Diary: John Leonard

Yesterday was John Leonard's birthday. He would have turned 70. The memorial service for him is in New York on Monday, and unfortunately I can't make it because of a bunch of deadlines. There should be some kind of tribute to him at the NBCC awards event next month.

About six years, John agreed to write the introduction to a collection of my essays that I was planning to put together -- a process that somehow never got beyond whatever list was made at the time. There is no word for the feeling that comes from remembering this. I tried to pay tribute to him in November but can't bring myself to reread it.
When he was alive it was always at the back of my mind that John was following my work, and various comments he made over the years suggested that he actually got what its coordinates were, what the models had been. This came through in our very first conversation, at which point I had been publishing for ten years and going pretty much nowhere fast.

And now, after another decade and more of effort, I have arrived there, at nowhere. There's not really any gainsaying of that. (Some people owe John their career but I am not one of them; it's certainly not anything I can blame on him.) For the past year or so, the changing circumstances of the publishing world -- much intensified by, though not in essence caused by, the present crisis of capitalism -- have made it seem even more ridiculous to expect anything to improve.

But what else is there to do except keep on? What makes this harder, though, is no longer knowing that John is there. It was bad enough when Julie Jacobson died. When they were around it felt like working out of a tradition made sense, because they were reading from that vantage point.

Please don't tell me that the internet creates community and that blogging is the new public sphere. Seriously, this is not the time. For a long time I hoped that these things were true. It's not that now I think they are false, but rather that it just doesn't much matter either way.  
February 26, 2009 10:30 AM | | Comments (1)



Well said Scott!
What matters is the work.
Seen, unseen, lasting (one's fondest)
or lost on disappeared shelves
where some comet or gamma-ray burst may read.
We pay into the lives that saved
all the small pieces of us
along that road to joining once and again
the open arms of One
and it is the full basket after all;
a quick study and lees.

Leave a comment

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on February 26, 2009 10:30 AM.

Here Comes a Regular was the previous entry in this blog.

On (Not) Publishing Under Late Capitalism is the next entry in this blog.

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