Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks

Should Edward Albee's Unpublished & Unproduced works be destroyed as he wished?

YES, of COURSE. it's his work and his wish should be respected ferdamnedshure!
9
50%
NO, of COURSE not. His unfinished work will be of interest to scholars and readers and a source of income for the estate.
4
22%
Who is Edward Albee?
5
28%
 
Total votes: 18

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Robert » 07 Jul 2017, 18:54

Rayge wrote:If I can just remove this from Albee to a wider point. While neither my mother nor Chip left me with any deathbed instructions (except, in Chip's case, to do whatever I felt was right) I've thought a lot about this, and although I knee-jerk voted for destruction, in general I don't think the wishes of people in extremis should be binding on those left behind. This whole thing smacks to me of a denial of I-death at best, and at worse an overweening sense of self-importance, neither of which are anything I can get behind.

I for instance, have willed my carcase to science, and if science doesn't want it, have left instructions for no religious involvement in its disposal; but in the act of willing it, I have done my bit. If those still living want to throw a party or funeral, shove the meat into a mausoleum or resort to cannibalism, then that is what they must do. I cannot for the life of me (clever wording, cheers) see how what happens after I'm dead will have any importance, or indeed reality for me. My time ends with my body's death. And the importance and significance of all my 'art' (writings, photos, sculptures, gardens, whatever) and accumulated stuff vanishes with it. Other people can do what they like. I'm fine with being forgotten. That's as it should be. Ancestor worship is all about the descendants, not the progenitors, anyway.

Also, while I have never been in a position where I have had to make this choice, either because the deaths of loved ones have been so abrupt of because the dying person had the gumption not to attempt to put a lien on the living, I can't see it as 'wrong' to agree to a wish someone expresses on their deathbed in order that their last days are not marked with conflict, then not carry it out because it conflicts with one's own moral sense or in some way harms (in the widest possible sense) anyone living. I wouldn't break a solemn promise to the living (tbh, I'd think very hard before making one), but I cannot bound by the dead. It's not that I didn't respect them or didn't love them, because I did. Some may find this horribly venal, but it's pretty much hard-wired into my sense of self, and what it is to be alive.


Respect for a person's wishes vanishes once he's dead ?
This is utter crap and I am strongly disappointed.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby *fun and open field* » 07 Jul 2017, 18:58

It's a tricky one - but if you believe death is the end, and that the soul dies with the body, then the idea that someone who isn't around any more should have their wishes respected doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby fire and fueryIre » 07 Jul 2017, 19:01

Charlie O. wrote:
fueryIre wrote:Four words....

Go set a watchman...

I almost brought that up. Of course the difference there is that Harper Lee was still alive when that was published and (supposedly) approved its publication.


True, but she was not in great shape mentally as she neared death and the sister who had looked after her interests - and would almost certainly have blocked publication of GSAW - died a couple of years before HL herself did.
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Robert » 07 Jul 2017, 19:49

BLACK FELLA wrote:It's a tricky one - but if you believe death is the end, and that the soul dies with the body, then the idea that someone who isn't around any more should have their wishes respected doesn't make a whole lot of sense.


I don't think that holds up. The person who asked you
to - for want of a better expression- make a promise in the knowledge he wouldn't be around to see to it himself.

I can't see how such a thing becomes invalid after that
person dies.

Let's say he didn't diebut moved to Siberia and you were
sure never to see him anymore in your lifetime. Does that also mean that anything you promised earlier can be dismissed?

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Minnie the Minx » 07 Jul 2017, 20:12

This thread has prompted a fascinating discussion.
I don't believe in an afterlife, and I do believe that life ends at the last breath.
However, my personal responsibility towards the memory of the person that has been, lived, loved and gone doesn't change.
I've looked after hundreds of people after their death (and kittens). I could roll them up like a carpet and hurl them down a laundry chute or dismember them and take bits of them down the pub for a laugh or stick my fingers up their arse and go ha ha up your arse.
Instead, they get talked to, washed and a tender touch, hanging limbs straightened, lolling tongues popped in. Because it's probably what they would prefer than being put in the bin or being manhandled horribly. More importantly, it's their expectation.
so
Someone ceasing to be isn't an obstacle to carrying out wishes. If anything, it's more important as they can't do it for themselves.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby kath » 07 Jul 2017, 20:12

the reason to respect a beluvved person's wishes is becuz you respect and love the person, in life and death. we are not *really* talking about that dying person asking you to do something you might find morally reprehensible. we are talking about that person's dying wish to keep something private, in this case, written words.

