Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Natural Writers

IN THEIR ARGUMENTS our critics like to place ULA writing at some point along a continuum of training-- in a sophomore writing course, or the first year of MFA workshops. Or, more likely, in nursery school. The implied standard, the assumed aesthetic goal, is the final culmination of the process: the much valued Master of Fine Arts degree, symbol of writerly accomplishment.

Yet it's indisputable that the dominance of MFA programs has failed literature. The art's position in the culture has become marginalized. Despite huge investment, the system produces no great writers. The vast bulk of literary writing remains overwrought, overrefined, stilted, imitative. Creative writing professors themselves, like Lynn Freed in Harper's, now denounce what such training does to writers.

One has to wonder if it'd be better if writers were less well-trained; if at some point in the continuum, the process ground to a halt, while the writers still maintained a portion of originality and freshness; before all life had been processed out of their works.

Then again, if they were natural writers, they wouldn't be in the programs to begin with. The programs are for bourgeois people who lack confidence in their art, who've yet to find a voice. They're wannabes: They wish to be writers-- they've paid their money, now tell them how!

The natural writer writes. He need know the rudiments of spelling and grammar (shaky even in Shakespeare) enough to communicate with the reader. Then get out of the way!-- this person writes because he has something to say, a message to impart or story to tell. There are no writers blocks or blank pages for the natural writer.

Jack Saunders latest novel, Bukowski Never Did This, is experimental, in that it's like no novel cranked out by the conglomerates. But it's also transparent. There's clarity on every page. Jack puts his thoughts, his ideas, and his life in the book and says, "This is who I am." No training, craft, or calculation necessary.

Each underground writer is completely different, of course-- which is what makes the genre great. Can one dismiss an entire body of writing which contains such variety? Emerson Dameron isn't like Wred Fright isn't like Bill Blackolive isn't like Urban Hermitt isn't like Steve Kostecke isn't like Grant Schreiber isn't like Mark Sonnenfeld isn't like Bernice Mullins isn't like Christopher Robin isn't like Michael Grover isn't like Marissa Ranello isn't like Crazy Carl Robinson isn't like Doug Finch isn't like Leopold McGinniss isn't like Jessica Disobedience. All that unites them is the authenticity of their voices.

Demi-puppet caricatures will dismiss all of them. Writers who aren't themselves genuine are unable to relate to genuine writers. Establishment writers and wannabes take their cues from the outside world. What's acceptable? What are the trends? What do the System's agents say, or the editors, or the critics? What's being published? What is the public encouraged to buy? Is this book 2005, or 1983? What would people in Manhattan say, or in Williamsburg, or in L.A.? Or in the workshops' highest levels, Iowa, the New School, Columbia, Brown, or Bennington?

Natural writers have never paid attention to that kind of shit. Their aesthetic cues come not from others but from their own vision. They express THEIR truth, in their own words, their own styles. At its very best-- the stray issue of Last Laugh or Urban Hermitt; a poem or essay by Frank Walsh; a novel by Joe Pachinko or James Nowlan-- the writing is very good, expressing truths about this world and about life itself that can't be found in a thousand slick overpriced processed one-week-available products from the assembly lines of the university programs and publishing conglomerates.

The natural artist will always be dismissed by the fake version. Someone pointed out on this blog the way Van Gogh and Gaugin were dismissed by the well-schooled salon painters and critics of their time. After all, they didn't follow the rules. They didn't paint inside the lines. Amateurish! Sophomoric! Infantile! (And the way they dressed! And what happened to the guy's ear!)

We've seen the phenomenon in popular music, when early rock n' roll MADE music the popular art form it is now. Elvis and his combo couldn't play their instruments, highly-skilled jazz musicians insisted. Grade school! Romper room! Janis Joplin's band couldn't hit their notes, their academy-trained producer sniffed. Their notes! Bad, bad music everyplace. All it had was energy and genuine feeling which connected in deep ways with people. One can see the classically trained violinist, huge sums of money invested in her education, rightly puzzled and envious of cornball rubes of the 1950's having-- on independent labels yet!-- monster hits. The majors like Capitol and Columbia steadfastly stayed with the standards and the classics while their world sunk around them. For the expert violinist, the cataclysmic cultural happenings of the day were surely beyond comprehension.

As the writings of the ULA are beyond the comprehension of the MFAers and MBAers and the wannabes now.

What do we do with natural writers like Jack Saunders, or Bill Blackolive, or Pachinko, or Hermitt? Do we enroll them in writing school, and conform their visions, laboriously wringing all spontaniety and original voice out of them until they're "trained" and write just like everyone else? It would ruin them. Overtraining is a form of decadence. The writer loses the fresh eye of the newborn. The baseball pitcher with the 100 mile an hour fastball begins wondering how he does it. The tightrope walker begins looking at his feet, and falls off. There is no turning back. This is the risk, anyway. Take a wild animal from the forest or jungle and domesticate it, confine it, put it into a zoo for part of its life-- then release it back into the wild. Could it survive?

In The Sweet Science A.J. Liebling discussed the trainers of pugilist Rocky Marciano, a crudely effective slugger. They didn't try to remold him, to make him a fancy boxer light on his feet. They worked with what he had, careful not to alter his natural ability, in fear of losing his awkward but tremendous punch. They knew he was an original.

We don't argue against all trained writers. That would be ludicrous. We're arguing for an alternative. Too many MFA writers are beyond hope. They're too well-trained. All is stilted. All is craft.

