Friday, February 11, 2005

Lit-Blogger Report: Back at the Pet Shop

Bernard Grebanier on Shakespeare: "-- habitually he transformed adjectives into nouns, nouns into verbs, verbs into nouns, and in general played havoc with grammatical tradition."

I'm endlessly amazed by the staggering stupidity of demi-puppet lit-bloggers. I get a quick image in my head of resting beribboned cats in cages behind glass, pretty and unquestioning of their limited but brightly-lit pet shop world. They're waiting for some human or publisher to come along and pluck them out! And take them home to some comfortable mansion where they can go on resting blinking luxuriously, perpetually acceptingly unquestioningly unquestionably not thinking about anything.

Leaders among the fluffy stupid animals are bad enough, exemplified by the tedious torturous reasonings of Daniel "Polonius" Radosh. Other lit-bloggers, the followers, don't even bother to rationalize their stance, making no effort toward showing a glimpse of original or independent thought.

As example we have "Old Hag" blogger Lizzie Skurnick, who chastized me recently for bad syntax. Bad syntax! Wow! Criminal behavior in lit-blogger land. There stands the fifth-grade schoolteacher, ruler in hand, ready to chase away any and all enthusiasm for language with her book of constipated precepts. "Let's eliminate originality and verve from your sentences, students!" the teacher insists. "Remember the rules!"

This is a person whose mind stays within acceptably narrow corridors of thought. The ship of literature is sinking as swiftly as the Titanic, but Lizzie the Hall Monitor of Language is ready to squelch every solution that doesn't conform to Chapter and Section specification of the properly designated code. It's a mentality adopted by writers who have no talent. All they have is their rules. Language to them is reduced to rules. Shakespeare himself didn't care overmuch for syntax (or spelling, for that matter), but we live in a more sophisticated more regulated more ridiculous era.

This is the Age of the Bureaucrat. Those who prosper within the regulated Machine aren't the nonconformists, but the bureaucrats. Quick investigation reveals that Lizzie fits this category well. Her unremarkable blog is devoted to rumors thoughts information and gossip concerning who's been or will be published by the corporate book world. (Or, which of her waiting pet-shop mates has found a home.) Play the game by the accepted rules-- step by slow step. Ascend the narrow staircase of conformity level by level. This is exactly what Lizzie did. She has a B.A. from Yale (not an easy school to get into, I'm told) and an M.A. in Poetry from the John Hopkins Writing Seminars-- where she learned not to take joy from the wild uninhibited use of language, like ULAers, but simply how to follow the rules. She did learn about syntax!
(One can be certain that Lizzie Skurnick as a child always colored strictly within the lines of her coloring book-- and still does. Her crayons are well-aligned, and always go back exactly the same way into the box.)

The only problem with worrying about "syntax" is that when you do, you immediately turn off 99% of the public, who were turned off to literature and poetry by having declensions, gerunds and syntax in school shoved down their throats!

Down with syntax!

Power to the Underground Literary Alliance, reviver of language, savior of literature!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are slightly off base. Syntax is a wonderful thing. Although I am no Archigrapher, and rely more on word and editors than I should, I don't knock it. The best writing follows great syntax, and a lot of this postmodern, blague amphigory, crap lacks it. For Instance I am oft annoyed by eggers use of syntax in You shall know our velocity, and I won't even speak on David Foster Wallace or E.Annie Prolux. Aren't you familiar with The readers manifesto? It was an attack on established writers, whom have bad syntax.

The problem is following rules unremittingly. In most writing courses they instill rules for beginners, which is smart, and then as you advance you have liberty to get away with more, we have an entire field of experimental and Avant Garde that allows it without question, and we see how the public reacts to it.

If executed by a virtuoso, one can be confident that there is a greater cause, versus just sloppy style. For Instance I simply adore Raymond Queneau's Exercices de style.