i see absolutely no reason not to respect that.

if you yerself were in that deathbed position and you asked a loved one for such a wish, do you honestly think that once you give up the ghost, it's okay for that loved one to consider the request null and void? the request itself relies exactly upon what happens after you die. it has nothing to do with an afterlife or not.
Last edited by kath on 07 Jul 2017, 20:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby *fun and open field* » 07 Jul 2017, 20:12

I'm really not sure. I'm not stating anything categorically here. I just think you have to weigh up the situation, and every case is different.

I'm not entirely convinced by this notion of respecting a dead person's wishes when it comes to work they have produced that has an eager potential audience. I understand that sounds wrong to many people.
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby *fun and open field* » 07 Jul 2017, 20:15

It's clear tho' that respecting the wishes of a departed loved one (a family member, usually) and honouring the last requests of a dead artist relating to their work are different things in many ways. Isn't it?
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby kath » 07 Jul 2017, 20:21

BLACK FELLA wrote:It's clear tho' that respecting the wishes of a departed loved one (a family member, usually) and honouring the last requests of a dead artist relating to their work are different things in many ways. Isn't it?


why?

does a dying artist's wishes get trumped becuz somehow he owes it to his fans? to the world?

i would think it would be the artist who should make that call.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Minnie the Minx » 07 Jul 2017, 20:23

It's only different to an insatiable public. Having a lot of people that value your work product is a happy accident.
Had he been a plumber, nobody would give a shit. It's all grabby grabby grabby what about ME stuff that drives this. From people that didn't even know him. It drives me nuts!
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby zoomboogity » 07 Jul 2017, 20:29

Grey Error wrote:Had he been a plumber, nobody would give a shit.


On the contrary...
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"Quite."

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Rayge » 07 Jul 2017, 20:32

Robert wrote:
Rayge wrote:If I can just remove this from Albee to a wider point. While neither my mother nor Chip left me with any deathbed instructions (except, in Chip's case, to do whatever I felt was right) I've thought a lot about this, and although I knee-jerk voted for destruction, in general I don't think the wishes of people in extremis should be binding on those left behind. This whole thing smacks to me of a denial of I-death at best, and at worse an overweening sense of self-importance, neither of which are anything I can get behind.

I for instance, have willed my carcase to science, and if science doesn't want it, have left instructions for no religious involvement in its disposal; but in the act of willing it, I have done my bit. If those still living want to throw a party or funeral, shove the meat into a mausoleum or resort to cannibalism, then that is what they must do. I cannot for the life of me (clever wording, cheers) see how what happens after I'm dead will have any importance, or indeed reality for me. My time ends with my body's death. And the importance and significance of all my 'art' (writings, photos, sculptures, gardens, whatever) and accumulated stuff vanishes with it. Other people can do what they like. I'm fine with being forgotten. That's as it should be. Ancestor worship is all about the descendants, not the progenitors, anyway.

Also, while I have never been in a position where I have had to make this choice, either because the deaths of loved ones have been so abrupt of because the dying person had the gumption not to attempt to put a lien on the living, I can't see it as 'wrong' to agree to a wish someone expresses on their deathbed in order that their last days are not marked with conflict, then not carry it out because it conflicts with one's own moral sense or in some way harms (in the widest possible sense) anyone living. I wouldn't break a solemn promise to the living (tbh, I'd think very hard before making one), but I cannot bound by the dead. It's not that I didn't respect them or didn't love them, because I did. Some may find this horribly venal, but it's pretty much hard-wired into my sense of self, and what it is to be alive.


Respect for a person's wishes vanishes once he's dead ?
This is utter crap and I am strongly disappointed.


If that's all you got from what I wrote, I am mildly disappointed.
And what's with this 'disappointed' crap. What expectations have I failed to fulfill?
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Positive Passion » 07 Jul 2017, 20:49

Rayge wrote: in general I don't think the wishes of people in extremis should be binding on those left behind.


The vast majority of people who leave a proper will are not in extremis when they make the will. It would not surprise me if Albee's will was written 20 years before he died.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Thang-y » 07 Jul 2017, 21:06

There are several different scenarios going on here so there's no one answer to all.