That craft is all is shown by the mocking statements of recent critics on this blog. What invalidated my essay about a border crossing wasn't what I said, what truth, experience, or insight I had to convey (this not mentioned), but how I said it. The critic said that he wrote like that in tenth grade! Style is all. If you're not in fashion according to New York City arbiters of taste you're no place. I doubt the person at all cares what Jack Saunders talks about in his books. The style seems unfamiliar. It looks too simple. The ideas? The struggles? The experiences? The humor? The wisdom? Don't bother about that! Ideas in writing? That's not what they care about at the bistro!

We live alongside a literary world of ruthless suck-ups who've never had a genuine thought in their lives, who busily watch what OTHERS are deciding-- what might Maud say? Or James Wood? Who crank out their stories of groveling ambitiously at loft parties as they grovel ambitiously in reality, and pander and praise on their blogs, truth a relative concept, the level of plagiarism or grants corruption determined by what the mass of the lit world has to say; their minds contained and controlled every step of the way by the offices gossip peer pressure trends standards routines of the Machine. We're supposed to listen to them?

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

New to the site. Does anybody read this crap?

Anonymous said...

"Each underground writer is completely different, of course-- which is what makes the genre great. Can one dismiss an entire body of writing which contains such variety? Emerson Dameron isn't like Wred Fright isn't like Bill Blackolive isn't like Urban Hermitt isn't like Steve Kostecke isn't like Grant Schreiber isn't like Mark Sonnenfeld isn't like Bernice Mullins isn't like Christopher Robin isn't like Michael Grover isn't like Marissa Ranello isn't like Crazy Carl Robinson isn't like Doug Finch isn't like Leopold McGinniss isn't like Jessica Disobedience."

Actually there is one thing that unite these writers: THEY ALL SUCK!

Pigeon Prince said...

You anonymous posters make me sick. Here a man is working his tail to the bone to make the world better and you carp and moan and tear down his hard work. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

I myself am also a new poster to this site, but I am an old-time revolutionary. Basketball is my game. I played briefly for an NBA-related organization, let's say, but was so disgusted by the robotic corporate greed and lack of creativity of all the players that I soon quit to try and revolutionize the game. To make it back into the game that had in many ways saved my life.

I have watched this organization from afar for some time and I see sympathetic spirits here. I see a brother in your King, and feel that our two organizations could joing forces to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Together, we will change basketball AND literature for the better, and make them both relevant once again for the common people of this great land.

Follow my link to the UBA and the people will rise, tho the ramparts fall.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, that's the funniest thing I've ever seen. Long live the prince.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Bravo, Prince.

"Skinny Legs" Nehru said...

Sweet--kindred spirits. Doin' for writin' what we do for ballin'. Check us out everyone, over at the UBA:

http://undergroundbasketballalliance.blogspot.com/

Haven't read too much over here, but it seems like you guys are up to your jockstraps in cowardly, anonymoose negativizers. Just ignore them--they've got nothing but societal-backed ideas of what's "good" and "talented" and "aestheticall pleasing." We've got what's in our own minds, and that's better than anything else. Lookin' forward to seein' you on the courts!!

"sl" nehru

Anonymous said...

"UBA" Guy,
Damn, son. You certainly put a lot of time into this. Think of the file labels you could've made.

Pigeon Prince said...

My name is Prince, Pigeon Prince, and I'm not your son. But I appreciate you looking into the UBA. I realize we've got an innovative, uncompromising, wild and authentic take on the basketball landscape, and many people would be too scared to even look.

Yes, fifteen years of toil and struggle is a long time. But I am a revolutionary baller, and revolutions are hard work, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Basketball and Literature. Yeah,
just shat upon himself, his gorgeous vestments, in his grave.
Maybe you can bounce basketballs against one another's heads while
stammering your crappy poetry
at the next big Medusa event.

Eugene "Beanpole" Dole said...

Hey there, anonymonkey, what's your beef? We at the UBA and our friends here are just doin' our thing, be it writin' or ballin' or what-have-you. Livin'. No need for the insults and no need for the attitude.

You don't say anything about who you ARE, or where you're COMING FROM. What it is that you hope for, or dream about.

If you're not going to STATE your problem, then you're just BEING a problem.

You're nobody if you're not anybody specific. That's how we roll over at the UBA and as far as I know, it's the same the whole world over. So get crackin' and bring something to the table, anonymarmot, or get a life.

Ha! As if.

the MP said...

Crazy, Man! Hey, ya know what I was raised on basketball, me and four brothers played all the time and I'm a whiteboy of average height of Irish- German ancestry and Catholic upbringing from Wilkes- Barre along the banks of the upper Susquehanna River so's it makes perfect sense I'd love to ball! So I accept the UBA challenge
since to paraphrase Charles Barkley:
"I'm a 21st century honky".
So here's something dedicated to all you Underground Ballers out there that ia besides unlicked and natural that in fact doesn't even make sense unless your driving fast with a half- empty (or half full) 40 bottle between your legs with Philly's Power 99 blasting on the radio:








perhaps the gods are involved
in the game called basket ball
meso-american jungle corps
stone jaguars plinth first door

down the apposite chess move
bearing right hooks for more
she’ll second sight him at odds,
the non-a-nonny of classic mall.

But then again alone we all are
tired representatives without
a game leg to stand on end re-
sults, says forgone conclusion.

My fantasies my dreams forgiven
that I should presume, conclude
some such languish or excuse,
forbidden behavior by the millions.

The consciousness of stars
conjunctions of the inner planets
with popular mechanics rampant
where whitewalls convene a riot,

summer fortuitous peers among
us in final seconds of sorrow
whose perpetual comrades taper
burned rubber as if no tomorrow

a final outcome a three point advantage
how we write bodes well far between us
a sudden impulse to navigate erstwhile
triple overtime drove the full press home.


