Friday, May 13, 2005

Slaves of the Lit World

The problem of working for gigantic institutions is how to avoid being swallowed up whole by them. In a past life I dealt with bureaucrats, as a middle man, and saw how their identities merged with the government or corporation which employed them. When they wore uniforms, it merely reinforced the identification.

In the lit world we observe those whose identities, standards, and values have merged with the status quo, and so operate as Voices of the Machine. (We've seen their posts on this blog.) It's mentally impossible for them to consider reform of Lit, much less dissent against it. This is not the way their minds have been programmed! From Day One of their careers as writers they've been recruits into the System, their operative need at all times that of conformity to it.

They're not formed writers before they enter the academy-- they hope to be formed by it, within it, and they are. Writing programs are seminaries from which they emerge as Defenders of the styles and codes of creative writing as it IS, now, and has been for sixty years.

Many of them move on to jobs within literature. They could be proofreaders-- or floor sweepers-- at the most irrelevant "alternative" weekly in Wyoming or Nebraska and to them they've arrived to a role of major importance; the publication encompasses their world. If the floor sweepers are occasionally allowed to write restaurant reviews, this is affirmation of their importance as writers, though they remain mercenaries without control of their art, without say in the institutions which employ them. It's a view of the strictest limits; of enclosing literature within the smallest possible box.

We at the ULA are considered madmen and madwomen for thinking writers can and should be more. We use our imaginations! We imagine changing literature and the world. That a few writers dare to dream-- and seek to make our dreams reality-- scares the writers of rules and limits.

The attacks on us the past weeks are an attempt to shut down an alternative voice-- nothing less.

I don't know much about Media Bistro. What it does, I'm sure it does well. It comes from a very different vantage point on literature from ours. Media Bistro seems to be a servicing vehicle for the conglomerate media-and-publishing world, under the guise of hipness and independence. Its employees are priests and acolytes of the Machine-- part of an army of tools used to keep the current failed lit-System in place.

"Galleycat" then becomes an exemplar of the System's thinking-- of the lack of independent thought. She stumbles along seeking cues about how to best serve the overlords of literature and publishing. In the Tom Bissell plagiarism case (which I documented and debated), she first gave her honest opinion of the matter-- a mistake for any bureaucrat, who has to be TOLD what to think. Galleycat was quickly corrected by Maud Newton and Company. Afterward Galleycat marched sternly in place, with no deviation, eager to prove her obedience-- to the extent of hyping a blog by a person without existence, and claiming it's the product of the ULA! False, false, false. An absurd charge. No matter. For her it was an opportunity to atone for her past lapse by attacking the Underground Literary Alliance.

We await her clarification or apology.


frantic said...

So you think she spends all her time thinking about ULA, the way ULA spends all its time thinking about Dave Eggers?

JDF said...
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Emerson Dameron said...

Actually, I don't think GalleyCat, et al think much about the ULA - they simply dismiss it (as evidenced by their shoddy "detective work"), and would be better served by silence. At least Bissel did some perfunctory research.
How's this, "Frantic": stop getting distracted by Wenclas and go "really work" at whatever it is you do. Enough with the bullshit psychological projection. If that isn't beneath you, you aren't much. Eggers can fend for himself.

JDF said...
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- Leopold said...

Well, I think we should leave GC alone merely because she seems to already have made up her mind and we have better things to talk about. But she DID post a link to us beside a picture of a toilet, then pointed to a blog that is supposed to be a parody (but, really, i'm not sure what it is besides lame...I mean, they say copying is the sincerest form of flattery, but I feel sorry for the guy...) and then posts the emails sent to her insinuating the ULA is on crack cocaine. Then sums up that all those beyond retarded comments on the blog the last few days were actually US attacking ourselves (with no proof, of course) and when King asks for clarification or proof none is forthcoming. All King has really been doing is pressing for some fairness in how we're treated. If people want to criticize us, they should be able to back it up.

I'm sorry to hear about GC's battle with depression and with writing. Sounds like she'd actually fit in well with the ULA, but perhaps mocking sites she doesn't understand isn't the best way to make herself feel better.

I don't think hate mail to Galley Cat is a good way for us to handle things, but the only letter I see her putting up there is pretty fair and clear. How do we know our notorious hogpokits, in what he thinks is brilliant performance art, didn't write letters to GC posing as ULA members - that'd also explain duplicate IPs.

KWs blog seems to be often 'attack' focused, which isn't how I'd go about things, but people need to remember that this is KW's blog and style, not the official blog of the ULA. It represents part of the ULA but not all of it.

