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October 5, 2006

From the Department of Final Words, Lemonade Division

Disgraced Internet provocateur Lee Siegel cashes in on the experience:

I'm looking for a research assistant to help me with a book about Internet culture that I'm writing for Doubleday, which is due to be finished by the end of next March. My name is Lee Siegel, and I'm a senior editor at the New Republic, and the author of "Fallling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination," a collection of essays that has just been published.

I would prefer a graduate student. Salary is to be decided with the person I hire.

Anyone who is interested can respond to me at this email address : [address redacted]

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Lee Siegel

So Sprezzatura remains a senior editor at TNR and now brings his trademark artless grace to the House of Doubleday.

And Doubleday knows a thing or two about grace:

Landis: Of course, Jackie O. was a great lady. Those are going to be some tough shoes to fill. Everyone loved her. She had such... grace.

Elaine: Yes! Grace!

Landis: Not many people have grace.

Elaine: Well, you know, grace is a tough one. I like to think I have a little grace... not as much as Jackie—

Landis: You can't have "a little grace." You either have grace, or you... don't.

Elaine: Okay, fine, I have... no grace.

Landis: And you can't acquire grace.

Elaine: Well, I have no intention of "getting" grace.

Landis: Grace isn't something you can pick up at the market.

Elaine: Alright, alright, look—I don't have grace, I don't want grace... I don't even say grace, okay?

Landis: Thank you for coming in.

Elaine: Yeah, yeah, right.

A taste of what's to come, perhaps:

You yourself comfortably adopted a false persona when you had Sprezzatura comment about one of your critics that he "couldn't tie Siegel's shoelaces." Doesn't that show great immaturity on your part?

I am too childlike to be immature.

Is that just doublespeak?

No, I'm saying it under my own name.

Artists are allowed to be ill-mannered brutes without diminishing the quality of their work, but shouldn't critics be balanced and self-analyzed individuals?

Of course they should. I'm thoroughly analyzed. I can show you the receipts. But as Sprezzatura, I wasn't practicing criticism. I was indulging my temperament and abandoning my intellect. Look, putting a polemicist like myself in the blogosphere is like putting someone with an obesity problem in a chocolate factory.

What are you talking about?

How dare you question my authority! Seriously, the blogosphere strips argument of logic and rhetoric down to the naked emotion behind it.

Your new book, "Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination," fortunately does not lack for logic or rhetoric, not to mention nuanced and witty considerations of everything from Dante to "Sex and the City." Can you explain the title?

Falling upwards is a physical impossibility, and anyone who works with the imagination is in the impossibility business. The other meaning is that what our dominant culture considers falling or failure is, in the realm of art making, often a triumph of character or spirit. For example, there is such a madness to become famous. Obscurity is the new poverty. People don't seem able to bear being unknown. But obscurity and struggle are the artists' Harvard and Yale.

Anonymous bloggers are also saddled with obscurity, which I doubt you would similarly glorify.

That's right. In their case, anonymity is obscurity's rash. At least for those who practice incessant character assassination, which represents a good portion of the blogosphere, they vent out of the pain of being unacknowledged.

Lee's is an unassailable intellect... he must be acknowledged!

Physician, heal thyself.

Preferably, somewhere out of the public eye.

"From the Department of Final Words, Lemonade Division"
Posted by Dan at 02:28 PM

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Referenced in this post:

Eschaton: The Triumphant Return of Lee Siegel
Iconoduel: Lee Siegel Feels the Wrath
Iconoduel: The Queer Eye of that Slate Guy Revisited
Iconoduel: The Queer Eye of that Slate Guy: Deep Cuts
Lee Siegel is God
New York Times: Bye-Bye Blogger—Deborah Solomon
Seinfeld Scripts: The Chaperone
Slate: Lee Siegel, literary critic—Lee Siegel
The Meaning of Sprezzatura
Wikipedia: Doubleday