Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another Goofy Lit-Critic

More Adventures in Fawning.

Just when we thought we'd reached an apex of sycophancy in James Wood's eulogy to Saul Bellow, we have rival literary "critic" Sven Birkerts going to town in AGNI #61 over how much he adored another departed so-called great, Susan Sontag: "--a ground, a fixture, a kind of due north in the peculiar literary afterworld that many of my peers and I feel we occupy."

Birkerts tells of walking down the aisle of an Amtrak train once, to the Club Car, and there-- golly gee wonderful fantastic!-- sat Susan Sontag. "-- the legendary hair, the skunk-stripe. It was Susan Sontag, riding coach-- Susan Sontag, bent over a stack of student papers!"

Lit- critic dispassionate observer Sven Birkerts was in heavens of ecstasies! But how to behave? "I was almost too excited to approach." (One can see him blocking the aisle pondering the dilemma as wearied business travelers seek to move past the great literary authority-- "Out of my way, you stupe!" Birkerts is oblivious, taking three short steps toward the Great Sontag and three steps back, wringing his hands over the once-in-a-lifetime presence of the Icon. What to do? What to do?!!) At last he forces himself to make "only the most hurried hello." (Sontag, glancing up from her papers, notices the distorted eye-popping face of a crazy man in tweed crawling creepily past her seat. "Hi!" he manages in a squeaky voice as he passes. The Great Sontag returns to her paperwork.)

"My life had been . . . " Birkerts relates, "temporarily 'certified.'"

He tells another tale of seeing Sontag and Joseph Brodsky in the Reggio in New York City. (Brodsky he infamously stalked as a young man; we can believe by Sven's curious description of accidentally stumbling upon them that he might be stalking Sontag in this story; Birkerts eyes following her around corners and down the street.) "The other of these meetings was more charmed still." Meeting? Birkerts stands "freeze-framing" the two Giants huddled at their small table, with "the strongest intuitions of that inner circle, as if the conversation at that table had to be smarter, wittier, more in the know than any other in the city-- "! Golly golly! Wonderful greatness! (The lit-critic stands in the middle of the cafe hand moving vigorously beneath his raincoat while "freeze-framing" his two idols.)

We've hit the abysmal embarrassing bottom of literary criticism. Here is no blaring shouting upsetting riotous call for literary change; no urgency to replace dead art and dead history-- only a desperation to hold onto what had been and is quickly fading away: the obsolescent insular attitudes which have led to lit's decline. Here in AGNI 61 is no answer-- only moldiness. AGNI claims to be on the "frontiers of literature." Birkerts is more accurate when he speaks of an "afterworld" that's passed him by. In truth he and his kind stand on no frontiers, are exploring no new territory. They're hiding in bunkers beneath nunneries, closing their eyes and minds to the rot and corruption of the lit world today, waiting for reports from the Sisters in the safe convent above as to when the world will again be okay. In the meantime they clutch portraits of their dead gods, weeping over the failure of their beliefs, wishing their cherished "legends," "the thinkers and spirits, the last large-scale serious ones"-- their neverland illusions-- could return from their graves to rescue their world of shut-in mediocrity.


Anonymous said...

Can you explain this phenomenon? I have a poop cycle. I'll start out with perfect Phantom Smoothies for a couple days; then it becomes progressively more squishy, greasy, and tougher to clean up. Then, after that, I'll have approximately a week of watery poop. The entire cycle lasts about three weeks, and constantly repeats.

My diet is consistent, and so is my work and recreational schedule. I can think of no outside circumstances that might explain the phenomenon. I wonder if any other fellow poopers experience anything similar.

Anonymous said...

I can't explain it, but I have some advice. I had irregular and disagreeable cycles myself until I started taking fiber pills and acidophulous daily. Since then, I poop at the same time each day -- give or take an hour. The only odd thing about it is that I feel like the fiber and acidophulous is moving my bowels, regardless of whether my body is producing sufficient poo. Unlike you, my diet varies. So, some days I push out hard, little pebbles; on other days, a glorious pile. In either case, I'm passing daily, so that makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'll try it! Here's a tip from me: it really helps to keep baby wipes near the crapper as TP often just smears one's poo around, leading to skid-marked, soiled underwear. But you probably know that since you sound like an old pro!

Jeff Potter said...

Hey, King, you really got the Anonymous Coward's panties in a bunch this time. What a weakling. You're bending them too much for words, King. So piles of gibberish is all they can make.

Your report on Hero Worship reminds me of the Expat Paris memoirs I recently read. The greats hung out in cafes back then, too, and took trains. Their peers, rivals, underlings, whoever, would come up and ENGAGE them. Hardly a trace of the paralysis Birkerts unabashedly describes. Doesn't he have anything to say or to contribute? Of course, maybe his heroes didn't want to be bothered. That doesn't fit with real cafe life either: in the Lost Gen days the heroes were out and about to be engaged, to discover something. Or maybe to try to get some work done---so then they'd tell a pest to get lost, why not. No harm in asking. But meek staring? Is this what the literati have sunk to?

Ezekiel Brutus said...

