In his first excerpt from The Pigheaded Soul, Jason Guriel shares his discomfort with the online world:
My brief stint as a paid blogger was fun for a time, and I’ve preserved some of the posts in my book. But it also permitted the young critic too much of the wrong kind of freedom: freedom to go on at length; freedom to qualify; freedom to moisten an otherwise wick-crisp phrase for fear it might inflame the comment stream; freedom to take the real-time responses of those kind enough to read one’s writing—and, by extension, to take one’s writing—too seriously. I gathered I was expected to set a tone: to stay on top of the comment stream by pouring into it enough courtesy to ensure the poisonous comments were merely parts per million. (Thank you, reader; may I have another?) But in the utopian interest of dialogue and community, I often made like the failing teacher who has to put up with a certain amount of petulance if he’s to keep the class moving along. What the former editor of Poetry magazine, Christian Wiman, says about teaching—“The chief difficulty is the sound of your own voice, the assuredness that inevitably creeps in, the sheer volume of talk that, after a few weeks, you feel flabbing around you like a body gone bad‚" is what I want to say about our endless, editorless, online adventure. Except that it’s not even “assuredness” that’s the real problem in the poetry world (flame wars, sparked by the self-assured, can be trusted to flame out); it’s the low hum of hedging, a commitment to consensus, that high-speed Internet encourages.