3.12.2001

Pigeon Prince said...

Yes! Now that's the people's poetry. I couldn't make heads or tails of it, but then I don't often see a 40 that's still half full. And to be clear, my challenge is to the NBA, not the ULA. Us playing you guys in basketball would be like you guys having a debate about literature with the Knicks: a fair fight. And how can you have a self-pitying underdog in a fair fight?

You know, the point your King makes in this post is very similar to what I wrote in "Steroids and Practice: What's the Difference?" For b-ball players, practice has a deleterious effect, just as your King points out education has for writers. Yet only the UBA and its sister organization the ULA will speak out against these twin evils.

Practice squeezes the life out of ballers. This is why the UBA refuses to practice - we just show up and play. If we play badly, so much the better; then our fans won't put us on a pedestal. The true tragedy is what practice does to the children. They emulate their heroes and spend all their time practicing, skipping homework and time spent with friends and family. This contributes to the frightened-herd mentality in the NBA which causes them to fear the independent, original fantasticness of the UBA.

We want professional basketball players to be lazy, clumsy, and slow so that the sport can be fully democratic, just as your King wants writers to be barely literate, uneducated, incompetent, and totally devoid of style and felicity. Let us drain our 40s to the truly unspoiled primitivism will soon dominate literature and basketball!

Bryan Guski said...

King:

I'll have you know they've always cared about ideas at MY bistro. They come with the croque monsieur and a medium cafe au lait, for $13.99.

My favorite of the literary ideas at my bistro, available on Wednesdays before the lunch rush, is that when an old hack of a writer uses long, descriptive run-on sentences with no punctuation about a bridge in Detroit, he's employing one of the oldest, most boring, and yes, PRECIOUS tricks out there. You know (a.) oldest = Paris Review; (b.) most boring = New Criterion; (c.) precious = McSweeney's. Your usual territory, described with some of your favorite targets. With you, nice 'n simple does it.

It doesn't take an MFA--which my bistro won't start selling until they finally join forces with the University of Phoenix next fall--to realize that.

And the funny thing is, you think, when looking at that story and other of your, uh, "works," that it's genius that the small-minded and the coffee-card-holding-bistro-patrons (hint: that's me!!) just can't understand.

Tell you what, if your brilliantly original, revolutionary run-on sentence about trucks coming from Windsor stands the test of time, I will personally guarantee you to climb out of my grave and puke up van Gogh's ear (which I ate, at my bistro).

But as for basketball revolution, that I can stand behind. Prince: I can't do a 360, but I can do a 60. Can I join? I promise not to practice so that, with time, I'll turn that 60 into a 50!

King said...

I'm still trying to find a kernel of an original idea in any of your posts. You've established that you don't like our kind of writers, at all. The status quo is just fine with you. Is that all there is to you?
SOMETHING about what we're doing bothers you. Could it be that our antics have in some small way worked? That our group of underdogs have actually obtained a smidgen of attention in this noisy world-- enough to establish a platform; a site which people go to. And so we're inflicted with the witty likes of you.
How's your own writing going? I can't say I've seen much of it around.
(And no, I don't think you're Rick Moody. Why does he need to come on this blog, when there are enough hapless stooges doing his work for him? You've now posted enough words on this blog to equal a small novel. We can't say you're paying much attention to your own writing. And all in the name of someone who doesn't exist! That really is pathetic.)

King said...

We've seen in recent days on this blog how the established lit world is unable to tolerate the new and different. The cattle herd is aroused. Writers have escaped from the pen.
We've seen how underground writers are dismissed in mass. None of us should be writing, critics tell us. Not one out of a hundred. The fact we're not part of the system makes this so. It was the case long before the ULA came onto the scene-- before our attempt to give nonconformist writers a voice. This as more and more writers are produced by the machine: 80% 90% More?
Once, most American writers were independent, like us-- most of the greats-- unattached to academies or conglomerates. This is no longer true. We're a vanishing animal.
The noise of the herd rises against those who don't conform. One can see why writers like Michael Grover want to be left alone. The cost of making change is great. Dare to speak up, and you'll be mocked and attacked.
Look at the logic of our attackers. I'm not supposed to strive for publicity for our group. To do so makes me a hypocrite somehow-- when gaining attention for underground writers is the ULA's major purpose.
We're not supposed to promote Jack Saunders, or mention Bukowski in connection with him. No name dropping! Pretend we never met George Plimpton, and participated in a great event with him.
We're not supposed to have fun at our readings, or talk enthusiastically about them afterward. No wrestling masks! Wrestling masks are so 1983, don't you know. We shouldn't have Read-Offs, and I definitely shouldn't referee them dressed like a 1930's boxing promoter. This is both out-of-fashion, and an attempt to be fashionable, if you can figure that out. (More hypocrisy on my part.)
As underdogs, we're not allowed to speak up. To do so invalidates us. We're supposed to remain in our corner and not say a word.
In short, the ULA shouldn't exist. we should close-up shop and go home-- no matter how much fun we're having, how much camaraderie and goodwil we're generating, as was prevalent throughout our show weekend. (Too bad you weren't there.)
The choice offered us is to disappear. Note how the latest stream of attacks happened because we lavishly covered our own show. Can't do that. Not allowed! We should've instead dressed like monks, taken vows of silence, and not told other ULAers, or anyone else, about it.
p.s. "Bryan," at least we know there's nothing original or authentic to YOUR writing. The riffs on the bistro are standard smug posturing, cuteness that doesn't say anything. One can find the same kind of thing from hundreds of smug trendy-wannabe writers and bloggers. I should know-- I've been reading the same kind of smugly cute attacks for years. I'm still waiting for something new.
It's too bad you've spent all this time, all these words-- all for nothing, because I and the ULA aren't vanishing. We'll be adding more members, promoting our publications, getting out the word, and-- horrors!-- putting on more exciting shows. You'll just have to get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, Wenclas, get a fucking clue. What bothers him is that you're an asshole. Stay with me here. You're a gigantic asshole. You're not very smart. You're a dick. You attack people all the time. You proclaim yourself to be on the cutting edge when actually you're just kind of a loser. And you caw about all the attention you're getting and how scared people are of you. And then when people say, "No, actually, you're an asshole," you caw about all the attention you're getting and how people are scared of you. For God's sake, please just shut the fuck up and go about your life. You're not accomplishing anything. And yeah I'm saying this because I'm so scared by the ULA and just totally freaked out by how "new" and "different" your completely conventional and not-very-good underground writers are.