I agree with you, though, that we've made our point and I think we can drop further antagonism of the anonymice. Why waste our time with ghosts? Unlike them, we've got real work to do, real arguments to make.

frantic said...

hotpockets made fun of how pretentious and lame ula is and in general ripped you a new asshole so it is not likely that what you feel for him is "sorry"

- Leopold said...

Well, if you think hogpokits accomplished that with his sad little nonsense, then I feel sorry for you too.

Orlando Hotpockets said...

Well thanks very much, Fran! As for the person who suggested maybe I wrote to Galley and forged being a ULA member, you should read the confession above by one of you who admitted to hassling her. (That thing where you call me "hogpokits"....gosh, that is witty!)

Trust me, I am as disgusted as can be to have anyone think I am actually a ULA member. How can anyone confuse the real, urgent, brilliantly written, cunningly playful, and wonderously intelligent Orlando Hotpockets with a group of slackwit wannabes who are obsessed with Dave Eggbeaters? The very idea gives me cooties!

King said...

If Eggers stopped supporting some of the most corrupt individuals in the lit-world, I wouldn't mention him.
His real worry should be when people STOP bringing up his name-- which will happen soon enough. The McSweeney's phenomenon seems to have peaked.
There was a time people parodied his web site. Now they parody the ULA.
Of course, there are real distinctions between the McSweeney's ethos, and that of the ULA, which need to be made.
They believe literature should be reserved for an exclusive, insider clique.
We believe literature belongs to everybody.
Re Galleycat-- let's keep in mind that she initiated this with her post falsely claiming that the ULA was attacking herself. Maybe she pays no attention to us whatsoever-- but was eager enough to very quickly hype a blog
created by a ghost. Curious.
I can sympathize with her problem-- which I didn't know about-- but I'd also suggest then that she's in the wrong business, writing a very public blog which to gain attention has to be oft times smarmy, gossipy, even controversial, to some extent.
Receiving feedback and heat comes with the territory.
Let's keep in mind (exception now made for Galleycat as soon as she apologizes) that the ULA was created as an advocacy group and pr campaign whose very purpose is to get attention to overlooked writers. We can drop the campaign and do what the other 400,000+ writers do-- and become instantly a void of silence.
We know what the literati thinks of us-- which held before the campaign (for how many decades have Jack and Wild Bill been writing?) and will hold afterward.
What attention is Phillip Routh receiving for his work now that he's left us? Any at all?
IF we're to transform the literary world-- as we're on the road to doing-- we won't do it by playing the "I'm okay, you're okay" game. "Can't we all just get along?" But that's what all writers do-- go along to get along-- allowing a few mendacious individuals, BACKED by legions of demi-puppets, to manipulate a corrupt system for their own advantage. Things are NOT okay in literature! Wake up, people. Literature is dying in this culture, has been pushed aside. Small measures won't rescue it.
I have yet to see the anonymous demi-puppet posters on this blog mention the corruption outlined in our Monday Reports and on this blog. No opinions about the recent Harper's essay admitting to the possibility of plagiarism in journalism and writing. No answer as to whether Rick Moody ever had met Lily Tuck before. Etc etc etc. And yes, Galley Cat participates in that silence.
As we've given a few examples that things aren't right in the lit world, that doesn't mean this is the full extent of problems. The rot goes much deeper. We'll have a new Monday Report up soon-- maybe next week-- by a writer who paints a much more extensive picture of the rot.
Indeed, in my own New Philistine in the 90's I was much more detailed about how the games encompass much of the entire funding of literature-- wrote some issues that went far, far beyond anything I've put on this blog.
I've become more moderate as I've become older, I suppose.
The bottom line: As I told someone this weekend, the moment we remove the "revolution" from this movement is the moment we lose our credibility and our momentum both. Which is what our opponents most want, of course.
Just my own personal viewpoint.

King said...

p.s. We'll settle for a correction from G.C., which I don't think is asking too much.
(Does anyone care that many undergrounder writers-- even a ULAer or two-- suffer from psychological problems, without the resources GC can draw on to deal with them?
Where were the demi-puppets when the underground hosted a Benefit in Chicago in 2003 for writer Cullen Carter, who was in a coma and whose wife had-- and has-- enormous medical bills? I asked all the local McSweeneyites-- an opportunity for peace-- to participate or show up. NONE did. Not one-- not even the same people who fly a thousand miles for McSweeney's events without batting an eyelash. Couldn't travel a mile or two across town. You see, we've offered peace to this crowd, again and again.
I'll dig up an address for the Cullen Carter Benefit Fund-- and we'll see how many of our opponents dip into their trust funds-- or bank accounts-- to help the guy out.)

