Arguments Worth Having

Art = Absurdity = Provocation = Contemplation = Wisdom = Love

Dalkey Asshole Press

with 2 comments

The Dalkey Archive Press has recently solicited applications for employment. Dalkey books I love and respect, but the head honcho deserves excoriation for the inquisition-inspired demands. Despite Sir Dalkey-himself John O’Brien’s defense at the Irish Times, where he calls for the appreciation of his ironic epiphanies, he leaves too much genuine sentiment to mitigate the arrogance. O’Brien wants free labor, and he wants to condescend to their ambition. Here, straight from the mouth, are some of his requirements:


1) …are willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards.

2) …do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.).


1) …being unavailable at night or on the weekends.

2) …giving unsolicited advice about how to run things.

3) …taking personal phone calls during work hours.

4) …failing to respond to emails in a timely way.

The LA Times has a more comprehensive response, and my Facebook “friends” certainly are not silent. Yet, to me, this job seemed intriguing and a challenge. I like challenges. Thus I fired off this to DAP:

Dear Dalkey Archive,

I would like to apply for a position at the Dalkey Archive Press. Here are some of my talents:

1)  I love working for psychopaths.

2)  I’m a masochist.

3)  I have no life, professional or otherwise.

4)  I have no self-respect.

5)  I’m compulsive in my dedication and addiction to literature.

As you see, I meet all the criteria implied in your request.

Let me know if you would like to see a C.V.



Afterword:  I imagine Dalkey is being deluged with snark. As they well should be. Certainly, if you take art seriously you must have discipline and commitment, but you cannot be so insular, inhuman, and anti-social that you sacrifice mutual respect and bottom line courtesy. The control-freak-OCD mania that oozes out of the Dalkey Manifesto indicates a lack of reasonable protocol.


Written by Caleb Powell

December 13, 2012 at 4:11 am

Posted in Books, Bullshit Art

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2 Responses

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  1. Hi Caleb,

    Stumbled across your pages while doing a bit of family research. Had a great uncle Caleb who has been resting in the family grave for quite some time now. He was a surgeon. My branch of the family comes from Nenagh in County Tipperary. We’re the cut off Catholic branch since our great grandfather converted.

    The Irish Powells came over with Cromwell and got themselves set up as land agents in Limerick (v nasty job, you had to be to do it) before becoming very, very respectable. To ensure their reputation remained untarnished, they sent all the Powell ne’er-do-wells, fornicators, drunks and gamblers to America..

    By coincidence I live in Dalkey, with planes the export business has become redundant, and am an admirer of Myles. Wouldn’t sweat the O’Brien stuff. He put it out front, being sardonic or whatever. It’s the ones that practice but don’t preach we need to look out for.
    Besides, the POV here is that he’s American and don’t take it tooo seriously. .

    Like the Lady’s art, brings quasicrystals to mind, not to strep uvulas.

    Michael Powell

    January 28, 2013 at 8:14 am

  2. No relation. My roots are Persian & Continental European. Years ago my father’s father died, grandmother remarried, and my father’s name changed. Powell is a corruption of Powalski,

    O’Brien? Seriously funny and satire, the guy stepped on the ball.

    Caleb Powell

    January 28, 2013 at 8:32 am

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