Anonymous said...

Man, I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Noah Cicero. This ULA of yours bleeds out more members than a Thai prostitute on the rag.

King said...

I'm struck by "Bryan's" total cynicism regarding my border crossing story. It shows that he views the ULA through himself-- is projecting his own attitudes and behavior onto us. He's still looking for a strategy behind the way I wrote that-- when that's simply the way it came out. It was written very quickly, on a job, and I wanted to get my thoughts down while I could-- during a momentary pause between trucks.
But the run-on sentences express the reality of the pace of today's workworld.
It's not a bad essay. It has something to say about the realities of this society-- attempts not to examine just the self, but to put the self into context, within the economic world. The essay does this. I haven't met anyone before who so detested it-- someone so DISconnected from society that he's unable to make a connection to, or understand, what I'm saying.
Bryan: the complete solipsist. He's now come out on the side of the literary establishment, and against us. Too bad he can't put his real name to this stance.

King said...

There is some truth to the underground basketball analogy.
Think of a collection of well-schooled stiffs, the basketball teams of Princeton and Yale. Playing the game by the rules. Well-coached! They meet for one hour every night to practice.
Outside the ivy-covered halls are street players, refining their game day and night. Designing new moves. The coach would be outraged-- but there's a natural flow to what they do.
The college team will never play the street players, because, after all, they're not enrolled! never paid tuition, you know.
There's been a lot of hot air posted on this blog (not just by myself!). One can guarantee that the readings put on by the anonymous demi-puppets who criticize us completely blow. I know this-- I've seen more than my share of them, including at stiff uptight bourgeois chain stores like Barnes and Noble.
We've challenged the established lit world to read against us anytime, anywhere, but they just won't do so-- which isn't my fault.
Could it be we're not as bad as they claim? There's always that danger.

Bryan Guski said...

"Could it be we're not as bad as they claim? There's always that danger."

Actually, that wouldn't be dangerous, it would be fucking relief.

As you say, over the last few days I've published enough words on this blog to equal a small novel, and you're right. I'm no a writer, but I got an offer, and who could refuse? So it's title is going to be "I Think It's Funny When Some Crazy King Brings Up "Bistros," "Monocles," "Ivy Walls," & Whatever Else He Thinks Is Going On In The World, Then Gets Angry When Those References Are Picked Up On." The alternate title was, of course, "Spring Break Fuck Party," but that might keep it out of Walmart.

You ask me how my writing's going? That's not what I do. How's YOUR writing going? (You don't need to answer, I know already: "It's a timeless revolution.") Seems to me you should work at it a little longer: say, 15 or 20 years, and let someone else ghost write. I hear Jon Franzen's available.

This whole organization, and most specifically Karl's crafted persona (yes, crafted) sort of remind me of that boxer who can't stop talking.

ULA: Oh, I'm about to kick your ass. Yeah, I'm gonna kick it so hard. You heard me, it's ass kicking time, and it's starting any moment now.

EVERYBODY ELSE: Then shouldn't you be practicing? Training or sparring or whatever?

ULA: Oh, you shouldn't of said that. I'm a-gonna kick your ass. Here comes the hell storm. A fucking revolutionary beat down. Yup, I'm about to start. I'm about to start kicking your ass any minute.

EVERYBODY ELSE: You've been saying that to me for, what, 4 years now? I'm WAITING! Come kick my ass already, I need to get some sleep.

ULA: Oh no you didn't just say that. Here comes the ass kicking. Any second now. Yup, my fists are ready. Fist one's a go. Fist two, even more of one. Oh yeah. Oh, this is gonna be sweet. Ass kicking time...

(Please, in your imagination, have this continue day after day without stop, with no progress being made, and you'll have your ULA).

So to sum up, you've effectively argued that I don't like you because I'm afraid of your unstoppable success. Sort of contrary to every reason I've given, but that's never stopped you from making a crazy conclusion before.

And what can I say, you're right. "Bryan Guski" is but the most clever of anagrams for Keyzer Soze. Sure, they don't share that many letters, but don't you see, Wenclas, that that's just part of the CONSPIRACY?

Anonymous said...

Oh, shit, watch out King! Keyze Soze is pure evil! I can't believe you tricked him into revealing himself. As if we needed another proof that you're a genius.

Well done, Wenclas!

Pigeon Prince said...

There is more than "some truth" to the basketball analogy. As far as I can see, and believe me, pigeons can see quite far, the analogy is precise.

It's not just the robots at Princeton and Yale we're talking about. Who but a completely resentful loser cares about Princeton and Yale anyway? Did anyone realize that EVERY player in the NBA went to some fancy high school or college? Is that just some coincidence? Or that they're all millionaires?

