It appears my fellow writer here at DoorCellarTheCellarDoor or however you wish to make reference in your Facebook posts (Personal fave so far was the comparison to Christian News. Keep’em coming, guys. 1000 points to the most creative slams), has stirred up a bit of a ruckus. Now, I’m not sure that I personally agree with all of his assertions or style (and have told him as much), but good golly did some people get their Hanes in a bunch. Among the responses which I watched with half-hearted interest, there was one complaint which came up several times with which I took personal umbrage: the charge that writing under a pseudonym was a) cowardly, b) weak, or c) invalidated whatever was said in the piece.
These objections struck me as odd. It’s a well-known fact that a sizeable number of writers, poets, theologians, and philosophers throughout history have used some sort of pseudonym. Kierkegaard himself had at least 9 known pseudonyms. Mathias Flacius had over 15. Give me a few minutes and I’ll hop in my time machine to ask them why they were such cowards.
Ok. I’m back. I realized when I got there that I haven’t kept my Danish skills up to snuff, but I’m pretty sure Soren answered the accusation with the Copenhagen equivalent of “That’s the dumbest set of objections I’ve ever heard.” Flacius was too busy trying to put sugar in Melanchthon’s gas tank to respond, but I’m sure he’d agree.
These men and the many other great publishers of essays and treatises like them did not write with false names because they were timid. They had a multitude of reasons from grouping their works by thematic aim, avoiding their own previously known reputations, and sometimes even personal safety. Hell, even Stephen King started using a nom de plume for a bit to see if people were buying his books because they were good or because they had the name King on the cover. Turns out that there’s a lot in a name. The book sold 10 times better when the secret was out.
You see, when it comes to opinions, thoughts, writings, musings, and other types of literary diarrhea which get posted on the internet, their inherent nature is usually ridiculously egotistical. The thoughts, arguments, points, and rhetoric get immediately weighed and measured before they are read and processed. The measure of a man and his ideas in this age of glowing screens and smartphones is no longer his capability of communicating, but rather the little blue name next to his attempted Facebook wit or Twitter blather. Not only that, but those who build their own little following in the world of the tubes begin to get careless with their method and statements and, like the American Church, begin to say and signal whatever will continue to grow their number of likes and retweets. It’s all pretty disgusting.
It’s then no surprise that the loudest complaints about the pseudonymous nature of DoorCellarThe came from those among the Lutheran milieu for whom the descriptor “self-aggrandizing” is an all too perfect fit.
Cowardly? Eh, maybe, but not likely. That’s not the reason for the editorial choice for fake names. Instead, we aspire to be a place where ideas, poetry, essays, and just plain suggestions can be floated out among the web-o-sphere without the weight or curse of nonymous reputations. The ideas have to stand for themselves because that’s the only thing any reader will know about what he’s reading. Maybe you’ll be able to read into the choices different people have made for their pseudonyms, maybe not. Maybe you’ll be convinced you know who wrote this or that. Maybe you’ll be right, but more than likely you’d be surprised. To tell the truth, I know that there are several accounts for this little e-think tank of whom I am unaware of the “real” identity. It’s more fun that way. We are Cellar for we are many….or at least several.
So maybe some of you will get offended by some of the things presented there. Feel free to respond, but be aware that since the nature of the Cellar is one centered on rhetoric and discussion, you may wish to check your emotional reactions and self-importance at the door.