Oh you demi-puppets are back are you. Good. I missed you conformity didn't you know. And now your talking shit you fucktards because its the only thing you know. Ha ha shit now I'm a demi-bitch too.
I wondered where your at you fucktard demi-bitches looks like you were in the toilet the hole time where you belong. Probly your scared of the world.
Well I dont know about all that SHIT because the only shit the ULA eats is our own when we lick it off King's weiner after he sticks it up our ASSES BECAUSE WE'RE OUTLAWS YOU BITCHES AND OUTLAWS LIKE IT ASS-TO-MOUTH. BUT YOU DONT KNOW THAT BECAUSE YOUR BOURGEOISIE SEX and arent even crazy outlaws like me.
You are potty-mouth and potty-brains, you scared demi-puppets. So you can dance with your jealous EPA because we're taking overs.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of getting panties in a bunch:

She was so elegant and beautiful that I immediately forgave her for having a snooty nickname like "Gigi." We became friends in Washington DC in 1995 when she was fresh out of law school -- a hard-charging, hard-core yuppie -- and I was her bartender (and an earnest culinary student.) I liked the way she smoked -- she held her cigarette straight up and tilted her head back a little on her neck; it was the pose of a Hollywood starlet from the heyday of modernist grandeur.
Gigi could have been a movie star if she weren't happier as a corporate litigator. A corona of long, dark lashes accented her arresting, translucent-blue eyes, framed in further contrast by the sort of avian cheekbones usually found only in European royalty and Calvin Klein models; and perfectly straight, glossy, coal-black hair that fell to mid-shoulder.

Gigi's everyday conversation captivated me. My Maine bumpkin ears delighted as she shared lurid tales concerning silver-dollar surnames misbehaving in cloistered dinner clubs with corseted-curtain windows and mahogany moldings. It wasn't snobbery -- at least, not to my mind; but a rare window into a gilded place where clumsy, rough-shod provincials like me never tread. Eventually people like Gigi converge on Manhattan to socialize and, ultimately, to spawn baby WASPs, and when she left, she gave me her number. "Call me if you ever come to New York," she told me. Six years later, I did.

After my culinary career ended last summer with an entrepreneurial defeat, I enrolled in graduate school (at the age of 30) to learn things that might one day land me the kind of job where I could go to bed early without grease-burns on my wrists and the stink of shallots and shellfish permanently ground into my fingernails. Two weeks ago, on the trail of some sort of highfalutin office gig for a summer internship, I went down to New York to chat up prospective employers. I could have called my usual friends, but I didn't want to risk spilling bongwater on my only suit, so I called Gigi instead to ask if I could stay with her.

"Oh, my GOD it's good to HEAR from you!" she said. "How on Earth ARE you? Yes, OF COURSE you MUST stay with me!" A newly-minted partner in a Wall Street law firm, Gigi was still single -- and still married to her job. "I doubt I'll be home before nine," she told me, "but I'll leave word with the doorman that you're coming." Doorman? She had a doorman?

I got off the bus with time to kill, so I met a friend at a barbeque place in the West Village where I devoured a rack of ribs, smoked half a pack of Camels and downed six or seven beers. I finished the night with a Tequila shot and a plate of chili fries. As I weaved my way up to Gigi's building with my tattered suit-bag in hand, my pores hummed out a fugue of multinational flavor -- a polyphony of Eastern spice, Virginia tobacco and Austrian hops. The doorman frowned as he stared down his wrinkled nose at me, but he handed over a key anyway. Did the elevator operator expect a tip? He glared at me as he shut the cage, still holding the two dollars I had given him.

I stepped out onto the plush, carpeted hallway and into a gallery of somber art in fluted gold frames, dark wood tables and eagle-crested, gilded mirrors. Believe me when I tell you that nobody hangs art on the walls of my apartment building in Boston and the only furniture one finds in the hall is on its way to the trash. I unlocked the door of Gigi's apartment and entered into a tastefully-decorated, five-room wonderland of 12-foot ceilings and fluffy cats. I could have hosted a cooking show from her kitchen, a parabolic amphitheatre of ceiling-high windowed cupboards focused on a gleaming, restaurant-quality chef's island in the center of the room, bathed beneath the soft glow of a canopy of electric tea lights.

"Make yourself at home," advised the note on the counter, and I did, opening doors and wandering corridors and gaping out the window at the views of park, city and river. What the hell was I doing in a place like this? I found a TV shuttered in an armoire and I sat down on the couch to watch the news and await Gigi's arrival, looking periodically at my reflection in the window to make sure I looked OK. Was my shirt straight? Were my socks pulled up? Did they match?

And then the ribs hit me.

Ladies and gentlecrappers, when I say my stomach churned, I mean you actually could have seen my intestines bulging and wriggling as the bolus of pork and beer and potato worked its way down -- the same sort of dizzying, spiral motion created by a stadium full of people doing the wave at a football game, and accompanied by a borborygmal roar almost as loud as any NFL crowd. I realized that I had been sucking in my not-inconsiderable stomach in some misplaced effort to appear as svelte and fashionable as the models in a Ralph Lauren ad in case Gigi walked in, but there could be no containing my belly now. My gut swelled up like a ripe May apple, bulging and ready to pop, so I removed my belt entirely to make space for it, and even then it pulled my waistband as tight as the strings of a violin. I felt my cheeks getting flushed and my forehead getting moist, so I stood up, a little panicked, a little unsure of what to do next.