King:
This is the Age of the Bureaucrat. Those who prosper within the regulated Machine aren't the nonconformists, but the bureaucrats

This is true in every field, at it's business realm, that is common sense, it is a business after all. Do you know which field tends to be even worse than businessmen at this? Scientists. For instance the Germ theory had a hell of a time being evaluated, and I agree with much of the atmosphere, because it winnows out crackpot theories.

Publishing has always been a business and always will. It should not surprise anyone that when you enter into a corporate field, that you have to put up with the bottom line. Otherwise one can now be content with publishing on the net in .pdf forum, since there is almost no overhead.

-The Truth

- Leopold said...

Publishing and therefor 'literature' is a 'business realm' because we have let it become that. Artists are generally more interested in speaking out than developing business plans and ways to churn out money and so have left it up to middle men to take over the business of promotion. Now we are serf's working on the land of masters who have no legitimate claim to our land. They realize this and thus the installation of bureaucratic rules and gatekeepers to keep artists from controlling it - particularly artists who want change.

Not only have they laid claim to our land - choking out space for us to legitimately promote our own art - but they are laying claim to our titles - they are publishers who deem what is good or not, what is literature or not, what is published or not... Looking at the serious decline in reading for pleasure in North America over the last century, they aren't doing a very good job of it - in fact, they are merely staying afloat through their own bloated clique of elitists and literati.

Yes, the publishing world is bureaucratic, but I take issue with it (or anything) being called 'common sense'. It doesn't need to be this way, and we certainly don't need to be upholding the pillars of their corrupt enterprise either. Publishing CAN be a business, but if artists were the businessmen, it would be drastically different. Writing isn't a conformist act and it shouldn't be placed solely at the discretion of those who thrive on conformity. If we hope to achieve destiny over our own art then we need to fight to truly let the public decide what is worth reading, not self-interested gate keepers.

That is not common sense, that is not the way it has always been done and it doesn't have to be the way it will always be. And, considering the state of affairs in literature, I think we're at a very good place to start making that change.

Anonymous said...

Leopold:
Publishing and therefor 'literature' is a 'business realm' because we have let it become that. Artists are generally more interested in speaking out than developing business plans and ways to churn out money and so have left it up to middle men to take over the business of promotion

It has always been that way, look at the greats, and you will see that it's business in different Zeitgeists. Dickens is a prime example, he actually wrote for money, since he was paid by the word. Unless you are a rabid reactionary seeking to return to pre dark age methods, it will always be a business. Although now those "artists" have to put their art where there mouth is, there is no need to attack publishing, simply write, and post it on a webpage or distribute it as a .pdf. However I have seen on this blog the phrase "make a living" come up, so let us not kid ourselves, you can't claim to want to be a full time writer, and make a living if you reject the fact that this is a business.

leopold:
Now we are serf's working on the land of masters who have no legitimate claim to our land. They realize this and thus the installation of bureaucratic rules and gatekeepers to keep artists from controlling it - particularly artists who want change.

Once again, you are another one who seems bitter, and simply wants other people's spotlights, no one is preventing you from starting your own publishing house, or distributing your lit FREELY through the net, surely if it is that good, people will be overwhelmed and send you donations. You are not serfs, serfdom is over, the west is a market economy, you enter into a business relationship. If you don't like it, go to another publisher, Don't go with them. Create your own means of production, you are more than free to do so.

Leopold:
Not only have they laid claim to our land - choking out space for us to legitimately promote our own art - but they are laying claim to our titles - they are publishers who deem what is good or not, what is literature or not, what is published or not... Looking at the serious decline in reading for pleasure in North America over the last century, they aren't doing a very good job of it - in fact, they are merely staying afloat through their own bloated clique of elitists and literati.

Look at the numbers for fitzgerald and faulkner, 7500 copies a year, reading has declined but that is because of the rise of other mediums, theater also got hit. And it's not your land. You are not entitled to anything by a publisher, quite frankly they can choose to not publish you simply because they feel like it, that is liberty.

