Jonathan Williams

Excerpt from A Jargon Society Fund-Raising Letter

“The Jargon Society (and its perversely transmontane publishers,
Mr. Williams and Mr. Meyer) consider themselves the beluga
caviar of retro-high-brow culture. Unfortunately for them, down
here in the Big Foot Country, we don’t give a flying fuck for all
them little fish eggs. They need to leave Macon County to Gentle
Jesus and move to Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. That’s where people
caught reading civilized books are put in the stocks in front of the
police station for at least a week at a time.”

          —His Holiness, The Very Very Rev. Jesse H. Elms, 1997


I suppose what we are asking is: are things Down South much better
after one hundred years? Just in the Great State of North
Carolina, Bela Bartok and Charles Ives sojourned at the Grove
Park Inn. John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Stefan Wolpe taught at
Black Mountain College. Ben Johnston lives today in Rocky
Mount. Coltrane and Monk and Billy Strayhorn came and went. It
would seem that such masterful diversity was totally wasted on the
disengaged natives. They are otherwise engrossed in the cosmic
search for the ultimate Deathburger. (The answer is Hardee’s.
Darth Vader could not survive seven in a row.) We have just
schlepped through the airports of Asheville, Charlotte, Seattle, and
Pittsburgh. I am not sure that we saw even one human soul who
looked like he or she had the slightest need to own a Jargon book.
(We did catch a glimpse of an old supporter of Jargon: Mr. R.
Philip Hanes, Jr., en route to San Diego and a week of rejuvenation
at “The Golden Door.”) Of course, we could have wandered the
campus of Duke University and wondered the same thing. Things,
O Friends & Neighbors, have “got out of hand.” Fifty years of
dumb Presidents and much dumber electronic trash have done the
job. Nobody is taking it from the top. The bottom is now the top.
If you read Confucius, you know that it doesn’t take long to make
a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.


A final note: Jargon is always looking for interns, apprentices, factotums,
general dog’s bodies, slaves, call them what you like. In the
autumn, winter, and spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In summer
in the Cumbrian Pennines. Extremely bright persons who are
computer-savvy and who can drive. And who would like to learn
many unique things. Food, lodging, and privacy provided. We live
in beautiful houses in beautiful country landscapes. If anyone can
clone a Hydra, bring him along.