"I never truckled. I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn't like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth."
Back in the early 70s, Richard Nixon ended the draft and "Vietnamized" the war, based on his knowledge of the American psyche. Take the views of carnage off television screens and the populace would once again become complacent. He knew they weren't against war, carnage, domination and exploitation per se; they just didn't want to have to think about it.
Such is the major impetus behind anti-war outrage now for many affluent people. They want the war off their TV screens because it forces them to think about the brutal nature of American civilization. It gives them hints about the source of their affluence. (Cheap gasoline, anyone?)
I see a similar mentality at work with the lit-world herd. Many willfully avoid the ULA's www.literaryrevolution.com fan site and the information given every week in our "Monday Reports," because the revelations might force these writers to have to think. Just as Kerry and those running his campaign didn't want to change the inequities of this society (only apply band-aids along the margins), so do many writers not want to alter the inequities and corruptions of literature. Change is disconcerting. They'd rather cling to the system they have.
STRIKING about last week's dust-up was the way peer pressure worked on many lit-bloggers. Starkly amazing was the 180 degree switch in opinion some of them went through over the nine plagiarism examples. The examples themselves didn't alter a bit-- and still haven't. Extraneous matters such as the ULA's previous battle with Bissell (which I thought was common knowledge-- and was ALLUDED TO in the opening lines of the e-mail I sent out) didn't change one iota the matter at hand. Yet the way the herd viewed those nine examples switched dramatically, as if their 1984 hate screens told them Eurasia was now the enemy and not Eastasia. They seemed to lose control of their own minds.
The herd dictated their opinion. Once Maud came forth with her views, and in effect TOLD THEM WHAT TO THINK, the debate in their heads was over, as Maud represents the voice of the herd. As I said, she never deviates, is never "wrong" in her judgement of which are safe targets on the lit scene and which are not.
Lit-bloggers showed sudden explosive anger when put on the spot-- when I listed three of their names. This was a trigger, because it said they were to be forced to address an uncomfortable matter; to use their minds, take a stand, engage their consciences, have an opinion-- and thus their anger at me for forcing them to do so. There's no question as to what Bissell did-- it's there in black and white. All one has to do is read the words. (You can scroll down and try again.)
But the matter had already been ignored for too long, and cut too close to the very nature of the lit-world. The lit-bloggers searched for any excuse they could find to say this wasn't plagiarism-- side issues involving the ULA's perceived flaws-- because if it wasn't plagiarism, their consciences would be eased, their pose as progressive angels sound, their lit world a place of harmony and fairness-- all would be right in their bubble of a universe.
With their outrage at my breach of protocol, their masks dropped and their true opinion of us and the classes below them came out. They hurried to link to past blog posts which labelled the ULA as neanderthal know-nothing morons.
(Why the working class is reluctant to support "liberal" politicians: We sense their true contempt for us, and the fact that at crunch time they invariably sell us out. Examples available upon request.)
The bulk of bourgeois lit-bloggers scorn the ULA and its writers for our non-genteel nature and the gritty honest authenticity of our poems and prose-- as they wear their Kerouac and Scott Fitzgerald t-shirts and drink from their Dostoevsky and Shakespeare coffee mugs (writers who were either notorious misspellers or notably unpolished). (Note: Bukowski still hasn't become "hip" enough for this crowd.) The contradiction will never register.
Demi-puppet brains were engaged for three days-- unfamiliar and dangerous territory (frightening terrritory)-- then their brains began shutting down across the board. Notes went up on their blogs one after another, "This is the last I'll say about the matter"; "This is my final post about this"; "I'm not going to name those people." Metaphorical lights seen turning off as portions of brains throughout demi-puppet land began closing.
(I'll wager you won't see them on these threads again. The word has gone out to them. Disputing with the underground is too risky. They might become contaminated. Look at Galley Cat! She's probably undergoing re-education sessions as I type this.)
There wasn't a shred of objectivity in the demi-puppet blog posts about the Bissell matter. The side they took was predetermined-- they looked for arguments to fit their viewpoint.
They can answer that I wasn't objective either. I'm sure I wasn't. I'll gladly admit it. Then again, I could've easily taken Bissell's side in things, to get right with the proper crowd. He sucked-up to me via e-mail right after The Believer article came out (as he does to anyone he perceives has some power), and indeed, did so in the article itself. Wouldn't it make sense to get along with Bissell, Franzen, Eggers, and the rest; to "go along to get along"? This is how any demi-puppet would play it.
But the ULA does not consist of demi-puppets.