Leopold:
Yes, the publishing world is bureaucratic, but I take issue with it (or anything) being called 'common sense'. It doesn't need to be this way, and we certainly don't need to be upholding the pillars of their corrupt enterprise either. Publishing CAN be a business, but if artists were the businessmen, it would be drastically different.

Publishing is a business. And you seem to hold 19th century cliches of the romantic artist as your beau-ideal. Wakeup call being a writer is hard work, and if you want to earn money, face facts its business that brings you money, if you scrabble a 300,000 word manuscript in your own semen, and complain that no one will publish/promote/read it, that is your own fault, or simply the markets preference.

Leopold:
Writing isn't a conformist act and it shouldn't be placed solely at the discretion of those who thrive on conformity. If we hope to achieve destiny over our own art then we need to fight to truly let the public decide what is worth reading, not self-interested gate keepers.

Well there are about 300,000,000 people using the net, take it to the public.

Leopold:
That is not common sense, that is not the way it has always been done and it doesn't have to be the way it will always be. And, considering the state of affairs in literature, I think we're at a very good place to start making that change

Actually you aren't the publishing industry is being consolidated, 7 corporations control about 70% of the industry. The public has never held literature in the highest esteem, pick one art or mass appeal. Surely like every other failed art revolution you think you can do both, well you will see the hard way. Try to appeal to the bigot right wing christian fundie, and the socialist homosexual. The only way to have truly popular appeal is to be innocuous, or preach to the choir.

-The Unabashed Truth

jimmy the hyena said...

Syntax is an injustice. Won't the syner be paying enough when he is passing eternity in hell for his syning? Why force him to pay of his living days as well?
jimmy the hyena

- Leopold said...

Mr. (Ms?) 'Truth'

For the record, I have been publishing on the Internet for severals years and run www.redfez.net - (apologies, K.W. for promoting on your blog).

Writing isn't a business. Entertainment isn't a business. Business is business. You can have business aspects to your writing if you want to live off of it, however when a small collection of overlords dominate the market it is hard for small, emerging or unique artists to support themselves. Since you can't seem to seperate what you know of me (nothing) from your image of me as another bitter hopeless romantic writer, lets use music as an analogy:

Small, local musicians (as well as actors) were doing a fine trade and bustling for a long time before recording companies came in and put metallicas and madonnas in every home, choking out the market via large advertising dollars and lawsuits. Who is stealing from who in this instance? Is big business the only business because it makes more money? What about when it has the effect of limiting the availability of art (sure, there's lots of the SAME album, but art in general suffers and options for readers suffer) and the possibility for local people who actually care about art AND feeding themselves to thrive.

As artists affected by this we have every right to criticize publishing. Furthermore, as their supposed market as readers, we have the right to make noise when we feel that they are failing their job. If you must look at it in cliches of supply and demand then their supply stinks and we're demanding better - not only that, we're working to do it ourselves.

70% of the industry (I'll assume your facts are correct on this for the sake of argument, since you claim to own the truth) may be consolidating but you're stuck in the idea that established business is the only business. The more of the same they put out and the more people turn away from that, the more success we have. We aren't interested in joining their ranks. Their consolidation has nothing to do with my personal or the ULA's publishing efforts. We are publishers too and we aren't looking for their acceptance. We are questioning their legitimacy as directors of culture. In essence, we are in a better positiong for change precisely BECAUSE things are getting worse.

Their market does not equal our market - they've lost most of it anyway to other mediums. But the first step in bringing people back to literature is reminding them that it's their literature and not just the slop that's being served up now.

You speak of living in the dark ages, well we are in the dark ages of literature right now.

King said...

