Friday, January 21, 2005

Assessing the Demi-Puppets

A Gallery of Embarrassment.

The biggest loser in our three-day test of lit-blogger behavior, for abjectly adopting the party line and censoring her original blog post on this topic. (Her first post, true to her own opinion, was more accurate.) The lines through her words say it all. A degrading performance.

The floundering mag once again put itself above accountability and response. We also found that Tom Bissell ("a fine journalist" --Mark Sarvas) is not the only Harper's essayist accused of plagiarism.

Unwilling to condemn or defend Bissell, or comment on the matter at all, this public intellectual isn't very public. The Bissell essay Birkerts published in Agni (current issue) stands as something very bizarre.

4.) TOM BISSELL ("a fine journalist" --Mark Sarvas):
I don't see how anyone can argue that Bissell is not, at best, a lazy essayist and paraphraser of another's work.

Always predictable, this finesse operator lawyer. Her "jokes" defense of Bissell is in shambles. That her blog is not in any way an alternative to the establishment lit world; that it offers nothing new in ideas or content, is the point to make here-- though one can respect its consistency: the undeviating establishment party line.

Bissell's reputation ("a fine journalist" --Mark Sarvas) will only skyrocket. Not because he was cleared of unethical, questionable, or inept behavior as a writer-- but because he wasn't. Key demi-puppets have rallied around him, because he's the proto-typical example of how to progress in their Bizarro Universe. A little plagiarism? A minor matter! Trifling! Not an affair at all. That he got away with it is what earns him plaudits.

Construct a Tom Bissell bust-- that fine journalist and rationalizer. Place it in a showcase called "Literature Today." Enroll Bissell in the status quo Gallery of Heroes. It makes perfect sense. Rick Moody is caught in a grants controversy-- and is put in charge of awards panels! Tom Bissell plagiarizes-- and writes an essay for Agni on plagiarism! Don't you get it yet? Can't you see the inevitable logic? These charlatans are reflections of the current state of literature-- honest reflections of its corruption. Do you still not understand? To see things as they are in this world, the way it's ordered-- its topsy-turvy reality-- you must stand on your head.


Anonymous said...


I don't know if you know this, but "Journalism" is actually ancient Greek for "the place where incompetent men and women fail upward." (Tom Bissell, Ruth Shalit, Stephen Glass, Andrew Sullivan, Jayson Blair, etc. etc. etc.)



King said...

p.s. A couple final observations:
A common refrain heard in reaction to our noise about Bissell was "Nobody cares." Such an insular attitude which just about says it all about the lit crowd. Nobody cares! (Like our publishing fatcat friend, who doesn't know and doesn't WANT to know the attitude toward literature in the hinterlands. Just point him to the next Manhattan free lunch or cocktail party.)

Second, all these questions about form and etiquette, which point up the bureaucratic mindset. I didn't wait the mandated "three day waiting period," and also posted comments about my own post. Not done! Submit the appplication in triplicate and after sitting in a file on a desk someplace for two months it'll be rejected again.

Adam Hardin said...

Giving the 2004 Pen-Hemingway Award to Jennifer Haigh is a terrible desecration of Ernest Hemingway. Her book is nothing more than the elevated chick lit so common among the MFA crowd. It is a book that has no relevance, no weight, and dissolves as a bad period piece as one reads it.

King said...

It's hilarious reading some of the lit-blogs' remarks about this matter, which quickly devolve into angry personal attacks. (A few called me "asshole." That's original! Since this campaign began I've been called "asshole" 4,273 times by these articulate people.) Bleating sheep, really, is all it is. In all their "coverage" of this matter, I haven't seen one put up the nine examples of, well, plagiarisms I posted. Is this because it's impossible to view these without realizing plagiarism is exactly what it is? Rationalize and rationalize, but it's hard to rationalize away the actual words. (By the way, I did communicate with Bissell about this matter-- an exchange of quite a few e-mails this past summer. A simple admission somewhere that he screwed up-- even on the Atlantic thread where this matter was discussed-- would've ended the affair. But these people-- Moody for instance-- can never acknowledge any mistakes. I guess because they're so wonderful.)

Hilarious to me also is the way the lit-blog crowd quickly conformed to GroupThink-- Galley Cat not the only one. This in itself has proved the message of our entire campaign-- the absolute rigid conformity of today's lit community. They're too packed within the sheep heard to realize this.

Anonymous said...

King: you must include links to these blogs/sources, where applicable, so we can all click on them and decide for ourselves. It's essential for a fair and kick-ass debate.

If you need help learning how to do this, just email me.


Anonymous said...

This is so boring. Frustrated artists make grand inquisitors. Joe McCarthy or Stalin might find this website illuminating, but the rest of us recognize it for what it is: the high-pitched whining of outsiders who desperately want to become the establishment. "If you can't join them, beat them (with a stick)." No amount of recycled marxist dogma can rescue this movement from its essential pettiness and mean-spirited third-grade bullying. No one's buying it, so you'll have to content yourselves with visions of real artists roasting on spits.