I've stated that the ULA is an experiment in literary rebellion-- an attempt to prod the Beast of literary culture in order to determine exactly how corrupt it is; a way to test writers and gauge their willingness to speak out against the present system. The results aren't encouraging.
It's an indication of the closed-ranks nature of the current System of literature that those who hope to progress within it criticize it anonymously. This is accepted by everyone as a rational decision. To do otherwise could get you blacklisted! Cautious behavior that was last seen in the Soviet Union.
While it's done with subtlety, ours is as conformist a society. This is hidden by a non-stop barrage of media assuring us how non-conformist we are! Our minds are enslaved but we're the last to know. A slick trick. Television commercials tell us that to be hip we have to drink Pepsi or Coke (because these sugar-acid concoctions are "real"). To prove their non-conformity, the mass public runs out to do it. "Yo, man!" a hip-hoppin commercial pitch man yells while engaging in a series of poses. "Drink Coke. Get real."
The master of this same trick on the lit scene is Dave Eggers. He packages himself and his publications as "independent" while having simultaneously maneuvered himself, since his days at Esquire, right at the center of the conglomerate-establishment mainstream. Simply by using cute computer graphics like jumping rabbits, along with fake-witty asides sprinkled throughout the text, he was able to create for the gullible the illusion of difference. Here's a huckster who fully knows the stupidity of his audience-- targeting those who'd already spent a fortune obtaining useless M.F.A. degrees. Eggers knew: They have to be stupid! The modest success of mags like The Believer, containing a regular quota of status-quo New Yorker writers, yet packaged as the "new," proves this.
Now all he needs is some hip-hoppin' cred.
"Yo! My man Eggers be making the scene
creating for you Believer magazine
it's the shit mother-fuckers got to go right now and buy
just pays the big-time money don't be askin' me why
Not supposed to read it, that's not what it's about
Being seen at the coffeeshop with it gives you all the clout
Can't read it anyway it's just a load of shit
Geeky drawings on the cover look real bitchin'
Don't tell me these corny writers been spent too long at school!
Listen what I'm saying these rich motherfucking assholes are cool."
(Behind the rapper in the video can be seen geeky Eggers, Franzen, Beller, Maud, and Company; dressed in baggy shorts and backward baseball caps; pointing clownishly with their fingers while ineptly trying to dance.)