Ah! Sweet Idiocy!
Title of Francis Towner Laney's 130pp fannish memoirs (or "ME-moirs," as he called them), published in 1948, in which he detailed his fan career up to 1946 and the Pacificon, excoriated a number of individuals in fandom in general (and LASFS in particular) for their pomposity and too-serious attitudes toward the microcosm, declared himself to be an amateur journalist rather than a fan, and explained what had caused him to become (along with his friend Charles Burbee) an Insurgent, moving from a sercon philosophy of FIAWOL to become the foremost exponent of the fannish philosophy FIJAGH [see these two terms; Laney is credited with coining the latter]. ASI provoked immediate pro-and-con comment in fandom; some disputed the facts and others the propriety of describing the LASFS as a nest of ineffectuals, homosexuals and fuggheads (which term Laney also coined). Today people frown on the cruelty of his gay-baiting but it is generally agreed that, this aside, FTL had an uncomfortable amount of truth and right on his side.
According to Harry Warner, Jr. it was the first fan publication to attack fans for their 'real faults', as opposed to perceived fannish faults, thus ruining fandom's tendency to portray itself in an idealized form. Warner commented, "It is impossible to be sure if Laney feuded with Los Angeles fans because he tried to reform them, or if he tried to reform them as a result of the feud with them."
Fannish Reactions & Editions
- Canadian faned Beak Taylor reportedly quit fandom after reading it.
- Laney himself would not allow it to be reprinted during his lifetime, evidently fearing lawsuits.
- It was reprinted from the original stencils by Dick Eney as part of his FAPA fanthology A Sense of FAPA in the 100th FAPA mailing, August 1962 (copies were also distributed through OMPA).
- Eney also published Alva Rogers' 28-page rebuttal "FTL & ASI" as part of his combozine Alexandria Trio in the November 1963 FAPA mailing and also in Bixeltype for OMPA 38.
- A serialization of ASI by Joe Siclari in Fanhistorica saw four instalments 1978-1996 but stopped before what was to have been the concluding section.
- In the 21st century, Joe Siclari posted the complete ASI as page images at Fanac.org.
- In 2019 Dave Langford's Ansible Editions published the first ebook version, with an introduction by Harry Warner, Jr. (a 1961 appraisal in Void): also included are Alva Rogers' "FTL & ASI" plus various notes and contemporary photos.
- Elinor Busby published An Index to the People in ASI
- Ah! Sweet Idiocy! online at fanac.org
|From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959|
|F. Towner Laney read fandom the riot act in this mammoth publication, 130 pages explaining his disgust with fandom, its inhabitants, its attitudes, its interests, and any other group characteristics you can think of. It was the culmination of his attacks on the more undesirable features of the LASFS in particular, which had previously been blasted in a series in the club organ Shangri-L'Affaires. The title represents his view of fandom from the outside, as seen by a non-fan; it was, in a way, Laney's fan memoirs, and described his entire fan career to 1946 and the Pacificon -- during which time he went from looking at fans thru rose-colored glasses to looking at them without, perhaps, any glasses at all. This growing disillusionment is the whole point of the work, in which Laney explains how and why he became an Insurgent.
ASI immediately provoked discussion and argument pro and con from all over; some disputed the facts and some the propriety of describing fandom in general and the LASFS in detail as a nest of ineffectuals, perverts, fuggheads and worthless creatures generally. But the almost universal acceptance of the Insurgent Attitude and its later equivalent, the Trufan idea, among the top fans, suggests that FTL had an uncomfortable amount of the right on his side.
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