now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Friday, February 08, 2008

a statement from pretend genius

dear readers of this exceptional piece of internet space,

i'd like to have a word with some of you so-called writers. a fireside chat, if you will, on why the various entries that i, in my dead state, did read and why they were not up to—yes, you know the word. i re-translated my thoughts from english and put them here to you in order to effectively communicate what makes gooder writing with the hope that you all will understand why we (pretend genius) agreed with the judgement of the judger of this contest.

the dramatic judgment and the ensuing humanicus dumbassicus vitriolicus (yes, i speak portuguese) that followed has inspired me (dead henry) to issue forth observations on gooder writing. i (still dead henry) have from time to time been known to offer something or other to those who seek it. not all of this something or other is understandable, however, and based on the cloistered nature of the human brain (meaning yours) this is not surprising. but due to my philoprogenitive nature i shall rise above the tendency of most 'writers' to horde and shall therefore generously particularize the monads of gooder writing for you in this introduction in the hopes that you will accept the judgement and move on with your so-called lives.

i. addressing the fundamental flaws in your approach

- the notion that gooder writing can be learned is false.
- the notion that reading can help you become a gooder writer is false.
- the notion that 'workshopping' can make you a gooder writer is false.
- the notion that feelings (suffering, love, happiness, grief, the 'heart') is the birthplace of gooder writing is false.
- the notion that the telling of a good story comprises gooder writing is false.
- the notion that mastery of language produces gooder writing is false.

if you believe that any of these notions have actually helped you to become a gooder writer, i assure you the connection (perceived) is coincidental. in short, everything you have thus far believed as it relates to gooder writing is false. once you have purged your quill of these dumbass beliefs you will be ready to work on your bow.

ii. observation is what goes in, it's something else entirely that comes out

were you a gooder writer this would be perfectly clear to you. but since you are not i shall make it crystal clear.

what one observes should not also be what one relates. a blue bird, for example, once recorded by the brain, should not then be preserved by that brain for the purpose of recitation. the recordation of the blue bird should serve as a template that will become sublimated, transformed, coalesced (with x), enhanced. i shall call this the 'alchemization' of the blue bird. this, like observation, is an involuntary reflex of the limited human brain that requires little of its already teenie-weenie functional capacities.

should someone observe a blue bird only to recite 'blue bird' or 'flying blue thing with some other sharp pointy thing on its head' we can say that what that someone is reciting is the original recordation of the blue bird which served as the brain's template. this is non-fiction/journalism crap and does not comprise gooder writing. the alchemization of the blue bird, although complete, is inaccessible to this someone (you).

iii. the two necessary events following alchemization that bring about the effect known as gooder writing

although the involuntary alchemization of what one observes provides the stuff of gooder writing, the ability to access this stuff without de-alchemizing it or un-transforming it is what separates gooder 'writers' from less gooder 'writers'. it is therefore necessary that two events occur following alchemization:

1. the destruction of the original recordation that served as the template from which the alchemization occurred.

the destruction of the original template launches the mind into a realm known as 'imagination'. the destruction of this template can also be called 'letting go'. i'll note for you, although it should be obvious, that the 'letting go' does not occur prior to the alchemization, nor is the 'letting go' necessary for the alchemization to occur. the letting go or destruction of the original template facilitates the accessing of the alchemization from the area where the alchemization occurred (the imagination). should the original template not be completely destroyed, the effects produced would be similar to dada or beat as the mind is still hanging by one arm, so to speak, from the partially undestroyed original template. the mind, in turn, wanting to let go but not having the courage to completely let go produces writing based on this awareness, which resembles something that may have been the effect of this 'letting go' but in reality is an effect produced by wanting to let go, being afraid to let go, not wanting anyone to know you are afraid to let go, and finally not being able to let go. this is not gooder writing. what what? no, what's more, 'letting go' artificially by some external means is also evidence of the lack of courage necessary to let go. this also depreciates the original template, for even though the original template must eventually be destroyed, seeing it as it is is vital to its alchemization. this type of artificial letting go also produces royal crapola.

the destruction ('letting go') of the original recordation that served as the template from which the alchemization occurred is the most difficult and important part of gooder writing. should one not destroy the original recordation or 'let go', the ability to access the alchemized blue bird in the 'imagination' is impossible. it may seem like a simple thing to do but i assure you (yet again (peasants)) that less than 1% of 1% of the entire human population, present and past, has ever had the ability to 'let go' for the purpose of producing gooder writing.

2. the accessing of the alchemization of the original recordation.

once one has 'let go', the ability to access the alchemization of the original recordation is academic. it is not a matter of how this accessing occurs, just as it is not a matter of how one gets wet in the ocean. it simply occurs.

in conclusion re: the introduction

it is my hope that with this basic introduction to gooder writing that most of you will see the futility of attempting it and give up completely, therefore assuring these dead eyes that they will not see anything that is not gooder writing. if, however, you wish to 'hope against all hope', a more nuanced elaboration of this introduction might follow. though i doubt any of you dumbasses will get it.

dead henry


PMurph said...

