A Gallery of Embarrassment.
1.) "GALLEY CAT" OF MEDIA BISTRO:
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.
3.) SVEN BIRKERTS:
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.
5.) MAUD NEWTON:
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.
6.) THE LIT WORLD:
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.