Gigi's apartment had two bathrooms: one next to the kitchen and one next to her bedroom; but neither had a ceiling fan, presumably because the bathrooms dated from the same era that produced the charmingly antiquarian marble and brass fixtures on the sink. I debated which one to use. What would happen if Gigi walked into her apartment and got hit in the face by the shock wave from a mastercrap?

In the bathroom next to the kitchen, I took a leak, trying to make space for the growing, rancorous mass in my midsection. I was pretty sure I could clamp my buttlips tight enough to contain my crap -- at least for now -- but what would I do about the hurricane of flatulence brewing within me? With my trou still unbuttoned, I decided to let off some steam. I bent at the waist and twisted my torso a little bit, as if I were looking over my shoulder at something interesting, and I farted out a maniacal, soprano jet of bilious wrath. I didn't shit in (or on) my pants, but the thick wet stink that came out was a prediction of something awful, a terrible beast, snarling and clawing and fighting to be free. And, oh, how the vapor burned as it escaped!

Then, suddenly, one of Gigi's cats scratched at the door and I nearly had a heart attack, thinking that perhaps Gigi had overhead my emission. Pulse pounding in my ears, I ran the hot water, trying to float my stink skyward on wings of steam. Would the expensive perfumed soaps be enough to mask the smell? And what would I do when it was time to face my demons and birth my monster?

I walked out of the bathroom and back in three times to evaluate the air quality before I finally decided to close the door firmly. I returned to the couch, trembling still from the adrenaline in my veins courtesy the feline assault on my tranquility. I closed my eyes and prayed for intestinal fortitude, or else a quick deliverance from this situation, and two minutes later, Gigi arrived.

She looked almost exactly the same, perfectly and primly dressed, maybe a tiny glaze of grey in her hair, but not even the hint of a wrinkle scored in her milky white skin. Botox really does work, I guess. "How ARE you?" she asked. "You MUST tell me WHY you stopped COOKING. Don't you know CHEFS are SEXY? Come, let's have some of that LOVELY WINE you brought me." I closed my eyes and meditated on Fort Knox as she hugged me -- blissfully, she held me loosely and briefly, a perfunctory and salutary hug, not the kind we give people up in Maine, which resembles the grasp of an angry python. Had she been more sanguine, she would have squeezed two pounds of molten liquid shit right out of me, down my pants leg and onto her gleaming hardwood floors.

We sat on stools at the kitchen island. In a few rapid-fire motions, Gigi produced a cheese board and two large, gleaming crystal goblets of Pinot Noir. I wanted to sit with my back straight to project the same air of confidence she exuded, but I had to hunch forward about thirty degrees to accommodate the pork bomb ticking away inside me. Each sip of wine burned as I choked it down, adding tannic acid to the hydrochloric pool backing up in my colon. It was a monumental effort to focus on our conversation, and I took no delight this time in her small-toothed grin as she divulged pernicious gossip about important people.

I felt like a rock climber, trapped on a raw and barren face, hanging on with waning strength, unsure of what to do next, with no clear handhold in sight. I wasn't sure how much longer I could last...

And then the cheese happened.

Gigi wouldn't let me refuse some of the "FANTASTIC Roquefort and Camembert" she got from some posh and storied deli downtown. "No, thanks," I told her. "I've got to watch my figure." "Don't be SILLY!" she cackled. "Now be a GOOD little chef and HAVE SOME! It is TRULY DIVINE." As one who had spent fifteen minutes in silent and continuous communion with my deity, I thought I had a pretty good fix on what "truly divine" meant -- and adding a stinky French cheese to my huddled masses yearning to be free simply wasn't it. But how could I refuse?

I took a bite of Roquefort -- it should have been called "Beaufort," given the winds it produced -- and my stomach broke free from the restraints imposed by my iron will, resuming its vigorous churning like a washing machine that just began the rinse cycle. A thunderous rumble tore through my gut and I wriggled uneasily on the barstool. "Oh, this IS good cheese," I said, my voice barely audible above the deafening rage of my digestive process.

Some people think that they can live forever if they take the right vitamins and get enough exercise. Some people believe that they can build aircraft that will counter the force of gravity, if only they find the right technologies. Some people are convinced that peace and harmony will wash over Planet Earth if they simply join hands and sing and pray. On this particular Thursday night in November, I had been laboring with a similarly misguided hope, namely that I would somehow stifle my log until after Gigi had gone to sleep if I just tried hard enough. Friends, I am here to tell you: just as death and gravity and war tend to win out in the end, so too is poop an inexorable force, and after my second bite of Roquefort, with my stomach kicking around like a sixty-pound Marlin on ten-pound test, I finally gave in.

"Gigi," I asked, "would you excuse me?" And I headed to the bathroom near the kitchen -- there wasn't time to go anywhere else.

My initial fart hissed and spat like a propane tank with a broken valve -- it just went on and on and on. I closed my eyes and hoped that perhaps the methane would kill me and spare me the shame I was about to endure. There was a second -- maybe two seconds, even -- after the shrill echoes of that incredible marathon fart had subsided against the staunch porcelain-tiled walls, a calm before the storm during which I actually still thought that I might escape with my pride and my sphincter intact... but then the mayhem began.

