There are books and there are books, and I'll expect you to understand that this is not redundant. Moderators of fora since the earliest and almost forgotten days of the Internet, back when Clinton still roamed the halls of the White House, have seemingly trembled in fear of the thought that somebody might imagine them to be elitist, or to be caught having taken a stance on something or passed a judgement, or otherwise failed to be some absolutely inclusive as to be positively vacuous, for to have anything to say at all would be to fail to honor the feelings of those who'd say the opposite, and they might be offended by that.

Having never been so afflicted, myself, I will have no qualms about doing my job properly in running this group, for I have committed far greater crimes against humanity elsewhere, about topics far more controversial than that of what is or is not literature. I'll stand firm on this - if you found it in the supermarket checkout line, it almost certainly is not literature, and I don't want to see it mentioned on my group. Jacqueline Susann's name may have outlived her, in no small part due to a reference in Star Trek IV, but if you found yourself in possession of one of her old paperback novels at a flea market, I don't want to see that, and while some might speak of validation of a literary work through a culture's tradition of acceptance, I will stand firm on this controversial policy of mine. Believe it or not, even though she left us in 1974, the lady's work does not yet qualify as something that has been handed down through the ages. One might even wait as long as 2024 before saying that it has stood the test of time, and even then, dare to cringe at the name.

If you think that I'm laying this on at all thickly, you've obviously not been trapped in a conversation with a postmodernist, before, and I envy you your good fortune in this. I wish I could believe it was going to last. If I haven't made my meaning clear, by now - and I don't see how I could have failed to do so, as this piece has been about as subtle as ... well ...

The written word referred to in the description of this group should have been written for those of at least reasonable intelligence, who were reasonably well educated, with bachelor's degrees at the very least. I expect to see some concern with quality, with substance, with whether or not the author has the faintest idea of what fact checking is, so no, no books about HAARP, or palm reading, or alien abductions, or anything that. If somebody does post such nonsense to the group, please say something about that. I can't get to every location mentioned in this group, but I can make an effort to find an author about whom questions have been raised, as time allows, and will be willing to eject somebody for posting about trash. Let us air on the side of restraint - not everything mentioned on this group has to fine or high culture, however that would be defined, and fine and popular culture aren't discrete categories, anyway, just ill defined portions of a continuum. Even if I were to take the position that only fine literature was to be mentioned on this group, there would be a grey area. To encourage people to forget that would be to create a community in which everybody would be either waiting to pounce on the others, or headed toward the door, expecting to be jumped themselves.

That's not what I want to start. If you've been to a departmental tea, or hung around with a group of students who were serious about what they were doing in a dorm, as they talked about what they found interesting, then you might have a clearer idea of the atmosphere I'd like to encourage. Part of that will include watching people seemingly going out of character - in the past, I have mentioned seeing nobel laureates nearly knocking the students down, in pursuit of the Good Humor truck going through the Quad. I'm not talking about being pretentious without a break, forever, or having no moments of silliness. Little "lapses" from time to time are to be overlooked, if they are indeed lapses, at all. What is not to be overlooked in a continuing pattern of behavior, in which the focus of this group on what could seriously be called serious reading is being slowly rendered meaningless.

Yes, that's a slightly vague standard, but common sense is a slightly vague concept, and that's what I'm asking people to exercise. Take some comfort, if you're worried about being ejected because your definition and mine will prove to differ, that mine hasn't generally been found to be very surprising, and that even if a misunderstanding should arise, that you'll most likely survive it. This is, after all, only a group on a social networking site. How much do you really have at stake, if my little judgement call should be a bad one? Be brave. Embrace the ambiguity. Better that than endless lawyering, or eternal blathering, which is what this is starting to turn into. Let's move on to better things, and put the administrivia behind us.

This page is part of New York Central, one of the many small sites devoted to a great city, and home to a few other groups which you might find to be of interest.