These are NOT coincidences. It is a conspiracy of the rich and fancy against free ballers everywhere and particularly against me, Pigeon Prince. The NBA is a bunch of elitists who have, thru marketing, convinced the world that their narrow style of playing (making shots, dunks, clever and smarmy passes) is the only way to be "good".

But I wonder about your King and how much he understands about revolution. The UBA does not "refine our moves day and night". We do not come up with "new moves". We don't even practice! We're too authentic and crazy for that!

To polish our game would be to turn into the same kind of cowardly herd that currently passes for professional basketball. To be able to run fast or post up well would be to betray the true revolution. Just as if your writers, King, were to ever write anything lovely or intelligent, it would simply instill them into the Pantheon of the whatyacall, Demi-Puppets.

So don't give in, King. Don't defend your story with bourgeoius lines like "put the self into context" or "the run-on sentences express the reality of the pace of today's workworld". That sounds like NBA, I mean MFA bullshit.

Stay true to the revolution, my brother. If your work sucks, let it suck for the common people. I, for example, can't usually catch a basketball. Does that mean I'm not a player? Only if you believe the terrified conglomerate groupthink of the MFA, I mean, NBA.

Dan said...

i've lurked for awhile, but no longer. bring on the revolution already, stop making the same vague, paranoid generalizations over and over. even your critics are know-nothing assholes. they're clever but dumb, and I don't buy their darwinian rhetoric (you're a "loser", therefore you "suck", therefore you're a "loser"...). almost all college writing sucks, too, albeit with a big, useless vocabulary. it's about heart. king has none - he's just trying to hypnotise us with his talking points. the critics have none - flooding a blog with a smarmy parody isn't funny or cute, its spiteful. ula, go write. all but two or three of your true artists have already bailed on you to do just that - the rest should be gone in short order. critics, go shoot water pistols in anthills, or shovel some more shit for an alternative weakly. or grow the fuck up and do something useful. i'm going to look at some other reading material. good night!

Eugene "Beanpole" Dole said...

Hey, "Dan", if that's really your name,

Istead of "going to look" at some other reading material, why don't you go READ it! Ha!

And "good night"? It's the MIDDLE OF THE DAY!

Anonymous said...

BRYAN GUSKI IS ONE OF JOYCE CAROL OATES'S CREATIVE WRITING STUDENTS !!!!

ONE OF HER CLASS ASSIGNMENTS WAS TO EITHER:

1) PEN FAKE AMAZON REVIEWS FOR DAVE EGGERS

or

2) SNARK THE ULA AS IT IS EXPOSING THE INSIDER COWARDICE AND LIES OF THE LOCK-STEPPING CORPORATE-FUNDED EMPIRE.

Bryan has opted for the more difficult task.

Joyce Carol Oates will definitely give him high marks and send him to the head of the class this fall, as he gets his nose so far up her ass that her glasses end up on his pecker.

Eggers & Oates are telling all their well-funded compatriots to set up anonymous blogs, and to snark, snark, snark away.

ROCK ON ULA!!

Anonymous said...

Now I can't tell what's a parody of the ULA and what's really them.

Bryan Guski said...

Dan actually brings up an excellent example. And I know, Dan, that using your post to continue these arguments is completely contrary to the spirit and message of your post, so I apologize for that, honestly.

Dan doesn't like King, and he doesn't like me. He thinks King is a talking-points shill, doesn't have the heart to write well, and spreads vague and useless generalizations about other writers instead of focusing on his own writing or the writing of his friends and allies. He thinks I'm mean-spirited, maybe sadistic in my tone, that I try to be clever in my "retorts" and arguments and fail miserably, that similar to King I know nothing about which I speak or about the heart of literature, and instead of contributing anything to the world that is worthwhile, abuse someone else's blog with smarmy parody.

Dan, I don't know if you're still reading or care to comment, but if you feel I've misrepresented your views, have let myself off the hook more than King, feel free to make that known, if you feel like posting. You may feel about my behavior and my opinion the way you described, and that's fine, but don't let me misrepresent what you've said.

So, Dan doesn't like either one of us. If someone were to, say, ask him to "choose" one of the two positions, one of the two ways of expressing or one of the two behaviors, I imagine he would emphatically say "neither." Neither one of us offer him anything he wants, neither one of us is a sympathetic or relatable character, so he holds his own beliefs intact and maintains his own tastes, and will happily forget both of us and what he deems to be a silly, pointless, mean-spirited and ugly disagreement.

And THAT'S the point. It isn't ONE or the OTHER, King. It doesn't have to be. People who don't like the charicature of MFA writing as you describe it--and as can be accurate in many cases--smarmy, over-taught, elitist, inaccessible, boring, and disconnected from many readers who can't find what they're looking for. But they don't, by process of elimination, HAVE TO like what the ULA produces: and the ULA produces writing that, in my opinion, ranges from the mediocre to bad, and is made far more unlikeable right off the bat by the nastiness of the whole organizations to other writers who commit the crime of writing and believing differently, and the dictatorial leanings (of the organization's "king" particularly), who think taste can't be varied and complex and multifaceted, but MUST revolve around THEM to be true, honest and genuine.

Dan doesn't like King, and he doesn't like me. We could harp on him for weeks, making our shrill voices heard, reemphasizing our arguments convinced the only reason he disagrees is because he MUST not have "really heard us" the first time, telling him to choose sides. And do you know what? After those weeks of cajoling and pestering do you know what Dan would say to us? Go fuck yourselves.

People can't be bullied and pushed out of their tastes and opinions. Particularly non-confrontational people can be pushed into keeping quiet and what they like and don't like, and can be pushed into nodding and clapping politely at things they're not interested in, but FUNDAMENTALLY, they can't be pushed around by assholes to really, truly, change what they like and don't like.