Jeff Potter said...

Hogpucket, it's probably pointless correcting a lying ghost but it's a lie anyway so what the heck, here's your disproof. My report was no confession or admission. I said who I was to Galley and everyone else at every step of the way. No problem. I emailed her forthright and laughed at her for supporting a ghostly wastrel workshopper. She's too chicken to run a public blog or I would've posted there in my name. It probably wasn't all the mail she got since it wasn't the hate mail she mentions--her writing wasn't clear on that, probably intentionally so. Anyway, there's no identity mystery or 'confession' in what I do, and everyone knows that. In contrast, you are a sneak, and like everything you do, your assertion doesn't wash. If your IP matched mail she got, then you sent it. I think I can speak for the ULA when I say we don't play that game.

Jeff Potter said...

I daresay that Galley could do something significant for her depression by stopping her participation in snarky smarminess.

I know a lot of depressives and I refuse to accept the groupthink that it's a bio-thing with a drug-talk resolution. It's more a societally mishandled ego-development-crisis-growth thing. Conscience plays a big part. Cultivating enjoyment of, and promotion of, duplicitous aspects of our culture plays a big part. Ya ratify the deceit, ya pays the piper.

I give THEM sympathy, but I trash what they do when it stinks. And I know it doesn't do them any good neither. What, are we to be enablers?

But that's just me and a few others who don't buy everything the whitecoats say. Everyone else feel free to go back to their regularly scheduled meds.

Orlando Hotpockets said...

From her blog, Galley does not come across as someone who would even know how to tell what the IP for a message was. So you ought not to make too much of that.

I'd certainly never want to try to pretend to be a ULA member. There are so many aspects of loserdom that I would be ill-suited to impersonate. Your insinuations are as hopeless as the rest of your output, Potty, old chum.

So, okay, this has been fun! Sorry to deprive you of a thrill, but I must be going. You guys had a really boring time of it last week after Orlando H left! Not much going on here at all.

The attempted simulations of enthusiasm over your little photocopied circlejerks will be a poor substitute. Gosh, I'm about to cry from feeling so sorry!

King said...

Still no response to my e-mails from "Ed Rants," the source of Galleycat's IP information.
I'd say he deserves the bulk of blame for the dilemma she's in.

Jeff Potter said...

To me this depression thing is interesting and an area where relevant art would have a LOT of help to offer.

A main thing is that the, what, 9 symptoms of depression are also that of a good story. They all relate to potential change. They're about crisis. Which of course is opportunity. Except that true change or development is anathema to our society. (It may cause a hiccup in productivity. Oh no!) Hence the disease. In depression something is stirring in us. There's inner reaction against the way we are that wants to make it a way we were. It's happening to us whether we want it to or not. Old ways no longer work. Or the patchesand fakery have given way. There's a chance for something good and new to come out of depression that the truly numb or clever can't see. Real cultures have rites of passage to handle this. We haven't found ours yet. How do cultures find new ways of living? Thru art. What's the art that covers development and growth the best? --Literature. The King of the Arts! (Trying to hold it back backfires in every sense.)

JDF said...
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Jeff Potter said...

Adam, it looks like you're taking my notion as art being therapeutic for the artist. Interesting take. I was thinking less of the artist than the needy public. Maybe that's because my role in all this is mostly as a reader rather than a writer. So I mostly meant that relevant art would help the world, would change the society which is causing all this disease. Overthrowing the treat-the-symptoms approach to reality would be a likely side-effect (ahem) of a new art. But I'm sure that relevant artists' efforts would also help them in some way, art being a testimony and all.

Jeff Potter said...

Whups... I meant "JD" not Adam! Sorry.

Jeff Potter said...

Orlando... You're leaving because you're BORED? Oh no! I wonder what it would take to keep you entertained. If we were filling the bill, that would mean we were captivating you in the same way that, uh, hmmm, say, I don't recall you saying anything about what meant something to you. That's odd. All that cleverness and no standards or expectations beyond avoidance of boredom? We can't work with that. No one can. It's a bit aimless, unmoored...unhinged even. So what's not boring to you? What waters you like a little flower? What kind of literature means anything to you? And what's it done for you lately that we haven't? But moreover why should we care? Whatever your background is it's made you comfy being clever, anonymous and vacuous, spending hours wasting someone's cash in a, not wasting it: they're getting their pound of flesh and then some. They don't mind letting you while away your days blogging as long as you talk English to a few foreign students or whatever it is you're being exploited to do. They're coming out WAY ahead. It eats at you, doesn't it, or you wouldn't be here, hoping for more. Anyway, it would be good to know where you're coming from so those who admire you can get their bearings. You should be able to do something clever with that. Throw us off your trail. Nobody look at me (you say) I mean everybody look at me, but...I'm not really here...that's how emboldened I am...follow me...nowhere. Hey, you've had a couple bloggers sign up. I'm sure they'd like to know. D on't let 'em down, man!

