Thursday, October 07, 2004


The ULA has its origin in the print-zeen movement, which for the last 30 years has functioned as a kind of American samizdat-- the circulation of underground typescript journals and pamphlets. (ULAer Tom Hendricks has documented much of this phenomenon in his "Zine Hall of Fame.") These publications have functioned as outlets of dissent-- presenting contrary ideas not to be found anywhere else. (Many, of course, are punk and anarchist.)

One can speculate on the reasons people began printing and distributing their words. For myself it was to have a voice-- to project myself into the national discourse.

The ULA was founded by cultural dissidents. Every founding member at the time was either advocating radical ideas, or alienated from literary culture. (The first person we added, Jeff Potter, was from a more practical background-- which gave us needed stability and sanity that's kept us going.)

The outpourings of our oldest members, Wild Bill's LAST LAUGH and Jack Saunders's pamphleted novels, in particular have the look, feel, and sound of cultural samizdat.

Lit-bloggers come from a different perspective, maybe a different class. They're more conformist. Their independent activity is a way of working within the present system, not an outcry against it. There is less commitment in creating a lit-blog than a print zeen. A lit-blog is less of a demonstrative protest; less of a personal political statement and act-- not just because of the greater work involved in making zeens but also the history behind zeens: the tradition and continuum of dissent.

The ULA's ideas remain unapologetically dissident.

(For an example of current literary samizdat order LITERARY FAN MAGAZINE, now available right off the ULA's fan site.)

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