Some wishes of the dying are simply unrealistic but in compassion they're not argued with.

Others are wishes that have no good reason for being ignored and the dying person should be confident that they'll be fulfilled. (Especially legally with people who've agreed to be executors).

Other times things are not so clear-cut. The example I gave of Beardsley is a case in point .. he supposedly converted to Catholicism in the last year of his life and wanted all his sexual work to be destroyed. But the work is gorgeous and he did value it for years. So should it all have been destroyed? Really?

There was one specific question in the title thread. And my response is I couldn't give a stuff.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Ragye » 07 Jul 2017, 21:41

Positive Passion wrote:
Rayge wrote: in general I don't think the wishes of people in extremis should be binding on those left behind.


The vast majority of people who leave a proper will are not in extremis when they make the will. It would not surprise me if Albee's will was written 20 years before he died.


I'm sure. But as I tried to make clear at the beginning of my original post, I wasn't considering Albee (not interested in him tbh, or in theatre in general), or talking about wills, but off on a (sort of) related tangent about the extraction of deathbed promises. Sorry for any confusion – these diversions are commonplace around here. Especially when I'm involved :oops:

Oh, and Ragye and Rayge are the same person on different machines
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 07 Jul 2017, 22:19

kath wrote:the reason to respect a beluvved person's wishes is becuz you respect and love the person, in life and death. we are not *really* talking about that dying person asking you to do something you might find morally reprehensible. we are talking about that person's dying wish to keep something private, in this case, written words.

i see absolutely no reason not to respect that.


I do, although I would like to change the verb here from "respect" to "execute" or "carry out".

On the first page of this thread I posted a quote that's meant to illustrate why. That quote is "A Message from the Emperor" and is part of a set of short stories and parables that Kafka wrote, many of which were not published during his lifetime. It turns out, I just found that that particular parable was, but there were a significant number of others that weren't so to make my point, I'll go with another excerpt:

"I have lain here ever since the time when, as the hunter Gracchus living in the Black Forest, I followed a chamois and fell from a precipice. Everything happened in good order. I pursued, I fell, bled to death in a ravine, died, and this ship should have conveyed me to the next world. I can still remember how gladly I stretched myself out on this pallet for the first time. Never did the mountains listen to such songs from me as these shadowy walls did then.

"I had been glad to live and I was glad to die. Before I stepped aboard, I joyfully flung away my wretched load of ammunition, my knapsack, my hunting rifle that I had always been proud to carry, and I slipped into my winding sheet like a girl into her marriage dress. I lay and waited. Then came the mishap."

"A terrible fate," said the Burgomaster, raising his hand defensively. "And you bear no blame for it?"

"None," said the hunter. "I was a hunter; was there any sin in that? I followed my calling as a hunter in the Black Forest, where there were still wolves in those days. I lay in ambush, shot, hit my mark, flayed the skins from my victims: was there any sin in that? My labors were blessed. The great hunter of the Black Forest' was the name I was given. Was there any sin in that?"

"I am not called upon to decide that," said the Burgomaster, "but to me also there seems to be no sin in such things. But, then whose is the guilt?"

"The boatman's," said the hunter. "Nobody will read what I say here, no one will come to help me; even if all the people were commanded to help me, every door and window would remain shut, everybody would take to bed and draw the bedclothes over his head the whole earth would become an inn for the night. And there is sense in that, for nobody knows of me, and if anyone knew he would not know where I could be found, and if he knew where I could be found, he would not know how to deal with me, he would not know how to help me. The thought of helping me is an illness that has to be cured by taking to one's bed. "I know that, and so I do not shout to summon help, even though at moments--when I lose control over myself, as I have done just now, for instance--I think seriously of it. But to drive out such thoughts I need only look round me and verify where I am, and--I can safely assert--have been for hundreds of years." "Extraordinary," said the Burgomaster, "extraordinary. --And now do you think of staying here in Riva with us?"

"I think not," said the hunter with a smile, and, to excuse himself, he laid his hand on the Burgomaster's knee. "I am here, more than that I do not know, further than that I cannot go. My ship has no rudder, and it is driven by the wind that blows in the undermost regions of death."

--The Hunter Gracchus, http://zork.net/~patty/pattyland/kafka/ ... acchus.htm


It's possible that Walter Benjamin could have written his Theses on the Philosophy of History without Kafka's last paragraph, but I kinda of doubt it.