A point to note is that "The Truth" ultimately has a pessimistic notion of what can or can't be accomplished in the lit-realm. Most of his argument, as Leopold points out, is irrelevant to the nature of art. Weren't Van Gogh and Gaugin told they weren't following the accepted rules of their day? They followed no rules other than the dictates of their imaginations.
Shakespeare was certainly a businessman, yet he also certainly followed no rules of language-- but made them up as he went along.
The "Truth's" entire argument is phony. He says that in order to conduct business in the literary realm one must follow a set of arbitrarily designated rules. Who created them? Not I! If we, the ULA, are forming an alternate literature, why should we follow someone else's rule book?
Oh yeah, the NFL had all kinds of rules in their league-- but when the AFL was created they went with some of their own-- and generally opened up what had been a too-restrictive game. (As was shown when they won the 3rd and 4th Superbowls.)
Since the ULA began we've had know-it-alls telling us what we CAN'T accomplish, or how we SHOULD be doing things (while giving no evidence of a track record of their own). Despite their misgivings about us, we just keep on going, making more noise, and slowly but steadily growing more united and more powerful. As we will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

Leopold:
Writing isn't a business. Entertainment isn't a business. Business is business. You can have business aspects to your writing if you want to live off of it, however when a small collection of overlords dominate the market it is hard for small, emerging or unique artists to support themselves. Since you can't seem to seperate what you know of me (nothing) from your image of me as another bitter hopeless romantic writer, lets use music as an analogy:

Entertainment is even more of a business than art. Ever heard of Patronage? Don't cofuse corporations with all form of business. I suggest you stick with internet publishing for free, if you have no desire to make a living off your writing, nothing wrong with that. However there also is nothing wrong with being published at an indie press or corporate publisher.

Leopold:
Small, local musicians (as well as actors) were doing a fine trade and bustling for a long time before recording companies came in and put metallicas and madonnas in every home, choking out the market via large advertising dollars and lawsuits. Who is stealing from who in this instance? Is big business the only business because it makes more money? What about when it has the effect of limiting the availability of art (sure, there's lots of the SAME album, but art in general suffers and options for readers suffer) and the possibility for local people who actually care about art AND feeding themselves to thrive

? Are you kidding me? Sinatra, Pat boone, elvis, there have been big record companies since the 30's. However the difference is more dynamic between lit and music, in this area, for example indie musicians are anti-establishement, but waster next to no energy dedicating thier life to denigrating "the system." So MANY writers have a sense of entitlement it's rediculous.
Also don't forget there is this little entity called the public, you seem to want to love the public when it suits your dictatorial worldview, however when they like metallica or another corporate backed "artist" then it's somehow the corporations taking advantage of the poor lower class, who have yet to know true art.

Leopold:
As artists affected by this we have every right to criticize publishing

Yes you certainly do, no one--well at least not me-- is saying shut up, but just debating.

Leopold:
Furthermore, as their supposed market as readers, we have the right to make noise when we feel that they are failing their job. If you must look at it in cliches of supply and demand then their supply stinks and we're demanding better - not only that, we're working to do it ourselves.

The almighty dollar matters, I read the da vinci code, I liked it, was it good writing? HELL NO, but it sells because, well it thrills, while people such as vendela vida and other MFA don't often make thier advances, if you don't like simply don't buy it. However in the publishing world, it is neccesary to publish what I deem crap, such as Paris Hilton or Jenna Jameson BIo'S because of the profit they bring in, which trickels down to first time authors.


Leopold:
70% of the industry (I'll assume your facts are correct on this for the sake of argument, since you claim to own the truth) may be consolidating but you're stuck in the idea that established business is the only business

That isn't how the market works, If a publisher comes out tomorrow with a product the public likes it will be succssful, I will give eggers much respect in this regard with his support of Indie bookstores.