I like some underground writing. I like some well-taught, mainstream writing too. I like some things that fall well within a "tradition," that break no real barriers or don't reinvent anything, but are just written well. I also enjoy some things that defy comparison, that are rough and new. That's what taste is: varied, complex, maybe even contradictory.

I accept there are people out there, their numbers unknown to me, who would read the Urban Hermitt and think it was the most wonderful writing they've ever encountered. It's not for me to legislate other people's taste. But that's a role you don't mind taking on for yourself and this silly, mean, bitter organization.

And King, you can't accept it. You can do a 180 if you want, tell me the point of all the vitriol, all the embarrassment and attempted embarrassment of writers who have the gaul not to be like you, is simply to "carve a space" for yourself. But the history of this site and what you've written prove that isn't true.

It's not the fact that I disagree with your argument that gets me so riled up: I'd disagree with your argument if you were a candidate for sainthood. I get bothered by your mean-spiritedness, your lack of respect for the democratic nature of and the variety of the tastes of readers, your shrillness, and your need to humiliate those who just feel differently. And I'm quite sure, at this point, on this site, I'm guilty of much of the same. So someday, I'll go to hypocrite hell. But before that time, I want to make a point first.

Dan doesn't like King, and he doesn't like me. He either already knows an "alternative" he prefers, or will continue to look for one. His tastes and opinions will not be shaped by this silliness, or anything either one of us says. Good. He's a free person capable of making up his own mind about what he likes, what's worthwhile, and what's admirable with "Kings", or, uh, "Guskis" (I wish my name was something more like "king", at a time like this...).

I don't like alot of MFA writing, and I don't like the ULA. I like what I like, underground and mainstream, new and time-tested. When I can't find a good "alternative" to that which is mainstream and readily available, I don't have to choose you.

I just keep looking.

Bryan Guski said...

The last sentence of the second to last paragraph was meant to read: WITHOUT "Kings" or "Guskis" bullying him into agreeing with them.

the MP said...

"Bynd Donky" looks like you've reached the end of the line here. You've accomplished absolutely nothing, just gone on and on, like any other reactionary. Not addressing any specific issues, not giving any examples of what you consider "well' written writing, not answering any honest questions put forth in a gentlemanly manner by the King, Potter, or other ULAers, and so on. It would seem that in effect you are intentionless therefore you must have a motive behind the way and extent you're carrying on. And at this point especially the way you tried to coopt what "Dan" was saying, what the Bird Brained Baller was trying to say (at this point I doan think that guy even plays basketball or at least doesn't have any love for the game-- there's no sign of love in anything he's said so far) indicates a motive rather than any sort of reasonable or unreasonable intention within your heart or head. No, just attempting to wear down and alienate the readers of this site or even indirectly to alienate and advert any of the gangs of loyal readers of Jack Saunders, Black Olive, Noah Cicero, nor in fact Wenclas himself (who is a great writer by the way for two reasons: he's clearly writing the way he speaks and he has a great facility of Invention, his decription of the work scene in Detroit proves that) and so forth, by attrition, by flooding this Blog with back fill, hasn't been sucessful. Who are you working for? You won't answer that because you can't even if you wanted to. Right. But its pretty obvious that whoever you're working for they are as defiled and small minded as yourself. And it doesn't get any smaller than being nothing, having nothing inside but smoke and mirrors.
This said I venture to posit that you are probably on meds and probably some kind of "speed" for manic-depressive disorder. It's the "sign" of delusiion that lenda credibility to this. Delusion has two conditions that point to it which you've exhibited with flying colors: denial and projection. And that's all you've exhibited here. I'm sorry (but not sad nor in the least sympatheic) that you're ill and at the same time sorry that you are not the champion of the Over- dogs I for one among many am looking forward to engaging.
So that's all you'll hear from me poor whipped cream puff: you are in effect ignored from here on in. There's more important fish to fry and an eel isn't even a fish! And more important issues to exspouse and expand upon.
As for myself, I'm going back to rereading Miyamoto Musashi's "Book Of The Five Rings" a kind of manual concerning the art of the sword!

Anonymous said...

I think I officially hate FDW more than anyone else on this website. God, he's a fucking dolt. "at this point I doan think that guy [Pigeon Prince] even plays basketball or at least doesn't have any love for the game-- there's no sign of love in anything he's said so far," he says here. Wow. Again: FUCKING WOW. FDW, I have a few questions: Do you have a brain or a very simple language and motive processor unable to distinguish the many shades of human intention and the vagaries of irony and/or humor? Are you retarded? You might actually be retarded, which would make me feel bad. I hope you're not. Have you ever drunk things you shouldn't, like engine coolant? I'm just trying to figure out how someone, really, can be as fucking dense as you are. It's amazing.

the MP said...

You know Anonymous you should make arrangements for us to meet face to face, I am very interested in having a little talk with you and setting you straight on a few of the things you've said in your comment. Show and tell.
But then you are no doubt a coward and a fop and need to hide behind a computer like any other petty peeping tom: filthy mouthed, and hateful (yr. own admission after all) a second rate understudy in the theater of cruelty which is vogue now. Cynicism isn't humor, rotteness isn't saavy, sarcasm is a low form of irony (irony isn't vague dear illiterate lump, it is nuanced), if at all, and motive isn't intention. As for this last bit in my homily, you're proof of it's correctness as is Brat Junky.
Of course people like yourself never get it since the only thing that's important to them is to get away with something, anything and to get over.
The only way to help them consider they may have it all wrong and get beyond their selfish reprobate agendas is to apply a certain amount of physical pain to their thick hides without of course causing any permanent damage. I'd be glad to oblige you Anonymouth, since I'm a level headed compassionate old- schooler who plays basketball still with my son and four brothers now and again, for your own good and out of compassion for those around you. Let's dance.

