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Legomenon Online Literary Journal is a new literary magazine that I find interesting for a few different reasons. While the “what is the meaning” theme of this new literary journal is very cool, one of the things I like most about Legomenon is how this online magazine publishes new non-fiction content continually, not just in the old-fashioned “edition” format used by most online journals. One thing that I don’t think makes much sense about most literary journals “online” is how most of these types of web publications will only release new editions once a month or even less often than this. To me, if you publish all of your new material all at once in set increments you are almost going out of your way to not take advantage of the many benefits there are to publishing online in the first place.
If you own an online literary magazine and you release all of your new material on a certain date, you might be putting too much pressure on your most loyal readers. While people who enjoy your online magazine might read a new article, essay, or poem each day, most people are probably not going to read all of your new material in one sitting. In most cases, readers of your literary journal will probably just read the articles written by the most recognizable authors and skip the rest. If, on the other hand, you published new content daily or as it becomes available, all of your authors–including the new and unknown–would get a more equal chance at having their work read. Also, your journal readers would get into the habit of checking out your online literary journal more frequently instead of just visiting at the beginning of the month or whenever they expect a new edition to be released.
Another thing I like about LEGOMENON: What is the Meaning? is the way that this online journal gives authors who write non-fiction critical essays a chance to get their work published. On the LEGOMENON homepage, the editors specifically state that one of the main goals of LEGOMENON is “publish compelling content that people actually want to read, with a special focus on analyzing the work of current artists.” I think this is a unique goal for an online literary journal, because most of the lit mags I see published online focus only on fiction and poetry. If an online journal does accept nonfiction submissions, they’re usually personal memoirs or autobiographical essays. I know there is a big market out there for people who want to get their original poetry and fiction published, but I’m sorry to say that I doubt there is as big a market for people who actually want to read original poetry and short stories. Maybe I really am a minority in this, but if you ask me I’d much rather read short essays about the hidden meaning of popular paintings, movies and songs than most of the new poetry I’ve seen online lately. (If you think I am being too harsh and know of some good poetry I should be reading, let me know.)
I think LEGOMENON literary journal offers a new and more modern approach to the online literary magazine format. If you think LEGOMENON sounds like a cool online publication yourself, according to the LEGOMENON homepage you can see your own essay related to the topic of “What is the meaning?” published as soon as your article is greenlighted by the editors. Come to think of it, I’ve been wanting to write out and publicize my own ideas about the secret meaning to Forrest Gump for a while now…
I’m remembering those days back when I used to live in the city and never had to worry about getting access to high speed internet. Never even thought about it. Well, if you move to rural Indiana (southern Indiana, basically, or anywhere more than 45 minutes from downtown Indianapolis) you’re going to have to start worrying about it. Here in Bedford, IN (don’t ask why I’m living here) there is no Comcast or Time Warner like there was in Zionsville or Bloomington. I’ve never even been faced with this issue before, but apparently while I’m living here for the next year or so I won’t be able to basically stream or watch any videos with YouTube or even download many songs or mp3s, which sadly for me is something I do quite often and don’t really even think about it much. One of the only high speed providers offering service in Bedford is Blaze Wifi, which I have never heard of and have no idea if they’re any good. Has anyone ever gotten service with this company before? Is their internet fast like they say it is? I’ll keep you updated on my travails to get high speed internet, and I’ll definitely post a review of Blaze Wifi’s service if it isn’t good!
“Final Exam: History of Art 321” by Elizabeth McBride was one of my favorites from The Whole Story. As a reader, the thing I like and remembered most about this short story was obviously its gimmicky Q&A layout, meant to replicate the look of a real art history exam. Well, I just happen to be an art history minor, so I can tell you once and for all that the final exams don’t really look like this–that is, in case you were under the impression that this short story was actually a real test. But maybe McBride really is just a slacker who was staring down a deadline, and at the last moment fortuitously opted to submit one of the old blue-books she found stuffed into her desk drawer for publication. (She does mention Marcel Duchamp a lot in here, so you never know.)
Beyond its catchy short-essay format–not to mention the names of all of those artists and philosophers she throws around in order to get a good grade–I personally liked how the content of her “final exam,” meant to be an Objective Assessment of her Understanding of Course Knowledge, gradually becomes more and more personal, with her test finally turning into a document of her post-traumatic psychological breakthrough. I think most people who have ever taken a timed final exam in a liberal arts class can relate to this experience to an extent, since in-class essays are all about jotting down everything you know as fast as you can, therefore always bordering dangerously on becoming an exercise in automatic writing–but only, I guess, if you have as much emotional baggage as this girl does. ANYWAY, after reflecting on this short story, I think that if I were to write “What Being a Publisher Means to Me” in 25 words, my stamp of approval might ultimately rest upon just two things, both for which this “Final Exam” gets an A+: (1) its style matches its content and (2) its content is relatable–at least to me.
So I’ll just start out by saying that if I were a literary publisher I, like The Antioch Review, would also print Emile Capouya’s short story “In the Sparrow Hills.” However, as its publisher I probably would have vetoed that title and gone for “This is Not a Story,” the first sentence or “hook” of this non-story, instead. “Metafiction”–I’m so glad I learned that word!–is definitely not for everyone, so its publisher must realize that a mainstream audience is probably going to have little interest in reading what is decidedly a non-story. Not only does “In the Sparrow Hills” have about 136 literary references in it–either that or 142!–but it also features a main character with a personality basically the spitting image of the very angry and awkward Larry David. Come to think of it, he is probably also a good model for the kinds of people who actually read and write stories like this–that is, stories about nothing.