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.


Clearly, Kafka does not owe us or Benjamin anything. This argument has nothing to do with ownership. We have no legal right to read "The Hunter Gracchus" and in fact if Max Brod had carried out Kafka's wish, it would have been destroyed. I fully expect that Kafka mulled over these issues as he commanded Brod (who told him supposedly that he wouldn't obey) to destroy the writings. Surely, you can see Brod thinking over whether he is a stand-in for the Burgomeister or the Burgomeister is a stand-in for him. You can Kafka turning over his legal directive in the short story.

"Nobody will read what I say here

which, because of Brod, is untrue, but the rest of the it is not.
no one will come to help me; even if all the people were commanded to help me, every door and window would remain shut, everybody would take to bed and draw the bedclothes over his head the whole earth would become an inn for the night.

These are all obvious sentiments, namely that the dead are beyond our ability to help, but you can't deny how powerful his language is and how it persists (see the influence on Benjamin). All of this would have been lost without Brod's disobedience.

I acknowledge, probably like the Burgomeister secretly does in the story, that some sort of sin was committed, and I don't make light of that. However, I also don't make light of what was preserved as a result.

This kind of writing, probably also this kind of thought, is a on a qualitatively different level than what any of us here are able to produce. We can deny that we ever wanted to write something like this; we can say that BCB is some transient vehicle hardly more dignified that Twitter for stuff that's meant to be disposable. But we should also acknowledge that there are things that it really should pain us to dispose of, things that are so well-written that they seem more real than the thought they express.

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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby sloopjohnc » 07 Jul 2017, 22:37

Grey Error wrote:As I write this I'm making a mental note of exactly which BCBers will say 'oh I don't care if you put me in a laundry pile or in the bin' and I plan to reward myself with a kitkat for every one I get right.


I've told my kids that if I become incontinent and too old to remember their names, to tie a pork chop around my neck, drive me out to the woods where they know bears and coyotes live and walk me out a little into the forest.

Run back to the car and leave. I lived with one of my grandmothers until she died and you have all heard about my living with my dad. I don't want my kids to deal with that.
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Minnie the Minx » 07 Jul 2017, 22:43

sloopjohnc wrote:
Grey Error wrote:As I write this I'm making a mental note of exactly which BCBers will say 'oh I don't care if you put me in a laundry pile or in the bin' and I plan to reward myself with a kitkat for every one I get right.


I've told my kids that if I become incontinent and too old to remember their names, to tie a pork chop around my neck, drive me out to the woods where they know bears and coyotes live and walk me out a little into the forest.

Run back to the car and leave. I lived with one of my grandmothers until she died and you have all heard about my living with my dad. I don't want my kids to deal with that.


interesting story, but nothing to do with what I wrote. You're describing not wanting to wish the burden of caring on your family if you become infirm. I'm talking about how you respect the memory and humanity of the dead.
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Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby Robert » 07 Jul 2017, 23:18

take5_d_shorterer wrote:
kath wrote:the reason to respect a beluvved person's wishes is becuz you respect and love the person, in life and death. we are not *really* talking about that dying person asking you to do something you might find morally reprehensible. we are talking about that person's dying wish to keep something private, in this case, written words.

i see absolutely no reason not to respect that.


I do, although I would like to change the verb here from "respect" to "execute" or "carry out".

On the first page of this thread I posted a quote that's meant to illustrate why. That quote is "A Message from the Emperor" and is part of a set of short stories and parables that Kafka wrote, many of which were not published during his lifetime. It turns out, I just found that that particular parable was, but there were a significant number of others that weren't so to make my point, I'll go with another excerpt:

"I have lain here ever since the time when, as the hunter Gracchus living in the Black Forest, I followed a chamois and fell from a precipice. Everything happened in good order. I pursued, I fell, bled to death in a ravine, died, and this ship should have conveyed me to the next world. I can still remember how gladly I stretched myself out on this pallet for the first time. Never did the mountains listen to such songs from me as these shadowy walls did then.

"I had been glad to live and I was glad to die. Before I stepped aboard, I joyfully flung away my wretched load of ammunition, my knapsack, my hunting rifle that I had always been proud to carry, and I slipped into my winding sheet like a girl into her marriage dress. I lay and waited. Then came the mishap."