Anonymous said...

This is Dave Eggere here.

Let's all settle down. For the children's sake.

The ULA hates children because they hate us.

McSweeneys = The Children

If you're not for the utter shit that Joyce Carol Oates writes and Tom Bissel's putrid plagiarism, then it means YOU HATE CHILDREN!!!

All your tax and tuition dollars must go to us.

ALL YOUR STUDENT LOANS ARE BLEONG TO US!!!

THIS IS DAVE FUCKING EGGERS!!!!

TOUCH MY PENIS WHILE I FIX MY HAIR AND LAUGH AT PEOPLE!!!

Anonymous said...

FDW,

For a poet you sure are ignorant of language. Vagaries and vague are not the same word. They have nothing to do with each other. Pssst, see the big thick red book holding up the far end of your coffee table? That is called a dictionary. But the name isn't important. So before we meet face-to-face and "dance" (although you should know I don't think about you that way--talk to Jeff Potter) I suggest you spend a little time (let's say, oh, fifteen years) paging through it, and making friends with that wonderful thing known as the English language.

Aren't you supposed to be a orofessor or some shit? You make Professor Griff look like John Bayley.

I'm ashamed of how mean this is.

No I'm not.

King said...

The idea that I or the ULA wishes to do away with all MFA writing is, as I've said, ludicrous. It kind of dominates the scene. A gigantic investment has been made by all those universities in the genre. We're merely making noise for an alternative-- and for some reason this bothers "Guski." I've said, it's not "us or them," (as he'd have it) but "us AND them." And yes, we have to fight for a space. That's the reality of this society.
But getting back to readings, a subject "Bryan" would like to avoid:
it occurs to me that I did see this character at a reading. For real. George Balgobin and Will Ratblood were with me, and can testify (or not) to the accuracy of my memory.
It was at a reading in NYC held in early evening, before the 2002 Firecrackers Awards, on the lawn behind a house somewhere on the lower east side. Walking through the house, I encountered a member of the Unbearables (sorry to name drop) who was sitting alone in a brightly colored room. He was high out of his mind, but recognized me. "The King!" he said from the fog.
In back were the readers. This was an "anti-reading" held by the Loudmouth organization, and it was indeed an anti-reading. The artists stood motionless about the yard, awaiting their turn to speak, no one saying anything. A woman standing amid a bed of petunias said a few words.
"The green door
in the house
closes."
Absolute silence. Great profundity. A five minute pause before the next reader, so those present can absorb the meaning and significance. Everyone wearing faces of greatness.
I think "Bryan" was the guy posed on a brick wall, stoically holding a sheaf of pages awaiting his turn in the spotlight.
Then again, I could be mistaken.

the MP said...

My little red book that I've got in my library is not a dictionary; it's subject matter is of another nature that would send yr mommy and daddy running. I perfer to use my Oxford English Dictionary as a primary source. Not only are you an intellectual fascist and wrong (of course you don't think there is any consequence to your public display of intellectual hatred) you are doubly a corward since you have not admitted to the misuse and vodoo defintion of "irony" you've made.
You've no comprehension of the term evidently nor it's histrionics. As for the "dance" metaphore: you've not got with it besides confusing you're own ignorance with reality. That's why you need to be trounced. In other words lets get together so's I can box your ears soundly for your own good. Do your accept the challenge of honest hard working man, sirah? I'm serious, otherwise you are in the eyes of the tremendous fact of the advocacy of the poet- warriors a corn- baller! Iam as always available for lessons in literture and street brawls to anyone with a backbone.





They don’t like to be told
anything the players on deck,
they want to be consumed
by one over riding concern;
anything else bothers them,
makes them blow their cool.

A short fuse is somebody
else’s problem never theirs.
Worse, if the weather turns
it’s always for the worst
and they look high and low
for the good cause to support or a goat or a chicken who happen on the spot,
most of all they don’t like to be reminded.


12.10.03

King said...

Having engaged in tons of personal insults and obscenities, having failed to make a coherent point, having his "arguments" answered, largely ripped to shreds, "Bryan" now wishes to back out and let us think he's really just a nice guy.
But who began this debate? What caused it? because the ULA was gleeful over our own reading?
This character came on and denounced not just me (which I really don't mind), but EVERY ONE of the writers on our site. Even those, presumably, who we've been putting on our "Adventures" blog who don't belong to the ULA.
Now suddenly he decides he's really just a fair guy who likes or dislikes all kinds of writing.
He reminds me of people afflicted with the syndrome where they're normal most of the time, then suddenly begin screaming out a stream of cusswords. "Wenclas you asshole dick %$#*&%!!!@#$*!!!!>!"
"What?" you say.
He looks innocent. "Moi? I didn't say anything."
As I've said, this guy is a phony, a fakir, through and through, and of course, even the "Bryan Guski" facade he insists on is not real.
Someone tell me then how we can give what he says credibility.

the MP said...

Hopefully the more open minded (undergrounders who love language that is, of course the MFAers have paid top dollar and are of the mindset they're always right) have run to their OEDs.
"vagary": L. vagare, to wander (first recorded use in Eng. 1577)
"vague" (from the Fr.): L. vag-us, wandering (" " ", 1548
C'mon my little wallflower twinkie, let's dance. Pretty please!

King said...

