An Open Letter to Open Letters

Note: No thesauruses were harmed in the writing of this ambiguous drivel.

On Tuesday, 151 intellectuals, artists, journalists, and a solid number of people I have never heard of before published “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” in Harper’s magazine. This open letter from Pancake Brain may or may not be related to that one. The timing sure is suspicious, though.

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Dear Open Letters,

This open letter is written as a direct response to all open letters, but especially one open letter in particular, though this open letter, like that one, feels no burden to name concrete particularities of the ills it aims to address or any specific examples whatsoever. Such details might allow for a clear and concise discussion of the problem, and would therefore totally negate the premise that this letter is itself serving the purpose of an open letter, and that is, of course, to generate ambiguous confusion, and, ideally, slight nausea.

That the language the authors use here is cumbersome and obtuse should not be blamed on any signatories so much as the form in which they have chose to adhere their signatures (an open letter). As the composition of another recent open letter suggests, open letters are not meant to generate positive discussion for future solutions, but, instead, are created for the sole purpose of grumbling about ambiguous grievances. We reject the false choice between writing open letters and having something to say.

We hope that readers will sympathize with our plight in addressing this grave problem with nothing even resembling the suggestion that we have pondered effective solutions. Despite our shared legacy as iconic intellectuals, artists, and journalists, there appears to be nary a meaningful phrase among us. Our collective communication is inescapably defined by the fact that our shared bad opinions about the initial letter in regard to bad opinions in general are too divergent beyond that feeling you get when someone you don’t like says something really funny.

While acknowledging that ambiguous griping is the lifeblood of the illiberal society of which we are ruefully a part, we do have three specific criticisms for all open letters. Although the individuals who sought to compose this letter have a range of fundamental disagreements among them totally eliminating the possibility of insight or consensus of any kind, we have still managed to generate a list of three points that are our best attempt at precise elucidation for the aim of your enhanced consumption of ideas.

These are as follows:

  1. “We don’t like the internet” would have been shorter.

  2. Seriously, what the fuck, Gloria Steinem?

  3. Can anyone help Noam Chomsky figure out two-factor authentication for his new G-Mail account?

In conclusion: Have you ever realized that we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? Not suggesting any major changes, but it doesn’t really make sense when you think about it.

With undue conviction,

Kurt Vonnegut’s ghost, Lauren Duca, and a lady who made meaningful eye contact with her at the grocery store the other day

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