Thursday, August 18, 2005

More Cluelessness

Every stray glance at each new issue of The Believer leaves me in amazement over the way accepted literati deliberately narrow the appeal of their product, through their uninteresting pseudo-intellectual posings. These are individuals who've never left graduate school, are still writing to impress some invisible prof-- shutting out the rest of society in the process.

There's a nonsensical discussion in fact, in the latest issue, between two profs-- philosophy Phd'ers-- in which they practice like four-year-olds in a sandbox at theoretical naughtiness. "Ca-ca." Like Donadio in her essay, they believe they exist without context. Their vision never reaches beyond the sandbox. With much pompousness and patting themselves on the back, they point out how as "liberals" they disbelieve in notions of hierarchy.

Really?

Their words appear in a journal which has become the mouthpiece for lit-world elitism and hierarchy. (As shows its every style and pose.) The profs live in hierarchies, within musty academic temples; embedded in a sprawling gleaming industry of "learning" fed by big government and monopolistic corporations-- intertwined with them-- the two men having struggled for many years inside institutions to obtain their Phd certificates announcing them as high priests, with corresponding offices highly placed in the bureaucratic rectory attached to the cathedral; the bishop's house, where everything is ordered, regulated, and safe. Is that doctoral candidate new from the seminary? Let him be wary to approach! Have him do so with shuffled feet and bowed head.

No, they don't believe in hierarchy. Not them!

2 comments:

King said...

My own remarks should probably be put into context-- that my perspective on universities lately is formed by the presence here of the gigantic U of Penn campus-- Philly's largest single employer-- which operates not as a school so much as a large corporation. To judge by the continual construction and expansion, I'd say business is booming!
Of course, there's a hierarchy among colleges themselves-- some having more clout than others. Is it an accident that 9 of the last 10 major-party presidential candidates were grads of Yale or Harvard, or both?
This society is so interwoven with hierarchies it's hard to keep track of all of them. Among the worst is the literary world itself. Sorry, but one can't take an intelligent view of the world around us and not notice the presence of class. Why is it that writers from very privileged backgrounds-- from Sean Wilsey to Susan Minot to Nick McDonell, to name a few I've seen spotlighted in the last two days-- have an effortless time accessing the system; getting their books or writings or delicate poems published, in prominent outlets, or with ample accompanying publicity? And so, the perspective on the world and this society which the literary establishment gives us is THEIR perspective, the perspective of rich kids, which scantly represents the society at large.
The Believer's perspective is not as narrow-- not quite, but they're trying hard to be as chic and exclusive as possible. Their founder grew up in a mansion, as did most of his associates. The privileged of the privileged.
Think about this: the gap between rich and poor in this nation is at least as great as was the gulf between the aristocracy and common citizenry in 1789 France. Back then you had the clueless powdered aristocrats in their refined palaces, backed by now-forgotten apologists. Opposed to them was the so-called "gutter press," who attacked the elites with every tactic and strong word at hand. You had aristocratic cliques, and you had in reaction radical new associations like the Jacobin clubs.
I've said again and again that the ULA wasn't created in a vacuum. Its appearance has been natural-- inevitable.
We see when viewing the world that when the monopolistic world doesn't embrace benign alternatives (which the ULA is) they'll face instead radicalized distortions, as people react blindly, subconsciously, instinctively to the processes, the institutions, imposing their will upon every space, every inch of the planet around them.

King said...

I picked up the NY Post today-- the so-called "populist" NYC newspaper. It contained a couple prominent writer profiles-- both rich trust-funders, naturally. Who else writes?