One of the things I like about this non-story is how it begins with a setup that could be or maybe even was featured on an episode of Seinfeld and therefore could basically happen to anybody: an everyman (maybe George) goes to a diner and tries to pay for his food, but finds that his credit card has been inexplicably declined. Outraged–but just on the inside–by this assumed insult to his successfulness, the man alternatively pays in cash, but then spends the rest of the evening obsessively wondering if he accidentally overpaid the waitress. Although he can’t stop thinking about her and is obviously in love with her, he starts to actually convince himself that he hates her and that she intentionally screwed him over. By night’s end, he consoles himself with some pretty harsh thoughts concerning her strong odor, finally xenophobically declaring to himself that she totally ruins the atmosphere of this, his favorite restaurant, with her “patchouli” stink… –And all of this happens in just the first couple of pages, personally my favorite part. The non-story quickly digresses away from its universally compelling beginnings into a lot of shameless learned namedropping, certainly less accessible to people who haven’t read Chekhov and Turgenev and Conrad and Borges and Kafka and Orwell and Eliot and so on. But as a girl who loves references I still think it’s a pretty good read, as even by this non-story’s end I continue to like even the main character.
Last time we ran hand in hand with someone, a telephone pole broke it up.
As we can tell from this choice line, Steve Price’s chapbook Journal of Lovesickness offers a very clever as well as relatable snapshot on the author’s many failed experiments with romantic love. This is made even more apparent by the mission statement or motto provided on the cover, which informs the reader that this journal commemorates “advances in the poetry of heartbreak,” and that this is purportedly the eleventh published volume. As I found out in class, there are in fact no previous volumes of Journal of Lovesickness, so this funny little cover detail must serve some purpose. In the first place, the cover is obviously meant to ape–or, to quote Price, maybe I mean “monkey” or “chimpanzee”–the look of a literary journal, not only through the “11th volume” bit, but also through its motto as well as its dignified and old-looking crest (which, with its creepy blurry harpist bitmap graphics, in my opinion may have been something of a misstep). In the second place, calling this the eleventh volume of this journal cleverly sums up the actual content of the chapbook, which devotes itself primarily to documenting Price’s ongoing search for his one true love, unhampered by his many breakups and “dead marriages.” Basically, the contents of this chapbook demonstrate that Price has indeed endured enough lovesickness to fill the space of even eleven journals with all of his broken “candy hearts.” Anyway, by playing on the multiple connotations to the word “journal,” Price gives his chapbook not only an academic but also a personal spin, with its short entries reading almost like a diary, holidays and months often appearing as the titles for these prose-poems.
One footnote: Why doesn’t [oops!] the poem “April” appear after “St. Patrick’s Day”? As a critic, I would point to this as perhaps another misstep laid specifically at the feet of the editors. They might say, “Hey, all of the dates and chronology don’t have to be exactly in order! You get the idea!” …But why not? Price is obviously quite diligent and doesn’t miss any opportunity to make his poetry as cute and delectable (yuck) as possible, so if you ask me they should have just shamelessly matched style and content and gone with a straight-up “matchy-matchy” look.
So I’ll just start out by saying that I L-O-V-E-D watching Helvetica in class this week! In fact, I identified with so much of what the typographers said that for a minute there I was actually afraid that I might have missed my true calling, and should have alternatively gone into graphic design, which has been a kind of hobby of mine since I was a little kid. Then again, I do remember one of the “typomaniacs” in Helvetica saying that obsessions with fonts and words often go hand in hand. Hence, I am an English major, but a very impressionable one. Personally, I don’t even really like the look of Helvetica, but after hearing some of those interviewed wax eloquent about the total beauty and perfection of its “figure-ground relationship,” I found myself suddenly wanting to use it, thus forcing me to reevaluate my initial position. I must say, Helvetica reminded me so much of Wes Anderson, who obsessively uses the fabulous Futura font for EVERYTHING in his films, including Rushmore. Seriously, I think he even paid to have new street signs made up in The Royal Tenenbaums just so the recurring use of Futura would stylistically hold the whole movie together. Obviously this is kind of crazy not only to do, but also to pick up on as a young viewer, but I must admit that one of the main reasons I first begged for an Apple was because it comes standard with Futura (not to mention Helvetica). Now every time I see Futura it reminds me of my favorite movies, which is kind of nice. Whenever I use it, I think of it as a nostalgic little tip of the hat to one of my favorite designers. (No joke.)
…But I say all this for a reason. Basically, I think Helvetica demonstrates that even something as seemingly inconsequential as a typeface is a political decision. More than one of the typographers interviewed described Helvetica as “neutral.” Not only is this true in the sense that the font is suitable to a variety of contexts–subway signs, Gap commercials, the side of airplanes, and so on–but also because Helvetica was actually developed in the politically neutral country of Switzerland just a few years after World War II. Unlike my Futura fixation, Helvetica has no fixed cultural connotation, making it a decidedly “apolitical” typeface and, as one awesomely paranoid lady designer in the film pointed out, the font of choice for corporations trying to communicate a spirit of “transparency” through the appearance of their official documents! In terms of literary publishing, though, I think this “apolitical” quality could really go either way. I guess I rather meanly rail on those chapbooks printed in Times New Roman because, to me, those say that the person who produced them doesn’t really care about stupid little things like font, which effectively places them in a totally different (but perhaps less superficial) “target market” than me, who would most likely buy a really stylish chapbook–The Bride of DJ Spinoza, for example–even if its content was basically pointless or even unintelligible. (Unfortunately, a lot of people say this same thing about Wes Anderson, too.) As future literary publishers, though, I guess it is important for us to remember that every little choice could potentially affect our reception. That being said, if you decide to print your chapbook in Times New Roman, you’re just gonna have to accept the fact that someone like me might not buy it. However, if you reprint it in Futura… well, OK!