To those who think I don't "care" about anything:
Keep in mind that throughout the 90's I was writing essays and fiction like the border crossing tale which Bryan thoroughly mocked on this blog-- I was telling about the realities of this society, relating what I've witnessed. (For example, seeing strikers bloodied, unions broken, during the infamous 1995 Detroit newspaper strike, when the two monopolies involved-- which own most of our country's daily newspapers, bussed in jackbooted thugs to do their bidding, as if they were criminal organizations. I KNOW, first hand, how this country operates.)
Through most of the 90's I did little promotion. I was what many of our oppoents claim to be: a writer. I had an essay encapsulating what I saw happening published in a prestigious lit magazine-- with a third of it cut out, the most "polemical" parts. I had one of the more thoroughly researched issues of my newsletter censored at Bennington's summer writing conference, copies pulled from mailboxes and destroyed because that issue told truth about the then-incestuous relationship between the NEA and AWP. I realized the lit world didn't WANT anything which would even approach a naked look at the realities of our world today. The mandarins and their acolytes were concerned instead with the travails of the bourgeoisie, stresses about Fluffy the Cat not being liked by the boyfriend; the focus on the inward-dwelling self and on how cutely one could string words together.
The ULA wasn't created in a vacuum! I, and others, realized that literature was in bad need of radical change. So we joined forces and created this organization.

King said...

You know, from a historical perspective, this discussion is laughable.
We're talking about supposedly the most revolutionary lit group in America; it has the entire realm of bleating sheep circling their pen in outrage, especially Bryan the Hysterical Handwringer. "Thug! Attacker!" blah blah, and what are we talking about? Popping a balloon? Not exactly Lenin or Nechayev. Real revolutionary writers like Marat and Brissot, wherever they're at, must be laughing. It's an indication of how tame the lit world is today, despite (or because of) the unprecedented power of the media monopolies, that even the merest hint or gesture of rebellion turns establishment writers frantic.
It's a sign of the total domestication of today's writers.

King said...

"He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird." --Thomas Paine.
Our critics' sympathies aren't with our group of marginalized underdogs, but with the well-schooled yuppies who man the publishing conglomerates, who, we're told, could've done much better had they been lawyers. Or politicians. Or investment bankers.
These are our culture's "best and brightest," grads of the most elite schools. Yes, maybe they cared about art, once. Maybe in freshman year at Princeton or Yale. I suspect the care has pretty much been processed out of them. When I go on their sites and blogs-- MediaBistro among them-- I see more concern about jobs, resumes, MBA's, and commerce. Each and every one of them is embedded body and mind into the machine.
When they've had opportunities to show character or independence-- over the Tom Bissell plagiarism matter; or when we asked MediaBistro for a simple correction to a blatant, specific inaccuracy, they failed, badly. Those who stepped out of line were quickly forced back into the 100% unquestioning herd.
One can't blame them for conforming. They have careers at stake. The voice of the herd is powerful.

King said...

There's one more point of "Bryan's" I need to address, and
that's the question of my motivation. He claims I'm angry because I didn't "make it" as a writer-- and that the entire ULA campaign is designed to help me.
And yes, like any writer, I wouldn't mind some recognition for what I say. After all, I am a human being.
Is this the motivation behind the ULA?
Unrecognized is the fact I began seriously writing relatively late in life (though I dabbled in it a bit prior). I'd never wanted to be a "writer." I was doing many other things. I had a life, a career, which kept me busy. When I left that, it was for something else.
My writing was chiefly as an outlet for my rage against what I saw-- and continue to see-- all around me. I was living in Detroit at a time of enormous economic change-- change which ravaged the city, devastated the working class, and destroyed the lives of people I'd worked with and grew up with.
I believed there were things which needed to be said. I can't say I've ever compromised that original motivation in the interest of self or career.
There were numerous attempts to co-opt my voice, to bring me, marginally at least, into the accepted go-along-to-get-along way of doing things.
At the end of 1999 I left a good-paying job voluntarily in order to come east to found the ULA. Hardly in my personal self-interest. With the beginning of our campaign, I broke ties with ALL the prominent writers I'd made over the years because of my writing in New Philistine-- I did this not to embrace the establishment, but the underground.
Would "Bryan" have done likewise?
As I've said, I've written for accepted publications-- some of some prestige-- and likely could've continued to do so, HAD I conformed my ideas and my voice.
Yes, I'm out front of this dog pack. I've tried numerous times to get someone to take my place; to receive the slings and arrows that I receive, but no one to date has been willing.
Have I benefitted personally from my association with the ULA?
From a career standpoint? Right!
Financially?
You wouldn't think so if you saw the way I was currently living!
I HAVE been trashed on a regular basis, which I don't mind because it comes with the territory. After years of insults, I'm used to it.
It's even possible-- I don't know-- that, thanks to google, my ULA activities have left me unable to return to my former field. Too much of a shit-disturber, maybe.
And so, I live on the margins of society.
Yet I'll continue speaking out for the ULA-- and know we're making headway.
The bottom line, Chump, is that if I didn't believe 100% in the ULA mission, in what we're doing, I would long since have fallen by the wayside.

Anonymous said...

FDW,
Aw, you crazy bastard, box my ears, then. Box 'em! I probably deserve it. But you're just too much fun to poke. Why do you keep taking the bait, is what I wonder.
Ah, well.

JDF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the MP said...

Thank's J.D.
It's exciting and inspiring the way the Resistence is gathering on this Blog, and I'm not a sop normally. Coming into focus, clarity gaining the upper hand, our writing and thinking becoming more in tune with life and life in turn likewise, integrated. Integrity!
Haven't forgotten either, will be mailing you that packet off no later than next week. To the great bulwark of what's left of the UNION,
the Green Mountain State Of Vermont.
As for Anonymous. Are you there blueberry?


Worm?

MDG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.