Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Moody Doctrine

Rick Moody's recent statement to the New York Times (covered previously here) that literature should appeal only to 3,000 refined people was not said by accident. It represents a philosophical outlook, the basis of the strategy he and his friends follow: "The Moody Doctrine."

The ULA is on the front lines of a fight for control of literature-- a war to determine lit's future; what it will look like and to what audience it will appeal.

Literature, to Moody and other well-connected Overdogs, is not meant to attract and stir the human world. It's reserved for a select elite with the breeding, training, and wisdom to understand its postmodern gobbledygook importance-- a contemporary version of the Elusinian Mysteries, which I'm sure one-time doctrinal student Hiram Moody III has read. For this crowd, the rest of us may as well be illiterate. (As we've seen, they pretend we are!) This is the Moody Doctrine.

THE QUESTION is whether literature will be understandable and relevant to all, or if it will instead be reserved-- specially-priced seat-license tickets only-- for those who dwell in expensive museums, safe palaces, or secluded Fisher Island caves.


BradyDale said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of this issue, but I don't think you've hit on the scariest piece of this here. I wish I knew what ULA'ers thought of B.R. Myers "Readers' Manifesto" but I would guess it was given pretty loud applause, right?
Anyway, it's one of the essays of my life. Perhaps the most remarkable point he made in that essay was, to me, his thing about the priests who started preaching in the native tongue of the community he was preaching for. Priests were astonished to discover the speaking understandably lowered the esteem with which their congregations saw them. Being comprehensible is uninteresting to a lot of people. They enjoy being seen reading dense, incomprehensible garbage... even if it doesn't make any senese to them.
I think this Rick Moody fellow has hit onto a great marketing scheme. If 3,000 opinion shapers like something, then thousands and thousands of other insecure yutzes that want to be like the thesis crowd will buy the crap as well.

Tim Hall said...


I think King is trying to hit on something here between the two typical poles of "understanding" on this issue.

On the one hand, we have the mandarins, the intentionally obtuse "priests" you mention who manage to mau-mau the natives; on the other hand, we have a Randian nightmare of "men for men's sake": artistic "democrats" who believe, falsely, that "all are equal by virtue of birth," which I believe is nonsense. (ie, there *is* intrinsic greatness/specialness in some humans that absolutely lifts them above the sweating masses).

That said, what I've always (personally) felt in Karl's writing is a courageous defense for a certain defiant middle ground that is largely overlooked: that there are huge numbers of intelligent, thoughtful, even brilliant unsung members of the populace from every caste/class who are tired of being pandered to by *either* side of the great Governmental Divide that the Republicrats of our country are trying constantly to swing us into the most extreme margins of...

Martin Luther King wasn't murdered when he railed against race; he was murdered when he railed and mobilized people against class. We in the lit underbelly should remember this.

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Adam Hardin said...

There is a median that the great writers are able to hit on and that is why writing is so difficult, and that is to write profoundly and deeply, but at the same time to engage the reader, and the Moody Doctrine stupidly forgets to engage the reader.

This either/or idea is a hallmark of Academically trained writers that either you write for the masses and write garbage or you write for the few Academics and write Literature.

Franzen is a big perpetrator of this bad idea as well.

And while the Moody doctrine works for a small group of people, in that some people will read obscure crap just to be seen reading it or to feel good about themselves, on the whole it has absolutely failed as proven by the death of American Literature.

Anonymous said...

This is slightly off subject but the TV show the L Word seems to be taking a few jabs at
the writing program/demi-puppet mentality. Last week there was a very funny jab at Moody when the pretentious writing class student
who is fucking the "famed" writing instructor compares the heroine's work to "Moody." This guy looks a lot like Eggers. Then he gets up in front of the class to read his piece, says he's added a drag queen to his story "for local color" (very demi-puppet attitude toward gay characters) and the heroine reads him his rights,and tells him in what sounds like a rather Eggers directed criticism, that he "can't write women." Perhaps I read too much into the show, but it seems to be a very honest portrayal of the writing workshop scene as described on this site.


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Emerson Dameron said...

I think our new Nazi pal is an authentic crank, convinced every forum is proper for his "ideas," and can only be ignored as much as possible. If he's an MFAer's strawman, he's an unbelievably lazy, desperate one - the creation of an idiot blessed with epic free time. Of course, the Amazon mokeyshines already convinced me I'd given Karl's ideological foes too much credit.

King said...

I think we're entering the last stages of demi-puppet desperation, that's all. They're trying to discredit the ULA any way they can. I hope they keep in mind that, as with the Amazon fiasco, anonymous posters on the Internet are sometimes accidentally revealed. (The poster strikes me as a caricature of a crank.)

Anonymous said...

in the future all books published in america will be written in an obscure russian dialect with a modified alphabet you can only learn at NYU or Columbia. they'll have to do it to make sure that 1) no one else will be able to write a book. 2) no one but their ivy league buddies will be able to decipher their illustrious words.
i find it sickening that they've moved on, balls out, to the next level of classism. not only are the masses unworthy of producing literature, they are also unworthy of reading it. i can only imagine how pissed the shop owners must have been, way back in 18-what-not when they started teaching the factory workers to read the instructions on the machines, and a few days later, the haughty bastards showed up with books. turns out people actually wanted to read. i'm sure if any of those slave-driving moguls could see the ULA, they would cry and wish they'd thought of sign language and never taught the workers how to read at all.
bernice mullins

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Noah Cicero said...

Bernice Mullins did not write that you shit.
Here are some quotes for your halfwitted demi-puppet ass high-lighted by Bernice Mullins in "anti-semite and jew" by Sartre.
They are messed with a little but I don't think Sartre would mind.

The demi-puppet and racist is afraid of any kind solitude, that of the genius as well as that of the murderer: he is the man of the mob: no matter how short he is, he still takes the precaution of stooping for fear of standing out frm the herd and of finding himself face to face with himself. If he has become an racist or anti-ULA, it is because one cannot be racist or a anti-ULA alone. This sentence, "I hate the blacks or the ULA," is a sentence which is said in chorus; by saying it one connects oneself with a tradition and a community; that of the mediocre man."

"The racist and demi-puppet is a man who is afraid. Not of the blacks or The ULA, but of himself, of his conscience, his freedom, of his instincts, of his responsibilities, of solitude, of change, of society and the world; of everything except the blacks and The ULA. He is a coward who does want to admit his cowardice to himself; a murderer who represses and censures his penchant for murder without being able to restrain it and who does not dare to kill except in effigy or in the ANONYMITY of the mob; a malcontent who dares not revolt for fear of consequences of his rebellion. By adhering to racism and being Anti-ULA, he is not only adopting an opinion, he is choosing himself as a person."

Isn't it strange how easy it was to switch the word Anti-Semite with Demi-Puppet.

This is for sure a fucking demi-puppet, the closer The ULA gets to their shelves the more absurd slander they are going to come out with. This country has a million god damn problems and their biggest concern is The ULA, fuck we must be really getting up on their shit.

- Leopold said...

For the record, I don't think that the post immediately above this was posted by Bernice. Please see the Emerson Dameron comment above.

- Leopold said...

Noah's post appeared just as I posted my comment. I refer, of course, to the comment above Noah's.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't dis the Eleusinian Mysteries -- they were pretty fucking rad.