Leopold:
Their market does not equal our market - they've lost most of it anyway to other mediums. But the first step in bringing people back to literature is reminding them that it's their literature and not just the slop that's being served up now


Here is where you err, the market has evolved (i'm assuming you are familiar with basic Economics). For example, 70 years ago, you could get $2,500 (NOT adjusted for inflation)for a short story, and there were a myriad of markets. The market was driven by the fact that society use to use short stories as a discussion and entertainment tool then, which was altered by television and the radio, and we saw a steady decline in real wages for short stories, and they are no longer a cultural staple. 85% of people in one poll, couldn't recall the name of the author of the last short story they wrote, and short story anthologies sell mostly to lit lovers and writers. believe it or not there are "revolutionaires" seeking to wake america up to the short story, literature never had the mass appeal, just more because of a lack of other forms of entertainment.

lEOpold:
You speak of living in the dark ages, well we are in the dark ages of literature right now.

Hyperbole, only a starry eyed idealist could write that on the most influential invention in the last 50 years, and the tool changed the dynamics of publishing.

King:
A point to note is that "The Truth" ultimately has a pessimistic notion of what can or can't be accomplished in the lit-realm

It's called rational pragmatism.

King:
Weren't Van Gogh and Gaugin told they weren't following the accepted rules of their day? They followed no rules other than the dictates of their imaginations.

I can't believe you just used van Gogh, he was simply ahead of his time, and died having 0 impact, infact it's thanks to Academia that he came to be so influential. Keep in mind they also knew the fundamentals, you seem to be a sports fan, I'm sure you are familiar about the problems nowadays with young kids in basketball, many (i have no statistics for this one, only anecdotal) want to emulate sportscenter highlights, or be flashy, before they learn the fundamentals, you don't see 8th graders doing what NBA players do, because they have not mastered the craft yet.

King:
Shakespeare was certainly a businessman, yet he also certainly followed no rules of language-- but made them up as he went along.

The irony speaks volumes, you are speaking of the darling of Academia. No doubt he had an extensive Vocab, but also was prone to many errors.

King:
phony. He says that in order to conduct business in the literary realm one must follow a set of arbitrarily designated rules. Who created them? Not I! If we, the ULA, are forming an alternate literature, why should we follow someone else's rule book?

Where did I say that, the market will decide. They do not own literature, neither do you, however they have a market because there is a demand, surely you cannot be so imperious to assume in the last century ULA is the first to come along with idea of altering lit, and the establishment exists because that is the demand. The 30's are the decade that evince it the best, and next to none of it survives, and the naturalist movement eventually died out, but "establishment" writers like falukner(thanks a lot Perkins) and Fitzgerald and hemingway survive, and the non-establishment material can hardly be said to appeal to the common man (Stein anyone?Valmurrier?) Even Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Dreiser don't hold much weight anymore because their is no demand for it. However this evolution has picked up some baggage such as the astounding success of Christian Fiction, that is a prime example also. Now the coroporate houses have Christian divisions because the market spoke.

King:
Since the ULA began we've had know-it-alls telling us what we CAN'T accomplish, or how we SHOULD be doing things (while giving no evidence of a track record of their own). Despite their misgivings about us, we just keep on going, making more noise, and slowly but steadily growing more united and more powerful. As we will continue to do so.

Of course you will, you seem to be following the historical records to a tee, almost like a recalcitrant youth, It's not surprsing to see it's about growing powerful, there is pitfall #1, the difference is many other--not most-- managed to fail miserably, or cause such pain that history took note, in literature they come and go.

-the unabashed truth

Noah Cicero said...

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac.
That's where I learned grammar.

To The Truth, everybody is still laughing at you and still discussing what mental illness you have. Do you have a point to what you say, oh no, I forgot, you are just mentally ill. Also NBC told me they think your stuff is great but they can only get on Mondays but if your ratings are good, maybe they can get you the thursday 9 o'clock spot.

Anonymous said...

Ah the beat version of Dave Eggers (yep) I read big sur (of course I did) and it like on the road is overrated (and mainly enjoyed by teens) Although thr most annoying part (is those parenthetical asides. The only value it has is seeing what hype can do for a career.

-The Truth

Anonymous said...

