Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Democracy or Aristocracy? Part II

"The fault . . . is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings."

Where is the outrage?

Where in this vast mighty America holding tens of thousands of struggling writers, some of them strikingly talented, is there outrage about the dominance of literature by an exclusive elite? Where are the populations of demi-puppets in this fight? On which side?

As the Hogs of Literature gather in Manhattan at $12,000 tables, where are the demi-puppets?

As literature is dragged ever further into irrelevance by foppish rich judges applauding literary poetry and fiction devoid of character and life, where are the demi-puppets?

Maybe I should pose my questions more directly.

To the hundreds of lit-bloggers: Is Rick Moody a better writer than you?

To good writers publishing in lowly journals, zeens, and web sites: Is Rick Moody a better writer and thinker than you also?

To performing verbal artists: Does Moody carry better words or voice?

To demi-puppet assistants and proofreaders at grunt paper or publishing jobs: Do you also rate him better, above you by merit and right?

What about our society's unconnected unknown novelists with books better than his or his panelists' or his nominees'? What makes Moody worthy? Why is he Judge of literature and not you? Because of his ideas? His INTEGRITY?!!

This blog is a lone voice of contrary thinking attempting to open barricaded doors and throw light upon the monied machinations of today's literary scene-- including those at the Marriott Marquis who move around funding, awards, and names like so many shell games without observers to monitor their honesty.

Literature belongs to all people, not just to a cultural aristocracy; not just to a fake-philanthropic foundation that gives us a "National Book Awards" showcase of intellectual conformity-- awards which represent not even a sliver of America's real culture nor a whisper of America's strong authentic voice.


Brad Plumer said...

Well, Rick Moody is a better writer than me, certainly, but then, I'm just starting out. He's in a rather low tier, but he obviously has quite a bit of ability. (Perhaps he doesn't have *all* the tools or mechanics or toolbox or whatever is needed, but few could honestly refuse to grant him "quite a bit".)

Of course, if he's judging a contest of some sort, all I care about is whether he's a good reader. There are plenty of accomplished fiction readers who aren't much good at writing fiction -- James Wood comes to mind (maybe you hate James Wood -- whatever, think of your own examples). And on that score, I'm not really qualified to judge Rick Moody at all.

Noah Cicero said...

Ricky Moody writes about God and Jesus. That is what everybody is doing, does he ghost write Chicken Soup for the Soul?
Anyone who still mentions religion in their writing except for negative terms is thousands of years behind.
I don't fucking understand people today. In the last two centuries the world has great thinkers with science behind them, Marx, Engels, Skinner, Sartre, De Beauvoir, and Wittgenstein. But the writers are constantly going back to the past to thinkers that had no evidence for what they said, their ideas were contradictory, and they didn't even exist. It smells of conservativism to me.
Also, the regular hard working miserable people of America don't give a fuck about god. The literary establishment and the media tells them to.
and yes, I think I write better than Ricky Moody, I think if the writers were concerned with actual reality based intelligence then Wenclass' blog would be printed everytime he hit two hundred pages worth of material. And then stuck on the table where the diet books are.
You know what sucks most about all this, there are a lot of great minds right now that could be writing great novels, poems, books of philosophy etc. But they are forced to spend all their time fighting some useless rich bastards when they could actually using their genius to make a world that is not so shitty.
It is an aristocracy. But we all know what happened to the marquis. Chop Chop.

Brad Plumer said...

I thought the whole point of this ULA adventure was to write for "the people". "But most people in the United States derive some value from a religious worldview!" But we're not to write about religion. We're to write about Wittgenstein. Yes, Wittgenstein. "But what about the people?" But no! Must be reality-based. ZzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzz....

Brad Plumer said...

Noah Cicero, you genuniely think the vast majority of Americans are religious because the media and the literary establishment tells them to be? The same literary establishment that's supposedly out-of-touch with the vast majority of Americans?


Criminy. I like to think of myself as an out-of-touch liberal. But you, sir, top me for sheer delusion and condescension. I have far, far to go.

Noah Cicero said...

Brad, the only reason the people of America do not know who Wittgenstein is, is because no one informs them who he is. Rich People constantly inform the public who Jesus is, why do you think that is?
it works the same way with Sartre and De Beauvoir. Rich people do not mention them, and if they do, it is always out of context. Why do you think that is?
Concerning religion, there was no organized religion until the classes divided. And all prophets coinside with an economic shift or war. Why is do you think that is?
In Europe the adsurdists and existentialist stopped mentioning religion and started discussing concrete reality. And now their countries are not engaged in fruitless wars, their countries do not have a reactionary president, their countries have national health, free college, and a list of other programs we don't have. Why do you think that is?
Waiting for Godot has Wittgenstien influences in it.
Perhaps you thought talking about Wittgenstein like he is Jesus or something, no I mean more in that fashion. To use Wittgenstein.
Concerning being out of touch: I've worked at factories, fast-food restaurants, caddied, my mother was a factory worker, father a butcher, my brother a trucker, I live in Youngstown, a place with fifteen percent unemployment, I know coke and crack heads, and prostitutes.
To help these miserable people, the first thing you have to do is stop lying to them.

Noah Cicero said...

"I thought the whole point of this ULA adventure was to write for "the people". "But most people in the United States derive some value from a religious worldview!" But we're not to write about religion."
Concerning these lines Brad:
Brad most of America is racist, should we start writing pro-racist novels. Most american men believe that beating their wife is a sign of affection and love, should we write pro-wife beating books. Most American women believe getting beat by their husband is a sign of affection and love, should we write books about how women should love to get by their husbands? As seen from the election most Americans are homophobic, should we start writing pro-homophobia novels. Should we Brad, please tell me.
You remind of this human I know that argued with me that Jack London being a marxist and a racist at the same time wasn't a contradiction because "that is how people were back then" as people like you often say.

Brad Plumer said...

Ah, you misunderstand me. I'm not at all advocating writing racist or homophobia novels. Personally, I think everyone should be writing elitist novels -- about Wittgenstein and rich homosexuals and whatnot, sure. The more elitist the better! But you folks all seem to scorn elitism, so I'm wondering how you reconcile it all. You've sort of answered, I guess. "Use Wittgenstein." Sure.

Although, back to being elitist, I personally wouldn't dismiss religion so quickly. Frankly, I don't rank it as a scourge on par with racism, homophobia, wife-beating, et. al. Nor do I think its sole source is inculcation by "Rich People." We could always debate this, but it would be much, much easier (and quicker!) if you just called me "stupid" and moved on with your life.

Ah, about your other points, a quick run-through:

Europe: Racist as can be in places, moreso than the United States, and by and large lacking all sense of responsibility around the world. Couldn't even stop a genocide in their backyard. Again, we can debate this stuff all day, but holding up Europe as some moral paradise is naive. At any rate, their pacifism stems far more from geopolitical considerations (being under a defense umbrella for the past 50 years) than from existentialism's influence. Acceptance of social welfare stems more from regressive taxation and a lack of means-testing than it does from Sartre. I certainly wouldn't discount the effect of Sartre, Godot, et. al. altogether, but am skeptical that they're the earth-movers you claim.

Your life story: Nice, but let's face it, it's one anecdote among many. For the record, I'm an atheist, but I've seen faith help people as much as conventional social programs do. Lying, not lying, hey, whatever works. I don't much care.