With a staccato report, I machine-gunned out a few turdlets in prelude, and then the sour and biting diarrhea poured out with a heavy splash, like a dump truck of gravel being emptied slowly into a swimming pool. It wasn't just Gigi who must have heard the cacophony -- probably everybody on the entire island of Manhattan turned on CNN to see if there had been another terrorist attack. Oh, god. How was I going to face this? I started laughing and crying all at once and as each convulsive heave of laughter racked my midsection, out came another spurt or chunk of burning stool. For five minutes more, laughing, farting, wet drippy shits and tears ... and then, with a rumble and a whisper-soft "pffffft!", I farted out my last gasp of pork.

If Gigi had somehow failed to hear or smell the main event, the four flushes required to fully dispose of my dung could not have escaped her notice. It took me a few minutes before the mirror to compose myself. Without a belt, my pants hung a little low on my waist now that the evil had been exorcised. Finally, I switched off the light and walked back out into the kitchen.

"Well," Gigi said, "you've probably got to get up early for your interview, don't you? Let me show you your room."

Orlando Hotpockets said...

The story of Gigi was pure genius. This is the first piece of writing at a ULA site worthy of being called literature.

Reading it--yay, verily--caused me to crap myself.

Jeff Potter said...

Oh I get it: King criticizes paralyzed, washed-up literati stodginess...and our Anonymous Coward posts padding and poopy. Yeah, that'll work! That makes Saul Bellow and Sven Birkerts look REAL GOOD. That's a GREAT DEFENSE. It works really good. People are buying it and are running fast to your side. What a fan!

Your moronic posts are perfect evidence of your decay, your uselessness and your upcoming defeat. People will read our books, not yours, from here on out. Just watch!

I know it must feel bad, but as a cipher you are by definition a loser. The only thing you can't taint is a real writer. Or a real fan. Don't you see how your curse works? You must see it in action every day. Decline, alienation, missing out... It's gotta be weird, being a cipher. Your posts sure show it. Man, I'd hate to be a real fan of Bellow, Birkerts and the rest having you around. Ouch.

Anonymous said...

Jeff:That's a GREAT DEFENSE. It works really good. People are buying it and are running fast to your side. What a fan!

yes they are buying it, the ULA wants to have a larger target audience and can't outsell any of them.

Noah Cicero said...

To the above post:

Steven King, Tom Clancy, and Michael Savage, and Anne Coutler outsells all of them.

You've given a good example of demi-puppet mentality. "Titles" not "merit" give worthiness to a person. No wonder you all always bitch about the emptiness of your existences, all you are is "titles", you are nothing, but random words and sentences. You are a "Professor" or "Editor"of this magazine or "Head"of this charity. You have "sold" these many books, "raised" this much money, won these "awards." It is obvious that you view words as objects, as do Eggers or Moody. Words are just objects to them. That is why their writing sucks so fucking bad, because the words have no connotations and they denote nothing. The word "Professor" or "MFA graduate" is like an certain engine block or type of rock.

Rimbaud never sold while he was alive. Van Gogh only sold one painting. Todd Browning's "Freaks" was only in the box office for two weeks. Proust's "Swann's Way" was self-published. "Ulysses" was self-published. Einstein's theory of relativity wasn't accepted by the academia for twenty years. Not exactly sure, but I don't think Robert Johnson sold a lot while he was alive either. The Impressionists didn't catch on until they were almost dead.

Things that people have bought a shitload of: SUVS, Hulahoops, pet rocks, tickets to see SpiderMan 1 and 2, cell phones with cameras, Time magazine, Newsweek, crack, and Christmas shirts.

The ULA is talking about the quality of the product, not the amount of production.

I want to talk about what I personally hate about Dave Eggers, Moody, and all the overdogs.

It is that they shit all over something beautiful, something I love, and something that means so much to me, that being literature.

They use literature as a tool just to get money, to get attention, to make themselves look cool.

To them literature is an object, they use it to gain "hipness."

From where I'm sitting I can see Dostoevsky's Brother Karamazov, a collection of Ibsen's plays, and The Essential Kathy Acker. Those were writers, they had their own style, and they had things to say about the world THAT MADE SENSE! Not stupid shit about dogs saying God is the sun.

All three of them loved literature, they worked hard to understand language, to understand their own voice, to understand people to have accurate character development, they fucking loved literature with their whole being.

They loved to read great books, and they wanted to contribute to the world of literature.

Literature used to have a philosophical agenda, hell, that is what classic literature, non-genre books with philosophical agendas. But if you compare Eggers or Foer to Dostoevsky, Acker, and Ibsen their books are moronic.

I'll say it like this, the intelligence of a Foer book compared to an Ibsen play would be like biologists writing books that didn't have the concept of the germ or evolution in it.

To me all those Foer and Moody books are just a sign of America's decay. History will judge them to be idiots. If they are even remembered, does anybody remember the names of any French Salon painters from 1840.

I fucking love literature, and these asshole shit all over it.

Orlando Hotpockets said...

"The ULA is talking about the quality of the product, not the amount of production."

Fortunately a good laxative will help with both.

Jeff Potter said...