Your utter contempt for everyone who entered your contest and/or disagreed with your decision is on full display here. From this statement you reveal the true sentiments you hold for everyone who isn't you, and the idiocy you feel the world possesses is minuscule compared with the blatant fallacy of your self-regard. Willesden Herald, Pretend Genius, Zadie Smith, and everyone else involved in this makes me the worst kind of sick. If this kind of arrogant condescension is the standard by which you judge your contests, free or not, you can keep them, and the drivel you invite will be exactly what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

i speak only for pretend genius but since we were part of this great moment in history, we thought it was necessary to make an official statement.

that being said, you hurt my feelings. i shall retreat to the comfort of my soft bunny slippers. i want my mommy.

dead henry

PMurph said...

Perhaps if you ever left that world of sneering adolescent angst, where no standard can be met, you would not resort to inane mommy jokes. Go ahead, make more. You'll be taken more seriously. I promise.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to feel sorry for Zadie Smith now. I'm sure she had good intentions.

Anonymous said...

if people weren't so stupid there would be no need to feel sorry for zadie smith. she is a fine writer and woman who some people, for whatever reason, envy.

and i can't think of better words to describe the reaction to the judgment of this contest than 'sneering adolescent angst'.

i have spoken.

dead henry

Very tired and weary said...


PMurph said...

A contest in which there is no winners is itself rather stupid. Being outraged when the contest givers respond with snide superciliousness? That's not stupid, that's understandable.
Being a fine writer does not immunize anyone from affecting a rude and superior manner. Likewise, it is not envy which makes people feel they have been slighted when someone offers one of them a reward and then refuses to give it.
And don't argue that the majority of entries would have lost anyway, there being only one winner should one winner have been chosen. That's ridiculous, because having one winner out of all entrants is right and expected, but having none is futile and frustrating. Perhaps you may be proud to have wasted everyone's time with your pithy reasons for denying their work the recognition that one award would grant.

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

yawn rhymes with "i'm too dumb to think of anything to say".

i made me chuckle.

dead henry

(i'm still chuckling)

PMurph said...

Congratulations! You've proved my point, and another, that even the grave cannot halt self-aggrandizement.
Good luck maintaining relevance after this episode.

Paula Mulchay said...

What's particularly sad about all this, is that the people at WH/Pretend (yeah, right) Genius, seem to be enjoying the aftermath in all its horrible gory. Nil credibility for you guys after all this.

Anonymous said...

only a dead man could enjoy any of this. a judgment was made that was part of the rules and yet dear friends, and yet...

what was it that shakespeare said? "oh cold loin,'twas a gringo upon the loft who chafed upon it thus".


dead henry

Anonymous said...

Having read the examples on the Pretend Genius site of what they consider to be great writing, I'm not surprised Zadie Smith found it hard to pick a winner. I'm beginning to respect her decision more as time goes by.

Paula Mulchay said...

I have to agree with the last post. The stuff on the pretend Genius site is GREAT writing is it? Oh my Lord!

Arturo Bandini said...

Looks like it's time for Arturo Bandini to step into the ring.

Dead Henry is right about one thing: never mistake sincerity for authenticity.

A few observations about the Willesden Massacre...I was surprised at how many writers rolled onto their bellies and took it up the can. (Perhaps this is a British phenomenon.) I mean, if Zadie Smith isn't The Establishment...then tell me, who is?

If you don't believe you are the greatest writer on the planet, why write?


Anonymous said...

it sounds like you need more than interdiction. you need interdiction + 1.

dead henry

PMurph said...

The unblinking acceptance of many commentators is very dumbfounding. "Thank you sir, may I have another?" and all that, although in this case it's more like "Thank you ma'am, may I be again denied?".

Also, I distrust any "literary" undertaking that tries to pass off the following sentence: "She was straight up starving for some gangsta sh*t up in her." (from

Anonymous said...

it's amazing how many times that story has been quoted. i love alice. remember when she stuck her foot up...hah..whoo..hah..good times...

dead henry

Hattie said...

I knew I should have put more gangstas and guns in my story but was afraid that might have been seen as stereotyping black culture in London.

hattie said...

innit good writing? NOT!

Anonymous said...

do you mean NOT! as in not or, NOT! as in NOT!? it's so complicated.

in any case, the contest was fairly judged and we have made our statement on the matter.

i will save you,
dead henry

No I'm Hattie said...

As one of the 800 I have never been so happy to be found wanting.

Anonymous said...

if'n ya say so hattie baby. if'n ya say so.

i love you,
dead henry

Hattie said...

