The nature of bureaucracy is to become complacent and fossilized, satisfied with the organization's accomplishments and modes of operation; out of touch with newer ideas and changes on the outside.
Classic examples are the monster American automobile companies. Forty years ago they reigned supreme, without competition. Since then they've faced change after change, assault upon assault, have struggled to compete as they've lost market share, yet remain, as organizations, as slow-moving and unimaginative as ever. GM and Ford's sales plummet, the companies on the verge of going bankrupt.
When Japanese competition appeared in the 70's, GM and Ford responded in laughable fashion with the shoddy Vega and exploding Pinto. American competitors were dealt with more ruthlessly-- John DeLorean set up on cocaine charges, federal agents involved in determining the state of North American business.
LIKEWISE, in response to the ULA dynamic the literary establishment searches for a quick-fix solution. Programmed mouthpiece David Gates, a long-time Insider stooge (has taught alongside Rick Moody at NYC's New School) is enlisted to find a current "Outlaw" writer. Who's available? Who does Gates know? In the corner stands bubble-boy Jonathan Safran Foer, raised in a protective hothouse, career nurtured by his brother (bigshot at New Republic); and at Princeton (home of outlaws, surely) by Joyce Carol Oates. Foer has gone on book tour with Insider novelist Francine Prose, his guardian away from home. A less likely candidate for outlaw-- domesticated pet milquetoast conformist-- could hardly be found. Gates hangs the "Outlaw" sign on him regardless. Foer remains quietly and politely in the corner wearing the sign. A hand timidly raises. "Uh, Mr. Gates?" he asks. "Can I come out of the corner now?"
Poster boy for today's literary establishment-- their version of the Pinto, without the gas tank explosions. Will the con work? David Gates thinks so. As long as genteel New York Times readers are steered away from genuine outlaw authors (hope they don't notice Jack Saunders and Bill Blackolive!) anything is possible. But I doubt even Times readers are that stupid.
As the ULA grows in size and scope, the response of the established lit-world and its David Gates car salesmen puppets will remain as feeble and ill-thought-out. They don't know how to find or create exciting American authors. They slap the label on what they've got. Foer, Chabon, Foster Wallace; newer versions of last century's designs trucked from university production-lines that haven't retooled in fifty years! Car salesmen hawk the stodgy overpriced products in gleaming empty showrooms. "This car is an outlaw!" Gates, wearing bow-tie and checkered sportcoat, bluffly announces to stray customers who wander through the door. The mad salesman with hair askew waves the people forward. The customers see colorless products lacking in horsepower. To the side stands Jonathan Safran Foer obediently wearing his sign, embarrassed at the hype but awaiting permission from Mr. Gates, Ms. Oates, or Ms. Prose to move out of his corner.