Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Criterion versus n+1?

WHAT interests me about Stefan Beck's essay, "The Artifical Gravity of n+1," ( in the January New Criterion isn't the ease with which he eviscerates the anti-establishment pose of the lit-journal's editors. Yes, for upper-middle class grads of Harvard and Yale to speak of "the wild" and how they "have known exile" is ludicrous.

More fascinating is what's left unsaid both in beck's essay and in n+1's pages: a gaping space within the logic of their words, an unacknowledged presence which would have to be invented if it didn't already exist: the Underground Literary Alliance.

n+1 is right when it publishes essays outlining the stratified class nature of the American educational system. Stefan Beck is correct to suggest that n+1's editors themselves are part of the intellectual aristocracy. Neither takes their thinking to the next step.

After all, there's a group of writers in this land who are authentically "from the wild"; many who've known exile and live in it every moment. I'm the ULA's most visible personality, yet who is more in exile than myself?! I have no home to speak of; seldom have had one. I've had several ups and many downs-- worked hard in the bowels of industrial America for good pay and been on the margins, as I am now, half-a-step away from the cold-- would be there this instant if not for some timely help. As I step over this city's increasing numbers of homeless, I think of myself as one of literature's homeless; a gutter pressman independent and loud, zeenster from the streets with no aristocratic station to certify me as a proper "writer" within the eyes of the snobs of established culture. I've gathered other such rootless literary souls around me. We're on a campaign to open the doors of literature to outsiders. New Criterion and n+1 both should fear us, because we're the genuine article. They should welcome us, because our expression of authentic culture can revive literature.

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