The easy proof against the Anonymous Coward's kneejerking is three-fold:

*We haven't launched our books yet. So saying we can't outsell the stodgy is bizarre. Which ULA title are you refering to? Of course, breakthru underground books often have sold in numbers far bigger than academic-style literati. And zeens often far outsell pricey lit-journals. History shows the stodgy for the losers they are. (How much lower are their poop-focused anonymous fans? Ouch.)

*Moody claims the natural market for a lit-journal is 3,000. We'll see about that...

*Noah's assertion of quality over quantity is a good one, but there's more to it. The goal of our work is to change culture. We've already made good strides there: Let a millionaire writer take an NEA grant NOW and see what happens. But that's just a start. We don't have to sell millions or get multiple rights deals to do this. We only have to bust a relevant work thru the stodgy logjam of invisible baby-wipe types. That'll be a hot knife thru, uh, butter. We'll see HUGE gains this year with the launch of multiple ULA titles. But quantity is there, too. The quality of the numbers will be different, but the quantity might still be there: there are lots of thirsty people out there who need a good book. They've been starved of one for so long. The stodgy have done aversion therapy on them. But there could be a lot of them out there who respond. Pulling a number outta the sky, 50,000 could readily happen: lots more than nearly all the stodgy sell. But not NASCAR. A movement doesn't have to be a frenzied fad. Of course it wouldn't take much awakening to go a million. Yet if our break-the-rules, flout-the-badges approach even goes 5,000 it's going to start a chain reaction, a breakout from the stodgy. A trampling of the Anonymice everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Waaa, waaa, waaa... History will judge the demi puppets. Stories about dogs who worship the sun are drivel. Moody is an ass.

All I here are complaints, but I don't here solutions! What about the ULAers' literature is so transcendent, exactly? I suppose I'm too obtuse to really recognize it. Can someone please spell it out for me? (Without propaganda, please.)

Oscar de la Beer, underground literary agent said...

The ULA has already shown what it is made of...I mean, of course, the vicious campaign of ULA smears against the one great work of our generation, that brilliant memoir "The Heat of My Pockets" by Orlando Hotpockets.

So keep on preening about how the New York Times considers ULA its official token "outsiders." When faced with the greatest prose of our day--written on toilet paper in his own blood by a retarded alcoholic prisoner who sustained a head injury when Martha Stewart hit him with her purse--then the ULA flinched.

They said, "This is too raw, too dangerous, too goddamn HUMAN for us. We only want to be buttboys for the New York Times. We want to be quote unquoute outsiders, but this Orlando Hotpockets is the real thing, so we shudder and flee and pretend not to know him."

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Potter-

Is that your real name or do you just use it when posting on this site for coprophiliacs?

(Sorry about the big word, Noah, I know how you hate dictionaries. It means shit-loving. And I'm not talking about the poo-posts.)

Orlando Hotpockets, I've read your work, and it stirred me deep inside, like a ten-day-old chalupa. I, and all true literary outsider, salute you.

Anonymous said...

Mr. de la Beer-

I have a story I'd like to send you that the ULA deemed unfit for their 'zines. It is the tale of a motley group of charmingly delusional hacks who consider themselves part of a huge literary movement that actually doesn't exist, told from the perspective of a roll of toilet paper in the tavern they frequent. Any interest?


- Scatman Crudders

Oscar de la Beer said...

Scatty, old chum --

Man, that sounds radical! I'm not surprised that the wussy ULA "oh look at me, I went to a fancy community college" crew won't touch it.

Let's do lunch soon, or at least meet for prune brandy.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to post an anecdote about my experiences with the ULA. Two years ago, after I was released from a juvenile detention facility in New Mexico, friendless and family-less, I began a hobo's march across the country in search of a better life, a new start. I started reading a lot in juvey, and was a great admirer of Bellow, Joyce, and Philip Roth and I carried battered paperbacks of their books with me on the trip, stopping to read pages when I could between the odd jobs I'd taken to sustain myself.

Well it was in a dingy bar in some faded midwestern city, where I'd found employment as a haberdasher's assistant, when I met one of the most curious specimens of mankind I'd ever encountered in my short but eventful life. He was a small man, with a curly mop of sandy hair and more than the slightest hint of Hamburger Helper about him. Bestride him stood two comely strippers--"exotic dancer/literary critics" he called them later--and in his hand he held a copy of The Best-Loved Tales of Jack London: A Treasury of Tough-Guy Dog Stories and a sister volume, Kathy Ackers Least Known Greatest Hits, a Treasury of Ephemera.

Heady stuff, indeed, for me, a humble autodidact former ward of the state just ramblin's across the country. Noah Cicero, for that was this man's ludicrous name, seeing my books, launched into a tirade about my "bourgeoisie"--that's how he said it--tastes. I tried to respond, pointing out that literature--so it seemed to me--was much more personal than these crude politics and that--

"The question is mute! The question is mute!" replied Cicero, and so was I confounded by his stubborn stupidity, and more than a little disturbed by the growing signs of anger his frustration was creating. This was not a person to argue with. My tastes were corrupted, my background, my personal taste, irrelevant. I was a member of some elitist group he kept referring to as "demi-puppets" and he was the authentic voice of "outsiders." But I couldn't help wondering why it was so important to him what I read. And if this elitist literary world to which I supposedly belonged, simpy because I liked these authors, was so corrupt, why did he keep crowing about the slightest bit of attention his group of self-styled literary revolutionaries received from it?

