There's an interesting debate on the asalted blog about 'edgy fucking litzine bollocks'. Since some of the details have been obscured it's hard to tell exactly what happened, but essentially, an editor made an unfriendly rejection of a story; in retaliation, a friend of the rejectee "went to a greeking generator and mixed up some chunks of random text with expletives, and sent it to the editor along with a preposterous bio" (I'm assuming a greeking generator is something like this). This story has now been accepted and published.
Which is a brilliant story, but makes me nervous with its echoes of the Sokal hoax. This was when a physicist had a paper published in a (non peer reviewed) 'postmodern cultural studies journal'. This was then used as a stick with which to beat the whole of critical theory. In fact the only thing the experiment showed was that a single journal had published an article based on the writer's authority rather than their understanding of the article's content. The problem was that the simple story (physicist pulls one over on kooky postmodernists) is easier to discuss than the more complicated issues behind it, which make Sokal a less clever and heroic figure than he often appears.
I'm prepared to give the literary journal in question the benefit of the doubt. Without naming names and allowing me to read the submission in context, the story of the journal accepting a random story is simply a morality fable.
For example, a piece constructed of seemingly-random text may well have made a powerful point in context with the other pieces in the journal. One could even imagine this piece being published in an ironic attack on avant-garde writing. A good editor should not be selecting the best pieces received, rather the pieces that advance their aims and work best as a group.
There are also questions of authorship here. Just because the author claims a piece is worthless doesn't make it so – Francis Bacon was known to destroy his own priceless works because he disliked them. It is possible that this piece is in fact a radically good avant-garde piece of writing. (One of the mistakes made by the victims in the Sokal affair was changing their opinions of Sokal's work after the hoax was revealed – would the editor here stand by the work selected?) The text in question is also not entirely a stream of random words – it has been processed and had (expletive) words added. Does that not count as a work of authorship? (And what about the authorship of the person who wrote the generator?).
There's another problem here in that, as Vanessa Gebbie has pointed out in the past, different markets are often incompatible. I read a lot of avant-garde poetry during my MA and, while I didn't appreciate all of it, that didn't mean other people couldn't be excited and moved by it. A couple of the comments I've seen on 'litzine bollocks' have become general attacks on a certain style of literature.
The original post in this debate is interesting because the people involved have read the pieces and know the full story. But, without that background, just because something is easy to mock doesn't mean it deserves it.
Sara – can we name the magazine and the (fake) author?