Preface to the second edition
SIEGE has turned out from the beginning to have had a remarkable career. Born out of emergency in the summer of 1980, it pulled its own weight financially for the six years of its original run as a monthly newsletter until I decided to end it in the summer of 1986.
That was the nuts-and-bolts part of it. And that is important unless one is so taken up by hobbyism that they are willing to pour their own money into a losing venture. I was not and am not. The interest must be out there; otherwise, why would anyone bother?
Naturally, your packaging must contain a certain minimum of professionalism, but beyond that, you really ought to be saying something worth saying and preferably something that hasn’t been already said. From the start, I felt I had these criteria together by virtue of a long career already behind me in what is generically called “the Movement”.
In short, I felt I had seen all the mistakes that could happen and heard or read all the garbage that could be spoken or written, at least as regards the subject matter that this “Movement” claims to specialize in. I knew I could avoid all that at the very least.
Three years after the termination of the SIEGE newsletter, that is, in 1989, an energetic and idealistic young man approached me with the proposal of making SIEGE into a book. If I’d supply him with a complete set of the newsletters, some seventy-two issues, he’d edit them into a book and publish them at his own expense. I said all right, that I’d help him in any way I could, but I cautioned him that, in ten year’s time, he could still have them piled in his closet or garage.
He accepted the risk and, well before ten years were out, SIEGE was a sensation and a complete sell-out. They tell me that copies of this first edition, when they can be found on the Internet, are going for a cool $150.00 apiece. I’d have done well to sat on a couple of cartons of them at the time, but I’m not an investor nor am I a mercenary. All of my “freebies” were likewise handed out freely to friends and associates.
Then, by the mid-Nineties (the book SIEGE having first appeared in 1993), the letters began to come to me begging for a source for a copy of the book. My only answer was that, if I needed one for myself, I wouldn’t know where to go about getting it. And so it only intensified as the Nineties gave way to the new Millennium. So it has stood up until now, after another young and idealistic person has come forth to give us this second edition.
Once again, I determined that the interest was either going to be present or it was not. Beyond mere interest, there was going to once again have to be the expertise as well as the wherewithal to make it a reality. Because things had not gotten any easier since the first edition had been undertaken. One of the reasons for the long time required to bring that first edition out was the difficulty in finding a printer who’d handle it. In light of the events of September 11th, 2001 , that already tiny pool has just about evaporated completely.
And yet where there’s a genuine will there’s usually a way. You’re holding that in your hands.
We felt at the time that we might be letting ourselves in for some hassle from the System due to the perhaps “volatile” content of SIEGE and, indeed, the one “Movement” attorney at the time suggested we supply him with a copy, “just in case.” As it turns out, not only did the System go out of its way to ignore SIEGE, so did all but one of the so-called “leaders” within this self-same “Movement”. As might be considered my right, I ascribed it to jealousy.
The young man had done a magnificent job with the book, blowing whatever might have been its next closest competitor right out of the water, and I, for myself, had from the very beginning chosen not to waste a single word on tripe. That was the winning combination. This same formula had always been there for anyone to use. Why no one used it before is taken up in the pages of SIEGE itself. One more reason why the book was generally banned by the “Movement”.
But never was I interested in convincing anyone else of my sincerity, much less was I interested in impressing anyone who was more or less of my own persuasion. First, to distill some real truth and then to package it for the consumption by some minds who might just make a difference with it was my only concern. And things over the course of the last two decades and more have tended to show that we’ve actually enjoyed some success in the goal.
This new edition is little changed from the first. The new publisher is apparently convinced that the book holds up well enough after twenty years so as to be worth one more turn on the merry-go-round. As its author, I’m aware where the book has dated and, even though I’d retract not a word from it, I might add a few things. But that would constitute another work. I, too, am convinced that SIEGE remains cutting-edge enough even today and still contains enough Movement history so as to be eminently worth reading.
So here it is and I must confess that I am most gratified by it.
Now, after all this time, a fair question might be of this literary antique and oddity: Were we dealing in a bit of prophecy and also of “I-Told-You-So” at the time, and now, in the present, has it all become “I-Told-You-So” with little, if any prophecy, left to it?
You’ll have to be the judge of that.
James Mason, Spring 2003
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