And why, exaclty, was he so obsessed with the irrelevant gossip that emanated from the so-called celebrities of the "elite" group they professed to hate so much? I'd been taught that indifference was the greatest sign of disdain (although I must admit I do occasionally lower myself to give a good lashing to a fool who deserves it) and yet here they were yakking about the smallest details of the literary world in New York City.

It all seemed a bit lame, although the strippers were really nice. And then suddenly, the three McGriddle sandwiches I'd eaten a few hours earlier hit me . . .

But that's another story.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ex-member of the ULA.

All I can say is that all this childish taunting fulfills every one of their fantasies about the demi-puppet conspiracy against them.

I can also say that childish taunting is what they deserve. They're a bunch of fame seeking diaper soakers and King Wenclas himself, though cunning, can barely manage his personal life, much less his semi public life as the ULA imperial cyclops.

One day I realized . . . Only losers make this much noise about winning.

Angelica Hotpockets (sister of Orlando Hotpockets, brilliant memoirist) said...

Let's hear more about King Wiseass. What's he really like?

Anonymous said...

"I'm kind of king of the dipshits."

-Anthony Michael Hall as "the Geek" in Sixteen Candles.

Anonymous said...

About what you'd expect. Paranoid. Manipulative. Brilliant but only in a negative sense--in a positioning sense. He spins well. But he's cranial deadwood when it comes to reading anyone's motativations through any lens but that of his own worldview. He's like all fanatics that way. He assumes everyone else's motives are as bankrupt and brutal as his own. If he weren't such a failure I think he could have been a much better person and writer. He also actually thinks it's a coup to get on the New York Post's Page Six. We all need to think about that. Page Six. This excites him. Most of us wouldn't wipe our asses with Page Six, much less read it, much LESS get excited about landing ourselves in it. This is part of what makes his critique of Bellow so amazing. A man who truly believes getting his name in bold print in shitty newspapers is a good thing going after a writer that millions of people around the world have acclaimed and loved and been inspired by . . . well, I should stop. King's a lot more paranoid today, obviously, than he was when I knew him. I wonder if he even will know who this is? Hey, King: Word to the wise. You're really not determining the course of American literature. You know why no one response to your posts? Because no one gives a shit what you think.

Ezekiel Brutus said...

I, too, am a former member of the ULA, exiled nigh on 2 months after my banishment by Noah Cicero. Noah, if you only new how I longed to be with you again, to stand by your side as we battle the demi-puppets behind our King. But wear are yor stones? You are getting pooped on by Sebastian Morningwood and the Hotpockets siblings and I here not a peep. Am I the only one who wants to fight the powers of elitism?!

Take me back. You finally figured out that my name is a triboot to you. Take me back Noah and I will help the ULA achieve the utopia for which we have all dreamed. WE WILL PUNCH THEM IN THE NUTS!!!, together, you and eye.

Anonymous said...


You think you're special? I went to bed with the King once. Once. Two words (or is it three): teeny wee-wee.


Ezekiel Brutus said...

Dear Orlando Hotpockets (if that is your real name)--

If yor so smart, than how come, when I showed "The Heet of My Pockets" to a random group of non-elitists, consisting of three strippers, a bartender, a King, and my landlord, almost all of them said that your pockets weren't very hot at all. In fact, 13.5% thought you're pockets were cold in fact. This is science. You cannot dispute this validity of this scientific study into the coldness of your pocket. There, you are defeated.

Noah, please take me back.

Jeff Potter said...

Little cipher, the ULA is actually WORKING.

It is well on its way to victory. We're not whining, we're pushing forward full steam ahead, getting traction with the public with our projects.

You complain about our insanity---that of caring and writing and promoting our work and of bringing down our enemies no matter how big they are---we know it's crazy!---yet here we see your most useless insanity. ---Typing with no point from so many phony views.

Who has the fans? Who makes the impact? Who really bugs the toadies? Who's decent to party with? Who gets the job done? It's easy to see.

Why don't you take your cleverness with poop and make something of it? Do something real and report back on what happens.

Why not? --Well, first, you don't exist, not even on your couch. You are ACTUALLY a cipher. Your posts reflect your reality. Sadly. Secondly, cleverness gets no traction, has no endurance, has no content. It can be decent at a cocktail party but that's all. That's why the rubbish writing that you cling to (I won't say 'love') won't last either. Cleverness and irony: a BAD bet, a BAD investment: no effect. So, sure, take the 'no effect' path, assume the cipher slouch, sneer, be clever. And realize that you're history! Outmoded! The affect was a passing fad and it's gone now. Only a few aging hangers-on are left, sagging out of their black t-shirts, stuck in their pose. Yeah, life is real and those who bet on an affect, a style, will always lose. They're fodder. They provide an applause track and cashflow then get tossed out.

The zeen scene is offering something entirely different. And it WORKS, it GROWS and it SUSTAINS real people.

Like Larry Schlueter says: "The works of Jack Saunders give us hope. Hope that our lives won't be horrible wasted foolishness. Even when it seems that hope is all we have left, if you feel you can live a fuller life and spend your days in a more profitable way for yourself AND MANKIND you should read Jack Saunders for a ray of hope and a great deal of enjoyment and amusement."

