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       July 18, 2003


"There is nothing more mundane than
 other peoples' private thoughts."

 -- Harley Hahn

Not a "Mad" Man

It's a strange quirk of our culture that, merely
by asserting that I am a writer, I am able to
present myself as belonging to the same profession
as Shakespeare, Dante, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot
(not to mention Stephen King. J.K. Rowling and
Miss Manners).  The term "writer" is what English
teachers like to call a collective noun; and in
this case, it is a noun whose collection is large
and uncertain.

To be sure, the writing fraternity embraces
playwrights, scholars, philosophers, poets,
entertainers, story tellers and social advisors.
However, as  writer, I must also count among my
colleagues a wide variety of marginal literary
fauna, for example, the newspaper columnists
whose sole purpose on Earth is to churn out 1,500
cloying words a week explaining to us all, from
the President on down, how we should think about
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Like all writers who take their craft seriously,
I'd love to be able to talk with a modern-day
Shakespeare, Dante, James Joyce, or T.S. Eliot.
However, in the land of the living, it is far more
likely that I will encounter a self-inflated
newspaper columnist than a Nobel Prize winner.

Some time ago, I spent a long evening with such a
writer, listening to her talk about a column
she had written about yet another writer.  Would
you like to eavesdrop on the conversation?

Read on.


"It had been a dark and stormy night.

"She sat next to me, in front of the blazing
fire, a thoughtful glass of 40-year-old brandy
in her hand. She looked wistfully into the
flames, swirling the brandy absentmindedly,
caught up in some strange world of her own.

"There was a time when she had been the most
widely read female columnist in the country, a
maudlin and sentimental manipulator of opinion..."


To read the entire story, visit:


-- Harley Hahn