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The Isadore Damascus Controversy


Dear Write This,

Why is there no biography for Miles Cimerman?  I went to the site when the new issue debuted and briefly glanced at all of the stories and thought that they all had biographies for the authors.  But when I actually got around to reading the stories, Cimerman's didn't have one.  Am I missing something?  I would like to no more about him.  I enjoyed his story greatly.


Lilly Blank


Dear writethis.com

If Monty Cantsin was the front-man for the Mailmen, as his biography claims, no-one told me about it.  I formed the Mailmen in 1976 and wrote both "Taking out the Garbage," and "Honey, Please."  The other songs your bio attributes to my band do not exist, at least not as Mailmen songs.  Having been apart of the music world since the late seventies, I can say with some certainty that there never was a chart placing song in 1986 titled "Anyone Can Sing Along," and I have never heard of an electronic musician called DJ SINe.  There does seem to be a DJ Sine, subtly but importantly different in its capitalization, but he does not seem to be someone named Monty Cantsin and his music does not fit the description that your biography offers.  Please look into these errors.  I know you are a struggling literary website, but I prefer to get credit for my own songs.


A. Ratt


Dear editors,

I recently discovered a brilliant short story published in Metric Time magazine titled "Of Lips Blue," by Isadore Damascus.  I wanted to find more of the author's work and a Google search of her name brought me to your sight.  She is your "official biographer," but I noticed a number of oddities.  First of all, her short story is attributed to a "Rose Selavy," as a short film instead of a short story.  I thought this might be a coincidence or that maybe Rose Selavy and Isadore Damascus knew each other.  Maybe the short story is inspired by the film or vise-versa.  So, I looked into Rose Selavy and couldn't find anything.  Then my knowledge of French kicked in.  The name appears to be a pun on the phrase, "Eros, c'est la vie," meaning something like, "Eros, that's life."  All of the pieces then began to fall into place.  Marcel Duchamp made the short film "Anemic Cinema," and this lends its name to "Pittsburgh's Anemic Cinema Collective," which appears to me to be fictitious.  The names of Selavy's parents also seem to be rearranged and altered versions of the names of two surrealist: Duchamp and Robert Desnos.  Stylistically, the work by Selavy here, "chromosome," bears little resemblence to "Of Lips Blue," but I wonder....  Is Selavy a psuedonym for Damascus?  Do I win a prize for figuring out the clues?

A close reader,

Timothy Glass


Dear editors at writethis.com

I have to take issue with your so-called "official biographer," Isadore Damascus.  I first became suspicious while reading Luther Blisset's biography.  Apparently, Mr. Blisset attended Fakenham University, a questionable name to begin with, in Norfolk Virginia.  I, though, lived in Norfolk for ten years and do not recall any such university.  A quick Internet search revealed that not only is there no such university in Virgina, there is also no such university anywhere on this blue globe.  Possibly it is a type-o.  Maybe Ms. Damascus meant Farnham University; unfortunately this is in the UK, pretty far away from Norfolk.  So, I conducted further research.  Rose Selavy's biography contains fewer obvious mistakes, though one is quite telling.  None of the works attributed to this "Rose Selavy" can be found by an internet search except for "Of Lips Blue."  Curiously, this is a short story, not a "short film" and it is written by none other than Isadore Damascus.  Is Rose Selavy a pseudonym for Ms. Damascus?  If so, she may be excused for fictionalizing her own nome de plum's biography, but this does not excuse the blatant disregard for the truth manifest in the other biographies.  I can find no information on Monty Cantsin or Luther Blisset; they too may be heteronyms for the duplicitous Ms. Damascus, but Miles Cimerman certainly is not.  His biography, which I see has been taken off the the website but was there for the first week the issue was up, contains some of the most egregious and shocking errors.  Cimerman, who, as we know, writes for Seattle's Glossolalia.inc literary publication, is someone I have met in person numerous times at readings here in Seattle (where I currently reside).  He did not, as the now vanished biography suggests, grow up on an apple orchard, nor did he attend the also fabricated Rantioch University in Blossom, Kentucky.  As far as I can tell, there is no "Blossom, Kentucky."  Did Mr. Cimerman even write, "A Catologue of 21st Century Monsters," or are you simply using his name to get people to read your pathetic website?  The story, obviously, is based on his work.  I have listened to him lecture about the works of the late Dr. Naomi Grace and even attended a seminar in 2007 at UC Santa Cruz in which a number of academics debated the legitimacy of her work.  But Mr. Cimerman does not write in the wordy, literary style of this story (Damascus, it appears from "Of Lips Blue," does).  Cimerman is an academic journalist, not a tepid prose stylist.

So, whatever is going on here, it needs to stop.  If this is simply the work of a sinister "official biographer," Ms. Damascus needs to be relieved of her duties.  If you, as an "online literary journal," are playing some sort of hoax, remember this; the truth is still the truth and someone's name and identity cannot be co-opted for silly little games.  I'm sure there are legal ramifications, and if I see Mr.Cimerman again (he's due to read at a local literary house in a few weeks) I will inform him of this mess.

Sincerely appalled,

Mable Geist

Editor's response:

Dear concerned readers,

We at the WriteThis institute (in affiliation with the Pretend Genius Corporation) apologize for any confusion Mr. Damascus' biographies may have caused.  We regret that Mr. Damascus was under a lot of pressure when putting together the biographies; the information provided by the authors, many of whom are quite prone to yarn weaving, was often exaggerated or completely false, and Mr. Damascus failed to check the facts, as did we, the editors of writethis.com.  The information provided by some authors was also scant or incomplete in some way; Damascus thus had to fill out the biographies with research.  Mr. Damascus apologizes if he was neglectful in making sure his facts were correct both in his research and in the repeated information given to him by the authors.  I personally apologize for the errors and Mr. Damascus has stepped down from his post as writethis.com Official Biographer.  I would also like to assure readers that Mr. Damascus is not Rose Selavy and any connection found between the two is coincidental.  Mr. Damascus would also like to point out that he is not, despite what his first name suggests, a female.  Finally, we at writethis.com would like to state that we are not responsible for any falsities contained within author biographies if those falsities are given to us by the author him/herself or if the biography is written by the author.  We would like to apologize to Mr. Ratt specifically, as the false information appears to come not from Mr. Cantsin but from Mr. Damascus' admittedly shoddy research.  As for the false information in Mr. Blissett's biography, most of it was provided by Blissett himself and thus questions regarding its accuracy should be taken up with him directly.  You may email Mr. Blissett at loota.liberated@gmail.com.  We still stand by the information within the Selavy biography.  The dubious nature of the Cimerman biography, which came almost entirely from Mr. Damascus, became apparent to us almost immediately, hence its removal.  For archival reasons and to show that we are willing to not hide our faults, we will not elliminate the other biographies.

With apologies,
Bryan Edenfield (editor-in-grief)