Saturday, July 30, 2005

Quixotic

It's always refreshing to see the ULA's campaign referred to as quixotic. This was a standard criticism from an early ULAer-- a writer unfortunately who had no imagination and no vision. (For a writer, one would think these qualities mandatory.)

I imagined a literary movement, a way to renew literature and change the culture, and have been trying to turn that image into reality. I surely have to be crazy!

The Early ULAer was a person like many we've encountered who are tiny of vision; who see only the chess board in front of them, the current arrangement of the pieces, and not what they can turn that arrangement into. Their attitude shows a strictly limited mentality.

As I've said countless times, many like the Early ULAer didn't think we'd achieve anything-- that all my ideas were a dream. When I said we could get attention and press coverage, they looked at me as if I were insane. Yet in quick time we got it-- more than my associates dreamed. (We were all lowly zine writers.) Despite our quick progress, skepticism remained. The Early ULAer panicked at the first sign of difficulty and ceased cooperating, undercutting the entire plan in so doing.

I'm reminded of the period in my life when I worked for a commodity trader (writing his newsletter). For a few years I observed that kind of mentality. For those who don't know, anyone with enough time and brains can construct a foolproof investment plan-- ON PAPER. The trick is carrying it out for real, with real money at stake-- your real ass on the line. The plan can be engaged, the money put forward, then the price starts moving and one is suddenly embedded emotionally into the game. It's very easy to lose one's head within the gaping drama of the moment. All one's psychological weaknesses, one's human failings, are quickly exposed-- fear, greed, timidity. It's been not all that different with the ULA. The disciplined plan goes out the window; participants begin reacting emotionally. "Ohmygod!" the person screams inside his head. "Wenclas is pissing off important people!"

The ULA campaign isn't just a dream, it's a plan, one which has yet to be given a full chance to succeed. (We've been missing some important pieces.) The amazing thing is how much, while operating on a couple cylinders, we've achieved. With great new members like Pat Simonelli, and others upcoming like Brady, we're pulling in more talent, will soon be making a lot more noise.

My plan was never quixotic-- it was based on a true assessment of possibilities. Anyone with a sliver of sense can sit down and figure the odds of finding an audience by playing the game the approved way-- becoming one of hundreds of thousands of wannabes in writing programs, or adding one's manuscripts to the massive editorial slush pile stream. Dostoevsky himself would have a hard time getting noticed in such conditions. (A writer, by the way, who in the original Russian notably "can't write"-- he's only a genius.)

The ULA campaign is designed to make noise and shortcut the entire process, which we're doing.

MAX SITTING SOCIETY
The Early ULAer I refer to is a charter member of the Max Sitting Society, is one of our ex-members who since leaving our organization has dropped completely out of sight; who has not made hardly a sliver of noise as a writer (despite being ridiculously talented) by playing things the "right" way.

Max Sitting was the co-editor of a lit-journal I helped produce in 1998 called Pop Literary Gazette-- a forum for trying out ideas which I later used in creating the ULA. "Max" was a low-level prof of some kind at a local university, and, as such, was terrified of pissing off people. He lived in fear of the tenured guys he was forced to suck-up to at cocktail parties. We had quick success with Pop-- were part of a full-page lit review in the local weekly free paper, a photo of our zeen included, and were even invited onto a radio show. It was all too much for Max Sitting! We were too controversial. The reviewer-- another local Detroit-area prof-- was critical of our noise. Max was afraid of the bad reception we'd receive from even greater figures in the tiny world of his university. We quickly came to a parting of the ways. A little over a year later, I left for Philly. The negative reviewer, meanwhile, and the "well-written" lit journals he approved of, and the other constipated prof, have all vanished from sight (as has Max Sitting). They're footnotes to footnotes. If the prof reviewer is ever remembered for anything, it will be for writing about a forerunner to the ULA. Why am I laughing?

1 comment:

King said...

We may well fail at our campaign-- living is risky-- but we'll have fun doing so, and make some literary history in the process-- showing for future writers that there are other ways of doing things. And after all, what else are we doing?