In previous years with no big prize other than the mug, Zadie Smith could probably be more relaxed about picking a winner. so greatness in the entries wasn't terribly important, just the fun of the competition. This year with 5k on offer, she had to find a story really worth it. As the folks here have a ... unique ... idea of greatness it's not surprising she didn't find it.

Anonymous said...

well, yes. that's a reasonable way of thinking about.

i knowed you was smart with all them big words you be usin'.

i speak many different languages.

the rules are the rules.

i love you a little bit more now,
dead henry

(isn't great to be loved. tell me you love me.)

notagangstarapper said...

Willisden herald state at the top of the page:


Shouldn't the word stories be in there somewhere, preferably in place of NEWS.

Ossian said...

are you applying for a job?

notagangstarapper said...

Er, no, wouldn't want to associate myself with WH.

Ossian said...

Hah, the old "I wouldn't want to work for any newspaper that would have me as a worker" syndrome. You and Woody Allen. No matter, you've dashed my hopes. If you ever change your mind? - but no, it's never good to go back.

Anonymous said...

it it were up to me, and unfortunately it is not, i would not want you associated with WH either. you see, pretend genius thinks differently about these matters. we have a saying: we think differently about these matters.

but i send you on your way with kisses, for never were kisses more needed than they are now.

dead henry

notagangstarapper said...

Poor anonymous petending to be Dead Henry...ahhh...

Just keep digging Ossian.

Anonymous said...

ossian is not dead henry. i am dead henry. lord and master of pretend genius [press].

i only came to show our public support for the zadie smith's judgement but was attacked viciously by commentors (people who comment). i have several boo-boos but i think i can carry on.

with love,
dead henry

Anonymous said...

For the last time - I am the real anonymous, would you all please stop stealing my identity!!!

notagangstarapper said...

Not interested in your boo-boos Henry/anon, though Ossian might be.

Hatty VIII said...

But we're all Hatty now. Oh do keep up!

Anonymous said...

oh treacherous woman. only a woman could write 'boo-boos' with such zest. ossian does a fine job running the willesden herald. pretend genius is a different animal. probably a bit more ferocious. it needs a savage, not a gentleman.

dead henry

esme hodge (mrs) said...

One last try to get an answer on this. I am Hodge. Esme Hodge.

Did my entry arrive? Does anyone know? I have been told that I MAY be able to sue the post office if not. In another message I printed the opening of my story and it might help you recall if my story arrived if I say that a recurring motif is Countess Margaretha saying to herself “My lord’s buttocks are like velvet.”

Mrs Timmins, our facilitator at South Hampstead Thurday Writers said of my story "The ending is unbearably poignant. It had me on the brink of tears" And she knows good writing...her husband had a poem in the Swiss Cottage Bugle and Advertiser.

On a wider point, what I have learnt from this saga is that the fecklessness of the people we entrust with the mail may have done me out of a great deal of money.

I don’t blame your newspaper for this. But things could have been so different if you had acknowleged receipt of all the entries.

jobsworth said...

Did you get a receipt Mrs Hodges? You need a receipt if you want your letter back so don't come here without one. It'd be more than my jobsworth to hunt down your entry without ... Oh now, here it is. Sorry, Fluffy thought it was the lining for her cat litter tray. Just blow some of the crap off it. Nope it's still crappy even with the crap wiped off it. Sorry but that was the case with all the entries.

name and address withheld by request said...

(Dear Willesden Herald, I would be gratified if, for obvious reasons, you didn’t publish my name. Many thanks -- Gloria Mundie.)

The lack of self-awareness evinced by Mrs Hodge is alarming but no doubt a common affliction among ‘creatives’. I wonder if a few of your complainants may be similarly afflicted. I was at the Thursday Writers when Mrs Timmins, after reading Mrs Hodge's story, actually said of it “Oh this is the absolute end! It’s unbearable! I feel like crying”

As for the poem in the Bugle, it was indeed written by Pastor Timmins but was sent by him to a parishioner and was featured in the Bugle only because it was cited in that paper as news of evidence presented to the Willesden Trinity Road Methodist Council (Reformed) into Pastor Timmins’ alleged misbehaviour with the married recipient to whom it was addressed. Only the opening of the poem was printed…

The peony in your garden
makes me harden
at the thought of you
oh glorious daughter you
of God,
your bod
gives me the nod.

Apparently the poem ran to several pages.

I love your paper by the way. Any chance of reinstating the Tea-time Quizzes?

Women Rule Writer said...

Enough already...

Hattie the whatever said...

I suppose a simple explanation of why entries failed to live up to standards was too much to ask for. What's most amusing are the sockpuppets who think this is clever and that if we weren't all so stupid we'd get it.

All together folks...

#The king is in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether ... he's altogether as naked as the day that he was born.#

Ossian said...

ok this topic is now closed.