Or, Institutions Are the Death of Culture.
(My take on an upcoming series of reports at www.literaryrevolution.com.)
We're witnessing a full-scale attempt by System writers and bureaucrats to destroy the literary underground; to banish the very idea of an underground. They're doing this by merging underground heroes with the System in people's heads.
It's not going to work.
The planned co-optation goes ahead regardless. The apparatchiks have little credibility of their own and can gain some only by grasping hungrily onto non-threatening (because dead) literary rebels of the past such as Allen Ginsberg.
It's a tired ploy tried in art form after art form.
The outstanding example of co-optation in the music business was Elvis Presley, bought from tiny Sun Records by a conglomerate and quickly enough cleaned-up and tamed. It's to Elvis's credit, though, that the only Grammy he ever won was for his religious music. When alive, he never found true acceptance by the cultural snobs of the time.
As neither did Ray Charles, least not when he was earthy and new enough to represent a shock of difference. Fitting, for how the music establishment works, that Ray Charles won eight Grammy awards after he was dead!
(The Year: 2040. Underground lit legend Jack Saunders is posthumously honored at a Manhattan awards ceremony, main speech given by Hiram F. "Dick" Moody IV, son of "Rick" Moody the novelist, who beams approvingly from a front table.)
Now the Sex Pistols have been voted into the white elephant rip-off in Cleveland known as the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, there to join non-rocking industry icons like James Taylor (??) and piano bar singer Billy Joel, who was only intermittently a rocker. (Where's Midwest garage band pioneer Tommy James? Or Chubby? Between Elvis and the Beatles, Chubby Checker single-handedly kept alive the rock n' roll flame with a string of monster hits like "The Twist.")
It's to Johnny "Rotten" Lyndon of the Sex Pistols's credit that he's spoken out against attempts to co-opt himself. He says he's not going to his Rock Hall of Fame induction/embalming ceremony/cremation at the super-pricey Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, a setting the opposite of the grubby background Johnny Rotten comes from. In his own words: "--that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We're not coming. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges, but your still music industry people. We're not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real Sex Pistol."