To my surprise, people have been discussing the Dark Cabal in blogs here and there, and the discussion is mostly about-- anonymity.
People seem to be mostly against it.
I'd rather discuss fiction, but since far too many of the discussions here end up with people commenting on anonymity, if I put it in a separate topic, at least we will have a rightful place for the discussion.
My thinking on the subject has very much evolved. The anonymous thing did seem sort of silly to me, at first. My initial thought was, what the hell, I'll go along, but I didn't really make much of an attempt to conceal my identity.
Now that the cabal is in motion, I am seeing that there are practical advantages to anonymity. I think that maybe the secret masters of the cabal really did have some clue.
Onyx posted, right up at the beginning, one motive: Onyx doesn't want to be sent books with the hope (by the sender) that the book might be talked up (or-- worse-- that the sender might be fishing for a Nebula recommendation).
Well, we all have reasons-- probably, we all have different reasons. That one doesn't ring my chimes.
I'm just about the opposite: I love books, and getting free books in the mail sounds like Christmas to me. Great, bring 'em on, send me more!
(but, chances are something like one in a million that I'd end up writing about it here, or rec it for a Nebula. My "To read" stack right now is about nine feet high, and my reading tastes are peculiar.)
I've noticed other advantages, though, to being pseudonymous. It does give some amount of unexpected freedom. Primarily, I am realizing that in normal life I self-censor a lot. Yes, that's right, I worry what people think about me. Yeah, I'm sure you're so high-minded, you never worry about what people think. Sure. So call me a coward.
Pseudonymously, I don't have to worry about what a friend might think if I write something less than glowing about his/her work. And editors, as well. Editors do read, and if I decide to dis a particular publication, or an editor's tastes, or publisher, well, under my own name I'd think twice about that. I might be trying to sell to that editor next month, and I'd probably think better of it, even if they deserve it.
Conversely, I don't have to worry that people are going to think I'm trying to suck up if I write a glowing review about a work, or about an editor.
As a psudonymous persona, I don't have to worry about expressing a controversial opinion. I don't have to worry that if people going to think I'm a Philistine if I criticize a writer who seems to be regarded as a god in the field (but whose fiction I find unreadable). I can express controversial political opinions, if I want, and not worry that people will think me a Neanderthal, nor weak-livered liberal scum. I can even express opinions that might get me fired at work, if that's what I happen to be thinking.
Overall, I have a lot of more freedom to write what I'm thinking, and not worry what other people are going to think of me.
Been Peek posted in his blog Livejournal
posted a comment from the film director Paul Schrader
when a member from the audience asked him why he didn't critique film any more. His reply: " You can't be a filmmaker and a critic at the same time. To fulfill either task, you have to be in the position where you're not worried about upsetting anyone.
So, those were my reasons for continuing to post pseudonymously. Maybe next week I'll think differently, and you won't see me around. Maybe you'll start seeing my real name (Kurt Vonnegut) posting here, and people will say, "what ever happened to that guy Johnny Dark, used to post here?"
If those reasons don't make sense, well, here's an alternate reason for anonymity.
We're setting up a cabal; a secret society, and if we're going to have a secret cabal, let's do it right, damn it! What kind of self-respecting secret society would it be if everybody knew who we are-- not a very secret one, now, is it? If we're going to have a cabal, masks and portentous names are de rigueur
So, I'll say, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. This is a spot where we came together to discuss fiction pseudonymously. If pseudonymity bothers people, they should have gone somewhere else, like here
I've been using the words anonymous and pseudonymous without a whole lot of distinction so far. As a final note, let me advocate for pseudonymity over anonymity. In some of the threads here, people have been taking advantage of the ability to post anonymously, with some degree of resulting confusion: one person made a reply directed at somebody who was posting as "anonymous," which was responded to by a different person who was posting as "anonymous," and both were somewhat confused with yet another person posting as "anonymous" -- purely for the sake of following the discussion, there's an advantage in using the "other" option to post-- you don't need to use your real
name, but it's helpful if you do
use a name.
P.S. My real name is not really Kurt Vonnegut. (It's John Updike.)
P.P.S. OK, it's really not John Updike either.