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.