: it turned out to be somebody else’s poem about Bird. This guy it turned out didn’t even know my real poem.
I showed a bit of dialog to a teacher in college. I had a real character there, he said. I must develop it. Another teacher said I’d have my first novel published by age thirty.
Ha. NOTHING of mine has been published: except by me-myself-and-I; except a few art-business-related things; except one single commission on deschooling, 1971.
At NYU professors told me that I should publish every other paper I turned in. I thought they were wrong. I thought I should publish EVERY paper I turned in. But how could I? I hadn’t finished the quorum of papers yet. And when I did submit a MS to a scholarly journal it would come back, nit-picked. I’d have to finish taking on NYU before I took on the journals at large.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s that I started mailing my fiction out to magazines: Playboy, Esquire, Harpers … They all wanted to see more, but I got no checks. Finally, Harpers phoned. They (Willie Morris, editor) had accepted my story The First Week (after sitting on it for a year!) but now had to reverse that decision. Willie Morris and company had been fired for commissioning Norman Mailer’s The Prisoner of Sex. All the Morris decisions were reversed. Gee, and they were going to pay me $25!
(Naturally (naturally for a kleptocracy), Harpers couldn’t commit any of this to writing. That’s why all I was getting, other than my MS back, with a standard rejection, was this phone call, the caller unable to give her name!)
By 1970, 1971 The New Yorker, which always wanted to see more of my stories, but never took any, wrote me — and here I DO have the letter — that they could not publish my correspondence with President Nixon!
Politics! Democracy: Ha! Free country. What a joke.
And never mind what happened to my novels.
Still: my main point in this NYU context: my Shakespeare thesis didn’t get published. My Shakespeare thesis didn’t get written! My Shakespeare thesis never got even discussed: not with anybody who seemed to follow what I was talking about, not with anybody who knew the material.
No, no. This is far worse: my cheap low-tech internet, offered daily, out loud, in print, through cable TV as well as radio, never once got discussed with anyone who followed the significance until just a couple of years ago: with another Illich disciple, after Illich’s death.
The human world has universities, churches, governments … publishers, Nobel laureates … But it’s a joke: human communication is a David Copperfield stage property.