Saturday, October 09, 2004

Writers: Icons of Integrity?

That's the delusionary myth under which most writers labor.

I began to suspect that such wasn't the case in 2001 as the ULA circulated its Protest against the Guggenheim grant to rich guy Rick Moody (signed by 40 zeensters) to 300 of New York's literary finest-- puppets and demi-puppets alike. Not one of the esteemed 300 self-glorious people signed the Protest, though many agreed with it privately.

Writers afraid to make waves? That was the reality.

Last February a NY TIMES front page article about Amazon revealed the ULA had been attacked anonymously by a famed writer, while we were shown to be innocent. We were, as always, in the right-- yet few writers took our part. They cleared their throats and looked into their coffee cups.

The sad truth is that the vast majority of writers are sheep. It's programmed into their nature, the result I guess of their having to jump through so many hoops and play so many games to have even a chance of literary success.

The clinching piece of evidence is the non-reaction by writers to the Tom Bissell/HARPER'S plagiarism story. The only ones who seem to care about this clear-cut stain on writer ethics, this blatant blotch of disrespect for another's work are: the unknown person who initiated the story; the slightly wacked-out "Ranger West"; Tim Hall; and the ULA. The crime is nakedly obvious, standing out like a neon sign-- "PLAGIARISM"-- yet all the many puppet and demi-puppet writers walk past not seeing anything. "Plagiarism? What plagiarism? I don't see any plagiarism. See anything? Well certainly not. Not me!" But the large flashing plagiarism sign of gaudy colored lights is right behind them.

How can one respect these people? Even the biggest names in the field are consistently groveling jellyfish, entities without spines, full of red-faced bluster about their independence as they sample hors d'oeuvres at swanky exclusive PEN parties-- Mailer, Oates, Sontag, Updike-- but one can see the puppet strings on their arms and their wooden brains.

Picture the old "Thunderbirds" TV show and you'll get the idea.


Adam Hardin said...

Derrida died today of Cancer, the famous French Philosopher was 74.

I saw the documentary Derrida, and that was how I came to understand how the French Philosophers after Sartre, have not only dominated American Criticism, but come to be a destructive force of the art of writing.

Many of these MF(A)ers read the French Philsophers, and then write from the philosopher's generalizations. In this way, another writing from categories mistake, fiction has become dead.

That being said. Derrida was the brightest of them all.

I think that writers have to take Art back from Academia and Literary Theorists especially.

Anonymous said...

I think most MOR litsters are scared shitless of their own irrelevance, struggling to preserve what careerists hopes they can. Why else would Tom Bissel get his panties so bunched up about XLibris, a grave threat to "book culture," according to a piece he wrote for Harper's? The ULA suggests that academic credentials and editorial bucket-slogging are not measures of literary merit, and that all bets are off for aspiring writers. If Bissel thought this was simply misguided and annoying, he'd simply turn up his nose and keep walking, as his ilk have done to zines for decades now. That he felt motivated to churn out thousands of words of passive-aggressive critique bespeaks a deeper aversion to our ideas. People who dream of being where he is know better than to support you, but I get no end of amusement from their overamped condemnation.
Thanks for your kind words about "Marie," BTW. I hope you keep the zine profiles coming, so we can discover some of what else is out there.

Emerson Dameron

Adam Hardin said...

I liked writers better when they were reclusive, often irresponsible, sometimes mentally ill, drunks. They were geniuses then.

Now we got these stand ins. These actors who write imitation literature. These writers who don't know how to write because they are trained writers, not real writers. These writers who glorify other writers garbage because it is similar to their own.

Jonathan Franzen, Michael Cunningham, Michael Chabon, Rick Moody, Heidi Julavits, Billy Collins, Vendela Vida...Fuck All of You.