31 oct. 2006

The Valve, a critique.

I like the idea behind the Valve and I value the contributions of at least five of the contributors: Amardeep Singh, Dan Green, John Holbo, Bill Benzon, and Scott "one n" Kaufman. My favorite of them all, the brilliant Ray Davis, is no longer with them. (I like the comments of John Emerson and Timothy Burke too.) The other authors either don't contribute often enough, or are authors whose posts I simply don't appreciate as much. In full disclosure I must say I once expressed interest myself in being a Valve author and was in fact a guest author during one of the book events.

But speaking of comments, how can a ridiculous discussion of mathematics descend into a flame war with 100 comments? The tendency to have heated discussions in the comments, about mostly non-literary matters (religion, philosophy, math), detracts from the purpose of the blog, which is not to be another Crooked Timber but to be a specifically "literary organ." They are sponsored by an organization of scholars and critics and writers who want to have a more "literary" approach to literature, as it were. I don't really see this happening. Of course I don't expect them to pay much heed to contemporary poetry, simply because there is not a poetry geek among them. For that we have Bemsha Swing and numerous other blogs. But I'm not sure The Valve would be your first choice for studies of the novel either.

This is not meant as an attack on The Valve. I do look at it all the time, so there must be a lot of interesting things there. I just think it could be more focused on what I understood to be its core aim, and have a policy against flames and trolls.

10 comentarios:

Dan Green dijo...

Jonathan: You may interested to know that an internal debate about this very subject is now going on among Valve contributors. One contributor has now resigned because she was informed by senior faculty members that TV is considered a forum for petty squabbling. She didn't think she could afford to be associated with it any longer. Part of me thinks this is just lifted-nose arrogance on the part of these faculty members, but another part acknowledges that some Valve comment threads don't go anywhere useful. (Although Bill Benzon's recent post on Richard Dawkins did generate an interesting discussion, not least because of your own contributions.) At any rate, there may indeed be an upcoming crackdown on "flames and trolls."

Jonathan dijo...

Thanks for the information, Dan. You said "she," and I also have noticed that the women on the authors list don't post very much. I'd like to see some smart new authors, whether they be male or femaie, and a toning down of the snarky comments. I have my own more negative opinion of some of the contributors that I have not mentioned, but all in all I'd rather save the Valve than sink it.

When I make a comment, I usually try to bring the discussion forward rather than fall into that "you're a fucking idiot" mode, which is all to prevalent on the internet.

shanna dijo...

sneaking up on it, j? some gals i know have been talking about this same phenom elsewhere. cyberbullies = fewer posts from women, and/or vice versa. not that all cyberbullies are male, but...

(not asking re: the valve, as i don't read it regularly. anymore.)

Jonathan dijo...

Yeah. That mode of discourse does tend to be male. Since most of the valvites are male, and males dominate the comment boxes too, it tend to be an unfriendly place not only for women but also for anyone else who doesn't appreciate that kind of teen-age boy cybermachismo.

Amardeep dijo...

Hey thanks for the kind words and critique.

You're right that we're kind of lacking a real poetry geek. But I wanted to note that I've been planning a post on the brilliant Alan Shapiro ("Tantalus in Love") for some time. Maybe tomorrow...

Jonathan dijo...

You've had good posts on Auden and Stevens in the past. I look forward to your post on Alan Shapiro.

Scott Eric Kaufman dijo...

Exhibit A in the case of Poetry v. Scott Eric Kaufman.

I mean, I could write about it more often, but would you really want me to?

Adam Roberts dijo...

Jonathan; I'm evidently not one of the Valve authors you specially like (which is fair enough, of course); but I'd say that I consider myself a poetry geek; it's just that when I do post on poetry (here, say: "http://www.thevalve.org/go/valve/article/walcotts_late_style/") hardly anybody comments, or, I think, reads.

Jonathan dijo...

I do remember that post. If you did more like that one you would be one of favorites too.

Anónimo dijo...

I am the person who resigned from The Valve as Dan mentioned, and what prompted my leaving was a question about the mode of engangement there, from an older academic who was interviewing me for a job.

I don't actually think arrogance comes into it. The same person didn't voice any concerns about another literary / cultural studies group blog I belong to, (founded actually) Sarsaparilla. Contributors there are 75% women.