Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"The Best"?

Keith Gessen assures me that whatever my criticisms, n+1 is still "the best" literary journal out there.

The Best?

The "Best" isn't afraid of conflicting ideas, as n+1 clearly is. They've shrunk from engagement again and again.

Early in the year, after n+1 was trashed by Stefan Beck in New Criterion, I offered to stage and promote a debate between the two parties. All they'd have to do is show up. Stefan Beck was open to the idea. Gessen never gave me an answer, beyond a condition that Beck-- the initiator of the dispute-- not be part of it! Strike One.

On May 1st I exchanged e-mails with Gessen, pointing out the noise we'd made with our "Howl" protest, holding open the possibility of joint action. His answer was disingenuous, not mentioning a public discussion they'd already set for May 16th at The Kitchen in New York, which I didn't know about. I'd invited n+1 to participate in our April reading. I received not even an e-mail announcement-- standard procedure-- about theirs.

Can we surmise they didn't want the Underground Literary Alliance anywhere near their event? Never mind as participants-- that'd be unthinkable for such snobs (associating with us in any way would be highly embarrassing to their intellectual reps). They didn't want us even in the audience!

They forfeit the opportunity to gain attention for their journal in the interest of protecting their fragile sense of specialness. Maintain a hermetically-sealed capsule around themselves allowing no contrary opinions to intrude, and maybe they really are heirs to the "New York Intellectuals," as they pretend.

Their May reading made not a sound.

Who was there? Did Stefan Beck show up? Any diversity of ideas? Anyone not from their narrow intellectual test-tube world? No. Their guests were Caleb Crain and Vivian Gornick. The public symposium was no doubt as thrilling as the printed one-- which means, not at all. Strike Two.

Strike Three was declining to publish my letter because it was critical of their journal.

"The Best"? At what? Hiding?

Geniuses unto themselves. Quite a joke.

No comments: