Monday, January 23, 2006

Reactionary John Leonard

1.) I WONDER who else John Leonard wants to tag with the remark "a sodality of soreheads" he applies to the Underground Literary Alliance?

To the forces who overthrew the aristocracy in 1789 France? To later residents of Paris who stood on barricades in defense of their ideals?

Maybe he'd like to apply the words to those who built the union movement in this country through their blood, to those who've banded together to battle forces of reaction since time began?

John Leonard is a fake-Leftist who writes for The Nation (edited and largely owned by a billionairess) as well as for the bible of the Manhattan face-lift crowd, New York. He's now openly aligned himself with the forces of literary privilege. The latter part of his New York Review of Books essay on Rick Moody is an apology for upper-class "white bread" writers; an attack on the ULA's campaign and ideas. To John Leonard, it's fine that a small circle-jerk of hyper-affluent friends dominate philanthropic funding originally intended to benefit writers who might actually need it!

Moody and his friends are latter-day aristocrats. The gap between them and the writers in the ULA is at least as great as the gap between aristocrats and populace which once existed in France. OF COURSE Eggers and Moody pose as benefactors of the underprivileged; showing the sense of "noblesse oblige" necessary to maintain their system of corruption, class, and entitlement as is. (Efforts tax-deductible of course.)

Should we be grateful they don't trample us with their metaphorical carriages? (They've tried!) John Leonard has decided to take sides in our argument over the direction of the lit-world. Only problem is he's taken the wrong one! Leonard is huddled in a fancy salon with the nobles, clinking champagne glasses with them; wearing culottes and ruffled collars, disdainfully waving a perfumed handkerchief while grubby gutter-press writers of the ULA protest outside in the cold.

2.) Leisure-class writers like Rick Moody and his ilk write largely out of boredom. Knowing little about the brutal everyday realities of the authentic world, they give us instead a conglomerate perspective heavily mediated by television. This is their world. This is the essence of Moody's new novel.

Is he a rebel against the system? He'd have to begin by destroying his influential money-center banker father, Hiram F. Moody Jr. ("Rick" is Hiram F. the III.)

The problem the ULA has with Rick Moody is that he's a fraud. If his pose of commitment had a shred of meaning, he would've returned his ill-gotten Guggenheim money. (He still can.) If he were for real, he wouldn't have sat on grants panel after grants panel awarding taxpayer and tax-sheltered money to his aristocratic buds. If he were for real he'd not preside at $10,000 tables at events inside fortress-like Manhattan hotels represented as the true face of American literature instead of as the sick isolated insular artificial carnival mirrors of cultural distortion they are.

If Moody were for real he'd embrace the ULA (as would John Leonard). But Rick Moody and his crowd don't want to give up anything when it comes down to it; not their manufactured station, nor one penny of the public monies they ruthlessly grab and hoard.

3.) The ULA CHALLENGES John Leonard, and whoever he wishes to bring with him, to publicly Debate with us these questions of current literature. If Leonard is truly a democrat, in spirit and substance, he'll accept the challenge and put his ideas and words to the test.

(For more go to

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