Or as Raymond Barrio (Sixties writer) says: "In Jack Saunders our generation is extremely lucky to have a powerful and determined writer, an honest writer. A Diogenes not merely of words, but of provocative thoughts. From his hideaway in Florida, like a super-energized lobster, Saunders lashes out at the sickening hypocrisy which is deadening our senses and rotting our souls. It is Saunders' adamant, boneheaded, determined persistence that is his great strength, his great gift to a society staggering in its own materialistic greed. Saunders is America at its best. He spells out what spirit is all about. And humanity. How do we live? When do we really come ALIVE? As we should? And deserve? America needs writers with such strength and ferocity and independence and integrity, not all those greedy little wordmongers contemplating their private parts on every supermarket shelf. Saunders is more than a literary volcano. He is a live, writhing, crackling wire. Spewing sparks in all directions. Creating and developing a brighter, newer world."

Orlando Hotpockets said...

One must not confuse a work of literature with real life. Likewise, our host is not actually a king.

In real life, my pockets are comfortably warm.

Deepest appreciation to my brother and sister, to my literary agent, and to Sebastian Morningwood (the finest literary critic of our age) for speaking about my work.

I am not so bitter about the ULA turning out to be a bunch of elitist frauds. I have recently purchased a fresh roll of toilet paper and am at work on a new book.

Anonymous said...

I must say, as a new observer and outsider, the remarks on behalf of the Anonymous Alliance are far more cunning and sophisticated than the blind rants of the ULA.

Ezekiel Brutus. Brilliant!

And whoever is writing those stories -- so prolific! And hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Now that I've seen your picture, all's I can ask is: ever had a date?

Gotta go wash my black t-shirt now. It's really, really funky. It is leaning against the wall in fact.

Anonymous said...

As Chlamydia Nipnoggins said of Noah Cicero's poem "The Modern Age":

"Words spew forth from Cicero like the volcanic release of two-day-old sushi through a hemorrhoidal asshole. The Modern Age captures something about the human spirit; something that, once captured, should probably be sent to the animal hospital and put down. I think Noah Cicero's poetry sucks."

And as Skidmark McCrappypants has noted of the literary opinions of noted ULA reacharounder Jeff Potter: "Potter lives up to his name. Such a foul steaming dysenteric stew of half digested crap rarely finds itself in one man, let alone is it spewed out so incontinently. I think Jeff Potter is full of poop."

Jeff Potter said...

Anonymous Zero psychotically layed about her own scrawls:
"I must say, as a new observer and outsider, the remarks on behalf of the Anonymous Alliance are far more cunning and sophisticated than the blind rants of the ULA."

The easy refute:

The problem with your remarks is that they come from no one and have no content. This will prove to be an impairment for them. Oops!

The problem with saying that the ULA posts "blind rants" is that our exact citations clearly show the travesties of our corrupt enemies. --To the point where major media pick up on our "up from the gutter" exposes even though we have zero budget and zero access. Our complete and accurate vision is why we prevail each time. So, uh, "blind" may not be the right word. "Bold and insightful" is a far more accurate phrase, seeing as how no one else has dared to do what we do and no one else is as accurate. Get it?

It's too bad that you don't *see* that cleverness alone is nothing but a waste. We scoop up waste and throw it away. Don't feel bad: it's the right thing to do. But waste? What does waste do? The process of getting rid of waste is oh-so cleansing. But waste itself? It goes onto the delete pile. While ULA efforts make a mark in history. *See* the difference? Rub those blind eyes. There's always hope.

Orlando Hotpockets said...

Well you can say all kinds of things about anonymous people even though maybe they just don't want you to track them down to where they work or kill their pets or eat the pets which is also gross.

But you can't say that about me! I use my real name, just as much as King Wenclas does! Come read work from the real underground at my blog!

Anonymous said...

You're right. "Blind" was the wrong word. "Paranoid, maniacal, embittered, and jealous" are the right ones.

King said...

Hilarious. Keep it coming. Is this the best you can do?
Surely it's an admission from our opponents that they've lost. In January they at least ATTEMPTED, no matter how ineptly, to debate the question of plagiarism (then quickly bailed out). Now, the same people (presumably) can only come up with anonymous nonsense.
One point to make about posting anonymously: Funny that I haven't been afraid to use my own name (most people know that "King" is a nickname-- I used Karl for years when doing New Philistine) even when taking on billionaires with the resources and connections to wipe me off this planet, should they choose to do so. (One should investigate some time the behavior of MCA, from where Katrina and her mother Jean Stein inherited their fortune-- look up what actor James Garner had to say after he was brutally beaten.) But so what? Truth trumps in importance everything else-- or should. It's a concept far beyond the understanding of the demi-puppets-- who continue giving evidence of their incurable spinelessness, and will continue to do so.

The ghost of Henry Miller said...

Do you know what I think? You are scared. The fraud is coming undone. The nothingness is rising to the surface.

You could ignore the pathetic mediocrity of ULA's "writing" -- once. For a while. Even though in your guts you know as well as everybody else that the main membership requirement is a lack of talent and/or self respect.

But now people are starting to laugh not just at your work but at your pretenses. The silly claptrap of your "rebellion."