I am wee-todd-ted. I am Sofa-King wee-todd-ted.

P.S. OMG! The mark3t will rool ur world forevurz, pink0z! Don't m8k the troll mad or I will haxxor U! I know the Internets and U will payz.

-The Truth

The Unabashed Truth said...

Very Mature

-The Unabashed Truth.

- Leopold said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
- Leopold said...

An economic libertarian, huh. Colour me unsurprised. Did you just pick up the book and decide that's what you wanted to be and then follow all the rules like a good little idealogue?

Ha. I'd say that the previous post worked pretty well, forcing you to at least be somewhat honest with us about your background. Of course, you could put anything in your name link, but I'd say that site fits you to a 'T'. Kudos to the haxxor poster.

Noah - wonder no more! We've discovered the mental illness from which The 'Truth' suffers! Libertarianism! My bets were on that or The Church of Scientology.

The 'Truth', if you're an individualist, then does that mean you wouldn't mind getting lost? And for the record, I'd say that someone signing off as 'The Unabashed Truth' is a pretty key sign that they suffer from "a historical cliche of delusions of grandeur".

Anyway, if you're truly interested in literature and particularly literature that isn't making it into the mainstream I'd say you're welcome to continue posting - like anyone else here - but the ULA, as you've demonstrated, doesn't seem like the place for a diehard libertarian unless it's to gain attention as an interloper. You're not convicing or converting anybody or even 'testing' our beliefs. So if you don't want to accept what DIY or the ULA stand for, perhaps your energies could be put to better use elsewhere. Of course, according to your philosophies, you're going to do whatever you want, but I thought I'd make the suggestion.

- post edited to make sense out of several garbled sentences.

Anonymous said...

Leopold:
An economic libertarian, huh. Colour me unsurprised. Did you just pick up the book and decide that's what you wanted to be and then follow all the rules like a good little idealogue?


I follow logic, one thing you have to learn is not everyone leans leftwards in the world. And I am more of a civic libertarian, I favor Social Security and such, which is an anathema to Libertarians. I simply follow where the evidence leads and make up my own mind.

Leopold:
Anyway, if you're truly interested in literature and particularly literature that isn't making it into the mainstream I'd say you're welcome to continue posting - like anyone else here - but the ULA, as you've demonstrated, doesn't seem like the place for a diehard libertarian unless it's to gain attention as an interloper

I'm actually doing a service, obviously the organization is the comic relief of many and simply ignored by others, look around, it is basically one circle jerk, I was wondering about the lack of substantive debate, until I started posting, it's like posting at freerepublic.com, nothing but rhetoric, no evidence or rhyme or reason to anything. And you have nerve to call me an ideologue. Also you should take note the working class you so profess to stand for, are where most libertarians are, beleive it or not. Of course there are a few Conservatives in sheeps clothing, who simply want deregulation, and could care less about civil rights, but even middle class representives often get shouted down at LP meetings I've been to, then again so was I for favoring social security, and a minor federal role in education.
I'm not expecting to convert any ULA'er, that would actually require participants be thinkers and have an open mind, ideologues usually fail on their own.

-The Unabashed truth

- Leopold said...

Ah yes, the 'testing our beliefs' and 'providing a service by adding debate' bit, just as I expected. Good luck with that.

That wouldn't be so bad if you ACTUALLY DID provide clear arguments and substantive debate. But instead you post a charge, we reply with our argument and then you ignore what we say, make assumptions to our 'leftness' and just repeat what you said again. My friend, you are a one man circle jerk.

But like I said, you aren't convincing, converting or 'testing' our beliefs, though you are going to keep on believing you do so anyway. This 'market' isn't interested in your service, but good luck anyway. I hope it's worth your time.

End of log.

Noah Cicero said...

"My friend, you are a one man circle jerk"
That's just fucking creepy.

That is like saying that The Truth keeps masturbating and cumming onto his own face, that explains all the comments about mental illness and the laughter.

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