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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Number You Have Reached Is Ignoring You

Since nine months is long enough to grow an infant, I figured that it was also long enough to make a decision on a radio show, so I up and called the Program Manager at PRI this morning. I called a little after ten, Eastern Time, which would be about nine her time. I got the voicemail, which indicated only that she was either on the phone or away from her desk, so I left a friendly message asking for any update. It is now pushing one, and no return call so far.

Now, in recent months, and no more frequently than once every two months, I have e-mailed her to try to get an update or to inform her of developments such as the Next in the Series website and this blog. In July, I sent a plain, old-fashioned letter with a self-addressed, stamped envelope asking for information. Nothing.

Now, today, it seems, I am getting nothing again.

It is one thing to get rejected. It is quite another to get ignored. I am considering my options, which include formally withdrawing my submission so that I can submit it to NPR. (I have their submissions guidelines bookmarked, just in case.)

And I thought people in Minnesota were supposed to be nice.


Robert G. Margolis said...


The analogy of the 9 months of human pregnancy occurred to me too, but that would imply your sending your proposal was a kind of attempted insemination. If so, perhaps PRI was practicing a kind of 'proposal control', or, maybe, they just don't go all the way on the first proposal. There are other alternatives, consistent with this analogy, that may be inferred, as well. Could you have fathered a show child that's been sent away, told its father is dead?

What, do you suppose, is actually involved in deciding which proposals are worthy of selection for funding and production? Are such decisions made by those who don't write 'creatively' themselves but enjoy the power and authority to decide what's 'good'? And, if so, 'good' for whom and for what?

The absence of simple courtesies is as disturbing as it is inexcusable. Makes me want to thunderingly recite the canto by Ezra Pound which begins "With usura...."

Len said...

Okay. So, I had to look up that Canto on the Web because I’ve never read Pound. Not just because he was an anti-Semite lunatic, but because I’ve always heard he’s hard. Gave Eliot notes. And I don’t mean mash notes, either.

However, he makes a good and true point in that Canto. And it keeps getting worse. There is a balance that an artist must make in order to pay the bills. The problem comes when the raising of the cash supersedes the needs of the work. This is the whole problem that Orson Welles had. Make the Paul Masson commercial, shoot a few feet of film. Do the voiceover for canned peas, shoot a few more feet. An artist of that caliber shouldn’t have to beg a crust of bread just to expose some film. On the other hand, I’m a little leery about state-sponsored funding for artists because “who pays the piper calls the tune.” I think we see this problem playing out at NPR, where editorial policy has appreciably changed over the last 20 years because they need the Government funding the way that a heroin addict needs a fix or an alcoholic a drink.

It’s like the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” in which Sheldon Leonard and friends make Old Man Gower grovel for a nickel for a beer. You notice that funding for The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Endowments for both the Arts and Humanities have not disappeared or been appreciably cut despite the Republican interregnum in which we now live. That’s because the Neocons understand money and its uses.

I think that the decisions at PRI are made by career Arts administrators, bureaucrats with soft-and-fuzzy degrees. It’s certainly possible that creative people are involved, though, and radio itself is a strange little world unto itself. On the one hand, I worry that my proposal wasn’t pompous enough. And I don’t have any letters after my name and no history in radio other than a couple of decades of people telling me that I should get into it because of my voice.

On the other hand, I forget what I was going to say.

I hate to pull it because then I’d just have to start all over someplace else. And every day has to bring me a day closer to hearing, right?

Robert G. Margolis said...

That's o.k., Len, I forgot what you were going to say, too. In the mean between time and while, I'm going to direct my interior monologue here at work to come up with something more to say in way of a reply. If I don't forget it, I'll say it aloud here.

Len said...

Fair enough.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Yeah, EP, more than midway through his life's journey strayed into a dark wood, and pulled a big time nutty, identifying with and shilling for fascism, making those radio broadcasts in support of Mussolini and the Fascists. But, he didn't begin that way and, fortunately, he didn't end that way. He recovered himself, and the sanity of the poet within him. Read the "Pisan Cantos", and after.


What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee

The ant’s a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.

‘Master thyself, that others shall thee beare’
Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail
A swallen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst ’ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
I say pull down.

But to have done instead of not doing
this is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
This is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered.

...I don't take the Canto about usury as any kind of programmatic statement, or as perscriptive, especially as it might imply state funding and sponsorship for "the arts". It's the mental habits that come from the practice of usury, which are mostly unconscious, are pervasive and go deep. I don't have any programmatic or consistent statement myself about that, though personally I would not accept such funds.

Robert G. Margolis said...

Forgot to say previously:

No, don't withdraw the proposal from PRI. They owe you, and you deserve, a reply. There are reciprocal courtesies and respect for work and effort involved here. Dispell bad humors that build up within and gaseously bloat the brain with a dose of Chuang Tzu's twisty-whimsy zany-sane transcendent serenity.

Len said...

I am not a very accomplished reader of poetry, nor a very subtle one, unfortunately. And I have a tendency to pop off about things, which has its limitations. Those two things being said, I really found the usury poem to be generally an appeal to tread lightly on the path of capitalism. A “the pursuit of money is the root of all evil” kind of thing. As an artist (good or bad is not my place to say), I just jumped off from my own thoughts and experiences and concerns.

I will be reading more Pound, by the way. I’ve enjoyed both the Cantos and found him less obscure than I’d been led to believe. I should’ve known, though. I read Eliot, quite by accident, back when I was 18 and enjoyed him thoroughly.

The relationship of the artist to money is a subject of interest to me, though, particularly in this era in which anyone who makes money is seen as selling out or not having been genuine as an artist, a viewpoint which I see as being a bunch of hokum. But again, this is me just popping off. Old habits die hard.

Just by the way, I posted something on the "Another Novel Approach" thread that I don't think you've seen.

Len said...

Thanks for the advice. It's solid. And ol' Chuang and I haven't had a chance to commisserate in some time. We're due.

Robert G. Margolis said...

I read the usury Canto in basically the same way. Usury being the apotheosis of capitalism, in one sense, but, economically, it plays no favorites, as we know, since, from ancient most times, it's been practiced in non-capitalist societies, and the Torah, and then the Qur'an, in response to the societies to which they respectively were first addressed, both directly expose the corruptive and destructive results of its practice.

There's a line in "Tombstone Blues" by Bob Dylan, a song full of his poetry synthesized fusion of insight, which says it in epitome: "The National Bank sells roadmaps for the soul, to the old folks home and the college."

Len said...

It's true that usuary has found its way into pretty much every culture that came up with the idea of property and owning stuff. I guess the difference is that it is the central idea of modern capitalism.

Dylan has such a gift for packing tons of meaning into a small number of words. I mean, that line kind of takes me on a trip from John Dillinger ("The National Bank") to the guy sitting in the next cubicle ("the college").

I hate the way that the capitalist machine chews people up and spits them out, but I'm no utopian. I suspect that once people get past the tribal level that we're pretty much screwed, so what can you do? I am open to suggestions, though.