Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Whose Future?

This is the key question up for debate.

Does the future lie with the High Priests of the Word who've disconnected themselves from the populace; who write and discourse mainly among themselves?

LITERATURE to them is a closely-held lifeless thing secured behind steel doors and thick temple walls, kept in a box on an altar, the sacred texts becoming ever more convoluted and difficult, precious and narcissistic, sentences multiplying upon one another to fill huge verbose volumes of pages, 800 pages, then 1600, then 10,000, endless idiotic tropes in a foreign language saying nothing at all. The complexity will increase so that future generations will be able only to stare at the holy texts in the gilded box; will mumble and worship, in hushed tones, as mandarin critics bless the volumes, the ever-dwindling congregation behind them taking the wonderfulness of the documents on faith alone. This is the situation at the highest levels of American literature now.

IS not the future of literature rather with writers who push themselves and their works OUT into the world-- who come FROM the masses-- whose words and persons are available to all?

It's a choice but not a contest. The mandarins in priestly robes close the slow-moving doors of the temple behind themselves, shut off from the world among dust and the decayed artifacts of nonsense they consider novels and poems.

At the same time the Underground Literary Alliance holds a festival of word and song in the open square-- no priestly temple required. (We need not even a tent! ULAers like Frank Walsh and myself have given readings in the rain; will do so again, anytime and anywhere.)

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