Orlando Hotpockets said...

Oh, Potty, I didn't know you cared!

You are so wrong that it's not even laughable. I'm not from a wealthy background. No MFA is involved. Nor am I in a cubicle anyplace.

The only thing that is "eating at me" is the difficulty of my work, of writing something that will satisfy my standards. To judge by the ULA's publications, you don't have any idea what "standards" would mean, so I hope that isn't too confusing.

It is fun to watch the little fools pretend to be big bad tough "literary revolutionaries" -- but it's not THAT fun. So it bores me, after a while, and then I have to go back to real work.

You guys are diverting, if only for very short periods. So maybe you are helping a great writer after all!

I don't spend one minute of my life thinking about Dave Eggbeaters or any of the other guys who fascinate you all SO MUCH that you just can't get over how "corrupt" they must be. I'm not envious of "the establishment," just don't give a fuck about it.

I pity all of you.

Jeff Potter said...

Puckits, why just keep posting more nothing? I thought you were clever. You say what you're not doing, but not what you are doing (besides "difficult" work). And still you give us nothing about what you admire, what you've built with. Again: what role models brought you to this grand state of clever, empty anonymity? Who do you suggest that the young people should be reading? What writers will carry the elderly through their hard years?

Yeah, we're little fools pretending...and we have what we've achieved so far. Tell us what the real workers have done with all their difficult standards that we should be heeding instead? Who are they? What are these standards that are so difficult? What have you given up?

So, you don't care about the establishment. Hmm... Who are you going to send your difficult work to?

I note that our Monday Reports are never based on hunches about how corrupt the System "must be." We're not fixated on the establishment---we simply expose it. It doesn't take much to notice a millionaire getting an NEA grant and then write in about it and demand the money be given to a needy writer instead. That was easy---and it worked. What takes difficult work is stifling oneself to get ahead after seeing what goes on.

Exposing the obvious things they do is easy compared to my last few weeks of selling ads in the Catazeen to diverse independent businesses. That's done now. We now have a couple dozen more hard-working allies from all walks of life. A few literary outfits, too. A wide range, altogether---not a narrow focus. Now to lay in the ads and go to press this week. Then mail out thousands nationwide and start phoning bookstores and media for the launch of the ULA Press.

You do your clever empty fluff. Go ahead and don't care about anything except your unexplained standards.

We're building the solid foundation for getting a much bigger job done. First came the ideas and the the sweat equity to back it up. Watch out!

King said...

That's the subtext to all of this. Even when they post anonymously, establishment overdogs and their flunkies are no match for us.
There's always the perception that the ULA-- the most powerless of writers-- are somehow picking on all of them.
Occasionally one of their attack dogs-- fluffy little barking things-- "rarararararararara!"-- gets loose from its silk leash to go after the dobermans and pit bulls of the ULA then has to run scampering back quickly.
There's even protectiveness about Rick Moody, who seems to be doing quite okay if he was just on National Public Radio, once again the aristocrat getting his unequal share of the pie. But I'm picking on him!
Double standards all over the place.
In January I took on half the lit-bloggers in existence over the Bissell plagiarism thing. They got their shots in, then quickly shut down debate and ran away, once I started kicking their asses all over the place. I was trashed all over the Internet, my rebuttals ignored. But so what? Again, that comes with the territory.
Re Galley Cat: Let's keep in mind that our ultimate goal is to convert the demi-puppets to our way of thinking. That includes Natalie, who showed in the past a glimpse of honesty-- of viewing the world of letters truthfully-- before she was quickly bullied back into place by Maud, Mark Sarvas, and Company.
We still hold out to her and others the distinction between Truth and Falsehood; stagnation or change-- and want them to choose our side. That's what's meant by advocacy.

frantic said...

sad little nobodies. so vicious, so impotent.

King said...

There are a lot of "nobodies" in this country, who are tired of not having a voice.
The bottom line, Frantic, is that you don't like people expressing opinions about literature which you disagree with. The lit-scene has been so tepid for so long you're uncomfortable with the idea.

Whatever our faults, we're not afraid to stand behind our words-- to behave not like crawling mice but like fearless free-thinking upstanding men and women. Can you say the same?

frantic said...

absolutely! you guys should try to stop resembling rodents immediately.