Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Addressing Beck Part II

On the Enchanted Island, demi-puppets lurking in the shadows.

(The actor takes a pinch of snuff and tosses his handkerchief about. "I was so deadly in my killing response to the 'underground' post," he says to his confident friends at their "dive" hangout, the Thermidorean, in that "dive" neighborhood known as Manhattan's Upper East Side. "As we're 'slumming' tonight, compreres, may I suggest we order the exotic proletarian dish, the 'pizza.' Once called a 'pizza pie,' to be exact." Affirmations around the table from the Young Republican frilly dress and bow-tie set, each person looking freshly unpacked from a department store box. "Here, here," someone adds, tapping sterling knife to crystal glass. . . .)

6.) "Self-publishing."
Writing a blog isn't publishing. There's no reality-- no independent existence to the work. Flip a switch and it vanishes.

Self-publishing is what ULAers do and have done for years.

7.) "Hierarchy."
Do you deny that we live in a hierarchical society?

8.) Pizza
(Looking at www.newcriterion.com, one sees that these are populists only inside their own heads. On free foundation money they flit around Manhattan and Washington, involved with their conservative causes and arguments, a mirror image to establishment liberals; simply on the other side of the Harvard debate room, with nary an original un-preprogrammed Hugh Hewitt-style thought among them. They're enwrapped in literature alright, as it exists in the Great Books Museum, behind a thick oak door in a high dusty room in an ancient marble building behind the quadrangle, an isolated part of campus to which visitors seldom travel, or even know about. To the NEW CRITERION Overdogs who hang out there other publications and blogs are just so much amorphous indistinguishable noise.)

9.) "What a Critical Magazine Ought to Do."
Not analyze the same writers everyone else analyzes-- those System writers approved as fit topics of conversation.

10.) "Publicity Director."
Should undergrounders not receive recognition? Should they stay downtrodden for all time? I gather that you'd prefer that our aspect of literature stay out of sight-- even though it's a lively part of American culture. Our writers are underground, not really by choice. Most writers hope their words and ideas are someday noticed. My task is to get attention for overlooked writers who are different from the regulated mainstream "Seal of Approval" brand.

11.) Cultural Change.
Culture is changed all the time, sometimes radically, as happened with the advent of rock n' roll. It's done by entrepreneurs, through publicity. Sam Phillips, Alan Freed, Dick Clark, Brian Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham, Malcolm McLaren, all had enormous cultural impact.

We don't live in a static universe. The "everything that people do and make" depends upon role models and ideas. People don't exist in a vacuum! Do we live in airless bottles in a pristine laboratory? (Maybe NEW CRITERION does.) The sudden popularity of the Beatles in 1964 brought an invasion of similar British groups and spawned many hundreds of home grown garage bands across the United States. Within a few months American culture, and America itself, was transformed by one self-taught and not greatly talented working class Liverpool band.

12.) "Arts castle."
This is a metaphor. "Arts castle" is an apt metaphor because it represents the cultural isolation in which you live, evident in your e-mail. The main point of my 10/14 post wasn't the emphasis on the ULA's writers, but on readers-- how to connect with readers; how to create more of them. Print zeensters have been selling zeens to members of the public who otherwise wouldn't read anything. This is the only way to save literature. You believe literature can survive as an abstract entity in a world detached from general society. But literature should be a vital part of the everyday life of a people. Traditionally, nations were defined by their literature.

You wish to "preserve and celebrate"-- not caring whether the writing you celebrate is relevant or read. Celebrate to whom? To yourselves and a modest number of like-minded connoisseurs? I sense complacency, not ambition.

Time will say which of us is right. Our trumpeting expresses the ULA's confidence that we ARE going to change American literature. Our energy is our greatest strength. Faith and energy-- nothing changes without them. Yes, we're braver, edgier, more controversial, and more energetic than other writers. We've proved it time and again.

We have insane confidence (Jeff Potter; Tom Hendricks), we're egomaniacs (Wild Bill, Lisa Falour, Jack Saunders), we're purely insane (Crazy Carl and others). Put us together with our honesty and integrity and it makes us unstoppable. Even the most prominent most publicized establishment writers compared to us are tepid pets. (Why none will read against us.) We're a blazing fire and they're a flashlight. We're not at where we want to get but know where we're headed. Our writing is better than people think; our young writers' work is exciting; we're adding more and better writers to our ranks. Good reasons to be positive.

A word to the Crowd: Static-- or dynamic? Beck's language is one, mine the other. One has the inertia of immobility, the other of movement. If words have meaning, if they cause change, as history demonstrates, then we know with whose words history will side; where the future lies.

1 comment:

Noah Cicero said...

I like this post. It shows what kind of monsters they are.
I wanted to say concerning "Hierarchy." The key to them maintaining the hierarchy is that they make people feel they don't have the right to certain objects and activities. I've noticed amongst poor whites that they do not feel like they have the right to read classics or underground literature. They view reading the same way they do owning objects. They make only this amount of money so they can only own a small fishing boat or this car. They make only this amount of money so they can only read these books that people from that economic class read. It works that way with races also. Whites do not feel that they have the right to Richard Wright and African-Americans do not feel they have the right to read Ernest Hemingway.
It is like everything else in America, American is in pure seriality which means that everyone is broken up into little groups based purely upon how they look or what gentiles they have, and they are given a set of behaviors, rights, and duties they must maintain at all times. Which causes the people to never notice that owners of businesses are the real problem and not the Other.
Americans are given the sense that they do not have the right to read great literature if they have not graduated from college in English or some fine arts degree. The forty-five year old woman says to herself, I'm going to read Patrica Cornwell because that is what 45 year old women read. A dorky white boy from the suburbs says to himself, I'll read Sci-Fi because that is what dorky white kids read. The list goes on and on.