Guest Post by Paarfi of Roundwood
While I myself am not excessively familiar with the many nuances and details of the “Hugo Award Controversy,” I am reliably informed that it has caused no small degree of acrimony within the community of those who concern themselves with letters—I say those, but it is only fair to observe that I, myself, am part of this community in my role of historian, while continuing to be, for obvious reasons, one whose experience is external to the community and, therefore, to the acrimony. Indeed, it is exactly this—my simultaneous involvement, and, if the reader will forgive my use of the word, externality–that could, and perhaps does, provide me with a unique and potentially valuable perspective.
I would like, with this in mind, to make certain observations. To begin, I believe—indeed, if I may be permitted to say so without giving undue offense (a circumstance which the present situation renders extremely undesirable, however tempting it may be to do so deliberately, or how simple it may prove to be to do so accidentally), it is so obvious as to require no evidence beyond what has been frequently placed before the public eye—that some of the suggestions for resolving the matter go, in severity, far beyond what is called for by the crimes committed. In particular, I speak of those who wish their opponents summarily brought to the Executioner’s Star, in some cases advocating this without even the formality of a trial. Must I remind my reader that we are literary individuals, concerned with culture, education, and, in general, the higher, even spiritual, concerns of humanity? To so much as suggest one’s opponent in this matter be deprived of life goes well beyond what ought to be reasoned, scholarly debate—a debate we ought to encourage, but which excessive punishment will only stifle. Hence, I believe we ought to drop even the discussion of repercussions to our enemies that go beyond a severe flogging, or perhaps minor mutilation for the most extreme cases. If I may be permitted to share the lessons of my own land, when scholarly debates threaten to break out into hostility, it is nearly always sufficient to “round up”, as the saying goes, the most egregious of our enemies and forcibly enlist them in the army, and send them to the White Rocks region near the borders of Suntra, where their aggression can be put to good use, and where their fate will serve as a most stern reminder to others of the importance of civility in all disagreements concerning the Arts.
And yet, there is one other matter which, were I to fail to discuss it, would leave me culpable in the same way Biernet is culpable in the well-known children’s tale of that name for not mentioning the frayed rope holding the bucket of chalk: It would seem that Lord Hugo has acquired a great deal of influence within the community—influence that, no doubt, is merited. And yet, with all that has happened of late, I cannot help but wonder why Lord Hugo has failed to make his own wishes, feelings, and desires known. Speaking for myself, should I ever acquire similar influence, and should this produce such hostility and acrimony among various partisans, I would, without question, see it as nothing less than my duty to make my position on the matter clear, even if doing so would to a certain degree compromise the dignity that those who remain apart from these conflicts naturally assume.
Therefore, to resolve the matter, I beg to submit that all discussion of such issues as voting, granting of honors, and giving of such artifacts as may honor one or more persons or institutions be temporarily suspended until Lord Hugo himself should deign to make his position on this matter clear.
I hope this humble suggestion makes a small contribution to restoring peace and harmony within the community of letters.