"A born writer, because he was spontaneous and impulsive. . . ."
Daniel Radosh's points about the Bissell plagiarism case (link given on a recent post's Comments below) are not only the worst kind of convoluted excuse for the corruption of his profession, they're also unbearably dull. They show the mindset of an apparatchik, practicioner of an enfeebled art.
Some ULAers may sometimes fail. At some point maybe we all do. But we're always original, impulsive, different, new, noisy and rabble-rousing, doing everything in our power to keep from being "caught" within aesthetic stylistic or intellectual boundaries like caged zoo animals. We don't want to sound like everyone else, and we don't.
In the Bissell affair Radosh is the other lawyer-- the colorless law partner sitting quietly at the defense table like a figurehead, having written a 500-page summary of the case none of the other defense counsel have bothered to read, but they humor him anyway while he sits smugly watching their antics botch the case (having Bissell arrive in the courtroom dressed like a clown was a bad idea), and says to himself, knowingly, "I could've won it!" If only he could've read his 500-page summary to the courtroom it would've dazzled everybody. Fortunately for him he didn't, which keeps intact his illusions.
To those who want the ULA to bring in MFAers, I point to the journalistic mindset as represented by Daniel Radosh and say, "This is what happens when you professionalize an art." You get not the natural talents-- not the Zolas shouting with impassioned polemics, "I Accuse!"-- but instead the time-markers and ticket-punchers, the credentialed crowd who got their credentials by sitting on hard asses long enough within constricted temples of dullness. In Radosh's thoughts one sees consternation and smugness, but no life; no passion.
These kind of demi-puppets (not all are so bad) are advocates of Bissell because they so well understand him; the person for whom literature is a career, the works themselves the inconvenience necessary to justify progress up the career ladder, along with other necessary evils such as brown-nosing. (Everything else is secondary-- even one's integrity-- to this goal.) For Bissell, writing an essay is not a joy or compulsion but a task; a duty he hopes to get over with as quickly as possible (like the ten minutes spent investigating the ULA for his Believer article), by finding shortcuts wherever he can. His essays aren't meant to present original writing (but isn't this what Harper's subscribers pay for?), but to obtain another credit for his career file.
Can you imagine Victor Hugo or Emile Zola having to borrow language from another's book! The idea is ludicrous. They valued their OWN words.
But these men were real essayists, natural writers, spigots of flowing talent, not apparatchiks.