[WARNING: Dirty laundry! This isn't entirely pleasant to read. If you've had enough upsetting news for one week, you might want to skip this.
Executive summary: Ctein has bailed and bolted.
Sorry if this adds to anyone's Maalox requirement. —Mike the Ed. (Thanks to Walter and ShadZee for suggesting this warning.)]
I'm sorry to report that Ctein has informed me that he is "not participating in, nor reading, TOP any more." He got extremely* angry at me over the "Photoart" post of June 22nd, which he felt marginalized him.
His reaction came as a complete surprise to me. It wasn’t my fight, and it isn't my issue. That post (which actually fell into the category of "idle thoughts" more than anything, as you can tell from its tone) wasn't about him, didn’t mention him, and wasn't directed at him. For the record, nobody ever needs to agree with me, and I never expect that everyone will. I don't speak for anyone but myself. Ctein himself disagreed with me many, many times over the years, as you might know—he wasn't shy about saying so. And of course Ctein can Photoshop his pictures to his heart's content if he likes, and he can call himself anything he wants to—he can call himself the Prince of The Photo Frogs if that's what he wants**. I never imagined for a moment that he would need or want my permission or approval to do anything. He never has before. As you might know, he himself frequently refers to his work as "my art," anyway, and to himself as an artist. Photographer, photoartist, artist—I fail to see how it's up to me.
At the same time, I’m going to write whatever I want to write on my own website, and no one gets to dictate my opinions or control what I say, no matter how dire their threats. I've never responded well to attempts at bullying. The more strident the attempt, the more I will dig in my heels and resist. My heels had to be dug in hard this time.
Anyway, it's Ctein's decision. I regret it and I feel betrayed, but maybe it's for the best. It happens to coincide with the news that he will be collaborating with a second (different) established author on another science fiction novel. Perhaps he simply has no more need for me or TOP, and has put us into a pod and ejected us into empty Space. Whatevs.
Do note, however, that he hasn't been banned. He can come back and resume his former position and participation any time he wants to.
Meanwhile, though, no more Ctein. Sorry about that. If you miss him, you can look forward to buying his next novel.
Mike, TOP's Lonely-at-the-TOP Mediator type
**One of my least favorite among his photographs (he knows this already) is of a sea of day-glo green toy frogs.
UPDATE Monday noon: I should add that Ctein made many great contributions here and his presence was a great asset. I thought he counterbalanced my less technical outlook very well, and his technical knowledge ranged from good to outstanding. He's one of the most experienced photo writers in the country, as well as being a great character, of which there have been many in the history of photography. I always loved his dye transfer prints. My only problem with him is that he attempted to bully me on this occasion, and it was so acute that I really had no option but to resist it. That's all. Otherwise I was not aware that we had any problems or issues prior to this imbroglio. Naturally I wish him very well in all his future endeavors.
Anyone is invited to explore the "Ctein" category in the right-hand sidebar, which I think you will find provides a wealth of material that is still entertaining to read and a wealth of material that remains very useful. I'm sure I'll write a proper (and longer) appreciation of Ctein here at some point in the future.
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Featured Comments from:
Walter Glover: "Goodness gracious me, I wonder about the good that can possibly come from hanging out the dirty laundry for the world to see. I can sense there is hurt on both sides, but will airing it promote any healing?"
Mike replies: My apologies. Again, not my preference. I had left it with Ctein that I would let it cool for a few weeks before making any mention of it, just in case it might blow over or we might mend fences. But he wrote about it in his personal newsletter (which goes out to a large number of TOP readers) today, and it started being discussed elsewhere (for example, there's a thread on APUG), and I started getting a bunch of inquiries by email. If I don't address it, the questions just keep coming and I would have to deal with them all individually...which is the sort of thing that has the potential to soak up all my time far into the wee hours. So I had no choice but to mention it.
I'm working on another "Open Mike" today with a more positive, "adult" attitude, so maybe that will help make up for this somewhat.
Bahi: "I was very sorry to read about this in Ctein's newsletter. I would love to see Ctein encouraged to publish his counterpoint to your piece here and then for the two of you to agree that your viewpoints are and probably always will be different when it comes to describing photographs. Leaving aside Ctein's contribution to TOP and your contribution to his career, the two of you have had a decades-long friendship and it would be a shame for it to end like this."
Mike replies: Ctein can (or rather could) write a post any time he wanted to on TOP, and we'd settled it long ago that his topics are of his own choosing and I don't interfere. I barely even edit them, except to correct his commas (he's not very good with commas). Had he chosen to, he could simply have written a rebuttal for posting on TOP over his own byline. Instead, he dictated a long recantation that he demanded I publish over my own name, as if I had written it. That, I would not do.
It's been a tough week everywhere.