THE OJO INTERNET MAILBOX
(Wherein we publish some comments about our previous issues.)
MARK SCONCE: Poet And Prince Among Men
Mark R. Sconce
I am your namesake of sorts I guess. I am not certain how we are related but we must be at some point in the distant past. My fathers family hails from Arkansas back in the 1800’s.
Anyway, I thought that I’d say Hi.
She Cannot—But I Can!
I am so moved by this article. Compassion does exist. Thank you.
Editor’s Page – February
Brilliant! Margaret you have perfectly summed up the extraordinary neurosis that we, the privileged white ‘madams’, seem to have acquired in the process of being able to enjoy the luxury of having the hosts of our adopted country clean and fold for us.
The Ghosts Among Us – August 2017
Some months ago, El Ojo del Lago published an article about Grigori Rasputin written by Fred Mittag. It is exactly what Mittag intended it to be; a short, polished sketch touching on both the historical importance and the character of the man. The article did not live up to -or down to, as the case may be- the expectations of one vitriolic critic. In fact, every one of his points is either irrelevant, a distortion, or trivial, and all of it is malevolent.
The critic says that Mittag lacks understanding of the nuances of his topic. It is possible that he does, but there is no way to determine that from such a short piece in which he need not go deeper and cannot go deeper.
In convicting Mittag, the critic met absolutely no burden of proof. Mittag undoubtedly knows more about Rasputin than what he wrote. He is a knowledgeable historian, but there is no room for much nuance on a baseball card. Mittag is also an assiduous enough scholar to research whatever he does not know. He would certainly have filled in any possible gaps in his own knowledge in a longer piece.
The critic implies that Mittag did not write accurately. He does this in an insidious way, by stating that the text is mostly correct. That implies the critic has some incriminating evidence, but is too aloof to even mention it. In fact, the historical record has one instance in which Rasputin stole a horse. We know about it, because the owner of the horse caught him and beat him severely. Chances are that was not the only horse that Rasputin stole, but Mittag’s short narrative does not emphasize this as a probability, not a certainty. His real crime here was probably seeking brevity.
The critic lamented that Mittag’s article was a Russian-bashing misdirection. That is nothing less than spectacular nonsense.. Mittag made no anti-Russian statements. As a matter of fact, his article is a very mainstream assessment of Rasputin. Taking it as anti-Russian is as paranoid as it would be for Americans to become insulted by a Russian writing about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Mittag was merely the reporter in this case, and though his style is that of a good story teller, the content was factually accurate. Anyone who is offended by the facts might be paranoid.
The critic listed a series of current issues which he thought Mittag should have addressed instead of Rasputin. This is world-class arrogance. No author owes anyone an explanation of why he chose his topic, instead of another. Mittag neither attacked Mother Russia, nor dodged relevant American political topics. He has addressed those in that past, and almost certainly will again, but he owes no explanation why he chose to write about Rasputin. As Edward Teller used to say when laymen asked him why electrons behave in certain ways, “They just do.”
Why did Mittag choose to write about Rasputin? Because he just did. Unless the parameters of an assignment or publication dictate otherwise, it is up to the writer to determine what he will write, and how he will write it. Mittag chose a topic and addressed it with far more compositional integrity than the disorganized critique it provoked.
Finally, the critic lashes out at El Ojo Del Lago, lamenting that its monopoly as an English publication in the Lake Chapala area explains why it carries allegedly weak articles the critic disdainfully calls “click bait.” El Ojo Del Lago, like Mittag’s article, is exactly what it intends to be; a publication of local work which is everything on the spectrum from highly polished journalism and editorials, to the interesting efforts of the man or woman next door.
It would not be wise for editorial standards to change in response to any rival publications. The people at the lake seem very pleased with El Ojo De Lago, its editor, Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez, and Fred Mittag. It is very doubtful that too many of them share the sentiments expressed by Mittag’s critic.
Writing And My Relationship With It
John Ward is always delightful. Keep writing, John. It is such a pleasure to share what you have to say — about anything.
Lake Chapala Writers
Thanks, Herbert and all for all you do to manage the thousand details of such a conference. I’ll see you there.
The Magic of Famous People Players Comes to Lakeside
The Magic of Famous People Players comes to K Lakeside
Lakeside Living – January 2016
Hello, I’m an old (UK) friend of Florette’s and I lost her e mail some time back. I’d love her to contact me again ( That IS Florette from Edmonton, isn’t it?) Haven’t seen her since ‘73! Thanks, Cliff
Hey, I Used To Be Somebody!
White Bread. My favourite is the legal beagle who spun yarns of unimaginable fantasy each time I ran into him. There was no stopping his rant of unbelievable but insanely credible tales of successes in a grandiose career span. The girlfriend was a highly successful real estate agent whose name I’d never heard. One night, I went to meet up with friends who’d just arrived from Ottawa and had found accommodation in a shared little 2bd. house. Their hosts happened to be this particular couple who could not make ends meet on the rent. In spite of the financial hardship, he was flying out to Dubai in the morning on a high-stake wheeling and dealing mission with a coterie of oil sheiks. My friends were too tired to go out to eat, so the grand chef host prepared me a sandwich on the whitest of Bimbo bread with a slice of Velveeta cheese whilst regaling me fireside, with stories of his gallant adventures. The exotic lifestyle of a well-travelled connoisseur indeed. Funny thing is, I saw him within a day or two later!! Never happened and he didn’t even look sheepish. My late husband had a saying, “bull-shiting is one thing, but when you believe your own bullshit, then you’re in trouble.”