James Poulos in a comment on Ricochet on the role of editors:
Writers now have competing pressures — to be witty, quick, ironic, noticeable, flip, to dispatch every clay pigeon tossed up by a culture pandemic with pigeons; but also to self-edit, to self-moderate, to be reticent at the right time, to pussyfoot expertly, to pick battles, to avoid perils, to besmirch rarely, to duck blame, to satisfy spectral overseers. This is a serious pickle, is it not? And yet it now appears to be the cost of doing business. Possibly, this is the internet imitating life.
I loved the "satisfy spectral overseers" bit. Where did that come from? Who gets that description?
Knute Rockne, in a H.W. Wilson Company 1942 biography:
No one will ever tackle the job of football coach at the University of Notre Dame without a sense of solemn obligation, for the spirit of Knute Rockne still hovers above the campus like a spectral overseer.
Walt Disney, as referenced in two 1990s management texts:
Eisner came aboard and cleared the deck, bringing in new managers, most of whom had never met Disney. The new crew, freed of the spectral overseer, began to create a culture that was more sophisticated than stodgy, more adventurous than cautious, more ambitious than content.
John Edward McCullough, from the National Theatre:
The shade of Actor John Edward McCullough, a popular American thespian of the 1800's, is said to roam the premises of the theatre in the dark of night. No longer thirsting for an audience's applause, the once famed star performer has taken on the lonely role of ghostly custodian and spectral overseer, checking to be sure that all is in readiness for the next performance.
I for one welcome the editorial guidance of our spectral overseers. But whose guidance should we channel for this task? That's some other post about people (not necessarily "writers") who have mastered the online form.