04 March 2010

Another Key Passage

Another Key Passage
03/04/2010, 7:50 PM

Schmutzie's State of the Fray piece, below, and Catna's Frayback Machine concept, detailed on Shameful Conduct, by way of NickD's reminder that JTM is even now considering a revised Star Poster designation, all put me in (more of) a nostalgic frame of mind. Not sure it was ever posted on the New Fray anyway, but I tried via Google Advanced Search to find a reprint of Ender's Star List, in order, first seventy-five to a hundred. No dice, but the search results did include a memory-laden and ironically timely segment from one of the old Editor columns.

The Kinesiology of the Fray
by Kevin Arnovitz, August 10, 2003.

The challenge: How to condition the Fray? How do its hardened veterans muscle up and get back into shape to address what Adam_Masin refers to as "the need for some new, worthy blood to fill the Fray's veins"? An interesting debate reigns between Hauteur (fka Cicero) and Ender over the alleged deterioration of the Star Fray Poster, a veritable kids-these-days row. Here, and more elaborately there [BOTF], Ender---who tends to agree with the general premise of Adam's post---appeals to current stars to disarm and hand in their glimmering achievements in order to return to a simpler, and presumably superior Fray era. Over in Fraywatch Fray, Hauteur responds that

I also encountered some of the early star designees, and I was less than favorably impressed. So who's correct, myself or Ender?

Obviously we are both correct, because quality is in the eye of the beholder. Right, as if you did not see that coming. It's not as if the early star designees were bad, by any means. It's just that they were not generally better than today's average designee. Let's take two of the latest to get their stars: Meletus [fka sgras] and TheQuietMan. Both are outstanding writers. No one fair-minded could call either of these posters second rate star designees. The old crowd was not better than the new.

Ah, memories! And the more things change, the more things stay the same. (Or do they?). Not that I disagree with Hauteur/Cicero on Meletus and TQM, but the substantive certitude of his comparative remarks did seem to belie his initial "quality is in the eye of the beholder" premise.

Some other then-regular poster nics worth re-calling or re-iterating, featured in that 2003 sequence of Editor columns I stumbled upon: WVMicko, chango, Geoff, Seamus, shannpalmer, Sissyfuss1, BeverlyMann, Deej, EFriedemann, AdamMorgan, REW-OEM, Splendid_IREny, CaptainRonVoyage, twifferthegnu, MikeBeers, Rob_said_that, satish_desai, WatchfulBabbler. Never mind (for now) the featured names from Editor Moira's 2001 columns, the ones that didn't overly impress Hauteur.....

Editor Arnowitz also details a fevered debate on between those who decry taking Fray posting too seriously versus those who decry not taking it seriously enough. Arnowitz observes, insightfully in my view, that while there are plenty of Fray posting mandarins, so also "Many regulars make a fetish, very nearly a religion, out of posting just for lighthearted fun, and so much so that they take real offense at the suggestion that there may be more to posting life than just clutching at self-indulgent pleasure. So what is this attitude except 'taking posting too seriously'?" Yes, the old studied indifference and earnest indolence! And those who pose in one of the two camps while reposing their hearts and minds in the other.

So is Fray posting but generational, cyclical, Groundhog Day fodder? Or are there ongoing and concerted fundamental changes and shifts in absolute terms in one direction or another? Maybe some of both. Who cares anyway, right, if our truest Star, the Fray itself, is about to go nova.....

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