Friday, October 28, 2005

Ben Marcus and Test Tube Literature

The kind of experimental writing Marcus advocates isn't the same as the ground-up DIY writing experiments a Mark Sonnenfeld or Jack Saunders practices.

Instead, it's a tops-down institutional approach, created in the literary laboratories of academe. It's funded through the same kind of government-academy synthesis that over the years has funded experiments in genetics, space technology, and weapons systems. (This is a subject I investigated in the 90's for my New Philistine newsletter. I asked questions about these literary experiments-- for instance, about Larry McCaffery's involvement in the takeover of Critique magazine by a Washington D.C. entity named Heldref which was controlled by noted neo-conservative figure Jeane Kirkpatrick and her husband.)

Crucial questions about WHO OWNS LITERATURE?, as applied to Jonathan Franzen, the Fiction Collective, or even Harper's magazine-- questions which are the only way to determine which writers in fact represent the status quo-- are questions which will never be addressed by establishment hacks like Franzen or Marcus, let alone answered.

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