The most ignorant of all ignorant remarks made by our opponents on this blog is that there is no literary criticism anywhere in the Underground Literary Alliance. The person really meant this-- an indication of brainwashing and cluelessness. An elephant stands in front of him, yet he can't see an elephant anyplace.
The ULA IS literary criticism. In its 36-and-counting membership it's a full embodiment of it. Every particle of our campaign is a criticism of current literature.
Our various Protests against corrupt awards were literary criticism. Our lively appearances at KGB and Housing Works were literary criticism. Our shows, our zeens, and our upcoming books are literary criticism, because they present a free alternative to the monopolistic system of literature now in power.
The mypoic commentator meant the tame, scholastic brand of "criticism" done by Sven Birkerts and James Wood. Which means, studying the book placed before you and never looking up from it. He means following the Study Guide at the back of an authorized textbook: "Compare and contrast. Please give examples. Arrange your thoughts in regulated form."
Birkerts and Wood follow the designated rules, no doubt-- one reason why their writing is dead. They write term papers, not living art. Such establishment hirelings are scholars, maybe. They're not independent critics. Instead of being cognizant of the world; living and ACTING within it; they prefer to remain locked within their monastery rooms; chained to their desks in isolated environments without sound, the only light allowed that from the lamp focused on an isolated book, sole approved target of their concern.
The sun may set and rise; wars may happen; rioting in the streets; death and fire. They don't know or care. Heavy drapes cover the windows. Thick carpeting muffles any sound but the soft steady hum of air-conditioning ensuring their climate-controlled comfort.
The first need of a writer is to entertain. Approved lit-critics tend to forget this-- they view the very idea as a sin. After all, they're "serious" writers. Their peers and overlords have told them so.
Sven Birkerts has never written an entertaining sentence in his life. He wouldn't know how. James Wood, inside the Beltway at New Republic, is seldom allowed to-- he well knows the pattern and script he must follow. Criticize stray products of the Machine but ignore the Machine itself, which engulfs and owns him body, mind, heart, and soul.
THESE are literary critics? No thank you. I'll find my literary criticism in the pages of zeens and at the ULA's www.literaryrevolution.com Monday Report feature.