A genuine writer just does his or her work and does not worry that much about who's getting where in the big rat race. Hell, I went to Paris and worked my ass off and damn near starved, and you didn't see me spending all my time saying, "Oh boo hoo, people are reading Hemingway and they think he's mister wonderful, when it's really me that is mister wonderful."

Like I could have given a fuck. Just did my work. And let the chips fall where they may. If you folks had any talent at all, it would keep you so busy you'd never give Wenclas the time of day.

King said...

The arguments being made now are transparently ridiculous. It'd be like Enron saying that "everybody does it," or "corruption in business is old hat."
I'd say it's time we start cleaning things up!
To side with fraud is the sign of a moral and intellectual bankrupt.
(Gee, maybe Zola should've kept silent and "just write." Or Solzhenitsyn. The fact is that we ARE writing-- and some of what we write about is the stench in the lit world.)

Orlando Hotpockets said...

Yeah, but Zola and Solzynitsen wrote important works, had talent, and didn't carry on like adolescent dorks.

Three strikes. You're out!

King said...

Bluffing, aren't you? Close your eyes and we'll just vanish!
But we aren't going anyplace.

Anonymous said...

Very well put, Anonymous. If we were to establish an Anonymous Alliance, I would nominate you as our leader.

From what I've seen, none of the anonymous posters have directly disputed anything the ULAs claims regarding the 'old boys club' vibe of the literati. What I think they do dispute, is your notion that the literati is inherently and systematically corrupt -- that they maintain their dominance by boosting up their buddies, and quashing the voices from the undergroud, without no regard to the value of content.

Of course, some stories of corruption will emerge, as they do everywhere! Corruption is a fragment of the many systems that govern the earth. That's why -- we hope -- there are many checks and balances to even things out. I imagine the world of literature contains its own set of checks and balances.

Fundamentally, it all comes down to hard work. You can't say that Dave Eggers doesn't work his ass off. And who are you to claim what his motivations are? Do you know him personally? Besides, one does not complete a book such as 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' without having devoted his life to the craft of writing, and without having spent at least some time mulling over the intricacies of the human condition.

I think the ULAers' fear and loathing stems from a profound insecurity in the face of these so-called 'clever' writers. Because deep down, they know they lack the ability to use wordplay and imagery to communicate complex and subtle ideas with any sophistication. Their brains misfire when they read fancy words like 'coprophiliac', and as a defense mechanism they shout, "Elitists! Illusionists!"

If any of the ULAers went about establishing a writing career through the traditional means -- submitting again and again to the thousands upon thousands of literary journals (all of which are part of the literati's conspiracy, no doubt) -- you would eventually find an audience for your work. That is, if your work is actually any good.

The image of the ULA littering the streets with their pamphlets, illuminating the idle minds of the everyman, and reconstructing the face of literature, is funny.

About a month ago, I was shopping at a Farmer's Market and a middle-aged, white-bearded, pot-bellied man approached me and asked if I'd like to buy his poetry. He held a neatly-stapled, color-printed booklet in his hand. I bought his zine -- I thought, why not? Let's keep it real; let's see what the peeps are all about.

And you know what? His poetry sucked.

Later that day, I wiped my filthy ass with it.

King said...

Empty arguments. Surely you know that those hundreds of literary journals you mention mean nothing-- have no effect on the culture whatsoever. No one reads them except their contributors, and Uncle Fred, and Aunt Helen. Most of the copies gather dust, unread on the shelves of university libraries.
(I'm embarrassed to say that I was published by a few such journals in the 90's-- by request from the editors. I wrote some good stuff for them-- heavily edited of course, to eliminate strong content. I received less reaction to my work in them than from any issue of my New Philistine newsletter-- which let me know they were a waste of time.)
Re Eggers: I've actually said a few positive things about him at times. I've never disrespected his energy. He added at least some life to a moribund lit-scene. His biggest mistake was in wrapping himself in the same establishment he once professed to compete against-- and wrapping himself around the most corrupt characters on the lit-scene. Printing Moody's defense of himself in The Believer, for instance, is a tactical mistake. Characters like Rick Moody and Bissell are tar-babies. Those who've supported them are now stuck with them-- will never get the stain off.
Eggers has some skills but is making mistakes all over the chessboard. Someone will capitalize on them.

King said...

p.s. I have to jump off this computer-- but want to add that I truly laugh at the ULA's opponents. They don't have the scope of vision to understand the ULA campaign. They badly underestimate the ULA plan (as did the ex-ULAer, who without question thought we'd be gone by now; that we're not is surely what most bothers the person). The ULA has been underestimated through every step. But keep doing so-- it's the worst mistake the establishment can make.

The ULA's Opponents said...

"I have to jump off this computer-- but want to add that I truly laugh at the ULA's opponents."

We thank you. But we only cruelly laugh at you.

Orlando Hotpockets said...

Even to underestimate you is to overestimate you.

Whoah, think I just blew my own mind there.

The Ghost of Jack London said...

I've been watching. I've been reading. I've been building a fire. I can only suggest one thing: Brawl.

I want to see the ULA's Opponents and the ULA meet at my grave tonight for a nut-punching brawl. Orlando, you can bring your wolves. Noah Cicero, bring your strippers. If you guys don't settle this the Alaskan way, then you are not men!