"A terrible fate," said the Burgomaster, raising his hand defensively. "And you bear no blame for it?"

"None," said the hunter. "I was a hunter; was there any sin in that? I followed my calling as a hunter in the Black Forest, where there were still wolves in those days. I lay in ambush, shot, hit my mark, flayed the skins from my victims: was there any sin in that? My labors were blessed. The great hunter of the Black Forest' was the name I was given. Was there any sin in that?"

"I am not called upon to decide that," said the Burgomaster, "but to me also there seems to be no sin in such things. But, then whose is the guilt?"

"The boatman's," said the hunter. "Nobody will read what I say here, no one will come to help me; even if all the people were commanded to help me, every door and window would remain shut, everybody would take to bed and draw the bedclothes over his head the whole earth would become an inn for the night. And there is sense in that, for nobody knows of me, and if anyone knew he would not know where I could be found, and if he knew where I could be found, he would not know how to deal with me, he would not know how to help me. The thought of helping me is an illness that has to be cured by taking to one's bed. "I know that, and so I do not shout to summon help, even though at moments--when I lose control over myself, as I have done just now, for instance--I think seriously of it. But to drive out such thoughts I need only look round me and verify where I am, and--I can safely assert--have been for hundreds of years." "Extraordinary," said the Burgomaster, "extraordinary. --And now do you think of staying here in Riva with us?"

"I think not," said the hunter with a smile, and, to excuse himself, he laid his hand on the Burgomaster's knee. "I am here, more than that I do not know, further than that I cannot go. My ship has no rudder, and it is driven by the wind that blows in the undermost regions of death."

--The Hunter Gracchus, http://zork.net/~patty/pattyland/kafka/ ... acchus.htm


It's possible that Walter Benjamin could have written his Theses on the Philosophy of History without Kafka's last paragraph, but I kinda of doubt it.

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.


Clearly, Kafka does not owe us or Benjamin anything. This argument has nothing to do with ownership. We have no legal right to read "The Hunter Gracchus" and in fact if Max Brod had carried out Kafka's wish, it would have been destroyed. I fully expect that Kafka mulled over these issues as he commanded Brod (who told him supposedly that he wouldn't obey) to destroy the writings. Surely, you can see Brod thinking over whether he is a stand-in for the Burgomeister or the Burgomeister is a stand-in for him. You can Kafka turning over his legal directive in the short story.

"Nobody will read what I say here

which, because of Brod, is untrue, but the rest of the it is not.
no one will come to help me; even if all the people were commanded to help me, every door and window would remain shut, everybody would take to bed and draw the bedclothes over his head the whole earth would become an inn for the night.

These are all obvious sentiments, namely that the dead are beyond our ability to help, but you can't deny how powerful his language is and how it persists (see the influence on Benjamin). All of this would have been lost without Brod's disobedience.

I acknowledge, probably like the Burgomeister secretly does in the story, that some sort of sin was committed, and I don't make light of that. However, I also don't make light of what was preserved as a result.

This kind of writing, probably also this kind of thought, is a on a qualitatively different level than what any of us here are able to produce. We can deny that we ever wanted to write something like this; we can say that BCB is some transient vehicle hardly more dignified that Twitter for stuff that's meant to be disposable. But we should also acknowledge that there are things that it really should pain us to dispose of, things that are so well-written that they seem more real than the thought they express.

Image


The perceived quality of unpublished works has nothing to do with this discussion. It's the wish of the individual who created it, to destroy it after his death. I am genuinely puzzled why that is so hard to accept.

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Joined: 07 Apr 2005, 00:01
Location: Just east of where Charlie Parker went to do some relaxin'

Re: Who's Afraid of Destroying Edward Albee?

Postby toomanyhatz » 07 Jul 2017, 23:41

Robert wrote:The perceived quality of unpublished works has nothing to do with this discussion. It's the wish of the individual who created it, to destroy it after his death. I am genuinely puzzled why that is so hard to accept.


I'm interpreting some of the responses here as an opportunity to discuss the rather fascinating subject from both a moral and artistic standpoint rather than a strong stance one way or another, but other than that I agree completely.

As I said before, I'd be sad to not have Kafka's works, but I also recognize my own motivation in the matter as complete selfishness.
sloopjohnc wrote:I know I picked the Diamondbacks, but they were the wildcard. Next teams will be a little tougher.


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